build quality of current gen headlamps

robostudent5000

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i was wondering what you guys think about the build quality of the current generation of headlamps.

it just seems like all the major brand headlamps (that are available in the US anyway) are declining in quality.

i've owned several older Princeton Tec headlamps, and except for a bad hinge on an Apex, my PT lamps have been rock solid in every way. they are well made, designed, fitted and finished, and have been durable. i've had my lights for several years without problems (Apex hinge notwithstanding). all my lights are designs from 2006 or earlier (Aurora, Eos, Apex). i've been reading about the newer PT designs like the Fuel, Remix, and Byte and have noticed the high number of negative user reviews on places like REI and Amazon about their poor build quality and reliability. these lights just don't seem to be designed or made as well as the older lights.

i recently bought a 2009 Black Diamond Spot on clearance to use as a test bed for modifications. having disassembled and reassembled this thing a couple times now, i can see why BD headlamps have a reputation for low build quality. the casing had rough edges that i had to sand down, some parts still don't fit flush, and the soft plastic body creaks every time i press the on off switch. i don't know if their 2011 updates are made any better. the thing is, i remember their old incan headlamps being made really well.

even Petzl seems to be succumbing to the trend. one of my friends has an old Petzl Tikka XP and that thing is built like a tank. but i've read a number of bad user reviews about the newer Tikka Plus 2 and Tikka XP which, i think, were released in 2009, about how they're much more fragile than their older counterparts.

are the smaller companies doing any better?

i remember Zebra had reliability problems with their first gen of lights. have they fixed those problems with their new gen of lights?

have people had any issues with Fenix's headlamps (other than the beam being too throwy and not enough floody)?
 
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vtunderground

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I've been disappointed by a lot of the recent headlamps, too. It's like manufacturers are just try to make headlamps as cheaply as possible, with no regard to durability.

The PT Fuel/Remix/Byte is really a shame - I've talked to a few people who refuse to buy any more PT products because they've had such bad luck with one of these lights.

I will say that complaints about Zebralights seem to be getting fewer, especially issues with waterproofness. That's a good sign.

I haven't been impressed with any of the Petzls I've owned, at all. The new Pixa looks nice though... it looks super-tough, and is reportedly very waterproof. I'm a little disappointed that there's zero heatsinking, but we'll just have to wait and see how it does over time.
 

Yucca Patrol

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It's not the brightest headlamp by any means, but the new Petzl Pixa series is really designed to be seriously rugged.
 

adirondackdestroyer

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I have to agree, at least with the decline in Princeton Tec products. I bought the Remix from ****'s, and thought about returning it, once I realized how it wasn't even remotely water proof.
The battery cover is also very cheap feeling, and feels like it could break when you open it up to change the batteries.

It is a far cry from the EOS, which is damn near perfect (if only it had a top strap on the headband).
 

RobertM

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yeah, but that's like telling guys talking about Chevys to buy a Mercedes and be done with it.

Are you referring to the price difference or just a general dislike for SF?
If it's price, isn't a PT Apex about $75-100 or so? A SF Saint Minimus can be had for about $105-115 new from certain CPF supporting dealers. Definitely worth the extra $10-40 or so IMO.
 

Bolster

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From Google Shopping: PT Apex from $50-70. SF Minimus $140 lots of places. If you're asking my opinion (which you're not) I'd likely spend 3x the money for the SF (when they come out with the neutral tint version). Can it really be had for $105? That would be great, please post us a link!
 

vtunderground

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I have the full Saint, and I have to agree that the quality of the head and battery pack are pretty good. I find the straps to be pretty cheap-feeling and uncomfortable, though - the ends of the elastic are pretty scratchy - and the cable holder thing can be abrasive. IMHO, the beam is fantastic for walking in the woods at night, but not good for caving. I think I paid $143 shipped for my Saint, and if I could do it over again I'd save my money.
 

Bolster

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Interesting. What is it that makes the Saint not so good for caving? Narrow beam?

And if you could have your $143 back, what would you buy instead of the Saint?
 
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robostudent5000

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Are you referring to the price difference or just a general dislike for SF?
If it's price, isn't a PT Apex about $75-100 or so? A SF Saint Minimus can be had for about $105-115 new from certain CPF supporting dealers. Definitely worth the extra $10-40 or so IMO.

Surefire stuff is awesome and if someone gave me a Minimus for free, i'd take it in a heartbeat just like i'd take a Mercedes in a heartbeat. i was referring mostly to the price. the lowest price i can find the Saint Minimus for right now is $125. the lowest i can find a PT Remix for is $31. a Fenix HL20, $31.50. the Minimus costs 3X as much and it's hard to do a fair comparison with that kind of price difference just like it's hard to fairly compare a loaded $120K Mercedes E63 to a $30K Chevy Malibu LTZ.

and if you want to compare a Surefire product to the PT Apex it would have to be the full Saint. that's about $65 vs. $180, again about 3X as much. like comparing a $60K Vette Grand Sport to an $180K SLS. i think the Vette is actually a little faster in certain situations, but you can't fairly compare the two... i mean, for starters, the Vette is made of plastic, the SLS is all aluminum, much like the Apex and the Saint respectively.
 
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jinya1004

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I agree with the build quality seeming to be less. I had a pt apex some years ago and its hinge cracked on a trip. After this negative experience I returned the apex to REI for a black diamond icon, which I love. I recently saw a thread on this forum about the pt eos and its mod capable nature. I bought a few and nodded them with Seoul's. Not having a battery pack on the back of your head is a plus. When I compare my modded eos again my pt remix I would rather grab my eos nine times out of ten. I feel much more confident taking an eos out in bad weather. Sorry to self promote but if anyone needs a pt eos to mod, pm me, I got my hands on a few extra that have the older colminator.
 

mrlysle

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Check out the Sparks. They look super nice. I'm going to get one. My last headlamp was a Petzl TacTikka XP. It's not junk by any means but those Sparks are just super. Build quality looks really high.
 

ryguy24000

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Check out the Sparks. They look super nice. I'm going to get one. My last headlamp was a Petzl TacTikka XP. It's not junk by any means but those Sparks are just super. Build quality looks really high.


I love my Spark 125ow. I use it at work everyday. I only have one issue. The strap that holds it in place seems to be getting a little loose.
 

davidt1

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Zebralight H51x series. These lights are better built than the previous generation H501x series with thicker wall, bigger 0-ring, and more threading. Furthermore they are the only headlamps you can carry in your pocket (with a minor mod).
 

Bolster

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I don't know about "better built"...the H51x may have some advantages, but it's a bulkier light all the way around. Wall thickness, o-ring, and threading were not weak points of the H501, which sports the top IPx8 rating. As you know, none of the H51x have that beautiful even floody beam that some us flood-o-holics seek; the H51F approximates a flood with sandblasting the lens. It's fine if you want a "directional flood," all depends on your use, of course. H501s are not delicate, in my experience.
 
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carrot

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I am pretty pleased with my Petzl Tikka 2... How is it a decline? Perhaps a downgrade from the original Tikka XP but definitely a step up over the old Tikka...
 

robostudent5000

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I am pretty pleased with my Petzl Tikka 2... How is it a decline? Perhaps a downgrade from the original Tikka XP but definitely a step up over the old Tikka...

if you have had good experiences, please share and let us know what made it good. if you tell me based on your experience that Petzls are still made well and how, then that helps me... a lot actually. there doesn't seem to be that much good info out there on Petzls. a lot of what i've found on the net is blanket cheers or blanket jeers without much analysis.
 

Harry999

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I have used Zebralight, Icon and Fenix lights in the past as headlamps. These days I use two Petzl Zippka 2 plus lamps and a Petzl TacTikka XP -all running on AAA eneloops.

The Zippka is just so compact and light that I carry one in my bag and use the other as a night light with the red led and for training in the garden in the evenings.

The Tactikka XP is to me the single best reading light for my use with the diffuser filter. The tint is just right and the level of light on economy mode works well with a book or my Kindle ebook reader in the late evening.

I may go back to Zebralight as a reading light if the rumoured High CRI lights appear...

Sent from my smart phone using Tapatalk
 

moonfish

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i'm not sure if quality has gone down in general. I quit buying plastic headlamps a few years ago. In general they seem disposable. Weird designs and multi LEDs when they aren't needed are annoying.

I'm also confused why people are talking about the saint? Has it been updated? Or was it really bright like 4 years ago?

There are three or four nice options to buy now that seem attractive to me. But they aren't plastic.
 
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