Tested: Ledlenser MH11
Whatever your adventure pursuit – trekking, cycling, climbing, car camping, 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 head torch became ubiquitous with adventure activities.
As with any adventure gear, portable lighting tech has advanced incredibly 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 (especially in terms of output – more on that later) represents the best of the latest lighting tech, including Bluetooth smartphone connection that enables you to tweak the light settings (of which there are three), and which is bundled into a robust and lightweight form factor. The MH11 is rated to IP54 for water ingress, so is able to withstand dust particles and splashes of water.
The MH11 is powered by a rechargeable 3.7-volt, 11.84Watt-hour (Wh) Lithium-ion battery and offers three primary light settings – Power (750Lumens), Mid Power (300Lumens), Low Power (10Lumens) – as well as Blink (light bursts at intervals), S.O.S, Stroke and Boost. This last setting sees the MH11 throw out 1000 Lumens of light output – a huge amount of light – for a short time period, which is ideal for when you need to see further quickly, or focus maximum light on a subject. This high-output light is produced via the MH11’s Xtreme LED, through a 40mm lens, nestled at the front of a housing that also includes the battery itself. Battery life is obviously 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 (when on Boost) or 300m when on Power. We found during testing that these figures were pretty close to accurate; in general, though, when not in actual testing mode, 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 the seemingly large housing and the addition of the overhead strap, you’d think the MH11 would be hefty but it is light, weighing in at a claimed 179g. Indeed, when worn, the weight is negligible; the overhead strap ensures the side straps and the light itself stay 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 turn 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 outputs, while an eight-second hold of the on/off switch takes you to the really cool stuff: the Ledlenser connect app.
If you’d told this tester five years ago that phone-enabled lighting control would be a ‘thing’ I would have laughed, but it is here and it works surprisingly simply. Shifting to app mode means you can adjust your light’s output (read: brightness) and then set it in the memory function for future use, mode, and toggle Optisense on and off – all from your smartphone. This may sound a gimmick but during testing we found it surprisingly handy, with the ability to tweak certain settings, such as brightness especially) when the light was not directly at hand, was actually very handy. Another handy feature is the ability to remove the light itself fro the strap, allowing it to be positioned in smaller locations where it simply wouldn’t fit with the strap attached. Plus, by doing this you effectively gain a compact hand-torch.
So no, the MH11 is not ‘just’ a light, but it still does fulfill that primary role of illuminating a subject, 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 it comes with a lengthy seven-year warranty, on top of Ledlenser’s enviable reputation for durable gear.
RRP $249.95 www.ledlenser.com.au