Fitorch        
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 18650

  1. #1

    Default New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 18650

    I'm a 4-season outdoors person (backpacking, trail running, bicycling, kayaking, snowshoeing/skiing) looking to replace my old headlamp which after many good years of use got badly damaged. Which isn't all bad given that LED tech has far advanced to the point where a new headlamp will provide much more light and better battery life.

    I'd sincerely appreciate your advice given my use:
    -I prefer a neutral or warm white to cold blue white
    -I prefer a beam with a mix of spot and flood - so not all flood and not all spot
    -I most value battery life the following settings: 1-2 lumens for around camp near-vision tasks; 60ish lumens for night walking/hiking on familiar smooth trails; 120+ish lumens for hiking and running on unfamiliar/rougher trails (roots and rocks) and occasionally a high lumen burst to quickly discern detail or find a trail.
    -Prefer a headlamp + battery combo that will offer roughly 60 and 120 lumen levels for +8 hours
    -Nice to have strobe to help a friend find me at night, but not absolutely essential
    -Up to now I've used Eneloop rechargeable batteries and Lithium Energizer batteries (the latter especially in cold weather)

    The headlamps I'm currently looking at:
    -Zebralight H53w, warm white, the successor to the Zebralight H52w, which uses AA or 14500 batteries
    -Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L, warm white, recommended by a friend who described it as a higher quality Zebralight, also uses AA or 14500 batteries
    -Other Zebralight (like H600 series) or Armytek models (like Wizard) that use 18650 batteries
    -Black Diamond Spot headlamp, uses 3 AAA batteries, no idea what the color temperature of the beam is like

    Questions:

    1) How do Zebralight and Armytek compare for quality, reliability and customer service?

    2) Which of the above lights do you recommend based on reliability, beam pattern, color temperature, good battery life at 60 lumens and 120 lumens and ease of use? Which other Zebralight or Armytek or other company's headlamp models would you recommend?

    3) I've heard of reviews that say the Armytek headlamps are complicated to use, with frustration about resetting them when switching battery types. Is this true? Is resetting in the field very difficult or time-consuming?

    4) Which battery type do you recommend, 18650 or 14500/AA, and why?

    5) What's the color temperature of the Black Diamond Spot headlamp - cold-bluish white or warm white range?

    Thank you!

    [Just edited the above to note higher lumens for running at night or hiking on unfamiliar rougher trails and a preference for headlamp and battery combos that offer +8 hours at 60 and +120 lumens]
    Last edited by mountainwalker; 10-07-2017 at 12:06 PM.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    CO, USA
    Posts
    256

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    I don't have personal experience with Armytek, so I'll talk about ZL:

    1) ZL's have been great for me. Out of a half-dozen lights, I had to return one AA headlamp (a 502pr) with infant morality; few weeks turnaround, no questions asked. In the US, returns go to TX, then to China (I think), then back to TX. Email replies are quick and professional. The warranty is 1 year, and I've heard its a pretty standard $15 fee for repairs after that. I use my ZL's pretty hard--biking and EDC--the potted electronics and other construction seems to have held up well.

    2) To me, the big choice is between 18650 and AA, and I make that choice based on the runtime I'll need on a given adventure. I bring the 18650 H600Fw if the runtime demand will be greater than my H502 with a spare Eneloop will handle. My ZL's are not the latest models, but if I were shopping now for my uses, I'd go higher CRI, floody (H53Fc, H600Fw; I might wait to see if they come out with an H600Fc).

    4) I go AA Eneloops when I can, based on runtime--personal preference to have headlamps as light as possible. If I think I'll need more runtime than 2 Eneloops will allow, I go 18650.

    Best of luck!

  3. #3
    A&Q Moderator
    Woods Walker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    New England woods.
    Posts
    4,460

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    I don't prefer (but also don't hate) the ZL UI as it is too easy for me to jump to the highest mode initially. Personally I prefer the none pro AT headlamps as the UI is simpler. I have the Tiara A1 pro though prefer the Primes A1 not pro UI which is the same as the Tiara A1 not pro.
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

  4. #4
    Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    I've got an Armytek Wizard Pro and don't find it remotely complicated to use, unless one might be comparing it with legacy lights that are basically just full on and full off. I'd expect the Tiara's interface to be about the same.

    Batteries are subjective to need. And I'm not enough of a battery guru to label the ins and outs of all the different types. A lot of people seem to prefer lights that use traditional cells, like AA, or at least work off non-rechargeables. I think that's because they fear recharging won't be an option in case of power failure and conventional AA's might be easier to find or even safer to carry. Personally, I've always preferred rechargeables, for the convenience, not to mention affordability, as high drain lights will deplete a battery relatively quickly. 18650 is the most common and easy to find support for, so that's what I use mostly. Most 18650 lights will also run off a pair of 123 rechargeables or non-rechargeables too, but that gets expensive, if you use a light for every day carry in your profession, like law enforcement or EMS and they're still not as easy to find in stores as Alkaline batteries. So, rechargeable 18650 are all I buy. Should I ever feel the need, I'll buy a solar powered charger.

    You might want to add Skilhunt to your list. It's a heck of a deal right now at only about $30 shipped through Best Gear (there's a discussion thread here with coupon code, or you could sign up for their mailing list and they'll send you their new codes at least once per week). Wowtac (aka Atactical) headlamps sell on amazon for 20-30 dollars, which a lot of people seem to be impressed with for the money. The Armytek's are fairly budget friendly considering their build and 10 year warranty. But, if you don't live in Canada, I don't know how hassle free claims might be. Their headlamps also advertise a 10 meter (roughly 33 feet) impact resistance and water proof up to 30 meters I believe. No other headlamp manufacturer even comes close to those claims - most are only 1.5 meters impact and 3 meter submerged. Whether Armytek actually holds up to that degree of abuse is anybody's guess it seems. But, at the very least, one would expect their warranty to cover just about anything as a result. That said, buying something cheaper, like two Skilhunts or Wowtacs, to have a backup, might be the better gamble, if you aren't looking for the brightness of their Wizard Pro with XHP50.

    I think Skilhunt and Armytek will have better throw than Zebralight based on the design of their lens and a video comparison I saw online a few weeks ago while headlight hunting myself. So, they may have that best compromise between throw and flood you say you're looking for. But, Nitecore's headlamp and Wowtac's would probably be the ones to beat for throw alone, as they don't appear to use diffusing lenses. Their reflectors look more like a standard light: mirrored bowl with a crystal clear lense.

    I can't imagine walking trails at 60 lumens (I prefer at least 300-400, which is about what the Wizard will do in standard high mode, whether you get the new version with XHP50 or the older version). The Armytek Wizard Pro has enough modes it should satisfy all your needs, including several moonlight modes in addition to several standard modes, then 2 turbo and special modes. I think strobe is one of the specials, which, as I see it, you don't need just to get someone's attention at night, unless you're trying to stand out amongst other lights.

    I subjectively prefer Armytek's white light for the added sense of brightness and find it far more neutral than blue. But most people seem to prefer Armytek's warm light for what they often label color accuracy, but I'd argue that it's more yellow than their white lights are blue and thus its hue is saturating primaries in the same way wearing polarized amber sunglasses might, but to subtler effect - regardless, it would be more comparable in spectrum to traditional incandescent lighting and firelight.
    Last edited by Chad Varnadore; 10-06-2017 at 06:44 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    I haven't tried the Zebralight UI yet personally. It obviously offers a lot of options, although I keep in mind that's not what all users are looking for. They're probably the most popular brand of headlamps overall among users of this site, with few quality complaints.

    I was concerned the Armytek Pro UI might be a bit confusing when I bought my Tiara Pro, but I actually find it very easy to use.

    Some users have had issues with Armytek that I think are mostly design bugs that needed resolving, rather than build-quality issues. I've had no trouble with mine. By all accounts, they are extremely durable lights, which you can tell when you hold one.

    They are heavier and bulkier than the Zebralights, however, and I think slightly less efficient. Also, Zebralight has more high-CRI options, which is a big plus in my book. Even their standard version, the H53w that you're looking at, is specified as and reported to have pretty decent color rendering.

    I don't think the Black Diamond Spot is regulated, so it will presumably dim significantly over time as the battery voltage declines. That had been a long running frustration for me with the lights available at most brick and mortar stores. I think it's roughly daylight tint (neutral to slightly cool), but it's been a while since I handled one. If there is an REI near you, they're very likely to have that model on display for you to look at.

    You sound like you'd get by just fine with a 1xAA-powered headlamp, which are roughly equivalent in total lumen-hours output to 3xAAA powered lights, but if you want to do multi-day trips without much concern for battery life, the Armytek Wizard or Zebralight H600w Mk III are certainly good options. It's a matter of whether you prioritize output and runtime (18650-powered lights) or small size and weight (AA or CR123A powered).

    Another light that's really caught my attention is the Manker E03H, mainly because it has an emitter with an excellent reputation for really good color rendition (at a slight cost to efficiency) at a good price. However, it's not been on the market long enough for its reliability to be known, so I suggest this as a potential second light if you want a backup. I'd hesitate to suggest trying it as your primary light until it's had time to prove itself.

    Regarding this part:
    3) I've heard of reviews that say the Armytek headlamps are complicated to use, with frustration about resetting them when switching battery types. Is this true? Is resetting in the field very difficult or time-consuming?


    The AA-powered Armyteks can run off of a AA batteries in the regular voltage range (from 1.2V NiMH batteries to 1.6V lithium primaries) or 3.7V lithium-ion powered batteries. Because the latter can be ruined and possible even become a fire risk if discharged to too low of a voltage, Armytek has the option to set the Tiara Pro to shut down if the voltage gets too low. This isn't generally a problem, but I remember one user here ran into an issue when he accidentally activated this feature, which takes a specific sequence of button pushes.

  6. #6
    A&Q Moderator
    Woods Walker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    New England woods.
    Posts
    4,460

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13 View Post
    I haven't tried the Zebralight UI yet personally. It obviously offers a lot of options, although I keep in mind that's not what all users are looking for. They're probably the most popular brand of headlamps overall among users of this site, with few quality complaints.

    I was concerned the Armytek Pro UI might be a bit confusing when I bought my Tiara Pro, but I actually find it very easy to use.

    Some users have had issues with Armytek that I think are mostly design bugs that needed resolving, rather than build-quality issues. I've had no trouble with mine. By all accounts, they are extremely durable lights, which you can tell when you hold one.

    They are heavier and bulkier than the Zebralights, however, and I think slightly less efficient. Also, Zebralight has more high-CRI options, which is a big plus in my book. Even their standard version, the H53w that you're looking at, is specified as and reported to have pretty decent color rendering.

    I don't think the Black Diamond Spot is regulated, so it will presumably dim significantly over time as the battery voltage declines. That had been a long running frustration for me with the lights available at most brick and mortar stores. I think it's roughly daylight tint (neutral to slightly cool), but it's been a while since I handled one. If there is an REI near you, they're very likely to have that model on display for you to look at.

    You sound like you'd get by just fine with a 1xAA-powered headlamp, which are roughly equivalent in total lumen-hours output to 3xAAA powered lights, but if you want to do multi-day trips without much concern for battery life, the Armytek Wizard or Zebralight H600w Mk III are certainly good options. It's a matter of whether you prioritize output and runtime (18650-powered lights) or small size and weight (AA or CR123A powered).

    Another light that's really caught my attention is the Manker E03H, mainly because it has an emitter with an excellent reputation for really good color rendition (at a slight cost to efficiency) at a good price. However, it's not been on the market long enough for its reliability to be known, so I suggest this as a potential second light if you want a backup. I'd hesitate to suggest trying it as your primary light until it's had time to prove itself.

    Regarding this part:

    [/B]
    The AA-powered Armyteks can run off of a AA batteries in the regular voltage range (from 1.2V NiMH batteries to 1.6V lithium primaries) or 3.7V lithium-ion powered batteries. Because the latter can be ruined and possible even become a fire risk if discharged to too low of a voltage, Armytek has the option to set the Tiara Pro to shut down if the voltage gets too low. This isn't generally a problem, but I remember one user here ran into an issue when he accidentally activated this feature, which takes a specific sequence of button pushes.
    That would be me. I didn't have a 14500 on hand so needed to put two AA together then jump it with wire. Running a protected 14500 would help mitigate the over discharge issue with the none pro version though an experienced user knows when to change the battery. One really good thing about the AT UI is the memory mode which I believe both versions have. Right now I have a C1 Prime on hand for my EDC and it comes on at the same mode I last used which is nice. The Primes and headlamps share the same UI if memory is correct so that makes them a good combo deal as often I carry a headlamp and flashlight.
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

  7. #7
    Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    "Some users have had issues with Armytek that I think are mostly design bugs that needed resolving, rather than build-quality issues. I've had no trouble with mine. By all accounts, they are extremely durable lights, which you can tell when you hold one."

    From my research, what problems Armytek has seems to be less about design and more a problem with inconsistent replication or quality control, which every Chinese manufactured light has and most others for that matter. But, Armytek, for whatever reason, seems to inspire more distain when they have problems than most other brands, possibly because of more of their customers expecting a trouble-free product due to their extreme durability claims, or possibly because they do indeed have bigger issues with QC than others. The only design issue I've had with my Wizard Pro is with the magnetic charging being unacceptably slow and very unreliable (can't seem to get it to charge the battery fully). The charging is borderline worthless, but not a deal breaker considering the lights many other perks. If I didn't want the added brightness of the XHP50, I'd likely have gone with their older Wizard or an Elf, since I prefer 18650 lights. For XHP50 headlamps, the Wizard Pro and Olight are the only options I'm aware of. The Olight is supposed to be brighter in turbo, but the Wizard is supposed to do a better job with thermal regulation, in addition to claiming far greater durability and deeper submersion.

    The light in our inground pool has been out for years and we haven't wanted to drain the pool just to change the bulb. Next summer, I might try dropping the Wizard in the bottom to see how it does.
    Last edited by Chad Varnadore; 10-07-2017 at 07:43 PM.

  8. #8
    Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Northern New Jersey
    Posts
    4,369

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    2) Which of the above lights do you recommend based on reliability, beam pattern, color temperature, good battery life at 60 lumens and 120 lumens and ease of use? Which other Zebralight or Armytek or other company's headlamp models would you recommend?



    4) Which battery type do you recommend, 18650 or 14500/AA, and why?


    an 18650 has 3-4 times the capacity of a single AA cell or 14500 LiIon cell. If you need 8+ hours at 120 lumens, I believe that you will HAVE to go the 18650 route, or replace AA cells during the night (probably twice)
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  9. #9

    Default Re: New Headlamp: Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L vs Zebralight H53W or Other? 14500/AA or 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    [/B]
    an 18650 has 3-4 times the capacity of a single AA cell or 14500 LiIon cell. If you need 8+ hours at 120 lumens, I believe that you will HAVE to go the 18650 route, or replace AA cells during the night (probably twice)
    Poppy you are absolutely right. After a scan of some Zebratek, Armytek and Thrunite headlamps it appears to be able to get through +8 hours at about 120 lumens it's either a single AA like a Zebralight H53w plus an extra battery, or an 18650 model. I may get one of each.

  10. #10

    Default Comparison & beamshots: Zebralight H53W, Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L, Thrunite TH20?

    For single AA headlamps, anyone compare the Zebralight H53w, Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L warm white and Thrunite TH20?


    Anyone have a link to side by side beamshots of these models?


    Are there low battery indicators on these headlamps?


    How is Zebralight H53w runtime on Energizer Lithium compared with Sanyo Eneloop AA?

  11. #11

    Default Recommended 18650 Zebralight & Armytek for backpacking? Which batts & charger?

    For 18650 models, which Zebralight and Armytek models do you recommend based on my criteria?

    Which 18650 battery models do you recommend?


    Which lightweight chargers do you recommend for 18650 batteries that are appropriate for travel/backpacking?

    Thank you for the info and suggestions they are really helping me narrow things down.



  12. #12
    Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Recommended 18650 Zebralight & Armytek for backpacking? Which batts & charger?

    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    For single AA headlamps, anyone compare the Zebralight H53w, Armytek Tiara A1 v2 XP-L warm white and Thrunite TH20?


    Anyone have a link to side by side beamshots of these models?


    Are there low battery indicators on these headlamps?


    How is Zebralight H53w runtime on Energizer Lithium compared with Sanyo Eneloop AA?

    Maukka has two reviews on this board comparing the Wizard Pro, a couple Olights, a Zebralight, and the Skilhunt. One is focused more on the Wizard Pro and one is focused more on the Olight H2R. But I believe the comparison graphs and beamshots are the same in each review. Each should be easy to find with the site's search engine. I've also found video reviews on youtube comparing some of those, in addition to the non-pro wizard. But I don't recall seeing much on the Armytek Elf or Tiaras, possibly because I wasn't really looking in the case of the later.


    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    For 18650 models, which Zebralight and Armytek models do you recommend based on my criteria?

    Which 18650 battery models do you recommend?


    Which lightweight chargers do you recommend for 18650 batteries that are appropriate for travel/backpacking?

    Thank you for the info and suggestions they are really helping me narrow things down.


    All Armytek 18650 based headlamps include a battery. I don't know what battery might be most recommended for Zebralight.
    Last edited by Chad Varnadore; 10-08-2017 at 10:56 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Recommended 18650 Zebralight & Armytek for backpacking? Which batts & charger?

    Thank you Chad. Heard of them just today but not familiar - does Skilhunt make good quality headlamps? Which of their models might be closest to the Zebralight H600w or H53w?

  14. #14
    Enlightened
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    United States
    Posts
    75

    Default Re: Recommended 18650 Zebralight & Armytek for backpacking? Which batts & charger?

    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Thank you Chad. Heard of them just today but not familiar - does Skilhunt make good quality headlamps? Which of their models might be closest to the Zebralight H600w or H53w?
    It seems like the H03 is about the only Skilhunt headlamp model still in production. It's also the only one I ever see on sale at Banggood and GearBest. I absolutely loved mine. Due to the utter utility of the design, it turned into my most useful and most used light, almost overnight - which I really didn't expect when I initially ordered it. That is, until I dropped it about 5 feet onto a concrete floor and it stopped working. If it didn't fall on concrete and didn't hit right on the head, I'd speculate it'd still be running smooth. But I don't know that for sure. In the months that I used it (daily), it never gave me a bit of trouble. For $30-$35 I'd definitely buy it again and probably will if the Armytek I replaced it with (at 3x the price, which I could only really justify due to their durability claims and how much I'd come to depend on this type of light) doesn't prove any more durable.

  15. #15
    Flashaholic* Derek Dean's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Monterey, CA
    Posts
    2,144

    Default Re: Recommended 18650 Zebralight & Armytek for backpacking? Which batts & charger?

    In case you'all didn't see it, Armytek has the Tiara A1 V2 with Xm-L LED for $30 (50% off). I just got six of them to give as holiday gifts, and I'm very impressed with the build quality. The sale applies to other older model lights as well and goes through Friday 10-13-17. See the Armytek website for details.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •