Nitecore NU32 Headlamp Review

Preface

Another year, another Nitecore!  This time it’s a new headlamp, with a whole host of emitters, including red and two high CRI secondary emitters.  Nitecore has a special sale going on this one, so the review is timely!


Official Specs and Features

Versions

Just one version of this NU32.

Price and Coupon

Regular price for this light is around $40 at the time I’m writing this, but if you buy on amazon here:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CV3VTYB and the coupon NU32FLASH for 10% off.

After today, hit up NitecoreStore.com for this light, at $40!


Short Review

This is a good little headlamp in the …. “hiker format” if I can call it that.  The addition of High CRI is a nice thing, and the internal cell (while not always my favorite feature) is satisfactory here.

Long Review

The Big Table

Nitecore NU32
Emitter: Cree XP-G3 (Secondary Red and White)
Price in USD at publication time: $40.00
Cell: Internal
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (A):
On-Board Charging? Yes
Chargetime
Power off Charge Port with no Cell? Yes
Claimed Lumens (lm) 550
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 626 (113.8% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 125
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 230lux @ 4.184m = 4026cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 126.9 (101.5% of claim)*
All my Nitecore reviews!

* Standard measurement disclaimer:  I am an amateur flashlight reviewer.  I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment.  I test output and such in PVC tubes!!  Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).

What’s Included

  • Nitecore NU32 headlamp
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Headband
  • Manual and paperwork

Package and Manual

The usual Nitecore colors, but this time the product is visible through the front.

The manual is a normal Nitecore manual.  Here’s a pdf version of the manual.

Build Quality and Disassembly

Since this light has it’s own built in cell, there are no opening parts except the charge port.  The charge port has a secure cover, so overall this is a well built light.

It’s a little bigger than other similar lights that might use AAA, for example.

The headband strap is not removable, and can tilt to around 60 degrees or so.  Getting the headband on and off the connector is easy.

Size and Comps

Officially:
63mm x 43.5mm x 31.5mm, and 99.5g with headband.  (76.4g without headband.)

I measure the package at 100g, and 78g without the headband.

Retention and Carry

The only way to really use this light is as a dedicated headlamp.  It’s possible to remove it from the headband, but since it’s really only usable that way, why bother.  The headband is only around the head, not over.  But at only ~77g, the light doesn’t bounce, and holds steady.

Also most importantly, the headband is comfortable.  The back of the bracket doesn’t have any padding, but it has a good contour and no sharp bits.

Power and Runtime

Power is provided by an internal cell of 1800mAh capacity.  It’s more than likely a lipo pouch, but I didn’t pop the light open to find out.  The two halves of the light are permanently connected (probably “ultrasonically welded”).

As such, the battery isn’t replaceable.

Here’s a runtime on Turbo.  Turbo is timed to step down at 30s, and it does so at exactly 30s.  So the 30s reading of output (626 lumens) is just a little misleading since the light immediately goes to around 200 lumens.  There begins a steady decline for the next few hours.

Notably there’s a built in battery check function:  When off hold the “R” button for 1s and the switch led will blink to represent the remaining power.

Three flashes: power is above 50%
Two flashes: power is below 50%
One flash: power is below 10%

Charging the NU32 is performed by connecting the light to USB power over the USB to micro-USB cable, which is included.  There’s a nice velcro loop, too.

Here’s a chargetime.  This shows that the claimed 1.8Ah is a very low estimate.  I measure almost 2Ah and that’s from a 5V recording.

User Interface and Operation

There are two buttons on the NU32.  They’re side by side, and on the top of the device (when being worn on your head).  One is labeled “R” and primarily concerns the Red output.  The other is labeled with a Power symbol.  They’re rubber covered, clicky, but still quiet.

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click Power Button (PB) Low
On Click PB Mode advance (LMH)*
On Hold PB Turbo (30s, then High)
Off Hold PB Secondary, High CRI emitters
On (Any white) Click PB Off
Off Click R Button (RB) Red Steady
Red Steady Click RB Red Advance (Beacon, Off)*
Off Hold RB Battery Check
Off Hold PB >3s SOS (main emitter)
SOS Click PB Beacon (main emitter)
Off Hold both Lockout
Lockout Hold both Unlock

The red secondary and the main emitter may run concurrently, but the red and High CRI will not operate simultaneously.

*Red button will turn off the red without going through beacon, if Red Steady has been on for a number of seconds.  Same for the main white emitter – after 3 seconds of no action, the next click of the PB will turn the white emitter off.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens
Turbo 550 1h (after 30s Turbo) 626
High 190 17h 225
Mid 33 50h 40
Ultralow 1 330h
High CRI 19 25h
Red 9 38h

LED and Beam

The main emitter is a Cree XP-G3.  The reflector is smooth, broad, and very shallow.  This gives the beam as one would expect – floody but with a spot of high artifact (from the XP-G3).  This center emitter has throw that will be useful for trail finding, making it good for night running and the like.

The next emitters are the High CRI secondary emitters.  In my testing, I found these to be plenty bright for walking around in pitch dark.  The mode is not adjustable, so there’s no super low option here.  Nitecore states that the CRI of these is ≥90 CRI.

The other secondary emitters are red, and they’re very red.  They can be used at the same time as the XP-G3, but not at the same time with the High CRI.  These also do not have mode options, except On or Beacon (no levels).

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

vs XP-G3:

Vs High CRI:

vs Red:

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com.  The only other High CRI competitor to this light is another Nitecore, the NU30.  I haven’t handled that one, but it looks to be practically the same light, but with Cree XP-G2.  It has a lower output and lower throw.  Pick between these two based on your need for output vs tint.  (Need more output: NU32.  Need better tint: NU30).

Conclusion

What I like

  • Nice package of a light.  It’s well built and solid
  • High CRI secondary
  • Battery check
  • Comfortably headband and wearing

What I don’t like

  • No levels on either secondary
  • Built in battery can’t be changed

Up Next

I have a charger for tomorrow, a flashlight for Friday and …. !!!  Next week I hope to get back into Fun Fund Friday, and possibly some other random things!

Notes

  • This light was provided by Nitecore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for those coupons. It’s possible to subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!

Author: zeroair

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