Gear test – Ledlenser MH11
Whatever your adventure pursuit – trekking, cycling, climbing, car camp-ing, paddling – you need some type of portable light source. When it comes to preparing meals at that remote campsite, or checking in the dark interior of your kayak’s storage compartment, you need to see what you’re doing, which is how the humble headtorch became ubiquitous.
As with any adventure gear, portable lighting tech has advanced incredibly in the past decade; from the days of AA- or AAA-powered small lights that barely lit up a few metres in front of you, we’ve moved on to the high-tech, high-output MH11 from lighting powerhouse LedLenser. This big bopper (in terms of output) represents the best of the latest lighting technology, including Bluetooth smart-phone connection that enables you to tweak the light settings (of which there are three), and which is bundled into a robust and lightweight package with an IP54 rating for water ingress, so it’s able to withstand dust particles and splashes.
The MH11 is powered by a rechargeable 3.7V, 11.84Watt-hour (Wh) Lithium-ion battery and it offers three primary light settings – Power (750 Lumens), Mid Power (300 Lumens) and Low Power (10 Lumens) – as well as Blink (light bursts at intervals), SOS, Stroke and Boost. This last setting sees the MH11 throw out a claimed 1000 Lumens of light – a huge amount – for short periods, which is ideal when you need to see further quickly, or focus maximum light on a subject.
The MH11’s high-output light is produced via its Xtreme LED that projects through a 40mm lens nestled at the front of a housing that also includes the battery itself. Battery life is determined by usage in each mode, with LedLenser claiming four hours when set on Power, eight hours on Mid Power and a mighty 100 hours when set to Low. The beam’s distance is up to 320m (on Boost) or 300m on Power. These figures proved accurate during testing; in general usage, though, we ran the MH11 on mostly Low, with a bit of Mid Power when needed. Charging time from zero to full is seven hours.
With a seemingly large housing and an overhead strap, you’d think the MH11 would be hefty, but it is light, weigh-ing in at a claimed 179g. Indeed, when worn, the weight is negligible; the overhead strap ensures the side straps and the light itself stay comfortably secured to your head/cap/hat. Operation is straightforward, with all the features of the light accessed via the top button; holding it down for 10 seconds puts it in ‘White Mode’, which allows you to toggle through the output settings and also access features such as Optisense (where the light senses something close to it and adjusts – lowers – the output accordingly to reduce glare). RGB mode is 12 seconds, and allows you to switch between green, red or blue light, while an eight-second 120 Adventure hold of the on/off switch takes you to the really cool stuff: the LedLenser connect app.
If you’d told me five years ago that phone-enabled lighting control would be a ‘thing’ I would have laughed, but it is here, and it works surprisingly well. Shifting to app mode means you can adjust the light’s output (read: bright-ness) from a smartphone, as well as set the mode and memory function for future use, and toggle Optisense on and off. This may sound a gimmick but during testing we found it surprisingly handy to be able to tweak certain settings, such as brightness, when the light was not directly at hand. Another useful feature is the ability to remove the light itself from the strap, allowing it to be positioned in confined locations where it simply wouldn’t fit with the strap attached. Plus, by doing this, you effectively gain a compact hand-torch.
The MH11 is more than just a headtorch, although it fulfills that primary role of illuminating a dark track or interior of a vehicle very well. The added functionality via the LedLenser app and the ability to remove the light and use it as a hand-torch make this lighting tech tour-de-force well worth considering, especially when you consider of LedLenser’s enviable reputation for producing durable gear, and this product’s lengthy seven-year warranty.
The MH11 is available at Ledlenser. RRP $249.95