Nitecore NU17 Headlamp Review

Nitecore NU17 Headlamp Review

The new Nitecore NU17 headlamp has high output, high CRI, and red built-in! Smaller than the previous iteration, it would be great for runs.

Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the Nitecore NU17 Headlamp product page.


There’s only one version of the NU10.


The NU17 is going for $24.95.

Short Review

This is a nice little very lightweight headlamp.  I like the High CRI option and that the red has multiple modes.  The band is slimmer and nice.  Overall it’s a nice little light.

Long Review

The Big Table

Nitecore NU17 Headlamp
Emitter: Cree XP-G2 (S3)
Price in USD at publication time: $24.95
Cell: Internal
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? ?
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (A): ?
On-Board Charging? Yes
Power off Charge Port? Yes, all modes on USB power
Claimed Lumens (lm) 130
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 139 (106.9% of claim)^
Claimed Throw (m) 43
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 67lux @ 2.763m = 511cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 45.2 (105.1% of claim)^
All my Nitecore reviews!

^ 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 NU17 Headlamp
  • Headband
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Manual

Package and Manual

This is a sort of blister pack for the NU17, and I don’t really like it.  I had to cut it open and basically destroy the package.  I don’t enjoy that.

The manual is typical Nitecore.

Build Quality and Disassembly

The housing here is plastic, and the battery is built-in.  It’s a dedicated headlamp, in case you wondered – you won’t be using this as a handheld light.

The bit that connects to the headstrap is non-removable.

The hinge cover serves to shield the buttons, too.  I’m not sure if I’d call this good or bad, but it could be a useful feature to prevent accidental activation.

Size and Comps

Officially: L-2.09″x W-1.19″x H-1.08″ and 47g.

And here’s the light beside my custom engraved TorchLAB BOSS 35, an 18350 light.  I reviewed the aluminum version of that light in both 35 and 70 formats.

Retention and Carry

As stated, this is a headlamp and won’t be useful in other ways.  The headband that’s included is slimmer than most current generation headbands.  There are a few triangles of reflective material.

On the flip side (the inside, that is) there’s a grippy band of silicone that also serves to direct sweat away from one’s eyes.

Power and Runtime

The battery used in the NU17 is built-in, non-removable, and non-replaceable.  I performed two runtimes – first the highest mode of the main emitter:

Secondly is the highest (also onlyiest) mode of the High CRI emitters.  I didn’t cool this one, and the highest temp was only 33 degrees C.  Not too hot, and cool enough to be worn indefinitely.

The light does eventually shut off fully, but since the battery is built-in, I can’t really check the voltage.


With the built-in cell comes built-in charging.  This is by a micro-USB port.

Nitecore includes a cable fit for charging.

Charging looks pretty normal, aside from that little blip around 30 minutes.  Can’t really explain it but it’s also not really a problem.

The charging indicator LED is behind the main emitter (it’s not the two reds on the sides).  During charge, this indicator lights red.  When charge is complete, the indicator is green.

Pulse Width Modulation

There is no PWM on any output.

Main emitter:

High CRI:


For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.  Also, here’s the light with the worst PWM I could find.  I’m adding multiple timescales, so it’ll be easier to compare to the test light.  Unfortunately, the PWM on this light is so bad that it doesn’t even work with my normal scale, with is 50 microseconds (50us).  10ms5ms2ms1ms0.5ms0.2ms.  In a display faster than 0.2ms or so, the on/off cycle is more than one screen, so it’d just (very incorrectly) look like a flat line.  I wrote more about this Ultrafire WF-602C flashlight and explained a little about PWM too.

User Interface and Operation

There are two buttons on the NU17.  They’re side by side, and share a rubber cover.  These switches are on top of the headlamp.  One’s labeled with a power logo, and one’s labeled “R” for red.

The UI is fairly simple.

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click Power Main Low
Off Hold Power High Cri On
Off Click R Red Low
On >3s Click Any Off
On Hold R Off
On White <3s Click Power Mode advance LMH, Off
On Red <3s Click R Red advance (Low, High, Red slow strobe)
On Hold Power 1s High
Any Hold Power >3s SOS (First mode of Special Group)
Special Group Click Power Special Advance (SOS, Beacon)
Off Hold R Battery Indicator^

^ Battery level is indicated by the charging indicator LED – the red emitter behind the main emitter.
Three flashes: Battery >50%
Two flashes: Battery <50%
One flash: Battery <10%

LED and Beam

There are three types of emitters here.  One in the center is a Cree XP-G2.  The High CRI is next, beside the center emitter.  Nitecore doesn’t seem to state what emitter this is.  Same for the red.

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

Tint vs BLF-348 ( 219b version) (affiliate link)

I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348 because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!


What I like

  • Very light headlamp.
  • Reasonable throw out of the main emitter.
  • High CRI is a good temperature, too
  • Red secondary having two modes is a good feature – particularly because the low is very low.

What I don’t like

  • Built-in battery, but it’s really expected in this class of light.


  • This light was provided by Nitecore for review. I was not paid to write this review.
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