Nitecore NU10 Rechargeable Headlamp Review

Nitecore NU10 Headlamp Review

The Nitecore NU10 is a lightweight rechargeable headlamp fitted with five LEDS including white and red lighting modes. With a maximum light output of 160 lumens, it’s designed to throw a wide 170 degree beam of light, making it ideal for nighttime activities where enhanced peripheral vision is necessary. A digital lock prevents accidental discharge when the light is not in use while a battery meter notifies you when recharging is necessary or has been completed. The headlamp has an easy to adjust elastic strap with a 60 degree angle of illumination so you can easily aim the light to where it’s needed most.

Control Logic

The NU 10 has two buttons on top of the light housing, one to control its white light functions and the other to control the red light. They both make a clicking sound when pressed and are large enough to use while wearing gloves, which is one of the things I like best about this light

The white light has three modes: high (160 lumens), mid (35 lumens), and ultra low (1 lumens) with burn times ranging from 7 hours on high, to 8:45 on mid, to 150 hours on ultra low. All four LED lights burn in each mode, providing a wide illumination spread. Pressing the white power switch repeatedly cycles through the modes and is dead simple to use. If the headlamp is on and you hold the white button down for 3 seconds, the white light turns off. If the headlamp is off and you hold the white button down for 3 seconds, it flashes on high in strobe mode.

In their instructions for the NU10, Nitecore explains that the light will switch from high (160 lumens) to mid (35 lumens) after 45 minutes to prevent the NU10 from overheating, but I’ve never been able to replicate this behavior myself. The light doesn’t get hot and I’ve run it on high well past 45 minutes many times. YMMV.

The red light switch is marked with an R on the button. With the light off, pressing the R button will turn the red light (13 lumens) on. A second press with 3 seconds will make the red light flash. If the button is pressed after the 3 seconds, the light will turn off. Very simple.

Beam Profile

The NU10 has five LEDs arranged in a line across the headlamp’s body. The center LED is red, while the four outer LEDs are white. The orientation of the white LEDs creates a very broad flood light without a well defined center, making it good for outdoor activities that require good peripheral lighting like hiking or running.

The four white LEDs create a diffuse beam without a well defined focus point.
The four white LEDs create a diffuse beam without a well defined focus point.

The red LED has a much more focused beam reflected out with a mirror, although truncated on the sides because of the adjacent white LEDS.

The single Red LED has a more focused beam
The single Red LED has a more focused beam.

Power Meter and Recharging

The NU10 includes a micro-USB cord. To recharge the light, you pull back the small piece of plastic covering the micro-USB port and plug it to a power supply. There is a power indicator under the white light button that turns green when the light is fully charged. When the light is charging, it is red.

You can also test the power level of the battery when it is not charging. With the light off, press the white button once. If the power meter blinks 3 times, it means the battery is greater than 50% charged, 2 blinks represent a battery level below 50% and 1 blink means there’s less than 10% power left.

You can use the NU10 while it is charging, which is a nice capability to have in the tent at night or in camp if you run low and want to recharge while you cook dinner. It’s a fairly rare feature, so it’s a real score on such an inexpensive headlamp.

Lock Mode

The Nu10 has a digital lock to prevent accidental activation. To lock the device you push both top buttons at once until the built-in power meter flashes. To unlock, push both buttons until the power meter flashes again. I consider headlamps locks to be a must-have feature. The last thing you want is a dead headlamp because it turned on accidentally in your backpack.

You can use the NU10 while it is recharging
You can use the NU10 while it is recharging.

Comparable Rechargeable Headlamps

Make / ModelLumensLockRed ModeWeightPrice
Biolite 330330YesYes2.4 oz$50
Knog Bilby400YesYes3.2 oz$60
Fenix HM50R500NoNo2.8 oz$60
Petzl Bindi200YesYes1.2 oz$60
Nitecore NU 32550YesYes3.5 oz$40
Nitecore NU 25360YesYes1.85 oz$37
Nitecore NU 20360YesNo1.82 oz$30
LEDLenser SEO7R200YesYes3.3 oz$40
Claymore Heady600YesNo3.7 oz$80
Petzl Tactikka450YesYes2.8 oz$70

Recommendation

The Nitecore NU10 is a great rechargeable headlamp for the money with easy to use control logic, a battery power indicator, digital lock, and white and red lighting modes. It’s only real limitation is burn time, which is 7 hours on high (160 lumens) and 8 hours 45 minutes on mid (35 lumens), therefore requiring more frequent recharging. The NU10 is unique in its ability to throw a wide white beam because it has four white LEDs instead of one, making it useful for activities that require good peripheral vision at night. The NU10 is also available in multiple colored cases and straps, if that kind of thing is important to you. But I think my favorite feature on this headlamp are the two top control buttons, one for the white light and one for the red. They simplify the control logic, while providing a satisfying click each time they’re depressed.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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4 comments

  1. I have this model and love it. The lock is amazingly simple and works well. Nitecore used the KISS method for this light and it shows. Well designed for functionality, ease of use, and across activities. I use mine for night backpacking/early mornings, the red light for in-camp activities, and take it running as well. A great product!

  2. I’m happy for the 13 lumens output on the red. For me, anything under that is useless. Red is nice for the time after dusk when you want to preserve night vision as long as possible. It’s also useful when trying to leave a shelter early without waking other sleepers. I have some lights that have very wimpy red, so weak as to be unusable. Decent red output is a must for me.

  3. I think the review missed the big reasons why someone might be interested in the NU10, they it is a cost effective and usable for ~40% less weight than a headlamp with 3x AAA batteries.

  4. Great timing for this review, Philip.
    My NU 10 arrived in the mail today and my initial impressions are favorable for both white light and red light settings and brightness. I’m looking forward to the true test on my next backpacking trip.

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