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Thread: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

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    Default Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I've been wondering this for years. I bought my first headlamp back in the 1970's and haven't bought a hand-held flashlight since.
    Why on earth would anyone want to keep one hand tied up holding a light, when they could have a light that looks wherever they turn their head and keeps both hands free?
    I suppose a cop would want to use his flashlight as a club, and some people don't want their expensive hairdos messed up by a headband, but with the exception of these two demographic groups, why isn't everyone using headlamps?

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    Flashaholic* MikeLip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiddler View Post
    I've been wondering this for years. I bought my first headlamp back in the 1970's and haven't bought a hand-held flashlight since.
    Why on earth would anyone want to keep one hand tied up holding a light, when they could have a light that looks wherever they turn their head and keeps both hands free?
    I suppose a cop would want to use his flashlight as a club, and some people don't want their expensive hairdos messed up by a headband, but with the exception of these two demographic groups, why isn't everyone using headlamps?
    Handheld lights are handier. You can stick one in your pocket. A headlamp has a strap which takes up way too much space.

    Headlamps, unless they have separate battery packs, don't have the output that many of the handheld lamps do. And even usually with a pack, they just deliver longer runtime. If you want a thrower, you want a handheld.

    And, frankly, lots of people think wearing a headlamp makes you look like a dork. Not as bad as a magnifying headset with penlights on the sides, but still...

    I have and love my Zebralight. But it's not my go-to light because it's never handy. My Photon Pro or L1 fits my pocket.

    NRA Life Member since 1979

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    Flashaholic* RAF_Groundcrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fiddler View Post
    I've been wondering this for years. I bought my first headlamp back in the 1970's and haven't bought a hand-held flashlight since.
    Why on earth would anyone want to keep one hand tied up holding a light, when they could have a light that looks wherever they turn their head and keeps both hands free?
    I suppose a cop would want to use his flashlight as a club, and some people don't want their expensive hairdos messed up by a headband, but with the exception of these two demographic groups, why isn't everyone using headlamps?
    There's many reason's why specific user groups don't all use headlamps....

    From my own perspective as an aircraft engineer, sometimes you need to shine light into areas that a head torch wouldn't get to, and maybe have the torch in amongst a nest of cables and pipes. There is a frequent need to vary the angle of the light beam, to accentuate engraved serial numbers, for ease of reading.

    For a law enforcement officer, I can think of one good reason why not to use a headlamp, they provide an aiming point for the criminal. I recall a shooting technique (I think it may have been th FBI) where the shooter crouched low, and held the light high, as a 'distraction'.
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I think MikeLip summed it up pretty well. I'd agree that headlamps are under utilized, though. I've converted most all of my fishing buddies to them over time, and nobody ever goes back to using a handheld light as their primary after having a headlamp. On the other hand, I rarely ever rely on just a headlamp, I carry a handheld light or two for backup.... and to loan to my buddies who forget their headlamps.
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I think part of it is the "Dork Factor". As soon as you strap anything to your head, people will ridicule you. Face it, flashaholics, in general, would fit into the strange catagory for most people. Sure, everyone needs a flashlight, but most would be happy with a Maglight or whatever cheap light they can find at the drug store. Attach a Q5 powered throw monster to your knoggin' and you are going to get more than a few stares.
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    +1 on dork factor. Why do women's dresses zip up the back? Why do dress shoes and ties even exist? We are social animals (biologically...most of us anyway..) and a great deal of our collective behavior has to do with appearance.

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Don't forget the most important point why handhelds still exist.

    If you always used headlamps you can't ask someone to hold you flashlight while you worked and blame them when the job goes wrong.

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    When you are moving the flashlight beam around it can be a real pain to move your whole head instead of just moving your hand slightly. Headlamps are great for up close work involving both hands, but hand helds are better for longer range where the goal is just to illuminate an area so you can see. You can comfortably fit more batteries and bigger reflectors in a hand held than a headlamp. And both are needed for longer range illumination.

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    Flashaholic* Oddjob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Sometimes I only need light for a moment or two and it wouldn't make sense to have a hedlamp in my pocket. For prolonged, hands free operation no question I would use a headlamp. I also think that it is natural to use it in the hand as with other tools.
    I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

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    Flashaholic* MikeLip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by tebore View Post
    Don't forget the most important point why handhelds still exist.

    If you always used headlamps you can't ask someone to hold you flashlight while you worked and blame them when the job goes wrong.
    +1

    NRA Life Member since 1979

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    This reminds me of the Incandescent/LED debate: Some people say that LEDs will never be worth anything while the other side wonders why incandescents still exist at all.

    The fact is, the answer to why Incadescents still exist and Handheld flashlights haven't "gone extinct" is the same:


    There is no one solution for every person or every problem.


    The original poster apparently really loves head-mounted lights. Others, including myself, think they make you look dorky and thus only use them in very limited situations. But it is arrogant and condescending for any one to state or even imply that the solution that works FOR THEM is the only solution that should exist ever, and anyone who doesn't use their same solution is living in the stone age.

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    Flashaholic* monkeyboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    For hillwalking at night, I find that even the slightest amount of fog or haze renders a headlamp useless. The problem is that the source of light is too close to your eyes and as a result, the light is reflected by the fog directly back into your eyes. A handheld flashlight held as waist height works much better in these situations.

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    Flashaholic* matrixshaman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I can think of lots or reasons but this one comes to mind as one not mentioned yet. I haven't seen any headlamps I could comfortably wear that will light up 500 yards away - and most won't even do a 100 yards. I recently had need for a headlamp and I'm getting a couple as well as pushing for Headlamps to come out of the Dark Ages
    Other reasons are many and varied - some of our brighter hotwires are not something I'd feel safe strapped to my head, many small LED 'pocket lights' are easy to carry and always available whereas a headlamp tends to be bigger (except like the Zebralight) and have straps that are not so pocket friendly. More battery options for handhelds. Candle mode on a table for 'mood lighting' or room lighting. I'm sure there are hundreds of reasons why we like our handheld lights but I'm all for increasing headlamp or body mount use lights as I mentioned in another thread I started on getting people into the mode of personal light use versus using wasteful full house/room lighting when it's not needed much of the time. I fully expect to use the Zebralight more when mine gets fixed (one of the few apparently that was DOA) and if that works as well as I think I'm going to be looking at other head or shoulder mount options.
    BTW and what is the headlamp you use?
    Last edited by matrixshaman; 01-29-2008 at 11:32 AM.
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I'm a big fan of headlamps, but I still carry flashlights around. Aside from the convienence factor mentioned, there are times where you just don't want the headlamp pointed where you're looking, or you don't want the light shining along your line of sight. When you're hiking, sometimes it's better to hold the light at waist level so you can see the terrain better, or if you're working on cars and stuff, you need the light to come in at a different angle to avoid other obstacles and not have it reflect back in your face. Plus I haven't seen any headlamps that can even compare in brightness with some of the handheld lights that I have.

    Just as a flashlight is no replacement for a good headlamp, a headlamp is no replacement for a good flashlight.
    Last edited by InTheDark; 01-29-2008 at 12:25 PM.

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    In my line of work, I usually don't want a light source emanating from my line of sight, but rather perpendicular to it. I can maneuver a hand light MUCH easier to give the desired lighting effect. Also, with a 1xAA light, I can clip it to the brim of a baseball cap and have both a hand light and a headlamp at the same time, depending on what the situation calls for. A 1xAA light with a clip is much smaller and easier to carry overall, and much brighter for the package size.

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I wantta see you wearing a Costco HID on your head.

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    We Are BORG, you will be assimulated.

    i dont like wearing things on my head, and hours later after i take them off, it feels like they are still there. so one reason is something stuck on your head, if you dont mind hats, then wont have an issue with it.
    because of that, if i have a hand Free then i will prefer a flashlight, when i am working, then i prefer a headlight.

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    If I am going to be looking at one place for a while, say working on something, then a headlamp is great. You can adjust the angle so that the light is in line with how you want to hold your head.

    But if I am looking around and moving around and such, then I keep having to move my head with a headlamp. I have to move my head so that the hotspot is shining at what I want to look at. I can adjust the headlamp, but still what I want to look at is above where the hotspot wants to shine, or it is below it. So either way end up moving my head around a lot, and my neck also. So in this case it makes much more sense to move my hand a little and move my eyeballs, but keep my head in a comfortable spot.

    So two hands free but neck strain, doesn't sound like a good deal to me. But I do also wonder why more people don't use or even own a headlamp for doing work where they really need or could use both hands free.

    PS - I recently ordered the Zebralight, which doesn't have a hotspot. It just lights up the whole field of view, which should allow me to just move my eyeballs and not my whole head so much. Now if it had a option or way to get a nice thrown hotspot it would seem perfect to me, or at least the best out there now.
    Note to self, turn off flashlight when a plane is over head. Don't want them trying to land.

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    Flashaholic* sween1911's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    One has but to watch "Ghostbusters" to answer your question.

    Also, if you're using your flashlight in a defensive scenario, nothing says "SHOOT ME HERE" like a light on your head.

    I'll concede, when you need a headlamp, you NEED A HEADLAMP! I won't shut up about using my Princeton Tec Scout to fix a leaky garbage disposal. I simply could NOT get a handheld light down there, point it at the source of the problem, and use both hands. They are immensely useful, but for me they are a situation-specific tool.

    In an emergency though, you need light! Unless you wear the headlamp 24/7, here's your options:

    1) grab handheld light, turn on, point at what you want lit up.
    2) grab headlamp, place on head, adjust if necessary, turn on, point at what you want lit up.
    Last edited by sween1911; 01-30-2008 at 10:57 AM.
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    Flashaholic* powernoodle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I can just see myself walking around 24/7 with a headlamp instead of carrying an EDC discreetly in my pocket.

    I do have trouble fending off hot chicks, so looking like a geek with a headlamp (and lets throw in a pocket protector) might help with that.

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    Flashaholic* sween1911's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by powernoodle View Post
    I can just see myself walking around 24/7 with a headlamp instead of carrying an EDC discreetly in my pocket.

    I do have trouble fending off hot chicks, so looking like a geek with a headlamp (and lets throw in a pocket protector) might help with that.
    You know what, if you're wearing that thing 24/7, and a girl comes onto you, YOU'LL KNOW SHE'S THE ONE!

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    Flashaholic* powernoodle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I've been married 16 years, so the headlight/hot chick fantasy will have to stay on the back burner. Wait a minute. Mrs. Powernoodle is a hot chick!

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Something tells me Mrs. Powernoodle just walked in the room there, lol.
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    *Flashaholic* nbp's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Um, cuz flashlights are too cool to go extict!
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    If I am going to be looking at one place for a while, say working on something, then a headlamp is great. You can adjust the angle so that the light is in line with how you want to hold your head.

    But if I am looking around and moving around and such, then I keep having to move my head with a headlamp. I have to move my head so that the hotspot is shining at what I want to look at. I can adjust the headlamp, but still what I want to look at is above where the hotspot wants to shine, or it is below it. So either way end up moving my head around a lot, and my neck also. So in this case it makes much more sense to move my hand a little and move my eyeballs, but keep my head in a comfortable spot.

    So two hands free but neck strain, doesn't sound like a good deal to me. But I do also wonder why more people don't use or even own a headlamp for doing work where they really need or could use both hands free.

    PS - I recently ordered the Zebralight, which doesn't have a hotspot. It just lights up the whole field of view, which should allow me to just move my eyeballs and not my whole head so much. Now if it had a option or way to get a nice thrown hotspot it would seem perfect to me, or at least the best out there now.
    Note to self, turn off flashlight when a plane is over head. Don't want them trying to land.

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    Flashaholic* f22shift's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    it's because they look dorky(flashlights are dorky enough) and are not as good as handheld in current technology. headlamps are limited by weight and shape.

    recently i went snowboarding in vermont as i was thinking on which flashlights to bring. i ended up with a headlamp and a 2aa thrower with a fauxton as a backup. the headlamp came really handy in loading and unloading the car with the poor trunk light. also it was handy in the hotel room as we let one person sleep longer because of being ill. it was easy to navigate the room. the 2aa thrower was just dead weight and used for fun as a light saber when a snowstorm rolled in.
    i'll always grab a headlamp first in any occasion.

    i also noticed that all the people(including girls) i camped with on their 2nd trip all brought headlamps. it takes one trip to realize their usefulness

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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Like mentioned by almost all of the posters here, the main reason that headlamps haven't taken over is that any single light cannot fulfill the tasks required of it.

    There are those times you need a hands free light, but then there are times you need a handheld with enough 'oompf' to light up something more than 100 yards away.

    For backpacking and general camp chores, it's hard to beat a headlamp. But for those times you hear a noise and you want to see what's in the bushes, hard to beat a long reaching beam of a handheld light.

    I'm sure all the folks that post on this forum own at least one headlamp.
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by nerdgineer View Post
    +Why do women's dresses zip up the back?
    because it's more fun to have a bit of challenge...

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    Flashaholic* hopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    I can wish that all the headlamps I own were Transformers!
    At the flip of a switch they'd could be either a solid handheld or a
    comfortable headlamp...hehe!

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    *Flashaholic* Marduke's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why Hasn't The Hand-Held Flashlight Gone Extinct?

    Quote Originally Posted by hopkins View Post
    I can wish that all the headlamps I own were Transformers!
    At the flip of a switch they'd could be either a solid handheld or a
    comfortable headlamp...hehe!
    That's exactly why I keep a 1xAA or 1xAAA light with a bezel-up clip attached. Works great as both types of light. (see my post above with detailed description)

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