Headlamp? Why do I need a headlamp?

Bob A

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I've carried flashlights for decades, everywhere I go, and wouldn't be without one. Recently I fell into this site, and increased my flashlight consumption by a hundred percent or so.

Wandering thru the site, the Headlamp area manifested itself. I browsed a bit, while trying to find a reason to want a headlamp, instead of or in addition to a handheld flash.

Now, forty years ago I had one; the usual incandescent bulb, heavy box on the forehead, crappy beam spread with hot- and dead-spots. I needed it, in a dim, poorly-lit cockpit of the Volkswagon of the Air, a Cessna 172. No longer airborne, it resides unused and unloved, in a bag of antique flight gear.

But today? Why? So I started looking online for reasons. I could see some utility for looking around in dim, poorly lit areas around the house, or maybe reading in bed, though I prefer a chair or couch with a suitable lamp. I walk my dogs in the dead of night, but prefer no light at all, except for a flashlight to identify the various fauna that my dogs would like to chase, if they weren't attached to me. (Lots of deer, rabbits, a fox or two, cats and rats. Occasionally a raccoon). I prefer my presence to go unnoticed as much as possible.

Headlamps are not handy. You either have to pre-place them, or h=to have a specific reason to have them at hand; flashlights are far more suited for general carry, or so it seems to me.

All that said, I was fascinated by the deep red Zebra lamp. Started to look into it, and there it was, the Dreaded Multi-Feature List. Beyond simple operation:eek:n/off, three power levels, there is The Strobe. Why would anyone want a strobe? OK, bicycling at night, perhaps, though IMO bicycles are for the under-16 set, and they're generally better served by staying off the road in the dark. (OK, I'm not a bicycle fan. So sue me).

But wait! I'm far from done ranting! I'm still driven to blind fury by the Dreaded MFL, because Zebra has a huge wad of information regarding Programming multiple modes. They have Advanced Modes, Multiple Mode Groups, and probably even more ways to take a simple process and turn it into a maddening nightmare. Once again, WHY??? Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD.

The hell of it is, I may well get the damned deep red headlamp, because, let's face it, it probably does what I'd want it to, despite its wanting to do So Much More, and doubtless really screw me up when I'd find myself in Most Dire Need of just some light.

If they only made this so I could have a white light/red light option, I'd be even more thrilled, and probably even more Modally Challenged. I dunno. Maybe I should just stick with my Surefires, and not venture into strange threads. I could probably wend my way to the End of Days without ever really needing a headlamp. But the thing is, I already have enough flashlights, and yet here I am.

So talk to me. Do I need one of these things, or should I merely apologise for my rant, and leave you all in peace?
 

TIFisher

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Headlamp beats holding a standard flashlight in your mouth when you need both hands free. Not sure about the utility of "deep red" unless you're worried about spooking deer or ducks from a blind in the pre-dawn darkness. There are plenty of options for dual white/red headlamps, just none offered by ZL.
 

Monocrom

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Apparently women don't find it a turn-on when you shove a cylinder-shaped flashlight into your mouth and get down on your knees to.... change a flat tire. Need both hands free. So, need a good LED headlamp.
 

AstroTurf

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Apparently women don't find it a turn-on when you shove a cylinder-shaped flashlight into your mouth and get down on your knees to.... change a flat tire. Need both hands free. So, need a good LED headlamp.
i don know lucy... some might!!!

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Poppy

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Well, Bob, as you age over 35 years, you'll likely find that your night vision fails like dropping off of a cliff. I believe that you'll use a flashlight outdoor more frequently than you currently do.

Over the past few years, I found that I use a headlamp more often than before. They are convenient for when I want to have the freedom of using two hands.
 

PaladinNO

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Norway
So talk to me. Do I need one of these things, or should I merely apologise for my rant, and leave you all in peace?
Then in the words of Deckard Cain: "Stay awhile and listen."
...But first things first: you would miss out if you left, apologizing is optional, ranting is your right (and personally I appreciated the distraction)...and obviously you need a headlamp. :)

You say you have dogs to walk, and my immediate reaction was "what better way to shine some light on what the dog is doing than to turn your head to where the dog is...and magically have the headlamp follow your head and eyeview?". Having the light attached to your head also does not matter if the dogs suddenly tug on the leash, and they make you wave your arms around to maintain balance.

I don't have a dog, but I am a late-night walker myself (I'm a PC gamer, so obviously I am a nocturnal being by default), and I have tried both holding a flashlight in my hand and used a headlamp when I do my walks, which are everything from ~3 Km to 7.5 Km - and I prefer the headlamp BY FAR!!! Sure, I have had headlamps that was so badly balanced I actually preferred something handheld (looking at you, Nitecore HC90), but the Nitecore HC33 / Acebeam H15 (and similar designs) works great.

The headlamp gives me illumination where I am looking, while the flashlight becomes sweaty in my hands, and having to constantly hold it in a static grip eventually becomes fatiguing after an hour or so. I have slipped and fallen, and where the flashlight went flying, the headlamp stayed on my head. And where the flashlight rotated in the air and blinded me just before I hit the ground, the headlamp stayed on, so I only saw stars twice - first when looking up as my body was closing in on those 90°, and the second time when the back of my head hit the ground. But at least I knew where the ground was at all times with the headlamp on.

I have sunk into deep snow, and needed both hands to get myself out, and a headlamp is the illuminative(??) equivalent of a handsfree set for your phone. And have you ever tried shuffling snow with a flashlight in your hand? PSA: trying that gets an annoyance rating of 11/10! And then tried the same with a headlamp? Have you worked on a car, or doing anything that gives ease of use with both hands in an otherwise dark garage?

Sure, if you're just getting the mail, a handheld flashlight is much easier to grab and use, but for anything pratical that takes some time to do and is done the easiest with both hands...a headlamp illuminates supreme. It's a bit more hassle to attach and equip at that moment, but once it's on, it pay for itself by convenience over time.

In roleplaying gaming terms, the flashlight gives a massive benefit then and there. The headlamp is more of a utility over time. And both things has their places, and that is why both is the best option to have available.

So, in the final showdown of flashlight versus headlamp...

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...it just depends on the usecase.
 
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sim1tti

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Jan 15, 2018
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Headlamps advantage:
Any time you need or would prefer both hands, a headlamp is preferable to a hand-held flashlight. It also keeps the light out and availble when moving from place to place quickly. This opposed to say, constantly putting it in and taking it out of a pocket, or setting it down at one end of the room and forgetting it when your at the other end. They are also great for fine detail tasks where it may be helpful to have more abundant light than is desireable for the rest of the setting.

Elaborate user interface (Zebralight):
If you really delve into the ZL UI, you might find a great deal of utility in it. If not, simply use the programmable modes to set everything to one single light setting. You can make a ZL as basic as you want it to be. The only real limitation is that it lacks a half-depressed "pulse" function.
 

sim1tti

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In defense of the red Zebralight flood, which I really like for a number of reasons:

A red headlight with absolutely no white LED comes off as a tool for specialists like astronomers or dark-room techs. There is truth to that, but the general advantage over combo lights is inherent of their basic shortcoming: they cannot emit white light. intentionally or unintentionally.

On the photo tech front, even a short burst of white light will ruin undeveloped film. It's best to eliminate the posability.

On the night vision front, rods in the human eye react very quickly to light and recover very slowly. Even an accidental split second burst of white light will impact night vision for several minutes. Important for astornomers, but also for anyone concerned about compromised night vision. Many combo lights even require cycling trough a white light setting a red auxiliary LED can be turned on.

There's also no chance of accidentally jarring a sleeping partner awake when turning on a torch to use the bathroom at night.

And that ZL is a mule. An extremely even flood.

Lastly, it only weighs an ounce. Barely registers.

Edited for errors/copy
 
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letschat7

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Apparently women don't find it a turn-on when you shove a cylinder-shaped flashlight into your mouth and get down on your knees to.... change a flat tire. Need both hands free. So, need a good LED headlamp.
Ah yes that is definately a reason to have a headlamp. I know that lolis are amused by Petzl headlamps with the retractable cord.

You can spend all day drinking beers and playing Fifa with a young girlfriend then put on the headlamp to walk home and not worry about dropping the light somwhere along the way. They are also light and compact and fit in your pocket along with keys and a mobile.

They are also so very useful camping when you need to set up a tent at midnight and with red light it is unlikely to disturb other people.

Other useful but under used lights are weaponlights, bike lights, UV lights of any type, and work lights.

I think we all focus too much on handheld tube lights and ones that fit on keychains.
 

Bob A

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Well, Bob, as you age over 35 years, you'll likely find that your night vision fails like dropping off of a cliff. I believe that you'll use a flashlight outdoor more frequently than you currently do.

Over the past few years, I found that I use a headlamp more often than before. They are convenient for when I want to have the freedom of using two hands.
Well, at 76 I find much of my vision to be problematic.

I do walk a pair of pitbulls through the mean streets and wooded areas, and eschew pulling out a light; it wrecks my night vision, and gives away my presence. I much prefer to remain unseen if possible in the woods; on the street, I only use a flashlight to check out the local nocturnal quadrupeds.

I do get the hands-free thing, which is why the Zebra light drew my attention; it looks as though it could be bright enough to overcome the spectrum disadvantage, while giving me the walkabout night woods capacity. I suspect I'd feel like even more of a geek wearing it on a walk, though.

Still trying on the idea.

BTW, the surefire options mentioned above are way outside the useful/value envelope for me.
 

Poppy

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Hey Bob, its funny that at 76 you still give a snot about what people think about what you are wearing. BTW around here, when our dog takes a dump, we pick it up and trash it. If you do the same, a headlamp makes it much easier to hold the dogs on a leash with one hand and seeing what you are doing with the other.
 

aznsx

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Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
Thank you! Thank you! This is little understood by mankind in the 21st century.

I, like you, only had 1 in my life, and it was much like your first, and left much to be desired. It too languished in a box in the closet. Then I bought a Streamlight HL for my work, and it changed / 'saved my life'. So I bought a small Fenix (1x16340 / CR123) HL w/ on-board USB charging, and used it so much (several times a day around home, working on my car, etc.). I used it so frequently I realized I HAD to have a second one (N+1 - I realized I couldn't get by without it any more even for a few days if it failed / was lost). I now have 2 just alike (and use them both daily). I'm about to buy a third and possibly fourth, as both my cars should have one in them at all times - no question. This is in addition to, not in lieu of, a handheld flashlight (or two).

I recommend you simply skip the pre-analysis / justification, buy one that suits you, and use it as appropriate. It will be self-justifying in practice. I'd bet good money you won't have just one a year later. I'd also recommend you start with a Streamlight or Fenix specifically (having experience with both). Between them, there are many to choose from. You don't need to spend hours figuring out how to use it, or carry a flow chart around with you like some of those 'toys'; and I'm not naming names, as there are many 'toys' on the market. This is one of those things where one can only fully realize / appreciate the absolute need for one without learning that by using one, and I'm proof of that. You likely won't ever justify buying one other than by actually using one, and after that, one will likely not suffice.
 

gurdygurds

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Zebralight headlamp is the way. Use it strapped to your head. Take if off the strap and use it handheld. Comes with a two-way clip so you can clip it to your clothes and use hands-free that way as well.
 
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