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Thread: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    The LED forum (overwhelmingly representing handheld lights) is 8x as active as the headlamp forum. Most manufacturers put their main efforts into making hand-held lights, only a few dabble in headlamps, if at all.

    Why? I don't understand why *not* losing one of your two hands to hold a light, isn't a more popular solution than it is.

    Im not saying it has to be a headlamp...any option that frees up my hands is appreciated, including bent head lights that hang from the chest or belt. But it seems the majority of the world is perfectly willing to give up 50% of their dexterity to grip a flashlight.

    Don't get me wrong, I understand how useful a handheld is when walking down a trail looking for bears...and other situations where you need to point the beam precisely...but for the vast majority of flashlight use, isn't NOT having to hold it, preferable?

    [From recollection of answers posted to original question: Handhelds allow more precise placement of beam, are easier to pocket, can act as defensive weapons, can be much larger thus run longer and throw farther, are easier to modify, are more fun to fondle...and the one that sucked all the oxygen out of the room: headlamps make you look mockably geeky and goofy, whereas a handheld makes you look sexy and cool.]
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-10-2011 at 10:40 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I think you'll find a lot of the folks around here are gadget types. They like collecting gizmos that do amazing things. As you mentioned however, for people who really do use a light on a regular basis (not just have one handy in case) the headlamp really is a better format.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* uk_caver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoBruin View Post
    I think you'll find a lot of the folks around here are gadget types. They like collecting gizmos that do amazing things.
    Quite.
    I guess headlamps probably look rather messier when it comes to having a collection.

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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I agree with you Bolster. I don't know why people can't seem to get their head around headlamps.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I work in an office where we are having some work done. I've noticed a few of the construction workers have headlamps mounted on their hardhats. They aren't even from the same company so it might be a "trend" for those who do rework in existing buildings.

    Joanne

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    To understand the way I feel about headlamps is very simple.

    First off, I have never worn a hardhat while camping -- I suspect that there are many who could say that.

    Secondly, I don't need to wear to wear a headlamp in the daylight hours. I suspect that many could say that also.

    Thirdly, how do you carry that beastly device when you are not using it?

    Here lies, methinks, the crux of the biscuit.

    Over the past four+ decades I've carried a great many lights into the back and beyond of many, many hideously remote third world countries and I've always put a vinyl washer of some sort on the light(s) that I might hold it in my teeth when I need my hands free. This has worked well for me in places so remote that most cannot even dream of them.

    While headlights are nice (as is air conditioning) even the tiniest headlight is a total PITA to carry in the bush.

    Hey, don't get me wrong, headlights are great in my kitchen, but when I'm done with it I just deposit it's ungainly shape in a nondescript pile on a shelf. The real problem is how do you carry the damn things.

    I'm sure that some of you will actually have some clever answers but I will remind you that you will be held to a very high standard -- all of my standard lights with simple vinyl washers to protect my teeth will fit into standard sheaths and sheathed therein they will take incredible abuse in stride -- and still function.

    So here's the big question: How do you carry those bad boys?
    Last edited by Sub_Umbra; 03-10-2011 at 10:14 PM.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    In a zip pouch, of the sort used for small digital cameras. Then into some kind of bag, box, pocket, purse, or what not with the other gear I carry.

    I take your point if you are wearing tight pants and don't want to carry a bag or purse...although davidt has clever ways of EDCing a Zebralight with an elastic loop and a shoelace...he wears the light around his neck under his shirt like a necklace.
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-10-2011 at 10:19 PM.

  8. #8
    *Flashaholic* carrot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I like headlamps a lot, especially for camping, but I find their usage more limited for me in every day use. Why?

    1) They are less convenient to carry. The straps are bulky and few (if any?) headlamps offer a pocket clip.
    2) The hands-free advantage is negligible during daylight hours when you may wish to peek into a dark corner. Dark areas during the day are often cramped and hence often have more backscatter.
    3) Headlamp UIs tend to be slower to operate than handheld UIs. This is important in multi-mode lights.

    I imagine several other reasons why headlamps would be less popular are:
    4) They are "dorky" compared to handheld flashlights (which are already geeky enough!)
    5) Limited variety of offerings -- it is much easier to find a flashlight that suits your tastes than a headlamp that suits your tastes, as you yourself (Bolster) have noticed
    6) Flashlights are tacti-cool! Headlamps are decidedly not.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    This is an interesting thread, and I would like to chime in my .02 cents. I also do not understand why flashlight companies do not put more effort into hands free lighting. More specifically angled-clip on flashlights similar to the Fenix MC10. I am generally not a big supporter of headlamps, and here is why.... Headlamps can severely impact your vision (in my experience). Think of it this way, what do you get when you shine a light close to your eye, you get Blurred Vision. Now, some may argue that you are not pointing the light towards your eyes and that is true. However the spill of the headlamp or head mounted flashlight (like the Fenix Headband) will be shining very close to your eyes. For that reason, I would not use a headlamp if I had any choice at all. But some will disagree, this is just my own experience. I prefer a clip light, possibly clipping onto the bill of a baseball cap (It is protruding farther away from your eyes then a headlamp), or a clipped anglelight on a shirt pocket or pants pocket.

    If companies would develop lights similar to the Feniox MC10, and upgrade the lighting technology (unlike the MC10) then I would replace several of my handheld flashlights. I am not going to pay over $50 for the MC10 when it barely puts out 100 lumens, and is made of mostly cheaper plastic (body and switch).

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    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    To me, a good headlamp is basically more important than a flashlight. IMO if you are just going for a walk around the block a flashlight is going to fine for 99% of its intended purpose.
    However if you are actually doing something active like say, walking 2 or 3 dogs, setting up a tent, walking down to the river with your fishing pole, net, tacklebox and cooler in your hands, hunting; carrying a rifle or a bow, dressing or packing out an animal, traversing or climbing, steep or rough terrain, crabbing or clamming, (it takes 2 hands to pull up a crab pot and/or dig for clams and this is often done at night.) Ect,
    Then having a good headlamp is mandatory. If the light is shinging in your eyes too much then I usually wear a baseball cap. Of course I always have a small backup light in my pack also, but the headlamp is the light that I use the most. They are also easier to use, and are easier on the eyes I think because they just simply light up where you are looking, you do not have to constantly coordinate your hand movements with your eye movement, which it tiring and will eventually end up with you staring off into blackness at times.
    Last edited by brandocommando; 03-11-2011 at 04:26 PM. Reason: sp

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    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I use Zebralights and I've never had a problem with light going back into my eyes. (I have a cheap Energizer that does have that problem.)

    Can't help but notice that this time around, this discussion is a lot less heated.
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-11-2011 at 10:28 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by brandocommando View Post
    To me, a good headlamp is basically more important than a flashlight. IMO if you are just going for a walk around the block a flashlight is going to fine for 99% of its intended purpous.
    However if you are actually doing something active like say, walking 2 or 3 dogs, setting up a tent, walking down to the river with your fishing pole, net, tacklebox and cooler in your hands, hunting; carrying a rifle or a bow, dressing or packing out an animal, traversing or climbing, steep or rough terrain, crabbing or clamming, (it takes 2 hands to pull up a crab pot and/or dig for clams and this is often done at night.) Ect,
    Then having a good headlamp is mandatory. If the light is shinging in your eyes too much then I usually wear a baseball cap. Of course I always have a small backup light in my pack also, but the headlamp is the light that I use the most. They are also easier to use, and are easier on the eyes I think because they just simply light up where you are looking, you do not have to constantly coordinate your hand movements with your eye movement, which it tiring and will eventually end up with you staring off into blackness at times.
    Well put, this is my solution to the glare... I use a Quark Mini 123 Warm White in a clip that I have found and adapted to fit the light:


    This is the best combination I have found to use as a headlamp.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Seth, are you saying that's the best combination for a headlamp, including actual headlamps ?!? It's a clever adapt for a handheld, but it puts the weight way forward, probably requires a tight hat (a certain headache for me), and sticks out so far I'd be bumping it on stuff. Also it probably isn't very floody.

    I think "glare" is a chimera, given a quality headlamp. I even wear glasses, and don't have any glare with my Zebralights. None!
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-11-2011 at 08:00 PM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I hadn't thought about it but now that you mention it it does seem that headlamps are relegated to a miner role...

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    Flashaholic blub's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I just use a Zebralight clipped to a hat or clipped to my shirt or jacket.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I will admit I have never used a Zebralight, so I cannot comment on the glare with that headlamp. I have wanted to try one, but they are expensive and always out of stock. For me, yes this is the best option. I have tried the Fenix headband, as well as the Petzyl style headlamps, and I do not like them. I really do not like anything strapped to my head period and that is probably the problem. Maybe over a hat I would like it better, but I just do not like a strap on my forehead period so I avoid headlamps.

    With this clip, it does not weigh down a hat. With the Quark Mini 123 including batteries it weighs less then 1.5 ounces. The beam is excellent, and works very well as the spill is very bright. I can also use the clip on my shirt pocket, pants pockets, belt, pack, or anything really as it rotates 360 degrees and also vertically up/down too. It has served me very well. I got it from a cheapo flashlight that I bought. I can also fit the Mini AA if I put a bit of tape around the body first. I put that picture of it up clamped to a hat just for visual reference. That is not the only way that I use the clip.

    If I had an extra $65-$70 to spend on a Zebralight, I might just do that. But this clip works very well with the handhelds that I already have. If it ever fails me, I also have my Petzyl 60 Lumen light as a backup that will get me home if I need it too.

    In any case, use whatever works best for you. In my experience I have found that I dislike a headlamp strapped to my forehead, although I do think that any form of hands free lighting is more useful then a handheld flashlight.
    Last edited by sethistruckin; 03-11-2011 at 10:29 PM.

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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    If you have a torch that doesn't provide the right beam or produces too much glare for that task, people accept that they need to change to a different torch.

    If your headlamp produces glare, accept that it's not fit-for-purpose and change to a good one - there are now so many around.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    It seems like you guys are trying to tell me that my lighting philosophy or system is wrong. I like my Mini 123 Headlamp. I am not going to buy another headlamp just for the sake of "seeing if a more expensive one will reduce glare" when my lighting system already works great for me. I like Hands-free lighting. I don't like conventional Headlamps.

    That is all I am going to say. You guys have fun in here...

  19. #19
    Flashaholic brandocommando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I think a big part of it also, is that headlamps while incredibaly useful, are just not that exciting. You can either buy this one, or that one, or that one, and it will be just as bright and just like everybody elses.
    For the most part they are not able to tweaked or modified at all so they don't have that techie appeal or wow factor.
    Therefore there aren't many ridiculously bright headlamps out there, (there are 1 or 2) because we only get the conservative designs that the manufacturers provide us. I for one would love to see a p60 format headlamp, if it ever happens you would see alot more headlamp talk on here.

  20. #20
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by sethistruckin View Post
    It seems like you guys are trying to tell me that my lighting philosophy or system is wrong.
    Now Seth, nothing of the sort. Don't get sore. I think it's a very clever adapt for a handheld, and if you prefer a cap over a band, with that particular light, it's perfect. If you offered me a clip like that I'd gladly accept, and try my L1D on it. The only statement I couldn't follow was when you said: "This is the best combination I have found to use as a headlamp." I understand now you did not mean "This is better than a headlamp." We're cool, stick around.

    And please post that photo in the thread "Attaching Small Flashlights to Hat Bill," it's one of the better adapts I've seen.
    Last edited by Bolster; 03-12-2011 at 08:35 AM.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I argee, no where as many good mid priced choices. I first bought ,which turned out to be an old tech Petzel's which are still so over priced, yet gets rave reviews , that has less light than a $.99 light I got from meritline[keep them in the vehicles for emergency]. I looked at Fenix but I am waiting for a better HP10 design. Do not want the bulk of the HP20.
    Just ordered the Fenix headband [$20 at amazon]because with all the Fl's I have and the lack of continuous Turbo setting on the HP10 [Fenix fan] I want to try this for now. I also have a Rayovac K2 that I velcro strap to the headband 1 or 2 LD01's to add more light. The LD01 w. 1 AAA out powers the 3x AAA K2.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    In a zip pouch, of the sort used for small digital cameras. Then into some kind of bag, box, pocket, purse, or what not with the other gear I carry.

    I take your point if you are wearing tight pants and don't want to carry a bag or purse...although davidt has clever ways of EDCing a Zebralight with an elastic loop and a shoelace...he wears the light around his neck under his shirt like a necklace.
    A lot of people still think of headlamps as those bulky jockstrap ones. I can't blame them for thinking that because most headlamps are bulky jockstrap ones. I like ZL lights so much because they are not bulky like the jockstrap headlamps. Although I have about 5 flashlights, my primary light is the ZL H51w. Wearing and using the light right from my neck is how I roll. I wish other people could experience the convenience and usefulness of my ZL setup.

    Here is yet another picture of my EDC lights: ZL H51w and Fenix E05. These are the same lights I take to work, camp, church, the library, birthday parties, wedding receptions, the gym, the track, etc. The E05 is a backup and loaner light, but have not been used once.


    The H51w comes with a nice, deep clip for pocket carry
    Last edited by davidt1; 03-12-2011 at 12:18 PM.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    yes, good point, davidt1. When we complain about pocketability of headlamps, it's often the straps we're actually complaining about. Petzl did a nice job with the Zipka, with the entendible string to go around your head. Davidt1's mods are another nice example. The strap system on many seems unecessarily robust, and a holdover to much older, heavier headlamps. Much room for good design updates here. How about a headlamp with a retractable strap (not string)? It's not that hard.

    I find it easy to use a headlamp as a handheld flashlight, if the straps don't get in the way.

    Ted

  24. #24

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    Now Seth, nothing of the sort. Don't get sore. I think it's a very clever adapt for a handheld, and if you prefer a cap over a band, with that particular light, it's perfect. If you offered me a clip like that I'd gladly accept, and try my L1D on it. The only statement I couldn't follow was when you said: "This is the best combination I have found to use as a headlamp." I understand now you did not mean "This is better than a headlamp." We're cool, stick around.

    And please post that photo in the thread "Attaching Small Flashlights to Hat Bill," it's one of the better adapts I've seen.
    Its all good. I can only compare it to the headlamp I already have and I like this setup better. I keep saying Petzyl but it is actually a Princeton Tec headlamp that I have. As to the above statement that I wrote, I was referring to my own personal use. I was not intending for it to be a generalized statement that applies to everyone.

    As for the clip, I could send you one for a test if you like. The problem with it is the clip is not widely produced, it comes with a Quarrow branded rechargeable headlamp that they sell at Fry's Electronics. I bought several of them on sale last year when they were only $6.99, but now it seems like they sell for around $15. I am not sure if it would fit an L1D, but if you want one to try I can send one your way. Just PM me. I have used other lights that are larger diameter then the Mini 123, but it eventually caused one of the clips to snap when I was jogging with it in a snowstorm (about 25 degrees fahrenheit out). That is the downfall of the design, The plastic does not seem to take the extreme cold weather. But it seems to work fine for jogging daily in above freezing weather.
    Last edited by sethistruckin; 03-12-2011 at 04:33 PM. Reason: spelling, trying to get used to new laptop keyboard

  25. #25

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolster View Post
    The LED forum (overwhelmingly representing handheld lights) is 8x as active as the headlamp forum. Most manufacturers put their main efforts into making hand-held lights, only a few dabble in headlamps, if at all.

    Why? I don't understand why *not* losing one of your two hands to hold a light, isn't a more popular solution than it is.

    Im not saying it has to be a headlamp...any option that frees up my hands is appreciated, including bent head lights that hang from the chest or belt. But it seems the majority of the world is perfectly willing to give up 50% of their dexterity to grip a flashlight.

    Don't get me wrong, I understand how useful a handheld is when walking down a trail looking for bears...and other situations where you need to point the beam precisely...but for the vast majority of flashlight use, isn't NOT having to hold it, preferable?

    [From recollection of answers posted to original question: Handhelds allow more precise placement of beam, are easier to pocket, can act as defensive weapons, can be much larger thus run longer and throw farther, are easier to modify, are more fun to fondle...and the one that sucked all the oxygen out of the room: headlamps make you look mockably geeky and goofy, whereas a handheld makes you look sexy and cool.]
    Tradition is hard to break. But I see the military is switching to headlamps, so Law Enforcement is probably only a decade away. If I see a picture of someone holding a light in their teeth I laugh. But I know some folks are a bit slow to wise up.

  26. #26
    Flashaholic* shao.fu.tzer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    I said it before and I'll say it again - try getting laid with a headlamp on. Sorry Moderators for the strong language... but it's true.


    Shao

  27. #27

    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    You've just got to seek out partners with a coal miner fetish. Once you start looking, they're everywhere.

    I'm not sure it's so much easier to do the deed with a flashlight in one hand. I'll admit the metaphor is a bit more suggestive, though.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Have look here [URL="http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/japan-quake-2011/gallery.htm"]Tsunami Rescue] at these rescue workers carrying a stretcher in daylight.

    Why - as soon as they go indoors in damaged buildings they might be in totally dark passageways and they need both hands free to carry the stretcher etc.

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Bolster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/ja...11/gallery.htm

    Wow what a horrid mess. Yeah, you see lots of headlamps. I didn't recognize any of them!

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Why so much interest in hand-held flashlights relative to headlamps?

    Quote Originally Posted by dla View Post
    If I see a picture of someone holding a light in their teeth I laugh. But I know some folks are a bit slow to wise up.
    Heh, for quick tasks, I'll often hold my H501w in my mouth rather than clip it on.

    --flatline

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