Nitecore NU25 / NU25UL Headtorch Review – How does it perform?

Nitecore head torches are becoming increasingly popular with hikers and runners who want a lightweight torch that still offers good performance in terms of brightness and battery life. Here I look at Nitecore’s latest lightweight offerings, the NU25 and the NU25UL.

The Nitecore NU25 and NU25UL are essentially the same torch with a different headband. The UL shaves around 10g off by just using elastic cord rather than a cord and strap combination on the NU25. Take the headbands off and you’ve got identical torches. The torch body is plastic which combined with the headband design gives a very lightweight torch. I tested the torches on numerous outings whilst trail running and camping in the Peak District.

Nitecore NU25 & NU25UL side by side

Nitecore NU25 & NU25UL

Functions:

The torch unit comprises of dual lenses, giving floodlight and spotlight, which can be used either on their own or in combination. In dual mode there are three brightness settings; low, medium and high. There is also an ultra low setting, strobe mode and red light mode using  two small red LEDs.

photo of Nitecore NU25 head torch

Nitecore NU25

On the top of the torch are two buttons, a rectangular on / off button and a circular mode button. A long press of the on / off button turns the torch on in dual mode (both spot and floodlights illuminated) on its lowest setting of 60 lumens. Another press increases the brightness to 200 lumens and a third press goes to the brightest setting of 400 lumens. Pressing the mode button allows you to choose either floodlight or spotlight if you don’t want to use them combined and you can choose either 60 or 200 lumens on each. The mode button also takes you to red light mode (you can choose either constant or flashing). An ultra low, 6 lumen white light setting is reached by double pressing the on / off button. Strobe / SOS mode is reached by double pressing the mode button and gives a choice of regular flash or dot dot dash flash pattern. Finally, a single press of the mode button whilst the torch is off gives you the battery power indicator; 4 tiny blue LEDs show how much battery is left according to how many light up.

Nitecore NU25 USB C recharge

USB C recharge and battery indicator

The elasticated cord on the headband is reflective and also glows in the dark. Tension can be easily adjusted, even whilst on the move by pulling the cord through a toggle. The lamp unit can be adjusted to tilt downwards and a rubber cover protects the charging port. The IP66 waterproof rating means you don’t need to worry about the torch failing in the wet – so no excuse not to go out if it’s dark and raining!

Nitecore NU25 and NU25UL side by side

same torch different strap

Battery:

The NU25 is powered by an internal 650mAh li-ion battery which is charged via an external USB – C port.

Weight:

NU25 58g, NU25UL 47g (on my scales)

RRP:

NU25 £49, NU25UL £45

My thoughts:

Does all that selection of setting sound a little complicated?! It took me several uses to figure out how to switch between the different modes and sometimes I actually needed to take the torch off my head and look at it to see which lamps were illuminated! Often it was a case of pressing the buttons at random until I settled on a setting that seemed best. It doesn’t help that I have several different torches, each with different operating functions and admittedly if this was your only torch you’d probably soon get used to its operation.

The buttons are very small and lie quite flush with the body of the torch. This makes using the switches whilst wearing gloves quite difficult and with mittens it is almost impossible. Not a problem if you are using the torch without gloves but something to consider if using it in winter. The on / off button does have little pimples which help to locate it if you are gloveless. I tried both torches to get a feel for the different head bands and found the slightly heavier non UL version to be more comfortable. I would probably forgo a little bit of weight saving and choose the slightly heavier head band if I was choosing between the two torches. The reflective cord is useful if you want to be seen from behind or the side, for example whilst running on unlit roads.

Battery life is claimed to be 2 hrs 40 mins on maximum power. I tested the NU25 by fully charging it then leaving it on Dual Beam full power mode (indoors in a warm room) and it lasted for 2 hrs 27 minutes (I’d expect that it maybe a shorter duration if outdoors on a cold night) It then suddenly switched to a very dim reserve mode, this would be quite a shock if you were running, but at least you aren’t cast from high power to complete darkness all at once! Reserve mode lasted another 50 minutes before the torch switched off altogether. The external USB – C port allows you to easily charge the torch, for example whilst driving or even via a power bank whilst you are carrying it. The fact that there is no compartment to open to access the battery means there is no clip or hinges to break. Recharge from completely drained to fully charged (4 blue lights) took just over 2 hours using the supplied USB-C cable.

chart showing Nitecore battery life figures

claimed battery life is less than in reality!

I found that the medium setting of 200 lumens was sufficient for easy trail running and night walking with the odd burst of 400L in more tricky terrain. The ultra low mode was useful for camping when I wanted the inside of my tent to be gently illuminated. The cord allowed me to easily hang the torch inside my tent and the glow-in-the-dark cord means you can find your torch again for several minutes after you have turned it off.

NU25 floodlight mode

NU25 in floodlight mode

Verdict:

Whilst this is not the the torch that I’d use for serious mountain outings or Bob Graham support etc the Nitecore NU25 is a great torch for shorter runs on less technical terrain where battery life and brightness are less important. It is still powerful enough to cope with a very long run on medium power. The settings can take a little getting used to and it can be tricky to change modes whilst wearing gloves. It is my torch of choice for fast-packing and lightweight camping as at around 50g the weight is barely noticeable yet it packs enough of a punch to get you off the hill in the middle of the night if needs be. It would also make a great back up torch if heading into the mountains.

More detailed video review here:

Available here:
Nitecore Website: https://www.nitecore.co.uk/products/nitecore-nu25-ul.html

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