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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best Headlamp on 10/22/2013 00:55:03 MDT Print View

"Princeton Tec has obviously started playing games which is unfortunate for the consumer."

Hey, that's what a marketing department is supposed to do, try to get an advantage out of weasel words when the product doesn't really have an advantage. And then, if times get tough and somebody calls them on it, they will claim that it was an error when publishing the manual.

I won't say that they are all weasels. Let's just say that they can be ethically challenged.


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Best Headlamp on 10/22/2013 01:02:04 MDT Print View

"That would be at most, 3 lumens. Good luck night hiking with that!"


For night trail hiking, I use about 15 or 20 lumens most of the time.

Only 3 lumens would be OK for reading a small book inside a small tent.


Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
An interesting turn on 10/22/2013 09:17:22 MDT Print View

No question flashlights/headlamps like a lot of things can be a field of very deep rabbit holes. For what it's worth PT is not alone in posting "optimistic" numbers about their lights - or at least not full disclosure numbers. Plenty of lumen claims that may be technically accurate for the best sample of the emitter used on fresh batteries and at the actual emitter - rather than what is actually projected out the front which is different. It is one reason the CPF folks spend a good bit of time testing actual runtimes and output (selfbuilts reviews are terrific as they are, at minimum, comparable between each other as all lights are tested the same way so relative outputs are accurate).

But in the end many don't want to spend $60+ on a headlamp, much less $100+ for what is perhaps a minimal gain. Plenty of similar and similarly reasonable ratinale have been applied to knives, stoves, backpacks, tents, etc... albeit around here the common denominator of weight provides at least a baseline rationale. But still one man's 1000 fill down jacket with Pertex unobtainium shell at $500 and 8 oz may seem like not that much gain over a 8oz heavier clearance 600 fill jacket at $150 (or less).

As to the question of what I'd buy if walking into REI I think the Princeton Tec EOS is a fine headlamp. My scout son has been quite happy knocking about a Petzl Tikka2 that he has not been able to destroy through Cubs. As a more responsible Boy Scout he earned the PT EOS as an upgrade with his first rank advancement. The EOS levels are reasonable and well considered, the beam is nice and balanced and the regulated circuitry means you get the actual output you want when you want it. But I'll be honest for a Cub scout or anyone else that Tikka2 is a solid around camp light - not really bright enough to hike by but more than serviceable in camp.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: PTec Byte Parasitic Drain on 10/22/2013 09:41:56 MDT Print View

This is the response I got from Princeton Tec regarding the high parasitic drain in the Byte -

"Greg, we are in the process of making changes to the Byte. This new version will be available on or around December 1,2013.

"I can issue you a RMA# for warranty replacement. Include the color of the body please. However; I would not send your light into us until about the 3rd week in November. This way you will definitely get the new version in return.

"Email your name and mailing address and I will issue you that #.

"I hope this information has been helpful and satisfactory."

So, a fix is on the way. Until then, the batteries go in Only when the need is imminent.
Why did it take 2+ years? Well, because they made a bazillion in the first run.
And I'll wait until I Know the new version is available.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Re: PTec Byte Parasitic Drain on 10/22/2013 10:10:54 MDT Print View

Yeah I'm guessing it's already been stated here, but since I stop reading when people start cut/pasting full spec sheets, I may not have seen it, but if not, it's worth mentioning; Mainstream manufacturers have a huge tendency to list emitter spec lumens and not "out the front lumens" like flashlight focused companies like Zebralight do.

My experience has been that with similar manufacturer "claimed" specs, the higher quality emitters and the actual "OTF" lumens being listed, that the Zebralight's and similar are much more powerful than their Petzl/PT/BD counterparts, and the usage numbers are much more heavily scrutinized by places like CPF.

I know all the arm-chair-scientists here would like to believe it's just "black and white" data to compare, but it ain't, especially when you're wading through the murky waters of marketing(lies).

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Best for me on 10/22/2013 10:42:29 MDT Print View

Petzl Tikka XP 2 with the back cover replaced with a Zipka strap. Long battery life, light weight and highly adaptable.


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Spark's Answer to 1AA Zebralight on 10/22/2013 10:55:11 MDT Print View

So, I haven't been paying attention, but Spark now has a 1AA (and 1CR123) headlamp that's the direct competitor to the 1AA (and 1CR123) Zebralights. Might be worthy of investigation if you're in the market. They're called the Spark SG3 and SG5. Sparks have screw-off bezels, so with one lamp and two bezels, you can either have a "throw" or a "flood." Think trail and campsite use. Reviews of the new Spark SG3 and SG5 are mixed. Sparks are generally thought to be the nearest competition for Zebralight, with high build quality and good waterproofing. I own two Sparks and they serve me well, but I don't own any of the new SG series so can't comment. But they'd be the lightweight contenders from Spark.

Edited by Bolster on 10/22/2013 10:58:24 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Best Headlamp on 10/22/2013 13:49:35 MDT Print View

"I think a lot of it has to do with how much you are into lights too. Just from reading this thread I had no idea how much there is to analyze... nor do I really care. It's obviously exciting for some people, and that's fine. For me it just isn't. I love to geek out on a lot of different things, but, for me, flashlights just ain't one of them. My main criteria is does it turn on and do what I want it to do... easily. And do I get a decent amount of output for the extra weight justification. The Vizz hits all of those for me."

My sentiments exactly, Marc. This is the first time I have ever gotten into a headlamp thread, and I have learned a lot from those who do geek out on them. My thanks to Greg, BG.
Delmar, and other knowledgeable contributors for a free education.

@ Delmar: The comments on and the sublink to were generally positive on the VIZZ. For me, it now boils down to how long the Maxbrite LED will maintain a useful beam on unregulated current or, more practically since I rarely use a high beam in the field, the Ultrabrite LED's. If I can get 6 or more hours of, say, 30 meters throw out of the Ultrabrites, I will be a happy camper. One thing is now clear to me; PT is engaging in deceptive marketing, and REI has drunk the kool aid. In my ignorance of the fine points of electronics, I thought the VIZZ specs were based on regulated circuitry. Worse come to worse, I'll go back to my EOS Rebel.

@ Jawan: Copying and pasting is the only means I have for discussing specs, due to my limited knowledge of electronics. In this case, I was trying to provide Greg with an easily accessible set of specs for the 2 headlamps I was comparing, so he didn't have to waste any time digging them up himself before responding. To pat myself on the back, if you will permit me, it worked beautifully. I learned more from the responses that followed than I have in all the years I have been backpacking.

All in all, a model thread, of the kind that has grown woefully scarce around here of late.

Thanks to all.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Best Headlamp on 10/22/2013 14:05:59 MDT Print View

"I'll go back to my EOS Rebel."

Tom, just to confuse the wording, EOS was the name of a Greek goddess of the morning light. That got used by headlamp companies and also by Canon for a line of cameras.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Best Headlamp on 10/22/2013 14:14:44 MDT Print View

"Tom, just to confuse the wording, EOS was the name of a Greek goddess of the morning light. That got used by headlamp companies and also by Canon for a line of cameras."

Arrggghhhh! I'm confused enough already, and you lay this on me. ;)

William Wang
(billwang) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Re: Zebralight headlamp strap on 10/22/2013 15:26:02 MDT Print View

I strung a shock cord through a GITD holder. With an Energizer L91 my brand new 502 tips my scales at 57grams. I could probably lose a gram or two by omitting the mini cord lock. It is surprisingly comfortable once I figured out that the cord should be threaded as shown. With a fleece hat, which I usually wear after the sun goes down, it is nearly as comfortable as the ZL strap.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
PT VIZZ burn time on 10/31/2013 19:31:30 MDT Print View

I finally pinned Princeton Tec down on the regulated burn time for the VIZZ MaxBrite LED. Lots of wiggling and obfuscating, but they finally gave me a hard number: 1.5 hours before it switches to unregulated current and a quick descent to a lumen output that would be useless for night hiking. This is pretty close to the numbers for the Zebralight H52, which I suppose is not surprising. So much for cold fusion. :(

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: PT VIZZ burn time on 10/31/2013 19:44:18 MDT Print View

Tom, let's think about this.

What is there inside a modern headlamp? Inside the housing, you probably have a switch, a battery, a boost/regulator chip, a couple of passive components, and one big honking LED.

The switch isn't going to have any effect on efficiency. The battery can be chosen pretty carefully, and there are different types. But all of the batteries are commerically available off-the-shelf products, so that doesn't give one manufacturer any edge. The boost/regulator chip is another off-the-shelf product, and you might be able to coax some small differences in efficiency out of it, but you might get spurious emissions and all sorts of crap if you go far with that. The LED is one area of interest. One or two of the manufacturers have been pushing the envelope with the LED technology. In some cases, they are able to drive the LED much harder, and they heat-sink the LED to allow it to dissipate heat and survive. In other cases, they are able to get a broader color spectrum of light emitted. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

I think one of the biggest improvements in LED headlamps is when they developed multiple intensity levels. That allows us to get super-bright when we need it, plus medium, or low or super-low, so we only burn the battery power that we need.


Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: PT VIZZ burn time on 10/31/2013 19:55:44 MDT Print View

"I think one of the biggest improvements in LED headlamps is when they developed multiple intensity levels. That allows us to get super-bright when we need it, plus medium, or low or super-low, so we only burn the battery power that we need."

+1 I'm still trying to figure out why PT didn't go that route with the MaxBrite LED on the VIZZ. They did with the old EOS and it worked fine @ 10 hours on medium, which was fine for night hiking. Had they gone that route with the VIZZ, they probably would have been in the same range and had a real winner. Instead, they went with one level, high intensity, which only gives 1.5 hours and greatly reduces the VIzz's attractiveness. I returned mine today and am going back to my EOS while I wait for someone to invent a cold fusion headlamp. ;0)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: PT VIZZ burn time on 10/31/2013 20:03:37 MDT Print View

"Instead, they went with one level, high intensity, which only gives 1.5 hours and greatly reduces the VIzz's attractiveness."

Tom, I'm guessing that they changed to a different boost/regulator chip that was cheaper and simpler. That way, they can save a dime on the manufacturing cost. The dime then goes to pay the marketing guy for the weasel words.


Bret Barel
(bretb) - F
VIZZ is cool I think... on 09/03/2015 08:02:43 MDT Print View

Sorry for reviving old thread but picked up PT VIZZ on sale at REI since it has these features I value:

LOW white (or red) turn on. My old headlamp turns on max bright and blasts your eyes which I despise. I also prefer low white over red. The flood light can be dimmed very low and turns on to previous level. Very nice.

LOCKOUT - my old headlamp managed to get turned on and drain batteries more than once. Perhaps some switches don't have this issue, but I don't want to chance having my light drained again.

WATERPROOF - with rubber seal and screw to close/seal tight vs typical unsealed snap closures. My son has the PT Quad (from llbean). He left it in the vestibule during a monsoon downpour and it was sitting (floating) in standing water for hours. I opened it up and it was 99% dry with some very minor water intrusion. I wiped it out and it works just fine.

Yeah I also wish the main bright led was adjustable, but not a deal breaker for me since I usually use low/flood. I found most headlamps don't allow turning on LOW white or have lockouts or are waterproof, so this one stands out (for me).

Edited by bretb on 09/03/2015 08:06:07 MDT.