budget caving light

Beaker

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wasBlinded said:
The Petzl Ecrin Roc is a very nice helmet for caving and perhaps the gold standard, though there are several other nice ones out there. It also has tabs on the outside for keeping headlamp straps down where they belong.

Another vote for Ecrin Roc. Great helmet, works well for headlamps with straps, and the fact that it's easily adjustable is handy (in cold caves I wear a balaclava, in warm caves I don't).

Not the cheapest helmet, but basic safety gear isn't the place to economize, IMHO. Spend the bucks for a solid light and solid helmet and you can scrounge for just about everything else, but having a helmet or light fail will ruin your whole day...
 

cave dave

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I have a Stenlight S7, but if I had to do it all over again I'd just use an PT APEX (w/ reflector Mod) and spend the money I saved on a good cave suit or airline tickets or something.
 

moontroll

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I would go with the Apex also,What about the EOS.The P1D CE no way but I like the L2D-CE,I like the thought of the 40+ hr's on low(Security blanket thing).And of course the pro poly luxeon.You must have three you know.
 

jhscaver

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Another vote for the Ecrin Rock here, Grey. And save up for either a PT Apex or PT Corona. The Corona will serve you just fine in most passage. IMO, it is a safer light to use than the Apex (yes, I said Apex). The corona uses 8 LEDS and the Apex runs on only 4 on the low setting, and 90% of the cavers using them that I've seen keep the 4 leds going 90% of the time (for just moving through the cave). So, if you cave with the corona on high, running on all 8 leds, you are (in theory) using twice as much flood light than the Apex. All that extra light allows you to see where you are stepping and reaching better.
The 10% of the time that you would have used the 3 watt spot on an Apex can be overcome with a 3 watt minimag (or similar) strapped on your new (ecrin rock) helmet. So you have two independent sources of light, right on your head. Cost: 70 bucks plus helmet. Then throw another reliable AA flashlight in your pack. Everything on one common battery cell like AA is just smart caving. Everyone has AA's in there pack, should you need some.
Good luck with the surgery.
 

BPH

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cave dave said:
I have a Stenlight S7, but if I had to do it all over again I'd just use an PT APEX (w/ reflector Mod) and spend the money I saved on a good cave suit or airline tickets or something.

Hey Dave,
What is your impression of the Stenlight S7, and what would you change about it if you could? I am looking for input on the "perfect" cave light. The #1 comments about the Stenlight I have heard, is that it is too focused? Any specific comments would be helpful on it or any other aspects of cave lights.
Thanks,
-BPH
 

cave dave

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Well the main problem with the Stenlight is Cost. I would also prefer 3 or 4AA's in a hardcase instead of a potentially unsafe LiIon without a case. There could also be corrosion issues with the battery contact.

I have one JSB reflector and the wide optic in my S7 so its definatly not "too focused".

By next year I imagine the APEX will have a cree in it which will make it as bright as my S7. Of course the S7 will probably start putting Crees in as well.
 

uk_caver

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From reading the NSS forum, a lot of US-based cavers seem to like the PT Apex, but some people do seem to have had water issues with them, with some just leaking, and some actually dying when damp inside. I don't know how common the water issues are, since it will tend to be problems that get most talked about.

It seems there's a mod involving trimming the headset screws down slightly that might lead to better waterproofing, and at the worst PT do have a solid guarantee.
They don't seem to be in common use in the UK, but they did seem to be rather expensive when they came out - roughly the same £ price as $.
 

BPH

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The Stenlight has a special set-up. They need about 7 volts to run full power becuasue they run two LEDs in series and they specially select these LEDs (by bin selection) to have a low forward voltage and that allows them to use only a down converter, which is Very efficient (~95%). Also, the converter drops out when the voltage of the batteries is below the voltage called for by the converter, and so it becomes a direct drive system at 100% efficiency (just talking converter losses here).
So, you will not find a more efficient (or even close) light.

It would not be able to to run off of 4 AA batteries, it has only a down converter. You would need 6 AA cells. The Lithium-ion battery pack they have (2x18650 cells) is very high in energy density. It has about 17 watt-hrs of energy, were as 4xAA primary Lithium cells have similar energy (but the 2x18650 can discharge at a much higher rate, like on "high" and not effect the battery, were as the AA lith primary will loose lots of energy due to internal heating). Good 4xAA NiMh will have a ~20% less total energy, but can discharge at a high rate without much internal heating losses. Alkaline AA would not have the current capacity needed to run the light, and would loose much of there energy from internal heating (resulting in very high losses).
-BPH
 

jhscaver

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I just put in some of Jon Bulison's reflector in my stenlight last night and now the beam is perfect. No dark rings anymore, just a wide flood with a hot center. I highly recommend anyone with a stenlight to try them out.
 

Beaker

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uk_caver said:
From reading the NSS forum, a lot of US-based cavers seem to like the PT Apex, but some people do seem to have had water issues with them, with some just leaking, and some actually dying when damp inside. I don't know how common the water issues are, since it will tend to be problems that get most talked about.

A guy in my grotto just told me his died after he submerged it in about 4 feet of water. I make it a practice to not go underwater in caves so I'm more worried about moisture than submerging.
 

uk_caver

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With their being uncommon over here, I've only talked to two people who had Apexes, and noticed one other person using one, despite my generally taking an interest in other people's lighting systems.
The two guys I talked to had both had theirs fail soon after purcahse on the same short trip in a drippy cave - no submersion involved. However, that's only two people, so not exactly representative.

All I could be confident about is that water-based failures are probably not incredibly rare, and most of the ones I've heard of don't seem to involve significant submersion.
 

paulr

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The caves.org thread that someone linked above described some ways to water-seal the Apex that seem to help its reliability. I think I would just look for a light that was better sealed in the first place. I also don't think I'd want the weight of a 4AA pack on my head. For a light needing that many batteries, I'd go for a remote pack.

I still cannot understand why nobody is making a good 1AA headlamp. We see from the Fenix L1D-CE that you can get tremendous lumens and pretty good runtime from one AA. Maybe more experienced cavers know better but it seems to me that I wouldn't care about runtime longer than 4 hours at reasonable lumens (light normally used at medium level with occasional bursts of high) since I wouldn't usually go more than 4 hours without stopping and resting, and could swap batteries then. That is, I'd rather have a 4 hour 1AA light with 3 spare cells in my backpack, than a 16 hour 4AA light with all 4 cells on my head.
 

uk_caver

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I don't find head-weight a huge problem, just a bit of a drag pain on trips with a lot of crawling or hunched walking, if I'm out of practice.

Having a soild and relatively heavy mining headset on the front, it actually balances the helmet to have a decent-sized battery on the back, and I guess I just got used to having weight there, practically from when I started caving.

Personally, I like having capacity for a normal trip (<8 hours) at full power on my head, and an extra battery pack in my pocket. Unless I'm right at the tail end of a battery pack, I know I'll likely have at least a day of usable light on 'low' even if there's some screw-up and I don't have any other power when I come to change.
 

GrnXnham

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Beaker said:
A guy in my grotto just told me his died after he submerged it in about 4 feet of water. I make it a practice to not go underwater in caves so I'm more worried about moisture than submerging.

Not surprising that the Apex died in 4 feet of water since they are only supposed to be water proof to 1 meter.

I have worn my PT Apex in the rain several times with no problems. I have not, however, submerged it underwater.
 

moontroll

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I'v never used a helment(my bad)but totally recomend it.In my experience my upper back(between the shoulder blades) takes as much or more abuse than my head.I just wanted to say this,so when it happens to you and the curse words roll youll remember what I said.:lolsign: Remember I will be laughing at you:laughing: :sssh: :twothumbs ENJOY!
 
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