Toughness and versatility are the major selling point of this innovative and brilliantly designed little torch, which is lighter than a tennis ball, tough as nails and can be worn as a headlamp, used as a mini handheld flashlight, be mounted on your chest, hung up in a tent via a sturdy clip or positioned on metal surfaces thanks to an integrated magnet in its tail.
Extremely versatile with multiple carry options
Mega tough (impact- and waterproof)
Comes with a rechargeable USB-C battery, but works with a standard AA
Pre-programmed S.O.S. mode
Low voltage warning
Fiddly to tilt when in use
Can’t switch from flood to spot beam
No red light option
No rear light
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AceBeam H16: first impressions
After taking the AceBeam H16 out of its box, I initially thought I was looking at a mini flashlight, rather than a headlamp. In a sense, I wasn’t wrong about that. The H16 is essentially a hand-held periscope-style torch that can be transformed into a headlamp by fitting it into a purpose-built harness on the supplied headband.
• List price: $44.90 (US) / €44.90 (EU)
• Weight: 71g / 2.5oz
• Max lumens: 650
• Max beam length: 86m / 282ft
• Burn time: 58 hours in Ultra Low mode / 1hr 45mins in Turbo mode
• Light modes: Ultra Low / Low / Medium / High / Turbo / S.O.S.
• Water resistance: IP68 (submergible to 2m)
• Batteries: USB-C rechargeable battery included, also works with standard AA batteries
• Compatibility: Backpacking, camping, hiking, climbing, caving, angling, everyday carry and general use
Aside from wearing it on your head, there are several other ways this cleverly designed torch can be securely positioned. A strong hairpin clip allows you to hang the light unit from any loop so that you can use it as, say, an overhead light in your tent; or you can fix it onto the breast pocket of a shirt / jacket; and a muscular magnet in the bottom of the torch means you can attach it to most metal objects, and position the beam in a variety of angles.
These positioning options are excellent for occasions when you need to light an area but also keep both hands free to do some task or other. And, of course, you can also simply hold AceBeam H16 like a torch. So, really, this multipurpose lighting tool could compete for a place in advnture’s guide to the best flashlights on the market, as well as featuring in our best headlamps guide.
As well as being supremely versatile, the H16 is a high-performing little unit. Powered by a single AA battery, it comes with a USB-C rechargeable battery and a cable that can be plugged into any USB port, but you can swap this out for a standard AA battery. And the burn time is impressive, especially for a single-battery torch.
There are four white-light brightness options – ranging from a five-lumen Ultra Low mode that will last for up to 58 hours to a blindingly bright Turbo mode that blazes at 650 lumens for over 100 minutes.
With an ingress protection rating of IP68, the H16 is very tough and robust, and the whole unit is dust-, impact- and waterproof. It can be fully submerged in water to a depth of 2m for half an hour.
AceBeam H16: in the wild
After some initial misgivings about this little flashlight-come-head-torch (at first sight I feared it might be a bit gimmicky), the AceBeam H16 impressed the hell out of me during the testing process. After taking it camping once, I absolutely fell in love with it, and it now lives permanently either in my pocket or pack. If you’re into everyday carry (which I wasn’t, really, until I met the H16), you really should check out this little lighting unit.
There are so many different ways you can wear, hang or stand this torch up, that it lends itself perfectly to everyday use around the house, van or campsite. The AceBeam H16 has proven super useful in a myriad of ways, from the prosaic (finding things dropped into the dark cavities of my car that I’d long given up on ever retrieving) to the profound – searching for hidden treasure and observing the mesmerizing movement of insects after dark with my kids during a camping adventure.
But it’s also ideal for more extreme escapades. Powered by a single battery, it’s incredibly light, so it makes the perfect product to carry as a primary or secondary light source on all kinds of multi-day missions, whether you’re backpacking, bikepacking or canoe camping (fully submergible, it’s ideal for water-based adventures, although it definitely doesn’t float, so don’t drop it). The rechargeable battery that comes with the AceBeam H16 can be replaced with a standard AA battery, so if you’re going to be out in the wild for a while, you just need to bring a few spares.
It does have its limitations, though. The lighting modes are easy to toggle through, but they’re arranged in a fixed series, so there’s no capability to switch between the flood and spot options. Another downside is the lack of a color beam such as red, which is always useful when you don’t want to lose your night vision.
However, the 519A LED light produces a 5,000K beam, which is soft and non-glaring, and has a Color Rendering Index (CRI) rating of over 90 (the highest possible is 100), so it reveals objects in almost the same level of color detail as sunlight. There’s also a pre-programmed S.O.S. setting that can be turned on at any time, and which lasts for 38 hours. No matter what mode you have the H16 set on, it will default to Ultra Low when the battery is running low on power.
All the weight sits on the front, which results in some minor bouncing when you’re running, the light is slightly off-center, because of the design, and it’s fiddly to adjust the angle of tilt once the unit is housed in the headband holster.
The fabric of the head harness is highly breathable, however, and it has an anti-slip strip of grippy silicon along the front, which minimizes movement. The headband is also high-viz, and has reflective features for safety while walking or running on roads at night.
But in terms of toughness and ingenious versatility, it boxes several divisions above its weight, and more than holds its own with far bigger and more expensive torches (available for under 50 bucks, I think the AceBeam H16 is an absolute bargain). It wouldn’t be my first choice for a running head torch, but for hiking, camping, climbing, caving and general use, it’s ace.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.