Sep 25, 20182828 views

Interest Check: Headlamps

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Greetings everyone,
We want to know what headlamps all of you are into. We already source a variety of brands, types, and styles, but are always looking to stay in tune with the interests of the community. Here are some questions to help inspire your opinions and ideas.
· What do you look for in a headlamp? · What kind of features do you prefer to have? · What do you use headlamps for the most? · What particular brands do you like?
Your suggestions and feedback are taken into account when we look for products to put on the site so tell us what you like, what you don’t like and any preferences you have in between.
Thanks!
See our other Interest Checks:
· Flashlights: www.massdrop.com/talk/9164/interest-check-flashlights
· Jackets: www.massdrop.com/talk/7906/interest-check-outdoors-ultralight-jackets
· Backpacks: www.massdrop.com/talk/8011/interest-check-outdoors-ultralight-backpacks
· Shoes: www.massdrop.com/talk/8129/interest-check-outdoors-ultralight-shoes

Check out our past and current drops here: www.massdrop.com/search/headlamps/drops
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E Mac, nothingnessdarren, and 42 others
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I'm a caver, so the top three priorities in headlamps are reliability, reliability, and reliability. (Nothing ruins a day underground faster than failed lighting.) Battery life and overall output are a close fourth and fifth. Scurion makes the most beastly bulletproof badass piece of lighting kit I've ever used, but it's damn expensive. (Though well worth it for serious users.) In the budget realm, Zebralight is the current fave of most cavers I know.
Petzl are top quality...
I use my Petzl Actik for hiking and cycling, and for repairs in low light. I bought the battery and Noctilight case to use it as a lantern also, I love it.
I'll echo the comments made below by Hatchetman and Brian8383. I use headlamps for wilderness Search & Rescue, where weight, robustness, duration of light and a variety of light output levels are important. My 18650-powered lights from Zebralight have served me well for years, and the battery type works well for my purposes. I switched to all 18650 lights and carry a power bank that uses a 18650 battery to charge my phone/GPS, so that "system" covers all my light and power needs. As mentioned, Zebralight makes a wide variety of high quality headlamps, that would fit many activities and light requirements.
henrikbp
Props for the Search & Rescue! Strong endorsement.
Duncan
Thanks Duncan
I'm a caver. Things I look for in a lamp include: • Robust. It has to stand up to hard use. Headlamps are usually the primary light source; taking two headlamps with you is weight and space prohibitive, therefor the main source of life has to stand up to hard use. • Waterproof. Has to handle falling water and submersion. Unless you are are a diver--which takes us into a whole different spec world--the lamp generally won't be submerged for longer than a minute when say pushing a sump, or deeper than a meter. • Flexible mounting/headband system. Has to mount easily to helmet or head. If there is something to keep the straps from moving on a helmet, that helps in tight passages. Should be easily adjustable, preferably while wearing gloves, while transitioning between helmet, head, and (insulating or rain) hat. • Several lighting modes. If there is a need to bivy up for a while it's nice to have a low power setting that is good for days. Hi power should range between 500 and 1000+ lumens, with more being better as a rule of thumb as it's nice to be able to light an immense space when needed. • Spot to wide focus ability. Wide beam should allow you to see your feet. Spot should allow you to see the top (or bottom) of a hundred ft. + pit. • Batteries. Should be a common battery type, for the most part. Here it gets complicated. If caving in an area where resupply is easy, then more exotic battery types are okay, such as 123s or 18650s. The further off the beaten track you get the more common the battery type needs to be, i.e. AAs or AAAs. I'm not a huge fan of proprietary battery packs, with a couple exceptions. If they provide a significant performance improvement, and are inexpensive enough to purchase multiple backup battery packs, or there is some sort of adapter that allows you to use standard batteries if needed, and if recharging cables are common types rather than some sort of proprietary cable I'll think about owning one. Proprietary battery packs from a not particularly well established company are a concern as there is no guarantee they'll be available a year later. • Weight and distribution. Less of an issue than back in the 4 D cell incandescent days, but still a consideration. Four 1860s installed in the lamp might make for a long burn or great performance, but could lead to a helmet wanting to rock forward and need readjustment, which gets old over a 36 hour trip. Placing the battery pack on the rear of the helmet helps balance things, but then the wire/connection has to be quite robust and designed in a manner that it doesn't hang on things. I'm not a huge fan of coiled battery pack wires as they are a lot more likely to catch on stuff/abrade. I realize caving is a bit of a niche, but many of the design parameters mentioned would also serve other pursuits well, such as hardcore trekking, climbing, etc.
(Edited)
Hatchetman
All this plus a rear indicator light (red or green) so people can follow me.
Hatchetman
As another caver, I'd argue that any light that is "caveworthy" is gonna be more than suitable for pretty much any other activity you have in mind (with the possible exception of scuba, for obvious reasons).
Zebralight Olight is bright and really nice. Armytek makes great headlamps also. Nitecore, they are OK. Other guys have great options also..... But.... Zebralight has something for everyone. Focused standard reflector beam, floody lights or pure flood. Cool white extreme output. Neutral tints. High CRI. XHP50's, XHP35's, XP-L2's, 18650 battery powered, AA, CR123, headlamps and flashlights. Try to get something with these guys. Zebralight would bring many flashlightaholics to your website. More so than any other brand, IMHO. The Olight H2R is a great second choice, but.......... The Zebralight NW color is better. Yup the output of the Olight is crazy on Max. But that's for 50 seconds and its just a cool "Hey guys, check this out." kind of thing. Then it steps down to 600-700 lumens. The Zebralight outputs over 1000 lumens then it's PID will slowly ramp it down and level off seamlessly to about 700 lumens. It's a great feature and less distracting and drastic than a sudden output drop. Also, the H2R is pretty big compared to the comparable Zebralight.
(Edited)
Zebralight! Armytek!
I use headlamps more than flashlights: it's just so convenient to have hands free when rummaging in a pack or making coffee in the dark; they make me more visible when I'm running at night or early in the morning. I stash them in packs, gear bags, vehicles. I mostly use relatively cheap LED ones with rechargeable batteries, since for me they're almost always a task light. I don't need a million lumens or a fancy battery. I do like a red light setting to help preserve night vision.
I would like this community, light or thrunite
Prefer lights with head-strap that goes over the head, not just a headband. Uses AA's. If more than one AA, or a larger battery, needs to be a battery pack on the back of the headband. Don't like a lot of weight on the front. Neutral or Warmer tints, HiCri. Minimal modes...Hi, Med and Lo, Reading, working on cars, walking, chores.... pretty much anything needed for a light that a lantern won't do. Just don't use "normal" flashlights anymore. Headlamps do almost everything needed as well or better. Not really attached to any. But have had good experiences with Black Diamond, Olight, Petzl, Surefire, Nitecore, Fenix... probably others I cannot remember over the last 20+ years.
I loved my trusted Nitecore headlamp which feeds on 18650 battery! i have had many headlamps before ! Now I only use 18650 powered flashlight n headlamp . For any weapon lights, I only use Inforce & Surefire ! When packing a real Bug out bag...... the lights only runs on CR123...... for its decade long stand by shelf life.
I have the Olight H2R. At about the same price as the Nitecore HC60 (1,000 lumen max), the capability of 2,300 lumens made it a no-brainer. After I got the H2R, I considered buying the Lumintop HL18 here on MD maybe 6 or more months ago just to have something semi-powerful to throw in the bike's saddlebags or as a backup around the property. If that drop ever comes around again, I may buy it, but so far, the H2R has fulfilled my every wish or need for a headlamp. The H2R is the first headlamp I ever bought, so I did quite a bit of comparison shopping and reviews-reading before I made the decision. I own several Olight products, and though the first light I bought (more than 10 years ago) is completely useless now, all the rest have never had a hiccup. I am a casual "collector" of modern LED flashlights, though I rarely buy one if I don't have a place in mind to stage it for whatever use(s) I have in mind for it. I will buy a light for the same place/use as a replacement/backup for one I already have though, just to have hands-on comparisons between different brands/UIs/specs etc. I don't think I've ever seen an Olight offering on Massdrop. I have seen knock-offs, but my interests lean more towards what I have experience with and can trust for reliability etc. I'd buy almost any Olight product that I either don't already have, or that I want/need as a backup to something I do already have.
I'd love to find something inexpensive that has maybe 2-3 modes, and a red lens that you can slide/flip to cover the light. I can't stand having to click through a ton of different modes. Especially for something like "I'd like to find my hat because I'm cold in my sleeping bag, oh, here's my head lamp ::click:: blinding light::click::slightly less blinding light::click::usable light, find hat, ::click::red lamp::click::blinding strobe::click::off. Sleepy wife: 'WTF are you doing?'"
· I look for reliability first and foremost. · I like a light that can provide a strong beam and a usable spread. · Working on the car/house at night and camping · Surefire, Black Diamond, Snowpeak
Olight
I like headlamps that
  • can also be used as a handheld light.
  • use high capacity li-ion batteries, either 18650 or CR123
18650 CR123
Looking
I've been back country canoeing and hiking for 20 years, and I don't own a headlamp. My reasoning is that the headlamp is not a replacement for a good flashlight, because the flashlights tend to have more light output and tend to last longer, plus I can point them with my hand independently of where my head is turned. The disadvantage is that for cooking or washing dishes I end up holding the light in my mouth; a headlamp really shines (pun intended) for this kind of applications. But for walking or looking for a campsite in the dark a flashlight is much better. So I can't really justify bringing a second source of light with me. This said, I think about buying a headlamp from time to time. My requirements would be: (1) complete waterpfoof, (2) red light for using around campfire, (3) several low beam light levels, (4) use AA battery(s) so that I could share the spares with my flashlight, (5) lightweight, since for me a headlight would be a luxury item, so the weight needs to be minimal. To me, a headlamp would be about illuminating what's near. I don' t need it to have a very powerful output. I would prefer long runtime instead, with several levels of low beam, and easy control.
Arcady
Headlamps nowadays have just as much output as a flashlight. Also I'd advise switching from AA to 18650s. You will get 10x the light output, as AA batteries do not have the output current to run decent LED chips. Furthermore, you can have a solar usb charger and recharge your light during the day for infinite use.
I almost always use them for work. I tend to bring them with me when I go hiking/camping/fishing but rarely wind up using them outdoors. I have a couple husky (home depot house brand) headlamps, the battery life on them is about 6 hours or so on high (which is 300ish lumens) but I'd be interested in something rechargeable
I have been carrying a Nitecore HC50 for years. It's a tank. I originally bought it because it used the same lithium 18650 battery as my vape. I never reach for anything else camping or at home. The battery life is over 500 hours on the lowest setting, which is where I usually set it for camping. Colors are true. It's completely waterproof and it's machined out of billet aluminum. It is overkill for nearly everything. I have been thinking about getting something lighter for backpacking. If I do, it will probably be a Nitecore NU25 since I have had such good luck with my current Nitecore.
My single AA zebra light just died. I really liked its wide flood pattern and neutral, high CRI LED. i replaced it with a Fenix. I like the USB rechargeable format, higher output, memory (no more cycling every time I turn the thing back on), and the ability to use a slightly more available CR123. The narrower spot is less than perfect. in short, for a headlamp I like a wide flood pattern, high CRI, less fiddly UI, and a single cell. Water and drop resistance is a must.
I use a Fenix HL60R. It has many of the features I want, minus a few. I like that it is rechargeable via USB, weatherproof, rugged and has the ability for the white light to be dim and very bright. I wish the red light was brighter - bright enough to hike in the dark. It is not. Find me a rugged headlamp with a bright red light that can be charged by USB and I will buy it.
cyclaaz
Led lenser head lamps
Fergie
Thanks Fergie. I just took a look at the LED Lenser website. While their headlamps look very nice, I'm not sure they support the red light I am looking for. I know the headlamps with strong red light exist; I saw a number of hikers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with them.
Nitecore NU25 ultra light, full featured usb rechargeable headlamp.
A lightweight, AAA-powered, (or USB rechargeable), with red light mode and a lock-out feature, (so it doesn't get accidentally powered on in my pack). 100+ lumens adjustable down to about 3 would be nice.
So, after using my cheapo rechargable headlamp for a few nights i have some things id like to see: low/med/high switch for white, low/high switch for red (or a solid locking internal red slide over the bulb), frosty (spotless) light, and i absolutly abhor the loud ass clicking angle adjustment amd think there should be a better way but have no ideas how. Strobe function is positively worthless. Im not cycling through two settings to blind an intruder, thats dumb. A wicking material on the strap or back of the unit itself would be great, and mini usb rechargeable. Waterproof, lightweight, and hi-viz coloreays with reflective accents. Yeah, id blow $50 for the massdrop made version of that. Cheapies were two/$10 on amazon and are suboptimal. Pheonix flagship-x by name.
theguywitheyebrows
Decided that ifone were to fall and become injured something like in the middle of the road ar night or kind of hidden behind bushes that the option to have two light colors flashing would draw much needed attention and is potentially beneficial in this manner. Low/med/high white, low/high red, with an additional sos/strobe function button in a protected location maybe on the back or side would be the absolute best we could get. I cant comment on the dial adjustment though it seems worthy, especially if paired with a red lens that can be toggled in place and maybe then an sos button would be easier to accomodate. Hard-swapping between functions is a pain, i would like to get a dial light in hand (on head?) to appraise its metle; if i could find one with a red option that would be ideal and i would leap.
I use head lamps for work and camping most often. But planning a grand canyon hike soon. Where we start at night and stop at 11am do to heat. Work head lamps are LED and use 1 or 2 18650 batteries. Camping I am slip between rechargable 18650 or disposable AA or AAA.
rangerbrett65
Hi, this totally off topic but I see you are planning a grand canyon hike. I would like to plan one also. But I live in Canada. Any information about route or permits you would be willing to share would help a lot.
Im into a rechargable headlamp that can get its juice from a notecard sized solar panel im already rockin with a standard android charger port. I found a 'cheapy' 2/$10 on amazon, arrives tomorrow; trying to retrofit a couple others with 'rechargability', so bought this set to eventually see its parts, pieces, and build after its collapse.
I'm looking for a light that uses AA batteries instead of CR123 and AAA...
I'm looking for a small, essential, NOT BULKY light for walking at night, walking the dog, hiking, and as a backup light for nighttime and dusk bicycling.
I previously used the Petzl Zipka (classic '3 LED version'). Thinking about getting the upgraded version (now 200 lumens instead of 80). Would DEFINITELY buy through a drop (assuming shipping reasonable to Canada)