ZebraLight H51

Manufacturer: ZebraLight
Model: H51 (Headlamp AA 200Lm)
Date of Purchase: February, 2012
MSRP: (US) $64.00
Manufacturer’s WebsiteZebraLight.com

Measured Weights:
>>Headlamp (w/o Battery): 1.3 oz (37 gm)
>>Headband w/ Holder: 0.8 oz (23 gm)
>>Clip: 0.1 oz (2 gm)

LED: Cree XP-G Cool White (color temperature 6100-6500 K)

Listed Light Output:
>>High: H1 200 Lm (0.9 hrs) or H2 100 Lm (2.4 hrs) / 140 Lm (1.7 hrs) / 4Hz Strobe
>>Medium: M1 30 Lm (10.5 hrs) or M2 8 Lm (26 hrs)
>>Low: L1 2.5 Lm (3 days) or L2 0.2 Lm (16 days)
>>Parasitic Drain: Negligible (equivalent to 16 years)
(Light output are out the front (OTF) values. Runtime tests are done using Sanyo 2000mAh Eneloop AA batteries.)

Beam Type:
>>80 degree spill beam spread
>>11 degree (3.8 feet at 20 feet) hot spot

Basic Operations (from the site):
This light has 3 main levels (High, Medium, and Low). Each main level can be configured to one of its two sub-levels. The second sub-level of the High can be further configured to different brightness levels or strobes.

  • Short click turns on the light to High. Short click again quickly to cycle from High to Medium, and Low.
  • Press and hold to cycle from Low to High, release to set. When press and hold, the light always cycle from Low to High regardless which level you are currently in.
  • Double click to toggle and select between the two sub-levels for that main level. Sub-level selections (except the strobe) for the 3 main levels are memorized after the light is turned off and through battery changes.
  • The second sub-level of the High can be configured after 6 double clicks. Double click (starting with the 7th) to cycle and select different brightness levels or strobes. Short click to turn off the light when finishing configurations. The selections for the second sub-level of the High are memorized after the light is turned off and through battery changes.

~Requires 1 AA Battery (NiMH, lithium or alkaline)
~Electronic soft-touch switch, with a 200,000 cycle operating life
~Precision machined unibody casing from premium grade Alcoa aluminum bar stock
~Durable natural hard anodized finish (Type III Class I)
~Ultra clear lens with anti-reflection coatings on both sides
~Waterproof to IPX8 (2 meters, 30 minutes)

Included in Box:
1. ZebraLight H51 Headlamp
2. Headband
3. One Black Silicone Holder
4. One Glow-In-The-Dark Silicone Holder
5. Pocket Clip
6. Two Spare O-Rings
7. Basic Operating Instructions

Back in February of this year, I got the itch to get a new headlamp. I have had a few in the past, most of which were good-enough headlamps, but I wanted more… but less… More function, but less weight, however, at this point, weight had now taken a back seat to function, within reason anyway.

My first headlamp was a Princeton Tec Fuel, which is a fine headlamp, but not great. I will admit, I never had to use the Fuel at night to hike with, but with regular/general use, the high setting seemed adequate for using it for night-hiking if I needed it. What I didn’t like is that the low setting was a bit intense (IMO) when using in a crowd, and it does not have the more “friendly” red light. As well, this light required 3 AAA batteries, and changing them out was not the easiest. (I am just glad that I never had to change them in the dark.)

So, by the time I got my wife a headlamp, I decided that I was not a big enough fan of the Fuel to get her one too, so I decided to look elsewhere. However, she was not interested in spending too much for a headlamp for her to use… So, we found a Black Diamond Gizmo at an REI for like $10. IMO, this headlamp pretty much had the same pro’s & con’s as the Fuel as listed above. However, the fact is both of these headlamps worked just fine, so we used them for a while…

Then I started to get the light-weight bug. I ended up picking up a Petzl e+LITE. When getting this light, I thought I understood that this light was not as bright as my other lights. However, at this point I had still not done any real night hiking, so I really didn’t understand. In this case, I will admit, I was blinded by the weight…not the light…

Then, one night my son and I unexpectedly had to hike out of camp around midnight… In this case, I found the e+LITE to be severely inadequate (at least for my liking) when it came to using it as a true night-hiking light. And to be honest, my Photon Micro Light actually got us out of the woods that night.

Since this time, I had went back to my Fuel headlamp. I had my eyes on some other headlamps for a while, but never serious enough to pull the trigger on one. At the time, I just really knew that my next headlamp would have the friend lamp (AKA: red lamp) in it.

Then one night, it got in me. That “need” to get another headlamp…

I had begun by looking at the Fenix LD01 lights. The LD01 did not have the red light I at one time had so desired, but everything else about it had drawn me to it. It had a wide variety of light intensity settings, which ranged from low enough to probably still be friendly in a crowd, as well as high enough (I think) to do some occasional night hiking with. It only used 1 battery and is pretty dang light weight…. However, as I was researching, I came across a lot of folks that really, really liked their ZebraLights… and more specifically, the ZebraLight H51.

When I first looked at the ZebraLights, I will be honest, the price put me off. However, with all the hoorah over them, I felt that I should at least “look into them.” So I did, and now I can say that I am glad that I did…

Now, I am not going to try to compare the Fenix LD01 to the ZebraLight H51 (which is what I have now) or say that one is better than the other, but I am just going to say that I dove into the ZebraLight pool on this particular night. It was definitely a spur of the moment thing, but after using it, I can honestly say that I am very happy that I decided to go for it.

As can be seen from the first of this post, there are a lot of technical details about this light (and these are only some of the ones I copy and pasted from the ZebraLight site). From what I understand, there is a lot of detail and attention that goes into manufacturing the ZebraLights’, and while I am no “headlight buff,” after using it for a while, I can say that my ZebraLight H51 seems like a much higher quality light than the other headlamps I have owned (which are listed above).

Since getting the ZebraLight H51 back in late February, I have used it on all of my trips, which have indeed included a few night/early morning hikes. Temperatures have ranged between high 20’s F to near 100 F, and I have had it out in both rain and sun. I have used it in groups as well as on the trail. And it still looks, and more importantly, functions the same as the day I got it!

So, after this small bit of use, I am definitely sold on the ZebraLight H51. Here are a few things that I like about it so far:

  • Durable. Really, it seems tough as nails, but that doesn’t mean I intentionally abuse it. I use it as I need to, and so far it has easily stood up to this use without any evidence of failure.
  • Simple. At first it did take some getting used to as far as going through the cycles, but that did not take too long. Come on, it only has 1 button… how much more simple can it get?
  • Versatile. This light has so many different light intensities, I have found that for me, the H51 has a light intensity setting for each occasion. But not one that will “just do,” but one that actually works very well for that specific occasion!
  • Only uses 1 AA battery. This is a huge like for me. The single AA battery makes it easier to change out than multiple batteries. As well, the simple act of changing the battery out in this light is by far easier than any other headlamp I have owned.
  • Lightweight… Ok, maybe not the lightest. With the stock headband, silicone holder, light and (lithium) battery, this unit comes in at 2.7 oz! This makes it slightly heavier than my Fuel, and almost 3X as heavy as my e+LITE. However, all the above mentioned features more than make up for its weight problem, at least in my book. (Besides, with my DIY headband, everything comes in at a mere 2 oz, which now makes it considerably lighter than my Fuel headlamp, and produces way more light than the e+LITE!)

So at this point, I am really happy with my decision to get this light. It has excelled in all the areas my other lights have, but then took it a bit farther and shined even brighter in so many other areas that my previous headlamps did not. I will admit, spending the $64 on a light at first was hard to swallow, but now I don’t find it so bad and realize it was well worth it. I can definitely say that I look forward to taking this headlamp out with me on many more future trips.

Thanks for reading!


Disclaimer: In case you couldn’t tell, I paid full price for this light with my own, hard-earned money straight outta my pocket. I am under no obligation to write this review, but the fact is, I love this light so much, I gotta let everyone know about it…

My ZebraLight H51 at the Mt LeConte Shelter in the GSMNP


About Stick

My blog is essentially a record of my hiking career. Through it, I, and others, can see how I have evolved from a heavy weight backpacker, to a smarter, more efficient, lightweight backpacker. Through the use of video, still photos, and of course writing, one can see my progression, as well as check out some of the places I hike, and not to mention some cool, lightweight gear options. For me, my blog is a journal, but for others, I hope that it is an interactive learning tool to aid them in their own progression towards lightweight backpacking.
This entry was posted in DIY/MYOG, Gear, Gear Reviews, Gear Stores, Headlamps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to ZebraLight H51

  1. Pingback: Long-Term Review: ZebraLight H51 | Stick's Blog

  2. Duane Hall says:

    Another useful review Stick. I think I can see a $65.00 (plus shipping and exchange cost) in my future. I wonder if it might be practical around camp to simply clip the light to my shirt collar or pocket rather than use the headband. I see that one of your blog responders clips the light to his back while night hiking.


    • Stick says:


      This is one of those pieces of kit that has actually secured a spot on all of my gear lists… I have no desire to replace it, unless it is for the newer, updated version… 🙂

      Anyway, I am fine with just attaching it to my head. This way it always shines where I need it too… But as bright as it can go, I don’t figure it would be too bad if I attached it to something else on my body…



  3. Eric says:

    I’m thinking of getting one of these, does it still get your full recommendation? I’ve been using a photon light as my only light source, and I’ve been thinking thAt it may not be a wise choice.


    • Stick says:


      It totally still gets my full recommendation. I love it and have no desire to get any other headlamp… It comes with me on all of my trips.



  4. Matt says:


    Glad to find your post on the Zebra light, just pulled the trigger on one and am excited to try it out after reading your post and watching your vid. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Cheers.


  5. John C says:

    Stick, the Zebrlight H51 cool white is my favorite backpacking flashlight. I have had it for about a year. I use the dimmest mode for reading and rarely use above medium for walking down the trail at night. It is nice to have the high mode when you need a searchlight, however.

    My backpacking friends are amazed at how bright it is on high–200 lumins I believe. They always want me to bust out the Zebralight when hanging bear bags because it is so much brighter than their lights. I use the Eneloop batteries as recommended by Zebralight.

    I don’t use the headband at night, I simply clip it to the belt of my backpack. My gut pushes the flashlight slightly down at the perfect angle. It seems to give a better perspective than using the headband and is more comfortable.


    • Stick says:


      I use the same settings for both, and have also used the high for throwing a bear line! It is a very useful item, and I am very happy with it. The couple of times that I have used it for hiking at night, I simply wore it on my head (with my DIY headband) and it did fine for me.

      Thanks for sharing.



  6. Patrick says:

    This is a neat looking flashlight, but $65 seems like a lot.. especially after reading this post I put my Big Lots LED flashlight (1AA) on the scales.. 1.7 oz. per flashlight for a whoping $1.75.


    • Stick says:


      I admit, the $64 price tag really made me wonder when I first saw this light…in fact, after seeing the price I almost stopped looking completely. After all, I had started off researching the Fenix LD01 light which was $35 and I kinda thought it was high too… However, I entertained myself by continuing to check it out…and I gotta say, the more I read, the more I wanted to try it. So, when I pressed the “submit” button on the order page, it was kind of a…hesitate, hesitate, hesitate, PRESS! and then jump back… 🙂

      Anyway, I have really come to like this light, and it will be my go-to light for all seasons. In the end, this light is my second favorite item in my pack, so I am very happy that I went with it…

      Thanks for reading.



  7. Jared says:

    Hey Stick,
    I’ve looked into the Zebra lights, too, but I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on one yet. The price and the battery life are what’s keeping me from committing.

    What made you decide on the H51, as opposed to the H31? One plus is that the H51 comes with the GITD holder and the H31 doesn’t. Were there other reasons?


    • Stick says:


      The price is definitely a consideration, however, when compared to some other lights out there, it is not too bad. At least I can say that now that I have already spent it and have experience with it. For me though, I am very happy that I went this route. After owning mine, I feel like the price is justified. I feel like it will be around for a long time and look forward to having it with me.

      I actually like it so much, that this has become my number 2 favorite piece of gear that I will have on every trip I go on…the number one is my Original NeoAir…

      As far as battery life, the numbers on the site are figured using the Eneloops, which are only 2,000 ma. The L91’s that I use are 3000 ma, so they get a little longer life out of them. However, I hardly ever use the high settings. Most of the time I am on the low settings (for around camp) and then one of the medium settings (for night hiking), so the batteries have lasted quite a while. And the great thing is, this only uses 1 battery, rather than 2 or 3 that many other headlamps use, so I also have less weight by carrying less batteries.

      The reason I went with the H51 over the H31 is simply my preference for a AA battery rather than the coin cell batteries. I have never gotten into the coin cell batteries, and it just seems easier to come by the AA batteries, although I know that more and more places are starting to carry a wide variety of these coin cell batteries too.

      I do like the GITD holder, but as seen in my video, I do not use it. Instead, I use my lighter, DIY headband…

      Thanks for stopping by!



  8. Chad – nice review as always. I been going between this & the Petzl tikka XP 2 http://www.rei.com/product/829554/petzl-tikka-xp-2-headlamp specs are a bit diff between the 2 and about $10 diff in price. The zebra specs seem much nicer! I like a red light for camp. I’m thinking a red plastic lens can possibly be made for this or I think I actually have something from a mini mag light. tho if the low on this zebra is like moonlight – I may not want red light… Have you ever used a tikka XP 2?


    • Stick says:


      The Tikka Plus 2 was actually the light that I really considered for a while after realizing that my e+LITE was not going to fill my needs. However, I just went back to my Fuel for a while. When I bought my ZebraLight, I was really about to pull the trigger on the Fenix LD01, but well, I got distracted by the ZebraLight. In the end, I am sure that the other lights mentioned are fine lights, but this was my preference, and now after some use, I am very happy that I went with it…

      As far as the low setting on the ZebraLight (0.2 lumens, which is the equivalent of a full moon I believe…) well, I think it is very friendly. It is not blinding at all, but more like a soft glow when looking into it. No one has complained about it yet, and it does not bother me at all, so I am good with it…



  9. Rambler says:

    I too own one of the H51s and love it. Had been using a BD Ion for backpacking trips and was looking for a lightweight AA battieried headlamp reduce spare batteries by sharing them with my camera on a scout trip to Philmont, NM.
    I was shocked at the amount of light this little lamp puts out at high. It is almost too much light. Granted the battery may not last an hour at that setting, so you are going to use it judiciously, but you know you have it if you need it. I also thought the lowest low was not going to be of any use because it was sooo low, but I found that to be my goto setting for most of my 2 week trip. It was great in the tent and for basic gear sorting and pack prep at night.
    The only cons I found with this light were the complexity of the settings (yes it has one button, but you need a cheatsheet to remember how to get to all the different settings), and I had it come on several times accidentally in my pack. Someone noticed the high beam through the pack material one day and saved me on that one.
    Also the GITD headlamp holder is nice for finding the light in the tent in the first part of the night.

    All in all a great light and I will use it for many years to come.


    • Stick says:


      I had some of the same feelings about this light as far as intensity too, but like you, have been set straight after actually using it. I agree, the low setting is pretty low, but it is very useable in a number of settings. I can (and have) actually use that setting to hike to the privy in the night…

      As far as times, the listed times are based on the Eneloop batteries, which have less energy capacity as the lithiums that I am using (IIRC the L91 has 3,000 ma whereas the Eneloops are only 2,000). So, the L91’s will actually provide longer burn times. However, I still do not run around with the light on high, I really do not need it. The medium settings are easily bright enough for me to hike by… I always carry a spare battery with me though… just in case.

      I did find the settings to be a bit confusing at first, but after messing with it for a bit, I found that it is pretty easy to use. As far as coming on in the pack, I have read that others had this same issue. I talk a little about this in my video. ZebraLight recommends to simply unscrew the bottom cap 1/4 turn which will lock the light out and it will not come on. I always mean to do this, but always forget… but so far it has not accidentally come on either…

      I agree though, great light and I expect to get a lot of years out of it…

      Thanks for stopping!



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