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Thread: New Headlamp User

  1. #1

    Default New Headlamp User

    Greetings!

    I've been a part of some of the LED FLASHLIGHT forums for a few years now and find the advice from members to be invaluable. Now looking for an led headlamp but not quite sure what a great headlamp must have. I know I need it to be incredibly tough/bulletprooof and reliability is a must. I've learned this much along the way with my flashlights. Other than that, are there any specific threads I should read up on first before I begin my search?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* cland72's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    What is your price range? What sort of capabilities are you looking for in a headlamp -- multiple modes, alternate colors (red, green), battery type?

    This will help us point you in the right direction.

  3. #3

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by cland72 View Post
    What is your price range? What sort of capabilities are you looking for in a headlamp -- multiple modes, alternate colors (red, green), battery type?

    This will help us point you in the right direction.
    Okay here are a few of the "must have" capabilities that I know of thus far:

    1) Incredibly tough and consistently reliable, trusty

    2) Price limit around $50-100

    3) Long runtime

    4) Not too interested in too many modes, just a selectable option to move from a very low to brightest option.

    5) Are flood to spot options available?

    6) Battery should be AAA or AA

    I am actually not really sure what options should be in a great headlamp so if there is/are additional options that I don't know about, feel free to point me in that directin also. I intend to use it primarily for long active hikes/camping in all weather conditions.

    Thanks for any info!

  4. #4

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    check out Bolster's "To Consider Before You Purchase a Headlamp" thread. it's very helpful.

    IMO there's no absolutely bulletproof LED headlamp under $100. most LED headlamps are made of plastic and the plastic parts wear down over time. there aren't that many aluminum headlamps, and those mostly have complex drivers that can malfunction after a year or two. the one sub $100 lamp that probably comes closest to being bulletproof is the old Petzl Tikka XP, but it needs an emitter upgrade to compete with the latest headlamps.

    i recommend finding something affordable and mostly reliable that you don't mind having to replace after two or three years*. there are a lot of good lamps you can get for $35 or less. you should get two and have one as a backup.

    *i mean two or three years of heavy use.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 01-25-2012 at 12:38 AM.

  5. #5
    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    I agree with Robo... you're not going to get SureFire type of durability for less than $100.

    In your price range, a Spark or a Zebralight is your best bet IMO. I have one of each, and love them both. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, which is why I use both regularly.

    Once you tell us more about your intended use, we can give you more specific advice.
    What? Me? Derail a thread?

  6. #6

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks for the info. Robo and B0wz3r. I'd be willing to pay for a light that will be tough and reliable. If it lasts a very long time, then the investment is worth it. I've learned this rule with edc lights. I intend to use the light primarily for active hikes and camping. We do a lot of traveling so it needs to be compact enough to take along in a backpack. I won't be sky diving with the S.E.A.L. teams , but it must be durable enough to take punishment likewise. Consistent reliability is key. I currently have a Rayovac Sportman Extreme. It was a gift and I really like it, but the light has failed on me once and I don't fully "trust" it out in the field alone.
    I've visited Petzl.com and was impressed with their collection but I don't know what else is out there that might be worth looking at.

  7. #7
    Flashaholic* AnAppleSnail's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    I don't fully "trust" it out in the field alone.
    No thing can be trusted in the field alone. Two is one, and one is none. Any given device from any manufacturer in any price range can and will fail. Bring a backup light. Even some (insert amazing brand here) fail due to odd circumstances.
    My biggest light-hog is my camera.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* cland72's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    I have a Petzl Tactikka, and it is wonderful. They have a Tactikka Plus which has multiple modes and takes AAA batteries, which might be up your alley. Only around $40 each online.

  9. #9
    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    Thanks for the info. Robo and B0wz3r. I'd be willing to pay for a light that will be tough and reliable. If it lasts a very long time, then the investment is worth it. I've learned this rule with edc lights. I intend to use the light primarily for active hikes and camping. We do a lot of traveling so it needs to be compact enough to take along in a backpack. I won't be sky diving with the S.E.A.L. teams , but it must be durable enough to take punishment likewise. Consistent reliability is key. I currently have a Rayovac Sportman Extreme. It was a gift and I really like it, but the light has failed on me once and I don't fully "trust" it out in the field alone.
    I've visited Petzl.com and was impressed with their collection but I don't know what else is out there that might be worth looking at.
    Then consider a SureFire Saint or Minimus. SF stuff is supposed to be bulletproof from what I've read, but I don't personally own any SF lights; too spendy for my budget.

    I have a Zebralight H51w and it's been a great light. Bright, lightweight, and I've put more than a couple heavy coatings of sweat on it while hiking, cutting firewood, and so on. I've taken it to the top of Yosemite Falls in January, and to Death Valley, and Lava Beds National Monument for caving. It's never given me so much as a hiccup. If you want a headlamp that will also double as a good utility EDC light you can carry in your pocket, clip on your shirt or a pack-strap, I don't think you can beat a ZL.

    I also have a Spark ST5-190nw that I use with the frosted lens, and as a pure headlamp, it's my favorite. With the frosted lens it's actually got a wider floodier beam than my H51w, and it because it has a T shaped body with the emitter housing projecting forward from the body of the light, it works better for me when I want to wear a cap, or wear it under a hood. It's a tiny bit brighter than my ZL, but with the frosted lens in it that slight difference is negated. I like the head strap on it better for active outdoor uses than my ZL because it's got a third center strap.

    Quote Originally Posted by AnAppleSnail View Post
    No thing can be trusted in the field alone. Two is one, and one is none. Any given device from any manufacturer in any price range can and will fail. Bring a backup light. Even some (insert amazing brand here) fail due to odd circumstances.
    Word. Never leave home without at least two lights and spare batteries to boot.
    What? Me? Derail a thread?

  10. #10

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Princeton Tec Eos. good for camping and hiking. plastic hinge on battery door is a known point of weakness, can break after some years of regular use. but i think this is covered by the lifetime warranty. it is very durable other than that. it's had a few emitter upgrades since release but is basically unchanged over 7 years and has built a great reputation over that time. no other lightweight headlamp with an up-to-date emitter has been around for more than 2.5 years, so it's hard to tell exactly what you'll get with them. there are no surprises with an Eos. they are usually $35 or less.

    IMO EDC's are like wristwatches. for every Casio G-shock (affordable, reasonably reliable, kind of disposable) there's an Omega Speedmaster (expensive, bomb proof, will maintain value over time and be a true investment), and paying extra for something premium can really be worth it. i think headlamps are more like cell phones. they're more affected by fast evolving LED technology than EDC's and can go obsolete after a couple years. just like you wouldn't buy a cell phone to last a lifetime, you shouldn't buy a headlamp to last forever either. you want it to work well while you have it, but you also want to leave room to upgrade in a couple years.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 01-26-2012 at 03:47 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks for all of the input. I am currently looking at the Petzl Tikka. http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/head...kka-2/tikka-xp I like its features, but does anyone know of any user info about its durability/reliability?

    I am spoiled with the nice tight, long distance throw my Rayovac Sportsman Extreme gives and I'm looking for a similar (if not better) throw.
    Thanks!

  12. #12

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    I had a Tikka.... cheap plastic battery cover cracked at the locking slot - binned it. Probably needed to change batts too often since all my Petzl and Black Diamond multi-batt/multi-LED headlamps burn up batts too quickly. Also don't like how these lights usually start out on high and make you cycle to get to the useful low, and even then, they're not low enough killing my night vision... and my batts at the same time!

    I have a half dozen headlamps from Petzl and Black Diamond, now collecting dust. I find them fragile, bulky, and really inefficient. I have instead gone with flashlights for my camping needs and developed creative ways to use them hands-free. IMHO, the climbing companies should stick to climbing equipment and let the flashlight companies handle illumination.

    FWIW, I consider the Zebralight H series to be a flashlight that happens to come with headband and I'm with Bowzer on the H51w for the reasons he states and more (like 0.2 lumens projecting from your forehead is really all you need for camping - 300+ hours from 1xAA!, and if that's not enough, there's always 2 lumens, or 7 lumens).

    Sorry for the rant... I've grown to hate the plastic headlamps (but from experience). Its your money, you make like it.

  13. #13
    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by reppans View Post
    FWIW, I consider the Zebralight H series to be a flashlight that happens to come with headband and I'm with Bowzer on the H51w for the reasons he states and more (like 0.2 lumens projecting from your forehead is really all you need for camping - 300+ hours from 1xAA!, and if that's not enough, there's always 2 lumens, or 7 lumens).

    Sorry for the rant... I've grown to hate the plastic headlamps (but from experience). Its your money, you make like it.
    Thanks reppans... I use both my H51w and my Spark ST5-190 for camping, depending on what I'm doing. They're both small enough they take up very little room in my pack, and I've learned the hard way when camping never to be without two headlamps, or two flashlights, etc. (Two is one, one is none.) I tend to use my Spark more outside the tent for just general camp use, but when I want more distance like for a hike, etc. I use my ZL. I also tend to use my ZL more in-tent because of the lower low, and that it can be more comfortable because it doesn't have the extra hardware on the strap like the Spark does, which can be a pain (literally) sometimes. Each is one of the best lights I've ever bought. Now I want to get an H502w and an an H600w as well! (Yes, it IS a sickness!!!)
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  14. #14

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks to all who weighed in and provided some invaluable advice. After a lot of researching, I've narrowed it down to the Petzl XP2 and the Princeton Tec Remix. Anyone have any first-hand durability/reliability info that might sway me to one choice or the other? Reliability and ruggedness are important to me. Both are not waterproof which IMO is ridiculous considering they should have put a bit more effort (and an 0-ring) into the units for the money. Even the Remix PRO which is a military version is not submersible. Other than that, I like the features of both units and would appreciate any user feedback or info anyone has on either or both of these headlamps.
    Cheers.
    Last edited by seanflash; 02-18-2012 at 11:04 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Of the two I'd get the XP2 but for that kind of light the BD Storm would be better IMO.

  16. #16

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks gcbryan, I'll look at the storm for reliability.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    Thanks to all who weighed in and provided some invaluable advice. After a lot of researching, I've narrowed it down to the Petzl XP2 and the Princeton Tec Remix. Anyone have any first-hand durability/reliability info that might sway me to one choice or the other? Reliability and ruggedness are important to me. Both are not waterproof which IMO is ridiculous considering they should have put a bit more effort (and an 0-ring) into the units for the money. Even the Remix PRO which is a military version is not submersible. Other than that, I like the features of both units and would appreciate any user feedback or info anyone has on either or both of these headlamps.
    Cheers.
    YMMV of course, but I've never been completely satisfied with any headlamp I've ever had from Petzl or PT. I've got a Remix and it pales in comparison to my H51w; plastic vs aluminum body, mechanical vs electronic switch, and 3xAAA vs. 1xAA (same energy density, much simpler battery change-out). Unless you really need to have the red light, the Zebralight is a much better light IMHO.
    What? Me? Derail a thread?

  18. #18

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    Thanks to all who weighed in and provided some invaluable advice. After a lot of researching, I've narrowed it down to the Petzl XP2 and the Princeton Tec Remix. Anyone have any first-hand durability/reliability info that might sway me to one choice or the other? Reliability and ruggedness are important to me. Both are not waterproof which IMO is ridiculous considering they should have put a bit more effort (and an 0-ring) into the units for the money. Even the Remix PRO which is a military version is not submersible. Other than that, I like the features of both units and would appreciate any user feedback or info anyone has on either or both of these headlamps.
    Cheers.
    look here: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...x-or-Remix-Pro

  19. #19

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks Robo and B0wz3r. The link Robo attached was very helpful in terms of eliminating the Remix-too many small issues keep popping up in my research to make this a go to light. It's down to the Petzl XP2 or the Storm. I actually was impressed by the Storm but concerned about several anecdotal reviews on other websites that stated the runtime on high was considerably less than stated. Several users said they were only getting 4-6 hrs on max which could eliminate this as a choice for me. I'll be looking for reviews on this now.

    I am giving the ZLH51 another look again too. I would like a good long tight throw and am not sure this model is able to do that as I've read it's better for all-around flood capabilities.
    Great, I think I actually have more options to research now then when I started!
    Thanks for eveyone's continued input-I appreciate it!

  20. #20

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    4hrs on max sounds about right for the Storm. it's regulated, it drives something like 400mA constant at the LED on max, 4hrs is the best you're gonna get on 4xAAA. if you dial the Storm down to the sort of output you can get on a XP2 on max, runtime for the Storm will be better.

    btw, if you're not familiar with how ANSI runtimes are measured, you might want to check that out. ANSI runtimes aren't always reliable a measure of effective runtime.

    also, what are you going to use the headlamp for that you would need long throw? most headlamps uses are for seeing from 0-50 feet, and a wide and smooth beam is better for that than a tight thowy beam. if you want pure throw, you're better off with a hand held.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 02-18-2012 at 10:52 PM.

  21. #21
    Flashaholic ryguy24000's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    If you want a thrower headlamp maybe you should check this out
    These lights have great throw
    http://www.streamlight.com/product/product.aspx?pid=157


  22. #22
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    I have a ZL H51 and while it is somewhat floody, it has reasonable throw for a compact 1xAA light. Are you possibly confusing it with the H51F or H501 lights that are much floodier ?

    I also have a Petzl XP2 (my wife found it while walking our dogs). It doesn't feel as robust as my ZLs, the batteries are much more difficult to replace, the battery compartment isn't at all water resistant, and the slide-up diffuser is obviously easy to break (it was broken when she found it). It also starts on Hi rather tham Med, the opposite of what I prefer. All in all, while it is fine for a freebie, but I don't think I'd buy one with my money.
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  23. #23

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Thanks Gregozedobe and ryguy2400 for the added info. I'll be heading to a store to actually take a physical look at the XP2 and the Storm. I've been learning more and more about stated runtimes vs. actual runtimes as per robo's suggestion-what a difference. It appears that the XP2 has a better ability to run on high than the Storm. Am looking for reviews that provide real-world usage.

    The runtime is kind of important because I don't like going through batteries quickly. Don't know much about rechargeables, but I would imagine I might use rechargeables in either of these lights to minimize landfill waste and save on money.


    Anyone have any feedack on this light? It's not regulated but caught my attention:

    http://www.uwkinetics.com/uploads/fi...RT-USA-WEB.pdf
    Last edited by seanflash; 02-19-2012 at 10:31 AM.

  24. #24

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    The runtime is kind of important because I don't like going through batteries quickly.
    I'm really kinda curious what you intend on using this light for - you only seem to care what the runtimes are on max?

    I'm a camper and will use my lights for hours continuously in the pitch black so runtimes are very, very important to me and why I love lights with good low low lumen modes (which are plenty bright after your eyes are night-adjusted). If you're concerned about runtimes, I think you'll also find yourself trying and use your lowest lumen levels as much as possible... But all these plastic headlamps made by the camping/climbing companies always seem to start out on high a) making you wince/squint until b) you cycle to the energy-conserving lows, c) their lows are never low enough and still spoil your night vision d) all the while burning more batts than necessary, and e) using the inefficient, PITA, multiple-battery format, and usually AAA!

    I was just in a high-end camping store with a whole display of Petzl and Black Diamond and I ask the salesperson to show me one light that started out in (or remembered) low.... they couldn't! And now I see Black Diamond is using their ramping program to get to low - so now you HAVE to wait the 2-3 sec to get to low from turn-on? I have an BD Apollo lantern like that... it sucks!

    I agree with BOwz3r and Gregozedobe that any of these plastic headlamps are just garbage next to the ZL. (As mentioned above I have at least a half-dozen Petzls and BD's wasting away in a bin since I've found out about 4Sevens and Zebralight.) I still check the camping stores to see how they're advancing, and am sorry to say, definitely not for my camping needs.

    Good luck on your quest.

  25. #25

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    The intent of use for the headlamp is primarily for walking the dog and night camping as well as hiking. The bright spot I've found to be very useful over time (with my flashlight) because I need to spot loose dogs and racoons far off in the distance before we're on top of them. This happened to me once and I don't want to repeat that adventure. I want plenty of light to see what's ahead of me so I can make executive decisions in advance. I agree that the low lumens is essential for camping and arguably even night hikes for the most part as my eyes adjust well and require only a bit of light to illuminate my path.

    I agree with rappans regarding the start-up of the BD and Petzl lights. It is ridiculous that they start at high. I just looked at the Petzl XP2 at a store and was impressed with the compact form but still wonder about long-term durability.

    I see a lot of positive write-ups about the Zebra Lights. Is the runtime decent though? The specs indicate that the Hi setting would only be good for less than an hour. At that rate I'd be changing out batteries every other walk. Thanks for everyone's time. I'm getting there!

  26. #26
    Flashaholic ryguy24000's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Sounds like you are a flashaholic with some hand helds. Use those to spot your dogs.

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* B0wz3r's Avatar
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by ryguy24000 View Post
    Sounds like you are a flashaholic with some hand helds. Use those to spot your dogs.
    Agreed. Best solution is to carry a throwy handheld and have a headlamp for baggy-duty as well. While I find a headlamp indispensable for things like camping and dog walking (I take my wife's poodle out most nights for his bed time potty break), having a handheld is essential too.

    I actually don't like using my headlamp for hiking, honestly. I much prefer a handheld for general hiking and night walking because using a headlamp for seeing farther away gives me bad tunnel vision. I usually only use my headlamp when I either need my hands free, or only need short range vision. Otherwise, I prefer a handheld.
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Quote Originally Posted by seanflash View Post
    I see a lot of positive write-ups about the Zebra Lights. Is the runtime decent though? The specs indicate that the Hi setting would only be good for less than an hour. At that rate I'd be changing out batteries every other walk. Thanks for everyone's time. I'm getting there!
    Yes, a ZL h51 on H1 will only go about 45 minutes (see the review by Selfbuilt in the link below).

    The problem is that a single AA eneloop can only store a limited amount of energy, which can only drive an LED so high for so long. ZLs are one of the most efficient lights around, so you won't find much better output & runtime in any other brand. So your choices are somewhat limited:
    1 You can accept the fact that you will need to carry a spare AA battery and change it when needed.
    2 You can run at lower light levels (eg H2 or M1 or M2) so the single AA eneloop battery lasts longer.
    3 You look for different lights with more battery capacity eg 2xAA or 1x18650 (you will find more choices in normal flashlights than with headlamps)

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...ght=zebralight
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  29. #29

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    Well dog walking and camping are two primary uses for my lights too (don't like to hike in the dark though). However, I again like low lumens (around 4) to walk the dog... well, cause I rather not be too obvious when my dog chooses to piss on other people's property. There's lots of deer around, and about once a week we come across a herd... I blast them with 100-200 lumens when I hear the rustling, but that's about it. I find 20-30 lumens just fine for quick perimeter scan and it doesn't fry my night vision too bad, but for most part I just use 4 on my Quark with the dog.

    I took a look at the specs on the Petzl XP2. First, you can't compare runtimes at max when one's 200 lumens and the other 60 lumens. Second, Petzl is claiming 80 hours at Max from 3xAAA ? Well, I guess that's not exactly lying since they never say "80 hrs @ 60 lumens"..... you understand the non-regulated game these guys play, right?

    I've personally never tested the runtimes on my Petzls and Black Diamonds, but my memory is that I've always been disappointed with their runtimes (and I mostly use low) as the batt indicators go red, or they have dimmed to the point of being unusable, despite the 3xAAA or 2xAA configs. Conversely, I'm always kind of impressed that my 1xAA Quark or Zebralight is still going.

    I think the camping/climbing companies should leave the lighting to the flashlight companies.

  30. #30

    Default Re: New Headlamp User

    i think you should read up more about the differences between alkaline and Eneloop batteries. and about the differences between regulated and un-regulated lights. those things majorly impact the real world behavior of headlamps, and you should know more about that stuff if you want to make an informed decision on the best headlamp for you. right now, it sounds like you don't really know.
    Last edited by robostudent5000; 02-19-2012 at 11:03 PM.

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