I hardly ever get offered free samples these days. I’m not that bothered as most stuff on offer doesn’t interest me. However, I was contacted by Olight via a friend to see if I was interested in reviewing one of their extensive range of torches.
My interest was piqued by the Olight H1 Nova, which looks like a mini version of a Zebralight. A few emails later and I received an H1 Nova to review just in time to take to Scotland. While you don’t really need such a powerful headtorch for Scotland in May, it gave me a chance to test it.
The H1 Nova comes in a neat little case with a battery, head band and a clip for attaching to a strap. There’s an instruction manual and a leaflet on other products. It looks and feels very well made. Weight is 39g for the torch and 29g for the headband. It uses widely available CR123A batteries and has a maximum light intensity of 500 lumens. There are five lighting modes plus an SOS feature, which flashes a distress signal (details below).
It’s easy to locate the torch into the headband. It’s held firmly in place by some bands and the angle of tilt can be adjusted. The on/off switch is at the bulb end . The various modes are relatively easy to select and explained in the manual. I found it easier to play about and select the modes on the Olight than my Zebralight. Although not as intense as the Zebralight, the highest setting was almost like a searchlight. I found Mode 4 (15 lumens) and Mode 3 (60 lumens) to be the most useful.It was very comfortable to wear as a headtorch and to use as a stand alone torch.
The body is metal and it has a Cree XM-L2 LED bulb. It’s worth mentioning that it is also waterproof to IPX8, (1-3m sustained immersion), so should be plenty good enough for backpacking. The base is magnetic so you can attach it to a suitable metal surface. One caveat for backpackers is that the magnet is quite strong, so you want to keep it well away from your compass! I am impressed by the build quality.
I did a quick comparison with my Zebralight H600W Mk3 and Petzl Tikka XP at home. On its highest setting, the Zebralight is over twice as bright at 1,126 Lm, but overkill for most purposes. On its second brightest setting, it’s about the same as the Nova. As you can see from the picture, it’s about twice the size.
It weighs 86g for the torch and the headband is 40g. Used as a headtorch, the Nova feels less bulky and cumbersome (not that the Zebralight is at all bad!). The Zebralight uses 18650 batteries (I’ve got rechargeable ones), which are less widely available than the ones used in the Nova. Selecting the various modes on the Nova is easier than the Zebralight too. I still think the Zebralight is a great torch BTW.
My Petzl Tikka XP is the old version. It weighs slightly more than the Nova at 75g (all weights include batteries). It has a maximum brightness of 60 Lm. It’s a great headtorch but it’s definitely been left behind by the Nova, which is lighter, brighter and has more modes.
I really like the Olight H1 Nova and it worked well in Scotland. It combines much of the functionality and brightness of a Zebralight and is lighter than a Petzl Tikka XP. The build quality is high and there’s nothing to fault. My only caveat is the magnetic base. Don’t put it near a compass! To make it perfect, Olight could include a non-magnetic base cap to prevent any accidents.
If you’re interested in buying one, they are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M7UWGVK . This is not an affiliate link and I receive no money for this link.
Disclosure: I was given the H1 Nova free of charge on the understanding that I have full editorial control over the review and was under no obligation to Olight. I have no commercial or financial relationship with Olight. I never accept payment for reviews and always retain full editorial discretion.