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Bright, powerful headlamp?
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Logan Bowling
(bowlingl25) - F

Locale: Almost Heaven
Re: Bright, powerful headlamp? on 10/19/2012 12:21:56 MDT Print View

I have a Black Diamond Storm that I really like. It is still pretty light but extremely bright and has a few different lighting features like spotlight, flood, strobe, and a red color.

It uses AAA batteries and costs about 50.00 dollars.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Zebra Knockoff on 10/19/2012 12:33:57 MDT Print View

And on the subject of the various 3xAAA headlamps, I just don't understand why they are still popular now that these single battery regulated AA or AAA lights are available.

ever sit at a belay a few hundred feet off the deck at night trying to change yr headlamp bats?

going from 3 AAA to 1 AAA you need to sacrifice something given more or less equivalent efficiencies ... either running time or brightness ....

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
3xAAA on 10/19/2012 13:17:30 MDT Print View

The 3xAAA configuration is often used to simplify circuitry without having to use a specialty battery i.e. cr123 or cr2. There are some regulated examples like the Princeton Tec EOS, but the genesis for most is the ability to run the light essentially direct drive (a single AA for example requires a step up circuit to drive a CREE or other high power LED). There is a reason almost all the inexpensive LED flashlights you find at Target, Lowes etc... are 3xAAA configurations.

To the extent that configuration is used in nicer lights I don't know if it is just a holdover or what the rationale is ...

Anyway - to the poster with the zebralight that has a wonky interface my experience with the lights leads me to believe yours may be defective. While it isn't necessarily my favorite user interface - it is pretty good for what it is and does allow you to access either high or low initially which I like. But I've never had it not come on when the button is pushed. Mine has the old silicone clip which I'm not crazy about - I haven't seen or handled the current clip configuration but I agree that the old silicone style clip was sub optimal. But I think most clips are not that well designed and don't use them that often. Just a personal preference.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Zebralight H501 on 10/19/2012 13:18:00 MDT Print View

I went for a variation of the H51, which is the H501. I've been very happy with it for night hiking (high power or medium power) or for backpacking camp (low power). However, to minimize weight I removed the standard head strap and replaced it with a simpler strap, an old Croakies eyeglasses strap. Then by removing the alkaline AA battery and replacing it with a lithium, I bring the overall weight below 2 ounces.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 10/19/2012 15:04:29 MDT.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Re: Zebra Knockoff on 10/19/2012 14:29:35 MDT Print View

The knockoff takes a double-A / AA battery. I think you are reading the poorly written rechargeable options that makes it look like a special battery. The videos and reviews seem to indicate the light works great for most. I suspect you are getting the same technology but more poorly manufactured and without the name brand warranty or customer service. But for $5, it's looks pretty safe.

Edited by bcutlerj on 10/19/2012 14:31:55 MDT.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Surefire Minimus on 10/19/2012 15:00:07 MDT Print View

My vote is for the Surefire Minimus. They can be had for <$100 if you look around online. I just bought one to replace my Petzl XP2. Surefire makes a great product and they have a no questions asked lifetime warranty. The minimus is made of delrin and milspec anodized aluminum. It runs on CR123s which have great life and b/c they're lithium, fantastic cold weather performance. Putting 1 CR123 in a light is cheaper than 3 AA alkalines. This light is all about spill and it's '100' lumens blows the doors off my Petzl's that claim 120 or more in burst mode. One of the best features of the light is that it uses a potentiometer so that you can dial light from 1 lumen to 100 and anywhere in between. It's a top notch product and I use it for everything from technical climbing to trail running, backpacking and changing the car's oil.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Surefire Minimus on 10/19/2012 15:32:11 MDT Print View

Mike, is it water resistant...I mean specifically the casing.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
REGULATED hedlamps on 10/19/2012 15:32:29 MDT Print View

My preference is Princeton Tec regulated headlamps. They will not gradually drop teh lumens of brightness as unregulated headlamps do.

Instead they will give off nearly the same level of lumens until about 20 minutes before the batteries fail. Also Princeton Tec can use litium batteries with no problems.

Maybe by now Petzl has solved their problem of burning up when lithium batteries are used. And maybe they also have a few regulated lights.
I dunno B/C I like the US made Princeton Tec lights.

BTW> PT regulated headlamps include:

APEX series (See the APEX Extreme foro long life light)
EOS series
QUAD series

Edited by Danepacker on 10/19/2012 15:36:31 MDT.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Regulated on 10/19/2012 16:18:43 MDT Print View

I may be wrong, I don't follow flashlight tech much, but I do remember a claim that a regulated single AA Zebralite and/or Fenix will produce as much or more light over time than 3xAAA non-regulated headlamps. This comparison was based on lithium batteries in both.

1) Because AA batteries have more than double the amp/hours of AAA.
2) The regulating circuitry makes the LED work more efficiently
3) The single high efficiency LED in the Zebralite and others is more efficient than the multiple LEDs you usually find in 3xAAA headlamps.

The Zebralite type lights are amazingly bright on their brightest setting, brighter than anything I ever needed backpacking and I rarely ever use the brightest setting. In fact I use the lowest setting for map reading.

As far as weird behavior with the button, this is a symptom of a battery that is reaching its end of life and the voltage has dropped low enough to cause this. This happens much sooner with alkaline batteries.
It could be a defect if you see this with new lithium batteries.

As far as a comparison of the reliability of the circuitry, I have never had a failure and mine has been dropped many times. I can't say the same for the many 3xAAA lights I've had. A well designed electronic circuit can be more reliable than a series of electrical metal to metal contacts.

Multiple contact points in 3xAAA battery lights are an issues. Corrosion at any point along the way causes failure. Luckily this can be fixed by cleaning batteries and contact points regularly, but that can be a problem sometimes.

I suspect improvements have been made to the 3xAAA designs, but they are still heavier/clunkier than the newer single battery designs.

On the subject of battery type, it's hard to find CR123 at many convenience stores and gas stations and sometimes that is your only resupply option.

Thus one of my choices for the slightly larger AA design. The AA design also lasts much longer on one battery. So I am less likely to need to carry backups. I do usually carry one on long trips though.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Bright, powerful headlamp? on 10/19/2012 16:27:21 MDT Print View

Wow... lots of info! Thanks to all.

Andrew Weldon
Re: Regulated on 10/19/2012 16:30:06 MDT Print View

Lithium AAA batteries are around 1200 mAH, Lithium AA's are about 3400 mAH.

So, it's the difference between 3600 mAH non-regulated with 3 batteries, or 3400 mAH regulated with one battery.

I would (and do) prefer to use regulated AA lights for backpacking. Cheaper to replace batteries, easier to carry spares, less waste, better life and more light for the weight.

Edited by hypnolobster on 10/19/2012 16:35:19 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Regulated on 10/19/2012 16:41:32 MDT Print View

ahhhh ... but the original claim was for not understanding "And on the subject of the various 3xAAA headlamps, I just don't understand why they are still popular now that these single battery regulated AA or AAA lights are available."

comparing a AA vs. 3 AAA is different from a single AAA vs, 3 AAA all other things being equal ...

that said ... who in the eff cares ... if its a poor design then people will stop buying it ... "heavier and clunkier" is all relative ... my XP weights 2.9 oz with the core and headband ALL IN ... the Zebra H51w is listed as 3.0 oz ALL IN on their site ... stock

so despite using 3 AAA or the core its lighter ... now granted there are differences between the lights for output and features ... but its certainly not any "heavier"

not to mention i bought mine at MEC so if anything with the lamp or the core goes wrong, i get a new one ...

at the end of the day ANY good lamp with the needed output and decent reliability will work ... people use all kinds of brands to do much crazier things than any of us keyboard warriors on BPL ;)


Locale: South West US
Noise on 10/19/2012 17:17:32 MDT Print View

I have a Fenix LD01. After purchase, I noticed there was a perceptible noise when using the lower settings. It sounds sort of like an old-skool computer monitor but more faint. I asked about this here on bpl and learned that the noise is due to output regulation and only perceptible by a few people that can hear the frequency. Something to keep in mind.

I still totally recommend the LD01 but I think you can get more for your money nowadays. Also, I'd recommend getting a click-on rather than a twist-on.

Edited by oiboyroi on 10/19/2012 19:36:00 MDT.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
zebralight h51 on 10/19/2012 19:09:32 MDT Print View

+1 on the h51 zebralight. I've seen no issues, at mid settings you get about 12-15 hours real life, and that's fine for night hiking on steep trails. Fantastic light for night hiking, very good adjuster. I have no idea on the clip thingie since I never use it or bring it, it's a headlamp after all. Low setting is fine for camp chores, and doesn't signal your presence to outer space, ie, good for stealth camping.

The settings are not nearly has hard as it sounds, you set the 3 basic levels before, which then retain their defaults, ie, low high/ low low, medium high/medium low, and high high/high low. Then you cycle with the button, it's easy, really. A few uses and you have it. That single button is sealed so you get I believe true waterproof light. Turn it on, click it the number of times, and that's that. Since you will generally use the same settings for most situations, it really is pretty easy.

The fast battery drain derek reported is either because it was on high, which I never use, that's like a spotlight to light up a canyon or something, or a bad battery.

I use rechargeable nimh AA batteries, works great.

This headlamp is a very high quality device, I asked here and followed the advice I got, glad i did. I wouldn't hesitate to hike on cliffside trails for hours with this light, where a fall would mean death.

The problem with aaa x 3 is very simple, they will if I understand things right fall to the lowest charge of the 3, whereas a single AA will use all its charge, each time. Simpler too.

the different types of h51 are confusing, agreed, I think I got the normal natural light version, can't remember. The light spread is just right for night hiking, you see the trail and enough of the trail edges, it's interesting. There's a few threads here on it.

One day I might try modifying the headband like Bob did, but the regular one is fine, it is very solid though.


this is the one to get, that was the conclusion to make matters simple:
h51 neutral white

Edited by hhope on 10/19/2012 19:23:09 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Zebralight H51 on 10/19/2012 21:57:00 MDT Print View

> 1. The pocket clip it comes with is useless

I believe that. never used it because either it's in my hand or attached to the headband which works well.

> 2. The LED is very bright, but the beam spread is really wide and diffuse.

The flood version is VERY floody. I find it useless for wayfinding / night hiking, but it works great as a lantern in camp. The first light we purchase, the H501 I think, was floody. It moved from our backpacking kit to our car camping kit to replace a small butane lantern. There are Zebralight versions which have a spot + some spill which I have found work pretty well for both around camp and night hiking / wayfinding.

> 3. Except for the first hour or so with fresh batteries, there's not enough light output for a headlamp.

If you had it on max brightness (200 lumens) then yes, you get around 55minutes of light and then the battery is more or less empty. The regulation is good quality so you have fairly high intensity light until there is almost no battery left and the light output plummets, leaving you enough to hopefully find the spare battery to swap in. If you need that sort of brightness continuously, you want a flashlight with a remote (and large) powerpack and better heatsinks. I typically use mine on full power for less than a minute at a time if I am trying to re-aquire a route. Otherwise, I typically run it at 8 lumens (39 hours runtime), or 30 lumens (12 hours runtime).

> 4. The single button interface is a joke

Hmm... UI isn't elegant (I much prefer the UI on the Photon lights), but never ran into a bug.


drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Zebra Knockoff on 10/21/2012 16:47:01 MDT Print View

The two lights I mentioned are closer to being knockoffs of Zebralight headlights, especially with the Ultrafire. I've used the Trustfire Z2 for over 100 hours, including a light drizzle. It has o-rings, so it should be waterproof enough.

It uses AA or lithium ion batteries. I use lithium ion for the extra light output.