Identifying a headlamp upgrade if there is one.

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TD-Horne

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I'm trying to equip underprivileged kids for our church's summer camp program. Part of doing that is to find the most cost effective devices we can and make them fill the role for which they are needed. The previous version of the National Interagency Fire Center cached firefighters headlamp
Plastic wildfire headlamp

has been replaced. That leaves a lot of these older 4 size D cell corded versions available in surplus channels for very short money. These are available for less than $10. If I can find an appropriate LED bulb I can equip more kids per dollar. They use incandescent bulbs. I've looked at the E10 screw shell LED bulbs that are available to replace them and so far I have found lumen ratings as low as 10. The standard for user safety is 200 lumens. Many of the commercially available head lights have ratings that high so what an I missing? I have 6 volts to work with and with D cells they have a fairly high capacity. Can anyone coach me on how to find conversion bulbs for these adjustable focus lights that would achieve 200 lumen output?

Tom Horne
 
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borrower

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When you say, "The standard for user safety is 200 lumens", is that your standard, or something externally imposed? The reason I ask is that you could probably get away with much less and still get satisfactory results with camp use.
 
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LEDphile

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Meanwhile, modern 250-300 lumen headlamps are available from Petzl and Black Diamond for $20 retail ($15 on sale). And while run time won't be as long as a 4D headlamp, the whole package likely weighs less than a single one of the D batteries. And if you don't mind moving down to some of the more "economy" brands, a 200 lumen Energizer headlamp can be had for $10, and a Walmart house brand 100 lumen headlamp is currently $3.50.

Having spent many weeks in the woods with nothing brighter than an old Surefire L1 (30 lumens on high, 2 lumens on low), even the 100 lumen headlamp will be plenty.

Given what's available on the market today, I'm not sure I'd be wasting time with what is likely 25 year old equipment.
 
Lynx_Arc

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I agree with LEDphile in that D cell LED tech is pretty retro now with lithium ion availability. Unless you need insane runtime a single 18650 or 21700 should suffice for a summer camp giving you. AA is a good option for less lighting and runtime and expense but it is worth stepping up from alkaleaks and nimh to lithium ion.
 
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TD-Horne

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When you say, "The standard for user safety is 200 lumens", is that your standard, or something externally imposed? The reason I ask is that you could probably get away with much less and still get satisfactory results with camp use.
No. It is not "my" standard. I spent 3 fire seasons laying progressive hose lays in the dark as well as the day. I spent another 3 seasons cutting hand tool fire line, finding small smokes from something still smoldering, and cutting lead brush hook on indirect attack at night with the ordinary incandescent bulbs that came with these headlamps. It's true that they weren't brilliant but since we could cut line for 12 hours without injury when using them and their 4 D batteries I thought they might be a good way to go.

The 200 lumen minimum came from a camps system wide evaluation of ~6 different light outputs. The councilors from all 6 of our overnight programs were asked to evaluate several headlamps ranging from ~50 to 350 lumens. Each councilor had one of the lights to use for a week. They were asked to do everything that they did at night with only the headlamp they were testing.

Young campers do 3 day trips with 2 nights away from camp. Their trips always use improved camp sites which have people built pathways in the camp but no area lighting. Occasionally a trip will get delayed on the trail by some unanticipated circumstance such as a medical emergency, injury, or trail closure. That can cause even these rather young campers to end up getting to camp after dark and their lights have to be bright enough to use unimproved trails in the dark. Councilors are trained to make sure that all the lights are aimed at the ground right in front of the campers.

Junior high school aged campers spend a whole week of their 2 week session on the trail in addition to a prep trip. The 7th & 8th grade kids who are graduating from the youth camps into the teen program have developed a tradition over the last decade of walking through the night on the last leg of their trip as a graduation exercise. The camp staff and counselors did not start that. Once 1 group did it it became a "thing" and all of the graduating groups want to do it. I find it amazing how much care they take of each other. Larger campers will take some of the load off of smaller campers and nearly hold the flagging campers upright for the last few hours of that graduation trip. All of the graduating campers so far have rated their graduation trip as the best part of their camp experience.

High School aged campers engage in a series of experiences such a rock climbing, wilderness camping, a couple of days on their own, canoe trips...

I tell you all this so that you will know the conditions of use the lamps must be suitable for.

The 200 lumen minimum came from a camps system wide evaluation of ~6 different light outputs. The councilors from all 6 of our overnight programs were asked to evaluate several headlamps ranging from ~50 to 350 lumens. Each councilor had one of the lights to use for a week. They were asked to do everything that they did at night with only the headlamp they were testing.

Over the 6 weeks of a summer session they each tested one of the candidate headlamps based on three criteria. Would a camper be able to deal with some rapid change in the weather and help reset the tarp shelter properly against the wind and rain. This was just the test task chosen because it seams to happen several times a season spread over 500+ campers who range in age from 3rd through 12th grade. Would they be able to walk safely in the dark. Would they be able to perform after dark tasks such as food preparation and camp set up after dark.

Some of the councilors argued strongly for very bright lights but when pressed on the issue of the minimum for safe performance of the three types of nighttime activities None of them classified the 200 Lumen lights as inadequate. It's a fairly large sample. The same in camp staff members in each of the programs questioned the councilors and collated the results. That doesn't mean that it meets scientific research standards but I think they did a pretty good job of evaluating the LED headlamps for performance during routine and one simulated urgent night time activities.

Tom Horne
 
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TD-Horne

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Meanwhile, modern 250-300 lumen headlamps are available from Petzl and Black Diamond for $20 retail ($15 on sale). And while run time won't be as long as a 4D headlamp, the whole package likely weighs less than a single one of the D batteries. And if you don't mind moving down to some of the more "economy" brands, a 200 lumen Energizer headlamp can be had for $10, and a Walmart house brand 100 lumen headlamp is currently $3.50.

Having spent many weeks in the woods with nothing brighter than an old Surefire L1 (30 lumens on high, 2 lumens on low), even the 100 lumen headlamp will be plenty.

Given what's available on the market today, I'm not sure I'd be wasting time with what is likely 25 year old equipment.
I do appreciate your telling me about these cost effective alternatives. That will be a big help in figuring out what to buy. I must have been looking at the more high end suppliers because I wasn't aware that these were available.

Our church will not buy anything from Mal wart because of their treatment of their employees. Any business that hands out food stamp applications with their job application should not exist.

Tom Horne
 
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TD-Horne

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I agree with LEDphile in that D cell LED tech is pretty retro now with lithium ion availability. Unless you need insane runtime a single 18650 or 21700 should suffice for a summer camp giving you. AA is a good option for less lighting and runtime and expense but it is worth stepping up from alkaleaks and nimh to lithium ion.
WE use combustible liquids such as kerosene instead of flammable liquids such as gasoline for trail cooking. That is because combustible liquids will not ignite without being on a wick, sprayed as pressurized droplets, or preheated. I don't think we want to strap a lithium ion battery to campers head's. If there is an appropriately sized Lithium Iron Phosphate battery available we would be OK with that.

Tom Horne
 
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LEDphile

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IMO, if your headlamp is aimed at the trail directly in front of you, even 50 lumens is too much, and all that much (or more) light is doing for you is killing your night vision and making it harder to see anything that's not directly in front of you. While modern technology has made brighter and brighter portable lighting possible, outdoors in the woods, less almost always is more. OTOH, it only takes one person with an overpowered light to kill the entire group's night vision...
 
Lynx_Arc

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WE use combustible liquids such as kerosene instead of flammable liquids such as gasoline for trail cooking. That is because combustible liquids will not ignite without being on a wick, sprayed as pressurized droplets, or preheated. I don't think we want to strap a lithium ion battery to campers head's. If there is an appropriately sized Lithium Iron Phosphate battery available we would be OK with that.

Tom Horne
With protected batteries and protection built into lights in stronger aircraft aluminum tubes with Oring seals that offer waterproofing I don't really see them any less safe than carrying a cell phone with a glass screen and thin shell with a lithium battery in it. In all the years in the forum I have yet to hear of any decent headlamp using a decent 18650 catch fire...... ever. WIth a 3400-3500 mah battery you should get close to 200 lumens for around 8 hours. I use a headlamp that puts out about 130 lumens for about 12 hours and it has lower output modes to conserve power and higher output modes for situations. The LEP 18650 cells won't work with most liights as they have lower voltage and on top of that less than half the power in them. There are some 18650 lights that I think are approved for firefighting out there but they are a bit costly. I have used an 18650 headlamp in construction with it raining and have dropped it over 15 feet with it landing on concrete and it still works just fine. IMO there are times 200 lumens is way too much as it can blind you in some cases and times that having 500-1000 lumens for a short time is very useful and having a few lumens can be useful too. Having everyone with a healamp running at 1 lumen you can see them by their light in the dark and that level of light can last weeks or more.

I think one issue however is it may be too expensive if you had to come up with a lot of them.
 
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Appreciate your thorough explanation of the 200 lumen number. I expect you'll be able to find a good solution, whether it's a retrofit of the D cell lamps or newer budget alternatives.
 
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TD-Horne

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Can we talk about duration of use? What can anyone direct me to that has a longer duration of use so we could be sure that the counselors will not have to deal with battery changes during a trip. They have plenty to do on a trip just keeping a constant count of the campers, watching for limping and chafing, feeding them, dealing with homesickness... Once they are back in camp laying out a whole units headlamps on a dining hall table, checking the state of charge of all the expendable batteries, reloading the lights to ready status,and performing operational checks is much easier and can be done by in camp staff while the counselors get to ease off a bit.

It's one of the reasons that I started out with converted surplus wildland firefighter headlamps, which use 4 D batteries. You folks have been a great help so far so can your point me at a cost effective headlamp that would make it through 3 evening camp set ups with supper prep and consumption.

[Funny incident from ~17 years ago. My daughter awoke to find a dear eyeball deep in her backpack munching on a loaf of the bread the counselors bought the day before because they were going to treat the campers to a french toast breakfast. She yelled something like Hay get out of my backpack. The dear raised it's head long enough to give her that "What" look and resumed eating until all of the awakened campers began throwing their shoes at it. Oatmeal again. Talk about disappointing. Since then the black bear population in our area has recovered so well that the use of elevated food bags has become universal. We may issue bear spray to the counselors this year.]

Tom Horne
 
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TD-Horne

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IMO, if your headlamp is aimed at the trail directly in front of you, even 50 lumens is too much, and all that much (or more) light is doing for you is killing your night vision and making it harder to see anything that's not directly in front of you. While modern technology has made brighter and brighter portable lighting possible, outdoors in the woods, less almost always is more. OTOH, it only takes one person with an overpowered light to kill the entire group's night vision...
OK so what makes a headlamp with, set to a flood focus and aimed down so that a camper would have to tilt their head back to throw the beam horizontally, overpowered. After all their careful evaluations the counselors are expecting 200 lumens. Let's say we can get one with a low setting how low would it have to be to make that concern moot. Those with a lot of experience with LED headlamps could share whether they've ever used one with a red filter or bulb. Could the campers safely walk an unimproved trail using one? How many lumens would it need to emit?

Tom Horne
 
Stefano

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Today many manufacturers offer red LEDs.
1 or 5 red lumens are enough for tent, home or close range activities but I doubt they are ideal for a trail that isn't perfect.
With 5 lumens of red light, I find it a bit difficult to water the plants in the garden but maybe a group of people could emit enough overall red light for a path.
Headlamp Fenix only exist with up to 5 lumens of red light except a special edition of HM65R (Sarma) but which is very expensive.
The same Armytek with the Wizard WR model
Nitecore has many Headlamp models that have 11 or 13 lumens of red light, some are cheaper than the ones mentioned above.
I have always been skeptical about filters, they don't have the same quality as a red or green LED light.
Good night vision is then given by sub-lumens levels whatever the type of light emitted. If we talk about white light, on a difficult path I prefer a wide light that allows me to see where I put my feet.
So either a traditional beam but with a large spot or a flood light that could be for example the low one of the Fenix HM65R (8 lumens of flood light already offer good vision) an expensive Zebralight H604 model or any Headlamp that has a matte lens, "TIR" or called "honeycomb" that diffuses the light.
I have seen that there are cheap Energizer models that you can also find on Amazon that have various LEDs, some "spot" others "flood" and if you don't want to spend a lot they could adapt.
 
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TD-Horne

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Today many manufacturers offer red LEDs.
1 or 5 red lumens are enough for tent, home or close range activities but I doubt they are ideal for a trail that isn't perfect.
With 5 lumens of red light, I find it a bit difficult to water the plants in the garden but maybe a group of people could emit enough overall red light for a path.
Headlamp Fenix only exist with up to 5 lumens of red light except a special edition of HM65R (Sarma) but which is very expensive.
The same Armytek with the Wizard WR model
Nitecore has many Headlamp models that have 11 or 13 lumens of red light, some are cheaper than the ones mentioned above.
I have always been skeptical about filters, they don't have the same quality as a red or green LED light.
Good night vision is then given by sub-lumens levels whatever the type of light emitted. If we talk about white light, on a difficult path I prefer a wide light that allows me to see where I put my feet.
So either a traditional beam but with a large spot or a flood light that could be for example the low one of the Fenix HM65R (8 lumens of flood light already offer good vision) an expensive Zebralight H604 model or any Headlamp that has a matte lens, "TIR" or called "honeycomb" that diffuses the light.
I have seen that there are cheap Energizer models that you can also find on Amazon that have various LEDs, some "spot" others "flood" and if you don't want to spend a lot they could adapt.
@Stefano Thank you for your thoughtful response. I'll research the more cost effective models you've suggested and see if any of them offer sufficient operating time to meet the campers' needs.

Tom Horne
 
Stefano

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@Stefano Thank you for your thoughtful response. I'll research the more cost effective models you've suggested and see if any of them offer sufficient operating time to meet the campers' needs.

Tom Horne
Some Nitecore models are cheap and have red light.
If you make a purchase for a group of people, could some retailers give you a discount?
Look at the Nitecore NU17 Model (130 lumens, red light)
NU25 (360 lumens, red light)
NU32 (550 lumens, red light)
HA23 (250 lumens but has no red light)

The NU17 could be the cheapest, it recharges with a USB cable and the battery is proprietary but I know it is for sale as a spare and at a low price.
It has only 130 lumens of white light but it is interesting because it also offers a wide beam auxiliary light (HI CRI) of 50 lumens and has two red light levels (1 lumens and 23 lumens)
 
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