Olight H05 Active and H05S Active Headlamps Review

Preface

Olight provided these headlamps for review. I happen to love headlamps, and I even love this style of headlamp, so this will be a fun review! More than likely, Olight will be sending more lights soon, so more reviews for you soon! These lights are very similar so I decided to review them together. Let’s see how they perform! Special thanks to Going Gear for sending these lights to me, from Olight!! Thanks u/storl!!

In any case where I refer to lights singularly, I am talking about both lights. If there is a difference worth noting between them, I’ll be specific. And I’ll use (W) to signify “white light” and (R) to signify “red light.”


Official Specs:

H05 Active and H05S Active Common Stats

  • Cree XM-L2 LED
  • 2 x 3528 Red Led 629nm
  • Powered by two AAA batteries, with two Lithium Ion AAA batteries included with the light
  • 4 adjustable light angles available: 10, 25, 35, and 50 degrees below the horizontal angle
  • High light transmission rate TIR lens to deliver a balanced beam for close-range illumination
  • Red LED lights served as indicators for the user’s location. Steady on or blinking modes available
  • Eco-friendly fabric headband with a 25mm width
  • IPX4 (rainproof)
  • Length x Body Diameter: 56 mm x 36 mm | 2.2 in x 1.4 in
  • Warranty: 2 years

Disparate Stats

H05 Active H05S Active
750 cd 900 cd
55m 60m
Brightness levels at: 150 lumens, 30 lumens, and 10 lumens Brightness levels at: 200 lumens, 30 lumens, and 10 lumens
Built-in infrared light transmitter and receiver to allow motion sensor switches to control the on/off function of the headlamp
When the battery voltage is below 1.8V, the red indicator will turn on intermittently and will glow on the user’s nose for easy detection
Controlled by a thermal protection program, the high mode (150 lumens) runs for 10 minutes before the brightness gradually steps down to 60% of the original output
Battery polarity indicator: With cells removed, a “+” sign glows red in the compartment, indicating the direction of the polarity of the batteries
43.5g 47.0g
Four color options: green, blue, orange and purple Black only
$25 $35

Olight H05 Active/H05S Active Short Review:

Fantastic little AAAx2 lights. The TIR optic

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makes the beam on either very useful. The IR sensor on the H05S is neat and does work quite well. Between the two, I’d pick the H05S.

Olight H05 Active/H05S Active Long Review:

What’s Included

In both cases:

  • Headlamp
  • Headband
  • Manual
  • Lithium 1.5V AAA Olight batteries (2)

Pictures

Here are some H05 Active and H05S Active photos. I did just one big album – the black is the H05S Active, and the blue is the H05 Active. And also some H05 Active and H05S Active beamshots.

Package and Manual

The package is a clear, display-ready unit, which shows off the light very well.

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It has a plastic hangtag (common to many small Olights). Opening it is easy – or hard if you love saving packages to be pristine – and inside is a piece of cardboard, and the goods. The back

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has many specs for the individual lights.

The manual

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is robust, and completely in English.

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Also (and one of the main reasons I’m reviewing these together): The H05 and H05S share a manual. The specs for both are on the manual for each.

Build Quality, Durability, and Disassembly

Though these lights are slightly different, the build quality is similar, and good. Like all lights in this class (others by Petzl or Princeton Tec for example) they’re made of plastic.

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The body is hard plastic, and the headstrap is a softer more pliable plastic. The lights can tilt

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forward (or really, “down”) toward the users need (from trail angle, to map angle, so to speak). Another example:

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The soft band

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is what contacts ones forehead

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during use, and it’s comfortable. The band is also long, but not terribly long.

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These lights fit my massive head, but I wouldn’t say they’d go much bigger. I have somewhere north of 7 1/2 head size, fwiw. There’s a little window to the product name

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though truthfully I’m not sure what purpose this serves. Normally there’d be a headband there! I suppose it saves a little weight, which is nice. The body will open completely flat

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for cell replacement.

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I say that they’re plastic specifically because I have had other brands crack in the area where the light connects to the band. This has happened multiple times with Princeton Tec, for example. The plastic on these Olights seems much more durable.

It really surprises me that these lights don’t share a housing, with one having the added IR bits, and one not (but being built the same otherwise.) This does differentiate the lights though, and the H05S is clearly a more “premier” light.

Disassembly. I have truly never tried to take a headlamp like this apart. But it’s ridiculously easy. Take out the 2 cells and there are two phillips screws. Pull those, and the case just pops right part and the board is right there, not held down by anything (the screws you just removed hold everything together). The TIR stays on the front but it’s not permanent – a pliable o-ring is sandwiched there, “holding” the TIR in.

And the board is pretty simple. I’m comparing that to my knowledge of exactly zero PCB’s though…. I chose which to disassemble at random – I wish I’d have done the H05S purposefully. In my testing I uncovered a red LED that I didn’t expect! In the center of the “smile” (the IR sensor area) there’s a red led that indicates when the battery is under voltage and the light will soon shut off. I am really not sure why they didn’t just use the side leds for this, but they didn’t. Also there seems to be no other function for this “center/indicator” red LED – also strange. Furthermore this center LED isn’t utilized when actually using the red modes of the light…. So basically it serves solely to notify of low voltage cells. Of course, they do mention that this is a feature to “glow on the users nose” to indicate the voltage is below 1.8V…. so….

Size

It’s a good size – there’s only so much a headlamp can do in this configuration… it could only be much smaller if it was a mule, with no optic (or reflector) at all. Compared to every other light I have in this category, it’s essentially the same size.

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Here’s a size comparison of two other lights

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Skilhunt DS21HI, Manker E14

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 Retention

The only option is the adjustable headstrap. It can be taken off the strap, but the adjustable base will stay on the light. That can’t really be removed nor would you really want to, as there are some hard molded bits that would confound anything you’d probably want to do.

Power

Both H05 and H05S are powered by AAAx2. Olight provides Olight branded lithium AAAs inside the light – they’re isolated by a little bit of plastic

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which you’ll need to remove

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before first use.

The manual states a working voltage of 1.0 to 3.7V.

Olight provides lithium cells, but the lights will work with lithium, alkaline, and NiMH cells. I used exclusively Eneloop AAA cells in these lights for all testing.

Just a mention in the Power section because I’m not sure where else to put it: The H05S adds the feature of lit indicators

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inside the battery compartment. Here they are

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in daylight. These are very nice, and extremely useful when replacing the cells at dark. Yes, these are powered by an internal cell, which isn’t readily replaceable – I’m not sure if it’s replaceable at all. I would guess that it’s actually a capacitor, and sips charge off the cells when they’re installed, to stay permanently topped up. That’s just a guess.,

User Interface and Operation

Both lights have a single button for operation. That’s normal but also noteworthy: this single button has to operate both white and red light. The button is large and forgiving – easy to find and click when you want to, hard to accidentally find and click when you don’t.

The UI is dead simple. Since the H05S has a some separate options, it also has a [slightly] different UI. Both turn on to which ever mode group they were in – turn off in white light, it comes back on in white light. Turn off in red light, comes back on in red light.

Olight H05 and H05S Active UI Table.

Light State Action Result
Both Off (W) Click High. Further Clicks cycle M>L>Off
Both On Double Click Switch between White/Red
Both Off (R) Click Solid Red
Both On (R) Click 1:1 blink Red
H05 Any Hold High (ie “Hold” = “Click”)
H05S Any Hold Switch between IR/no IR activation (indicated by quick flash)

IR works in both white and red modes.

Reconnecting the cells will always put the lights back in the white mode group.

Note about switching between emitters, in case you’re concerned with preserving night vision or anything: When you switch between emitters, you’ll go to the mode you were in when you left that group previously. So if on Low (W), you go to Solid (R), and you go back to (W), you’ll still be in Low. And if you go back to (R), you’ll be in Solid. This is great, but there really needs to be a lower low for the white light.

LED and Beam

The emitter is a single Cree XM-L2

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which is behind a TIR optic. TIRs are great because the beam is a spot with soft edges

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but not a lot of spill. I really like TIR beam profiles,

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and as with other XM-L2 emitters, the tint is great.

I think the Medium and Low modes are much too close together – Low could be lower and medium could stay at 30 lumens. I wouldn’t even mind if this was a two mode light with a “hidden” (direct access from off) moonlight mode.

The red mode seems a bit gimmicky. Just two modes and one is blinky…. The solid output

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isn’t really enough to read by (isn’t even enough to read by), and would a sub-lumen red blinky really serve as any kind of indicator light at all? Also why two of them? Ie, it seems gimmicky. And sorry for the pics – they are red, but this is the best way I found to display the color acurately: out of focus shot.

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Throw another TIR on there, put a single red led behind it and have them side by side. That would scarcely change the size of the light, make it way more useful. But it ruins the cool smiley face look Olight must have been going for.

Beamshots, and Lux Measurements

Output and Runtime

Mode H05 (Lithium) H05 (Alkaline) H05S (Lithium) H05S (Alkaline)
High (10 minutes) 150 Lumens 150 Lumens 200 Lumens 200 Lumens
→Stepdown from High 90lm for 280 min 90lm for 180 min 120lm for 200 min 120lm for 120 min
Medium (30lm ) 10 hr 7 hr 8.5 hr 6 hr
Low (10lm) 40hr 35hr 24hr 20hr

The H05S terminated at 0.93V and 0.97V, and the H05 terminated much higher at 1.09V and 1.13V. I am not sure that’s a voltage stop, though – one other runtime test I did with the H05S, saw the cells terminate above 1.0V. So this may be a timed shutoff.

Here are my actual runtime results.

http://imgur.com/zObjZZS

Don’t read too much into the H05 being higher than the H05S. I was still learning a piece of new equipment – the H05S is indeed brighter than the H05, so just consider the output lines individually (not compared to each other in intensity).

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Honestly, there are a ton of similar lights in this category, made by Pelican, Princeton Tec, Petzl,

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Black Diamond, etc. Many people in this sub would recommend a headlamp that utilizes 18650s. I like those too. I still like these plastic body AAA headlamps though. They’re *great* for their use-case – hiking, for example. Or even running. I have an 18650 headlamp and there’s no way in the world I’d run with that (too heavy).

There are even other lights with IR sensors (Pelican 2720 for example).

I would chose Olight over most of those. Olight is a known and respected flashlight brand. Those other brands do so much other stuff, I believe it dilutes the quality of any specific item. IE, Olight is better at this one thing and … well that one thing happens to be our interest here.

Conclusion

What I like

  • Simple UI
  • Red emitter option
  • TIR Optic
  • 200 lumens on the H05S is great
  • IR Sensor works well on the H05S is great
  • No strobes
  • These look like smiley faces
  • H05S polarity indicator for replacing cells

What I don’t like

  • No shortcut to low
  • No proper low
  • Mode spacing is ‘eh’
  • Tilt could be better (ie, go farther than 50°)
  • Cool (or greenish) tint

Final Thoughts

I think you should have one of these. Which one could come down to at least a couple of decisions: Do you want the IR sensor? If you’re even slightly interested in that, go with the H05S Active, and I expect you’ll be satisfied. Do you not care about IR and you’re willing to sacrifice a little (nearly imperceptible) output for considerable runtime difference? Go with the H05 Active. Either way you’ll have a light you should be happy with, and it’ll serve it’s intended purpose very nicely. I’d recommend the H05S as a camping/ hiking light, just for the battery indicator. It’s super convenient to use this feature in the dark!


Parting Shot

That smile…

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