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Thread: Headlamp for camping/hiking

  1. #1
    Unenlightened
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    Wink2 Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Hi CPF users!

    I'd like to enlist your knowledge and experience to help me choose a new headlamp. It's been a number of years since I purchased a headlamp - I am currently using an old Petal Tikka Plus 2 with one of the original CORE batteries - I know there are better options available now, but the choice seems a bit overwhelming.

    Requirements:
    1. General camping use and some trail walking - not running
    2. Flood/wide beam
    3. Minimal hot spot as possible
    4. More natural looking light colour - based on this forum I recently purchased a Thrunite TN4a in neutral and I really like it
    5. Prefer longevity over brightness
    6. Red LED alternative - wouldn't even mind if it was slightly brighter as I quite like using it
    7. Prefer rechargeable, otherwise AA or AAA (I know there are benefits to using other battery types, but I'm not that much of an enthusiast)
    8. Don't really care much for lots of different brightness settings (and I am considering getting one for my wife too so want to keep it simple)
    9. Budget - its not about price but value for money, so I'm okay spending the money on something if it meets my requirements


    Current dislikes with the Petzl Tikka Plus 2:
    1. Hot spot
    2. Light is a bit too white for me
    3. Peripheral vision just feels weird when I have it on - might be the combination of hot spot and the white light
    4. Little bit bulky - the addition of the CORE battery bulks it out a bit more (it's not like the new ones that fit inside the space where you place the AAA batteries)
    5. Not quite as bright as I'd like


    Current likes with the Petzl Tikka Plus 2:
    1. Comfortable to wear
    2. Simple to use and click through the options
    3. Rechargeable
    4. I've generally been quite happy with the headlamp


    Based on my experience with the Tikka Plus 2 I would be more than happy to buy another Petzl, but I can't help feeling like there's better options out there.

    I appreciate that I have a long list of requirements and that it is not realistic to meet all of them. I'd be grateful for any recommendations you have on the current lines of headlamp available.

    ó
    Luke (Australia)

  2. #2
    Flashaholic
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Fenix hl40r? No red though...
    Woman prefer guys with bright torchs!
    Ultrafire C3 XR-E P4 with extesion tube,Ultrafire HS-802, Solarforce L2r w/Solarforce XR-E R2 dropin, Eagletac P20A2 Mark II R5, Fenix E05 R2, Fenix TK40, Fenix E15, Fenix Stainless LD01

  3. #3
    karlthev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    The sky can be the limit....how about a Lupine Blika?

    Karl

  4. #4
    Flashaholic* hiuintahs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    For your wife, a Fenix HL10 single AAA light. Comes in 3 different colors. The ladies like that. She has the violet. It has 3 modes and memory. Most of the time, my wife just leaves it on the 2nd level. It has a nice neutral white beam. It's very small and light. I purchased an Efest zippered battery case for her to store and travel with. Also room to carry a spare AAA or two. That headlamp replaced my wife's Petzl Zipka 3xAAA headlamp that came with a retractable headband. She liked it because it was small. But she now likes the HL10 as the Zipka has rather outdated 5mm LEDs.

    I'd probably steer away from the 3xAAA format as that is a bit outdated and was necessarily early on when LED's weren't as efficient and companies wanted a more simple LED driver where the battery voltage started above the forward voltage of the LED. But there is nothing wrong with 3xAAA headlamps as long as the driver is efficient. I have the Fenix HL25 (3xAAA & now discontinued) and I like it. But it's a little bigger than the single AA or CR123A/16340 headlamps. I'd like the Fenix HL23 (single AA) headlamp if it had memory or if it started on low.........but it doesn't so that one got sold to my nephew (for a good price of course).

    I know you wanted AA but there are better options in the CR123A/16340 rechargeable battery format in my opinion. Perhaps the Fenix HL50 that can run off either a single AA or a CR123A battery (but no rechargeable 16340 unfortunately). It has neutral white light also but the downside is that its a single click to turn on the light and thus you have to pay attention that it doesn't accidentally get turned on when traveling / storing it. Also you can't lock it out by just unscrewing the tail cap a little bit because the threads are not annodized.

    A better choice would be the Olight H1 Nova or the rechargeable H1R Nova. CR123A / 16340 battery though. Those are now my personal preferences.

    Thrunite TH20 is a single AA light that is kind of popular, but I struggled with the tint on both their neutral white and cool white models. I gave that one to my daughter for her boy to use in scout camp. It's still a good headlamp......

    Another possibility would be the Fenix HM50R. Not quite as neutral of light as the before mentioned ones but I'm sure better than the Petzl lights you currently have. Once the flashlight companies got into making headlamps, I kind of no longer look at the Petzl, Princeton Tec, Black Diamond companies because I don't think they have kept up with technology as much as the name brand flashlight companies..........but that is just my opinion and I could be wrong.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    I love my Thrunite TH20 NW. Both the light and the interface. I also much prefer single AA to triple A. I like to carry a backup and this makes it much easier. Floody beam.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Thrunite TH20 is probably the most recommended AA headlamp on other forums.

    For 1oz heavier you can get the skilhunt H03 (18650) with 5x the runtime, though...does feel bulky, however.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    I have a Maratac TPF 1AA i like no hot spot.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    @shellgrit76 - what did you end up selecting? I'm on a similar hunt for camping/hiking and some of your requirements overlap what I'm looking for.

    For me - white & red led, lightweight, single AA or AAA.

    Thanks for sharing anything you uncovered in your research!

    - Aaron

  9. #9

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Thrunite TH20 anytime (at the moment) until the next best thing comes along.

    What did you go for in the end?

  10. #10
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    In my opinion, it's always better to buy the headlamp of the same manufacturer, the same brand or new one: PETZL ACTIK, TACTIKKA CORE.
    It is better cause batteries and spares are compatible.
    It is also important to find ballance weight, functionality and price. Do not overdo with superfunctionality/ It is better to have the waterproof headlamp in case of bad weather (Petzl Tikka Plus).

  11. #11

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Any new opinions on this subject? I have been using a Coast LED Lenser Micro Headlamp for many years (10+?). Although it was never very bright, it was very lightweight, provided a nice diffuse light that was good for walking at night, cooking, finding stuff in my tent/backpack, and I usually could get a solid weekend from a single AAA.

    The light has started acting up (the wire between the battery and led is touchy) and I'm ready to step up to something newer. I don't need a torch, but something that is light, lasts 20hrs or more on a battery, and will last. I prefer a wide angle light because I usually have a brighter flashlight in a pocket for distance.

    I'd like to stay under $30.
    Last edited by billbillw; 10-22-2018 at 08:34 AM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by billbillw View Post
    Any new opinions on this subject? I have been using a Coast LED Lenser Micro Headlamp for many years (10+?). Although it was never very bright, it was very light, provided a nice diffuse light that was good for walking at night, cooking, finding stuff in my tent/backpack, and I usually could get a solid weekend from a single AAA.

    The light has started acting up (the wire between the battery and led is touchy) and I'm ready to step up to something newer. I don't need a torch, but something that is light, lasts 20hrs or more on a battery, and will last. I prefer a wide angle light because I usually have a brighter flashlight in a pocket for distance.

    I'd like to stay under $30.
    I actually took the time today to cut away the bad section on the wire between the board and the LED, made it shorter, and re-soldered it. The old Coast is working fine again. I would like to find a better one though. Preferably one that is waterproof. The Coast is not.

  13. #13
    ven's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Under $30(might be $3 more), i can recommend the skilhunt h03(or if you need colours or inbuilt charging, there are other models like h03r etc)

    Anyway, nicely made, decent ano, UI similar in ways to zebra but imo maybe even better for headlamp. L/M/H/T each with sub levels, so 8 total...............hard to not find a close enough level you want. Memory, so click on and comes on in last used. Also handy at night camping, press/hold when off for 1.5s and it locks out with a faint red blinking from switch. Anyway, could go on and on, the neutral is around 5000k to my eyes, clean ish towards a hint of cream. Looks cooler than 4000k anyway, but certainly not as cold as 6000k!. Gearbest i tried after years away, came through good on this one. I only paid £22, think price is £24 now, so a tad over $30 and for the money, i cant think of a better lamp. If i would have paid £60 for it.................i would not have been disappointed.
    Next to a zebra on right

    Far right


    h2r is my fav though but over budget, the xhp50 neutral(around 4k) is amazing!

    18650 fed, but will run much longer , also decent magnetic base to stick on stuff! Very handy

  14. #14

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by ven View Post
    Under $30(might be $3 more), i can recommend the skilhunt h03(or if you need colours or inbuilt charging, there are other models like h03r etc)

    Anyway, nicely made, decent ano, UI similar in ways to zebra but imo maybe even better for headlamp. L/M/H/T each with sub levels, so 8 total...............hard to not find a close enough level you want. Memory, so click on and comes on in last used. Also handy at night camping, press/hold when off for 1.5s and it locks out with a faint red blinking from switch. Anyway, could go on and on, the neutral is around 5000k to my eyes, clean ish towards a hint of cream. Looks cooler than 4000k anyway, but certainly not as cold as 6000k!. Gearbest i tried after years away, came through good on this one. I only paid £22, think price is £24 now, so a tad over $30 and for the money, i cant think of a better lamp. If i would have paid £60 for it.................i would not have been disappointed.
    Next to a zebra on right

    Far right


    h2r is my fav though but over budget, the xhp50 neutral(around 4k) is amazing!

    18650 fed, but will run much longer , also decent magnetic base to stick on stuff! Very handy

    Thanks for the advice. Does the Skilhunt H03 come with a 18650 battery? Not sure I want to get into that. I prefer AA since I have a bunch of Eneloops and a good charger (only for AA/AAA though). I'd have to get an 18650 charger.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    i use zebra light, and skinflint and some no name 18650 light that i paid 12 bucks for on internet, and to be honest i like that 10 dollars light more and more as i use it. ui is as simple as it gets, about 400-500lm, on board charger, removal of the light from the holder takes half a second, same time to put it back. the downside it is only availale with cool emitters, but swap is very easy, after i installed warm xml2 there i like that light the best.
    it comes in many names, boruit, hedeli.....etc. it looks like that.
    here is one that i took completely apart.
    http://forum.fonarevka.ru/showpost.p...&postcount=282
    Last edited by alpg88; 10-22-2018 at 10:37 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by alpg88 View Post
    i use zebra light, and skinflint and some no name 18650 light that i paid 12 bucks for on internet, and to be honest i like that 10 dollars light more and more as i use it. ui is as simple as it gets, about 400-500lm, on board charger, removal of the light from the holder takes half a second, same time to put it back. the downside it is only availale with cool emitters, but swap is very easy, after i installed warm xml2 there i like that light the best.
    it comes in many names, boruit, hedeli.....etc. it looks like that.
    here is one that i took completely apart.
    http://forum.fonarevka.ru/showpost.p...&postcount=282
    I cannot see that post. I guess you have to be a member? Can you link a photo?
    Does it look like this one at Amazon?
    https://www.amazon.com/HEDELI-Headli.../dp/B07DHGXJJ4

  17. #17

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    yes, @billbillw
    it is exactly the light I'm talking about.

  18. #18
    ven's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by billbillw View Post
    Thanks for the advice. Does the Skilhunt H03 come with a 18650 battery? Not sure I want to get into that. I prefer AA since I have a bunch of Eneloops and a good charger (only for AA/AAA though). I'd have to get an 18650 charger.
    No, but for that price i would not expect it to. Typical cell(good one) is around $6-$10 ish alone.

    Preferring AA, zebralight would be worth a look for sure

  19. #19

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by alpg88 View Post
    yes, @billbillw
    it is exactly the light I'm talking about.
    Any suggestions on the best place to buy one? Aliexpress? The vendor at Amazon doesn't seem to have the best feedback.

    @ven, a zebralight for under $30? Don't see that anywhere.

    Seems like the best choices under $30 are the Thrunite and the ones suggested in the last few posts.
    Last edited by billbillw; 10-22-2018 at 01:40 PM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by billbillw View Post
    Any suggestions on the best place to buy one? Aliexpress? The vendor at Amazon doesn't seem to have the best feedback.
    i got them on ebay, they are basically 10-14 bucks range everywhere. so not much savings from seller to seller, go by reputation and feedback score.

    p.s. there is a version with 2 leds, i never tried that one, also there other versions of such light, that use lens, instead of reflector, and has zoom, and slightly different\simplified body. i was told by someone who bought and tried it, on fonarevka.ru that it's inferior version, with weaker charging circuit.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Manker E03H. Mine is a Cool White. Even though it's got a slight greenish tint, I still prefer it to anything "Nichia" (also because of the reduced output you get with those). Obviously, you can get one in "Neutral White", if that's your thing.
    So, the reflector produces a bit of a hot spot but it is just what you need for the kind of (relatively) short throw you get with this light. The beam is very easy on the eye for walking around, doing camping stuff and even reading but the best part about that is the diffusers.
    Yes, with this model you get the choice of 3 different diffusers: Red, Green and White. What this means for you is that you can get 4(!) levels of brightness of red light. Better still, the output in the Moonlight mode is customizable (via "Engineering mode").
    *The diffusers themselves are very strong and once you clip one on it'll stay on there, even if you don't take good care of your headlamp. The flip side to that is that they are very hard to detach. Trying to switch between the diffusers out in the field you are liable to lose or break one and/or injure yourself in the process. For me it was hard enough to do on my workbench, with some proper tools. So, basically, even though you get 3 diffusers, they aren't really "interchangeable". You pretty much have to commit to just one (or none at all).

    BTW: The White diffuser is awesome but the Red and Green are not so much. They aren't opaque enough for me but then, I'm not even sure that those were designed to "diffuse" the light at all. So, what happens is that you do not get truly "Red" light with this thing, out of the box anyway. To do something about it I simply took a scrap of fine-grade sand paper to the Red diffuser and now it's much closer to what I need it to be. I'm sure those pieces of plastic can be modded in all sorts of different ways. (Save yourself some time though and skip the acetone, I've already tried it)

    Anyway, check out the specs, they're pretty impressive. I've done some testing and the driver on this baby is awesome. It runs flawlessly with any type of cells (nothing above 2V though). Constant output throughout, no PWM to speak of, not much heat, Turbo output for when you need it. Awesome threads on the tail end and the cap's rotation is very snug, which provides very effective lock-out. *There is also a very awkward "lock out" mode in the interface, which I never bother with.

    No headlamp is perfect but seriously, if I could take only one flashlight with me into the unknown, this one would be it. It is ultra-functional and from what I can tell so far, very reliable. I doubt there's anything else like it out there, not in the price range anyway.


    PS: If you ain't too happy with the stock headband, you can always buy a "proper" one like this, for example:
    https://flashlight.nitecore.com/product/hb02 *Just a "heads-up": if your head is any bigger than "average", this particular product will be too small for ya. BTW, the ones they sell on AliExpress are really big enough only for kids.


    PPS: Manker also makes a very similar light in the AAA variety. The E02 is quite bulky for a AAA size, there are no attachable diffusers but there's a choice of different body colors and even 2 flavors of titanium bodies. The interface is identical to the E03, though the max output is not as high. I have one E03 in "red" and am about to receive another one.
    In case you didn't know, there are AAA to AA battery adapters. If you have any AAA cells with you out camping, having such an adapter can come in real handy. The E03, for example, runs on AAA's with no problem. With a primary lithium Energizer AAA (w. adapter) I get 87 minutes of runtime in the HIGH mode (not Turbo), which I find to be quite impressive.
    Last edited by cdm-dude; 10-22-2018 at 10:28 PM.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by alpg88 View Post
    i got them on ebay, they are basically 10-14 bucks range everywhere. so not much savings from seller to seller, go by reputation and feedback score.

    p.s. there is a version with 2 leds, i never tried that one, also there other versions of such light, that use lens, instead of reflector, and has zoom, and slightly different\simplified body. i was told by someone who bought and tried it, on fonarevka.ru that it's inferior version, with weaker charging circuit.
    So, I found a bunch of these on eBay (not using the Hedeli or Boruit brand names though) and I also found the extensive thread over at BLF talking about the headlamp.

    Its amazing what a rabbit hole you can go down when you start reading these forums. After a couple weeks of reading, this is what I currently have coming in the mail:

    1-Boruit/Generic XM-L2 18650 headlamp
    1-Liitokala Lii-202 charger
    1-BLF A6 Special flashlight (neutral white)
    1-Astrolux C8 thrower (neutral white)
    6-Samsung 30Q batteries
    1-Tent fan (runs on a single 18650 battery, from Liion Wholesale)
    and a finally, a I ordered a couple of diffusers that mount to the end of a 24.5mm flashlight like the Convoy S2/BLF A6.

    I was starting to look at something like the Nitecore LR12, but decided a $2 diffuser would probably suite me just fine. Maybe I can stop carrying my Black Diamond Orbit lantern now. It has been somewhat of a AAA battery hog over the years and quits unexpectedly way too much.

    EDIT: I may still order a Skilhunt H03 at some point and give the generic one to my son. We will see how it goes.
    Last edited by billbillw; 11-01-2018 at 11:07 AM.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Quote Originally Posted by billbillw View Post

    EDIT: I may still order a Skilhunt H03 at some point and give the generic one to my son. We will see how it goes.
    those are good lights, but they come with crappy driver, they seem to use crappy solder, and a fall from few feet kills them, majority of them failed within a year. but the light is easy to take apart, and replace driver, i replaced mine with simple linear 7135 board, same one that every convoy uses, they can be programmed to work with momentary button. mountain electronic sell those for like 7 bucks.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Check out Lupine. Not cheap but they are the best in the business. Their lights are used in Search and rescue, caving and climbing.

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* LeanBurn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    I bought enough Petzl Tikkina 150's over the weekend for my entire family for $15 ea, all destined for their camping packs.

    After owning the Tikkina 80 for a couple of years and using it quite a bit with zero issues I am impressed with the basic quality, great reliability and amazing run-time of these direct drive classic series of lights. I am finding I am enjoying headlamps more and more these days and they find more use than my other hand held lights other than my EDC key-chain lights.
    THRUNITE > Archer1AV2|TiS|TH20|TN4A Hi...all in neutral white
    YUJILEDS BC Series 95+ HiCRI
    > Sofirn C01|Dorcy Penlight (Yuji modded)
    XTARVC4, LCTBC500, Amaloops, 1999 MAG-LITE 2D Incandescent(glass lens) Petzl Tikkina 80L ..... E01

  26. #26

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Iím new to headlamps but have quickly realized how useful they are especially models like the AA Zebralights that can be removed from the strap and used as handhelds as well. I bought a Tikkina at REI a few weeks before getting the zebralight H53c and the Tikkina is back in the box currently waiting on a possible return. I havenít been able to do it yet though. Great light, but the single battery lights make more sense to me than the 3xaaa. I may end up keeping both though.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeanBurn View Post
    I bought enough Petzl Tikkina 150's over the weekend for my entire family for $15 ea, all destined for their camping packs.

    After owning the Tikkina 80 for a couple of years and using it quite a bit with zero issues I am impressed with the basic quality, great reliability and amazing run-time of these direct drive classic series of lights. I am finding I am enjoying headlamps more and more these days and they find more use than my other hand held lights other than my EDC key-chain lights.
    Last edited by gurdygurds; 05-23-2019 at 08:53 PM.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Headlamp for camping/hiking

    Picked up a couple headlamps this year to try to upgrade from my Thrunite TH20 Neutral. Added a Black Diamond Cosmos, Acebeam H40 SST-20 (high CRI), Sofirn D25S and now a pair of Armytec Wizard Pro's in White and Warm with the Cree XHP50. If I could only pick ONE it would be the Thrunite TH20. That light has been a solid tool which has seen use for hiking, jogging, camping and a LOT of car repair. Easy to use AA with alkaline or NIMH and can even flex to a 14500 if you need higher output. The Acebeam H40 with the high CRI SST-20 is a VERY close second but the beam is a little tighter than I prefer (though still totally usable) but none of my protected 14500 cells fit as they are too long. The Acebeam does feel like it might be a little nicer quality with the beefy square threads but you cant argue with the results I've had from the TH20.

    The Black Diamond Cosmos is actually a pretty nice light for a normal person. Variable functions, useful though tricky UI and good brightness as well as economical low modes. I like the option for spot and flood output, though the spot is rather floody but the flood LED seems to have a good tint and reasonable CRI. Plus I love the direct access to red mode. A deal breaker is their false advertising for IPX8 waterproof. The electronics are sealed, maybe, but the battery compartment is completely exposed with visible gaps. Doesn't affect function for general purpose use but means it will never be a go-to hard use or bug out light.

    Just received the Sofirn and the Armyteks. First impressions of both are good, though the Sofirn is definitely a budget light and the Armytek has a mixed reputation. I'm very excited to use the Armytek more, seems to be a great headlamp if the switch and driver hold up.

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