Review: Skilhunt H04F RC

This Skilhunt H04F RC was providen by Skilhunt for review.

Killzone Flashlights, a Skilhunt dealer for the US facillitated the arrangement. Here's the H04F RC at Killzone. Those are affiliate links to Killzone, and my affiliate coupon code "zakreviews" will get you 10% off most flashlights, including the H04 series.

Concept

The Skilhunt H04 series is a follow-up to their successful H03, which was the enthusiast's budget right-angle headlamp of choice for several years. The latest H04 models feature a 90+ CRI Samsung LH351D 4000K, Skilhunt's new customizable user interface from the M150 v2 and new revision of the M200 along with my new favorite headband. The line has evolved into a more mainstream offering since its introduction, with optional magnetic charging and an optional bundled battery.

I consider the 1x18650 right-angle light to be the most useful and versatile flashlight form factor, especially with a magnetic tailcap as the H04 series uses. Lights in this style can be used handheld, carried in pockets with a clip, clipped to clothing or equipment, attached to surfaces with a magnet, and of course worn as headlamps.

Design

The H04's design is farily conventional for a right-angle light, aside from the F model's diffuser. What sets it apart most from its competition is the range of available configurations. It comes with a cool or neutral white Cree XM-L2, or a neutral white, high-CRI Samsung LH351D. There's a choice of reflector (throwy), beaded TIR (floody), or reflector with flip-up diffuser. There's an 18350 size option. There's a choice of onboard magnetic charging or not for 18650 models.

The headband mount, however is unconventional. It supports easy installation and removal with the pocket clip attached. This headband design provides a significant improvement in versalitily relative to the rest of the industry, and can be purchased separately and used with some other brands of right-angle light.

The driver uses a relatively efficient buck converter and supports a wide voltage range, though low voltage protection only works with a single Li-ion cell. A pair of CR123s, 16340s, or 18350s can be used in the 18650 model i a pinch. There's a choice of user interfaces, one of which allows the user to enable and disable modes for increased flexibility.

Execution

The H04 is well-machined, with smooth, square-cut threads, and no visible defects in my sample. Output is stable and flicker-free in all modes, aside from timed stepdowns in turbo modes. Efficiency is competitive. Where the H04's electronics do suffer is peak output, where a high-resistance spring in the tailcap results in significant output sag depending on the length of the battery.

The magnetic charging system works well and provides significant convenience for some use cases, but the charging contacts on the light can output some current. The circuit detects a short and shuts off output in a fraction of a second, but I was able to ignite steel wool with it after several attempts. People working in an environment with metal dust or shavings may be better off with the non-charging model.

The diffuser is surprisingly useful. I was expecting it to be a gimmick, and possibly fragile, but the difference in beam pattern and usable throw is significant, and I haven't broken it yet. I do sometimes find it to be a distraction in my peripheral vision, however.

Users looking to wow their friends with peak output probably won't be thrilled by any version of the H04, but it's a tool, not a toy. The H04 excels at extended use in more practical medium modes, with a competitive price, good color quality, and my favorite headband in the industry.

Specifications

Spec -
Battery 1x18650, 2xCR123A, 2x16340, 2x18350
LED Samsung LH351D (Cree XM-L2 optional)
Color rendering index > 90
Max output 777lm (unprotected 18650), 860lm (protected 18650), 952lm (2x18350)
Max throw 89m
Max sustainable output 470lm
Max output at 50% battery 504lm
Best efficiency 132lm/W @ 328lm
Candela per lumen 2.4
Candela per lumen (diffused) 1.16
Length 100mm
Head diameter 23.5mm
Weight 48g
Weight with battery 95g
Weight with battery and headband 135g
Charging USB-magnetic
Power from charge port Yes, all modes
Power from charge port without battery Yes, max output is reduced
Low Voltage Protection (LVP) Yes, 2.8V
Lockout Mechanical and electronic

Highlights

  • High CRI
  • Headband mount works with pocket clip installed
  • Headlamp mount is quick in/out while being fairly secure
  • Flip-down diffuser offers a choice of beam patterns
  • Configurable levels
  • Good efficiency, given the high CRI

Lowlights

  • Tint is a little green
  • Tailcap spring has too much resistance with unprotected cells
  • Impacts or vigorous shaking can turn the light off with unprotected cells
  • Charging pad can produce a spark under the wrong conditions

Details and technical analysis

Versions

The H04 offers a choice of Samsung LH351D or Cree XM-L2 LEDs. The LH351D was 4000K (recent models are 5000K) and 90+ CRI, and the XM-L2 is cool or neutral white and unspecified CRI. There's a choice of floody beaded TIR optic (H04), less floody reflector (H04R), or reflector and diffuser (H04F). USB-magnetic charging is optional on every version. The same options are available in a mini version with a 1x18350 body.

This is the LH351D, reflector + diffuser, 1x18650 version with magnetic charging.

Accessories

The H04F RC comes with a headband, pocket clip, charging cable, lanyard, user manual, and spare O-rings. A 3500 mAh 18650 battery is optionally bundled.

Modes and user interface

There are two different UIs: mode group A, and B. A resembles Skilhunt's older products, while B is similar to UIs used by Acebeam, Olight, and Thrunite, but with more modes, and user control over what modes are available. Skilhunt uses L, M, H, and T 2 and 1 to designate the modes, in order of lowest to highest. Blinking modes are designated S 1-3.

Mode Group A

State Action Result
Off Click Last used (except Turbo, Strobe)
Off Hold Low (last-used of L1, L2)
Off Double-click Turbo (last-used of T1, T2)
Turbo/strobe Click Last used
On Hold Off
On Double-click Toggle sub-mode (e.g. M1, M2)
Any Triple-click Strobe
Off Hold 2S Lockout
Off Hold 5S Mode group B

Mode group B

State Action Result
Off Click Last-used (except T1, S)
Off Hold Lowest enabled
On Hold Cycle through steady modes (except T1)
Any Double-click T1
Off Triple-click Last-used strobe
Strobe Double-click Cycle variable strobe, slow beacon, fast beacon
Off Hold 2s Lockout
Lockout Hold 2S Lowest enabled
Off Hold 5s Mode group A
On Triple-click Config

Note that while the lowest mode can be saved into memory, it is not saved when accessed using the shortcut from off.

Loosening the tailcap a quarter turn locks out activation mechanically.

Config

In config, the light will cycle through all the modes other than T1. If enabled, the indicator light under the switch will be on, and if not, the light will be off. Click once to toggle the active mode. The cycle will continue until interrupted by either a long-press to save the current settings, or a triple-click to reset to factory defaults.

Output, runtime, and efficiency

Advertised performance is with a Skilhunt 3500 mAh 18650 battery. Tested performance is with a Sony VTC6 3000 mAh 18650 battery, which should result in slightly shorter runtime.

Mode Advertised Lumens Estimated Lumens Estimated throw (FL1 meters) Estimated throw (FL1 meters, diffused)
L2 0.4 - -
L1 3 14 10 -
M2 18 30 17 10
M1 61 69 27 17
H2 140 137 39 25
H1 320 328 60 40
T2 430 470 71 47
T1 790 777 89 60
Mode Estimated lumens Time to 80% Time to 50% Time to 10% Tailcap current (mA) Efficiency (lm/W)
Standby - - - 8.5 years 40 uA -
L2 - - - 566 hours 5.3 -
L1 14 - - 89 hours 33.5 99
M2 30 - - 53 hours 56.2 127
M1 69 - - 22 hours 133.5 123
H2 137 - - 12 hours 250 130
H1 328 3.6 hours 3.8 hours 4 hours 765 132
T2 470 128 minutes 147 minutes 165 minutes - 105
T1 777 2 minutes 124 minutes 165 minutes - 111

The H04 has a timed stepdown for thermal protection.

Light quality

Open, diffused, and vs Zebralight SC64c LE (LH351D 4000K)

Open, diffused, and vs Armytek Wizard Pro Nichia (144A 4500K)

Outdoor

Batteries and charging

The H04 series will run on any 18650 battery, two CR123A batteries, or two unprotected 16340 or 18350 batteries. I do not believe protected 16340s/18350s will fit, but I have none to test. It's not clear if there's low-voltage protection for a series of two Li-ion cells; my test was interrupted by a failure of one of my 18350 cells I believe is related to the cell, not anything to do with the H04.

The magnetic charger charges at a rate of 0.95A and requires about 3.5 hours to fully charge a VTC6.

The magnetic charging pad has detectable current and can create sparks briefly when shorted. Skilhunt is not the first company to produce a flashlight with this issue. The current is shut off very quickly, and it is difficult to ignite steel wool with the charging pad, but not impossible. Users working in environments with metal dust or shavings should consider the H04 without magnetic charging.

Modification potential

The optics are held in with four Torx T4 screws and easily removed, providing access to the MCPCB. LED and optic swaps are therefore very easy. Any 3V LED should work.

It's also trivial to reverse the orientation of the diffuser on the F model.

Bypassing the tailcap spring for reduced resistance increases maximum output to 907lm with an unprotected Sony VTC6.