Monday, 29 July 2013

Gear Review: LED Lenser SEO7R

If I can, I like to have some time with our race prizes before we give them to our race winners.  I like to know that whatever they win will be appreciated.  On occasion, I've been able to happily say "We use that, and I know it's good."  Other times, I've had to say, "I have a friend who thinks they're great."  For the upcoming Cotswold Way 100, I can honestly say to the winner, "If you don't want your SEO7R, I'll happily take it off your hands!"  The headlamp will go to the winners courtesy of, who kindly provided a prize to all of our ultra winners this year.

I recently bought two LED Lenser H7R lights. Nic had managed to drop her cheap & cheerful head torch one too many times, and I was finding my 4 year old Petzl Tikka just wasn't as bright as I wanted for the trails, and we had a bit of night running planned.  The H7R is a fantastic light, with excellent power and fantastically fine control of the lens and the LED.  So when I saw the new SEO series come out, I knew it should be something pretty special.  Since I was passing by UMRS HQ recently, I stopped in and Keith Godden gave me a tour of the new SEO7R.  I haven't had a chance to use one through the night, but here is an overview based on my limited experience and a comparison with the model it replaces.

The SEO7R comes with a serious guy on the packaging, and some serious power in the light.


This is where the SEO7R takes a great leap ahead of its predecessors.  For a start, the back-of-the-head battery pack from the H7R is gone.  The miniaturization process has resulted in a small, light package with the 3 AAA batteries located in the main package.  The result is 35g less weight on the head.  I could cope with the battery pack, but I can honestly say I'm happy it's gone.  The pack limited how the strap could comfortably fit on the back of the head.  In my case, that meant having the straps come low onto my ears so the pack could rest under the occipital bone.  In Nic's case, it meant she couldn't put her hair in a pony tail because that got in the way.

The SEO's battery compartment seems quite easy to use.  The back panel of the light clips and unclips, nothing complex or fiddly.  So, there shouldn't be any worries about it randomly falling off.  That said, it's all plastic, so try not to drop it on the rocks or stand on it too many times.

Lens Control

One of the best parts of the LED Lenser lights is the easy, continuous control of the lens aperture.  For my Endure 24 night section, I regularly changed from a dim, broad circle for the slower sections and a bright, focused light when I was running faster.  The H series features a little slider for the lens control.  The SEO series has a much more intuitive "twist the lens" mechanism.  It should be less fiddly, and still easy enough to work when wearing gloves.

Brightness Control

I love the continuous brightness control on my H7R.  Having 3 settings is all well and good, but we live life in a continuum of light, so why have a head torch that can't do the same?  The SEO7R combines both methods.  It has 3 presets (bright, dim, flashing), but by holding down the power/setting button, the LED brightness changes continuously through its full range, allowing you to select what you want.  For those who like to have these things automated, there's a light sensor that allows you to use the auto-control setting as well.  Personally, I'm more likely to vary the lighting based on what I'm doing and thinking than on the ambient light, so I'm not too fussed by the automatic functions.

Lighting Angle

I was deeply amused and heavily entertained with the H7R's lighting angle control on my overnight run.  It had 3 positions, none of which pointed where I wanted it to unless I was running upright with good posture.  It helped me keep my form, and gave me the giggles as I worked to stay upright as the night wore on, but wasn't the most adjustable of setups.  The SEO7R has a much finer control, with more than twice as many lock points and a more stable adjustment mechanism.  I think it's still going to require good posture if I want to look into the distance (ie. lifting my head up), but it is a huge improvement on the previous version.


OK, some people might view this as the most important thing, but in many ways, we've now reached the point where we can have as much light as we want to pay for.  With 220lm (the latest H7R gets 200lm), the light is white, bright, and likely to do everything you need.  The beam distance is measured at 130m, which is a bit lower than the 150m of the H7R, but still further than you're likely to need on most night runs.  Compared to the yellowish light I get on my ancient Tikka, it really is the difference between night and day.  But, if the SEO7R is a bit too much light for what you need, the step down to the SEO5 still leaves you with an excellent night-run torch, and the SEO3 is more than enough for those early runs around town in the morning, where the main goals are to augment street lighting and wake up oncoming motorists.  The SEO series also features a low-powered red LED, which can be handy.


Perhaps it's the erstwhile cyclists in me, but I like accessories.  The lights come with a white headstrap, accented in a colour to match the lamp.  But, for those who like a bit of extra fun, there are spare/replacement straps available in red, green, blue, and black.  You can shake your head now, but when your family run out of ideas for your Christmas present, you can bet this is the kind of thing that will save you from yet another pair of black socks.


As I said at the top, my brief experience with the SEO7R and my current H7R have combined to leave me both very impressed at the new SEO series and somewhat sad that I can't really justify replacing my still fairly new head torch.


  1. Thanks for such a detailed review - very useful.

  2. Good review, I have a LED Lenser H7R headlamp and I like it as its lightweight and it has good performance with light output. The new LED Lenser SEO7R headlamp looks very modern with the new design

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  4. I've had one of these for almost a year now. Got one last Christmas. It is an amazing bit of kit but I've had some reliability issues. After about 6 months I found that after having the torch on for about an hour, it would start cutting out. You could turn it back on, but then it would turn itself off after 30 seconds or so. Next time I used it, it was fine again, so I didn't do anything about it. Now the problem is worse but annoyingly we don't have the receipt so stuck with an almost unusable torch.

  5. Hi. I had a similar problem. Turned out to low charge on the re-chargable battery. Swapped in some standard batteries and all was well again. Good luck.