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I want a new headlamp
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
I want a new headlamp on 03/18/2011 23:26:38 MDT Print View

First of all, let me state that I've used a dozen different headlamps, so I've found what works reasonably well. I'm looking for something a little lighter.

What I use now is a headlamp, not a flashlight rigged up to a strap, and not something clipped onto the bill of a baseball cap. At night I am often wearing a soft watch cap with no bill.

I'm used to one that can get out 100 lumens or so on high level. I don't use high level a lot, but I need it when I need it. I'm used to one that uses only two or three AA or AAA batteries and weighs three ounces fully loaded. I prefer a flood and not a spot beam. Although I use rechargeable NiMH batteries in some applications, a headlamp is something that I generally use with primary alkaline battery. I generally do not need many hours of run-time. I don't need red light and I don't need flashing light.

My mission today is to find something that weighs half of that or less. I recognize that it might push me into a single AA or single AAA battery. I prefer to stay within those battery types. I have some CR123 and CR2032 battery devices, and I don't like them much.

If I do get pushed into a single battery headlamp, it will likely have a controller chip which drives the price up a bit. But I am kind of skeptical about models that cost $60 or more.

I've read most of the recent headlamp reviews, but everybody seems to be after something different. Any suggestions?


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: I want a new headlamp on 03/19/2011 02:04:00 MDT Print View

The Zebralight H51 is what I'm using now and it's sweet. It meets your criteria except I'm unsure if it's light enough for you. It sounds like you want the light including batteries to weigh about 1.5oz, which is a pretty tall order since a single AA battery weighs about an ounce. To hit 1.5oz inc. batteries you'd probably need to look at a coil cell light or maybe a single AAA light, but then you're never going to hit 100 lumens of output. Maybe you meant you want it to weigh 1.5oz not including batteries?

Anyways, the H51 main light is 1.3oz, but then you've got the strap 0.8oz and one AA battery (0.9oz) for a total of 3oz right on.

Zebralight H51
- single AA
- 200 Lumens on high
- flood type beam (80 degree spread)
- waterproof
- voltage regulated
- $64
- headlamp, but it comes with a clip also if you want to use it without the strap

Raymond Greco
(91South) - F

Locale: Northeast
+2 on the Zebralight H51 on 03/19/2011 04:32:35 MDT Print View

I've been using one running,4-5X week at 5AM, this winter up here in the Northeast. Not superlight, but the lumens and light it throws are perfect (sorry I'm not technical). Battery life is good as well. The only negative is the strap that I replaced with my Tikka Plus strap.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
+3 Zebra on 03/19/2011 05:02:43 MDT Print View

Me too and so do others I know. They don't get much lighter and only uses one AA.

No problems yet. I find I hike on the mid setting, read on the low setting and search for lost stuff in the dark on the high setting. The single battery really lasts this way.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
headlamps on 03/19/2011 07:54:49 MDT Print View

To me, headlamps are just commodities - different manufactures make equivalent units

Princetonetec Fuel - 3xAAA - 2.9 ounces - 2.5 ounces if you use lithium - but only 43 lumens - which I find enough to walk on trails at night

the lumens are misleading - you get that rating with fresh batteries but it gradually goes down and by the end of the "burn time" it's much fainter

David T
(DaveT) - F
zebra. on 03/19/2011 09:22:52 MDT Print View

Don't mean to pile on the love parade, but I recently got one too and have been impressed. Nice small form factor, light weight, and most importantly, a very usable spread of 3 settings. Low is actually LOW (for reading), medium for everything else, high for when you really need it. I'm really happy with this light.

I also like my Fenix LD01, with the penclip to hook onto a basebill cap brim. Another quality light.

Edited by DaveT on 03/19/2011 09:27:57 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: headlamps on 03/19/2011 09:29:41 MDT Print View

The Zebras are nice, though pricey. I bought a PT Byte. Red led also. 2 AAA batteries nice clean beam. 1.9oz w/lithium batteries.$20.

Update: As Jerry notes below this light is fraught with problems. I received my warranty replacement and it too is a POC. Good thing I bought at REI. Bad thing the nearest one is 3 hours away. Bought a Zebralight H31W. Like it very much so far.

Edited by kthompson on 04/28/2011 18:25:53 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: headlamps on 03/19/2011 09:39:25 MDT Print View

Be careful with the PT Byte

I found that after 4 hours on low or 1 hour on high, if you turned it off and then back on, it went into this weird mode with a faint strobe light and it wouldn't respond to the switch anymore, the only way to turn it off is to remove the batteries.

Then, after the batteries sit over night and recover some voltage it'll work again for maybe another 4 hours on low or 1 hour on high before the battery voltage gets low enough it won't recover overnight.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: headlamps on 03/19/2011 12:39:53 MDT Print View

An alkaline AA battery weighs about 0.85 oz., and lithium AA is lighter. An alkaline AAA battery weighs about 0.27 oz.

Either one, two, or three AAA batteries still add up to less than an ounce. So, it must be the weight of the head strap that is the problem. Mammut seems to have a thinner/lighter head strap, but it's crazy to buy two or three headlamps and cobble the various parts together to get a whole unit.

I could have the lamp surgically implanted on my forehead, but then changing batteries would get messy.

It appears that my search must continue.


Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Headlamp on 03/19/2011 13:53:09 MDT Print View

I'm not aware of any headlamps that use one or two AAA batteries and output a high-ish amount of lumens, so I think you are pretty much stuck with 1xAA or 3xAAA at time present. I prefer 1xAA because the weight and energy capacity is about the same, but using one battery is simpler and more compact. With the H51, changing the single AA battery is so easy I usually don't take the headlamp off. No messing around with complex polarity in the dark.

So basically short of using a low powered coin cell or single AA light, you're looking at carrying an ounce of batteries. Lithium batteries would drop this a bit, but they're really expensive to use on a long term basis. I use high end NiMH for everything I can. It quickly becomes cheaper than alkaline and for longer trips it's much lighter too, because a NiMH battery weighs about the same as a Alkaline battery but it holds far more energy.

The lightest headband I'm aware of, not counting the string on the Petzl Zipka, is the Petzl e+Lite. This thin headband works fine for the e+Lite, but I imagine it would be insufficient to hold a headlamp that contains an ounce of batteries. So you end up at the situation where you need a heavier headband to support the heavy battery, and if you could solve the battery weight then you could also solve the headband.

My guess it that assuming you are carrying 1xAA or 3xAAA, the lightest possible light would be about 0.5oz for the body and 0.5oz for the strap, for total around 1.8oz with batt.

One option for you to consider is the Zebralight H501 (as opposed to the H51). The body is much lighter (0.74oz vs. 1.3oz) but it still utilizes the same 0.8oz strap, so with an alkaline battery you come in at a claimed 2.2oz versus 3.0oz. The H501 is a very floody light (80 degree flood with no hotspot) as opposed to the H51 (80 degree flood with 11 degree hotspot) and it's less bright (96 lumens on high vs. 200). It saves weight through less fancy circuitry and a smaller size due to the simpler electronics and beam reflector. Giving up the hot spot might be a problem though, as 96 lumens spread evenly over 80 degrees won't reach that far.

Edited by dandydan on 03/19/2011 13:55:05 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Headlamp on 03/19/2011 14:08:27 MDT Print View

Dan, the advantage of the 3xAAA solution over the 1xAA solution is that three batteries give you enough voltage to drive the LED directly, so there is no chip for voltage boosting. That is also the disadvantage, since a PWM boost circuit will allow the LED to be driven much brighter. Using a CR123 battery gets around the voltage problem with a single-battery solution, but I am not crazy about CR123 batteries. I may end up there anyway.

There is little point in going after any change at all unless I can drop 1.0 or 1.5 oz., and I think the elusive target is around 1.5 or 2.0 oz. total.

I may explore MYOG strap materials.


wiiawiwb wiiawiwb
(wiiawiwb) - F
cr123 format on 03/19/2011 14:17:53 MDT Print View

I decided to upgrade my flashlights and after a lot of consideration decided to go the cr123 route. I am SO glad that I did. They can be purchased in bulk at a fraction of the price you see them in stores. I would never return to the AA format.

I've also heard that cr123 batteries are best in non-rechargeable format.

The Zebra headlamps get good reviews although, if memory serves me, there was some concern about water infiltration. Maybe the problem has been corrected.

Everything you could ever want to know about headlamps or flashlights can be learned at It is the best source for this information on the internet.

Edited by wiiawiwb on 03/19/2011 14:20:24 MDT.

* *
(jsj42) - F
Which Zebra? on 03/19/2011 14:19:47 MDT Print View

More useful:

The 51 or the 51f?

I generally like the (f)lood beams (especially for reading or cooking), but every once in awhile the hotspot (usually on high when trying to spot a distant object) is useful. Opinions?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Flood on 03/19/2011 14:44:39 MDT Print View

I'd say get the H51 over the H51F. The H51 is already more floody than any other headlamp I've used and if you get the H51F then you're giving up the hotspot which really adds a lot of distance to what you can see.

Joshua Thomas

Locale: SE Michigan
+1 Zebra light H51 on 03/19/2011 15:53:09 MDT Print View

Like everyone said... The battery sure seems to last quite a while. The Middle setting is the best. I think it lasts 39 hours on a AA battery. Pretty amazing.
I will be taking this on my 2011 PCT hike. Good luck

Elizabeth Camp
(scamp_80) - MLife

Locale: Portland, Oregon
Re: another happy zebralight owner on 03/19/2011 16:06:22 MDT Print View

I moved from a Princeton Tec EOS to the Zebralight H31w (pretty much the same as the above references to H51 except the H31 uses the CR123). The H31w with battery and headband is 2.6 oz and thus is a hair lighter than the H51.

The zebralight H31w is a much better light than the EOS for my needs. Here's why it's a better light than the EOS for me:

1. The low beam on the H31 has a much lower output than the low setting on the EOS. I the low setting for much of the time around camp. Ideally this would lead to less consumption of batteries.

2. The high setting has an even greater output than the EOS and the output on the H31 is much more adjustable due to the User Interface so I can adjust to whatever my needs are for night hiking.

3. I use a steripen in colder conditions and so my kit is simpler since now I only need to carry one type of battery (CR123).

4. I can decide to bring the headband or not and have a very usable light either way. I just clip the light to my sternum strap or something while hiking.

Jeremy Malin
(jrmalin) - F

Locale: New England
ITP H01 on 03/19/2011 16:22:58 MDT Print View

You may want to take a look at the ITP H01. It is a single AAA headlamp that uses a strap very similar to the Zebralights. It will do 80 lumens on high. I don't have it, but I do have the flashlight version using the same led and chip and it is superb for its size. It is also inexpensive. Reportedly (on candlepowerforums), the strap is not designed perfectly, but some people seem to not have any problems with it. If you get one, I would love to hear how it is. I've been debating between it and a Zebralight. I have a steripen and have been considering the benefit of carrying a single battery type and have yet to come to a conclusion. Another option, cheaper but perhaps less reliable, would be an Ultrafire UH-H2 (single AA, zebralight clone). I have seen it with a strap that does not use the plastic mount for attaching to the band that would probably save some weight. Good luck.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: I want a new headlamp on 03/19/2011 17:24:49 MDT Print View

Most of these mentioned are flashlights, not headlamps. Of the headlamps mentioned, some do not ship with a head strap, so the strap weight doesn't show. Of the rest, they are around 3 oz. fully loaded, so they haven't saved me any weight, which is what the whole project is about.


Jeremy Malin
(jrmalin) - F

Locale: New England
Re: I want a new headlamp on 03/19/2011 17:56:50 MDT Print View


I have a couple questions. What headlamp are you used to using that weighs 3 oz and puts out 100 lumens?
Also, as far as I can tell, each light mentioned in the thread are headlamps that ship with bands, am I missing something?
Are you open to purchasing something with questionable reliability to get to your desired weight?
Have you looked at the candlepowerforums and if you have, have you inquired about your desired specs?

From what you have mentioned already, it still seems to me, the ITP H01 meets your requirements. It would be 2oz with a lithium aa and you could probably get it close to 1.5 by making minor modifications to the band.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: I want a new headlamp on 03/19/2011 18:31:32 MDT Print View

Jeremy, there is no visible brand name or model on my existing headlamp. By comparison to a known 100 lumen beam, it is about the same brightness. Loaded with 3xAAA and the head strap, it adds up to 3 ounces.

I've looked up each of the lights mentioned here, and few are described as shipping with a head strap. Or, if they do, they exclude the weight of the head strap, so I don't really know what the total adds up to. If they do describe the weight of the head strap, then they total over 3 ounces. Various reviews shows what ships with the main product, and if there is no head strap shown, then there is no head strap.

Questionable reliability? No.

Candlepower Forums. Yes, I've looked through there, but their information is not sorted. It seems to be a lot of flashlight geeks chatting.

So far, the nearest I've gotten is the upgraded iTP A3 EOS (flashlight) and a separate head strap which I am still seeking. Of course that leaves it hanging over one ear, whereas a proper headlamp should be smack in the middle of my forehead. If the head strap is too skinny, it is uncomfortable, so I may have to explore MYOG straps. I have one head strap (too heavy), but it must be 15 years old, and it is on one of the earliest 3xAA LED flashlights that ever came out.

On one long hike that I do annually, I use about three hours of headlamp, but often I take it off my head and hold the light closer to my feet so that I can see trail obstacles better. But for backpacking, it is used mostly with the head strap, and that counts in my base weight of gear. My base weight is about 11 pounds counting a bear canister, so any more ounces to be lost will be tough.