Review: Armytek Wizard Pro USB for Trail Running

Wurkkos

Rekkie

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 14, 2010
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Just a quick upfront note: What I try to focus on is user experience and the things that you wouldn’t necessary get unless you have firsthand experience with it. Although I’m a flashaholic as anybody else, I don’t have access to specialized equipment or have in-depth technical knowledge on everything, so I leave that to the guys who do. Although I’d like to cover everything, it would make for an unnecessary long article.

So let’s get on with it...

The Armytek Wizard Pro v3 USB

As most headlamps runners are aware of (especially in where I’m from: S.A) are those being sold by most outdoor stores. So if you’re a runner, let me introduce you to the Armytek Wizard Pro (version 3, USB), a light that’s no stranger her on CPF. And true to its name: Armytek, this light is built like a tank!

Some quick manufacturer’s specs:
  • Cree XPH50 LED
  • 1800 Lumens max output – 11 modes (8 Constant modes, 3 Strobe)
  • Warm white / White (cool/neutral white)
  • 18650 battery (included)
  • Military grade anodizing (Type iii anodizing)
  • Magnetic tail cap
  • Magnetic USB rechargeable (for the AR guys reading this...its optional)
  • Thermal protection/regulation
  • Battery level indicator underneath the switch, also a thermal indicator
  • 5m impact resistance
  • 10m waterproof (5hours)
  • 10 Year Warranty

So let’s see what’s included:
  • The light
  • 1x 18650, 3200mah Li-ion battery
  • Headlamp mounting bracket and straps
  • Hand strap
  • Magnetic USB charger
  • Removable clip
  • Spare o-rings
  • User Manuel

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First up, tighten the tail cap as the battery is already inside the light, then loosen it by a ¼ turn in order to charge the battery (the light cannot be used while charging). Red light in the charger lights up to indicate its charging, turns green when finished. Charger flashes red if you didn’t loosen the tail cap by a ¼ turn. This method of charging obviously doesn’t work when the lamp is wet. Also don’t be worried, upon tightening the tail cap to engage the battery, the rear exposed charging terminals gets electrically isolated, so submerging the headlamp will not short out the electronics or the battery. This isn’t the only way to charge the battery though, granted you have a separate Li-ion battery charger. You can also use any 18650 Li-*** battery, if it can handle 7amps for Turbo 2 mode, so take note and take care when using your own 18650 batteries. On that note, I strongly advise using Armytek’s own batteries for their lights, unless of course you already have your own high quality batteries in hand and they meet Armytek’s requirements for this light.
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So a lot of 90deg/right angle headlamps make use of a silicon mounting brackets and let me tell you they are hugely uncomfortable on your forehead. For running in particular, as they are too flexible and tend to bounce a lot, also the two side bars the straps pass through flexes and then digs into your skin. As soft as the feel they’re just a no-go if you’re going to use them for running and on your bare skin. They’re also a bit of a mission to get the light in and out of them in a hurry I found.

The Armytek‘s bracket however is made of a curved, hard/rigid plastic and the headlamp simply snaps into it from the front. Now as uncomfortable as it may or may not sound let me explain: The curved plastic bracket doesn’t allow the headlamp to bounce within the bracket and the bracket on the strap...which in turn means you don’t have to tighten the strap(s) too tight so there’s very little discomfort on your head. One evening I wore it around the house for roughly 4 hours...I started playing with the light and got distracted only to realise I was still wearing it before going to bed, so yeah it’s quite comfortable. I also wore it for a 2hour run and I didn’t feel any discomfort either, I did however had to shift it around slightly every 30mins or so, but I do this with most headlamps anyway. Bear in mind that ‘most’ headlamps in the ~130g range will become uncomfortable after 1+hours of wear...running that is, so Armytek did a great job of managing the Wizard Pro’s weight.
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Operation is via a single, easy to find button on top of the light with a nice click to it, also acting as the battery level indicator flashing every 5 seconds. This is a great feature to have if you’re looking for the light in the dark. It can also be set on or off. Personally, I set to “on”, and if the flash is bugging me at night, I simply turn the tail cap by a ¼ turn out to disengage the battery, vioala! This also prevents the light from turning on in your pocket/ bag by accident.
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As for all my previous review, I drew a diagram to explain the modes:
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Brightness and beam:
The TIR optics produces a really smooth, wide beam pattern. The upside is you get spectacular light coverage on the path ahead; the downside is you lose some throw which means you have to use one of the higher light settings to really see well some (40m+) distance ahead of you, eating into the battery life. Not a problem on a short run, but you’ll have to find some balance on a longer run or take an extra battery. Little side note: For most types of running (and personal experience) I found anything from 10-35m is enough distance ahead of you for ‘safe’ lighting for running, there are exception of course. Modes are nicely spaced to give you a good range of usability. The Firefly modes are a little hard to capture on camera outdoors, they are only really good for up close illumination, like digging around in a tent or back pack. Firefly 3 is sufficient for walking around a camp site, but you won’t see anything past ~3m really.
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Control
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Turbo 2_1800 Lumen (1 hour)
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Turbo 1_900 Lumen (1hour 42mins)
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Main 3_390 Lumen (4 hours)
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Main 2_165 Lumen (10 hours 30mins)
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Main 1_30 Lumen (50 hours)
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Firefly 3_5.5 Lumen (12 days)
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Firefly 2 _1.5 Lumen (40 days)
Firefly 1_0.15 lumen (200 days)


The built in thermal protection only really kicks in on the Turbo modes. If it senses the light becomes too hot, it will automatically step the down the light output to allow the body to cool down a bit, after the temperature has dropped enough, it will step the light output up again and continue to cycle like this until the battery is drained, or you select a lower mode that will not heat up the light body so much that it will trip the thermal sensor.

As an added bonus with 90deg/right angle headlamps, they are multi-use, and Armytek included a few accessories to help with that. The extra hand strap means you can run with the light in your hand, and as the beam is fairly wide you’ll notice less side to side sway of the light than you would with a normal flashlight. You can use the included clip (damn that clip is strong!!) and mount the headlamp to a hydration pack, backpack or any other piece of your gear that you’d like if you don’t want to wear it on your head...this helps to reduce the “tunnel vision” effect you experience when wearing a headlamp. The magnetic tail cap is strong enough to hold the light up side down, granted you have a nice chunk of steel to let it grab on to. Note this is mainly intended for stationary applications as strong vibrations will shake it off. Don’t try and attach it to your bike via the magnet and expect it to hold.
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In conclusion, the Armytek Wizard Pro USB is a light that’s designed to take some serious abuse. A lot of effort was made to ensure that the light won’t let you down in the knarliest conditions. It’s right on the tipping point for me with regards to weight (for running only), however the well designed bracket and strap takes great care of that so I won’t hesitate to take it for a long night run. You could easily take it through an entire night on just one battery. The USB charging option is really great, meaning you no longer need to buy a separate battery charger in addition to the light, it’s a buy it-use it package. It’s extremely bright when you need it to be, and dimmer than a candle when you’re stalking the fridge at night. The 10m waterproof rating is insane! And who doesn’t like a 10year warranty?

So if you’re looking to invest in a really good all-round light, have a look at the Armytek Wizard Pro USB. You can use this light for almost anything!
 

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