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Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
headlamp reviews on 01/30/2014 18:27:09 MST Print View

Thanks, Rex. It is always nice to have some good comparative reviews to look at.
There are so many issues with these little wonders, it takes some time to sort them all out.

A lot of choosing is individual. None of the best reviewed lights appeal to me for various reasons, such as the strap-on battery boxes, lack of an integral diffuser, or overly complex controls. Would go with the strap-on boxes if hiking much of the night, though (But why not hike in the day?).

It is so much more pleasant - no hot spots, circles etc. - to hike or camp with a good drop-down diffuser, that the diffuser stays down all the time. With the current availability of high capacity pen cells, I would never accept a battery case strapped to my head. And ultra simple controls are a must: When the lamp must be operated with shaking fingers in the cold pouring rain and the mind is beginning to dim with the approach of hypothermia, ultra simplicity of operation is required.

The onset of one button controls for so many electrical appliances reminds me of the "galloping ghost" RC rudder controls we used as kids. We couldn't afford multi-channel transmitters and receivers, so somebody cooked up a constantly flapping actuator that could operate based on just two modes, ON and OFF, and could be operated on a single channel.

Based on a review here I used a Remington RMHL-2AAA-B until Zebra fans insisted on a recent thread that one AA battery lasts longer than two AAAs. Despite no milliamp ratings on the Eveready lithium Ultimate cells, am trying the Fenix HL21 to see if that is so. Both lights have integral diffusers that eliminate circles and hot spots from the beam, but still provide plenty of light on medium to see all obstacles on the path, set up camp or read in the tent. Dale Waumbaugh posted a positive note about the Fenix on this forum.

Now if only Eveready would come out with rechargeable 1.5V lithium pen cells.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Re: REI Responds - on 01/30/2014 18:42:30 MST Print View

If we just came to face the fact that REI doesn't give a crap about what UL Backpackers think, we can move on.

What bugged me out even more is the Outdoor Gear Lab results.
Something weighing more was defaulted for being bright but not lasting as long???

If you go to a comparable level of lumens most AA vs AAA battery headlamps will last at least 3X longer.
That was the most biased testing I have seen by them.

I know of so many headlamps that will blow away the Icon.
And for Fenix, they use a HP11 when almost every other model would have scored better in their test.

I'm so glad I got my newest headlamp that runs of a single 123a battery and "only" lasts 6 hours @ 60 lumens.
It may only weigh 58 grams (with battery) but god forbid it is no Spot as it should run for 50 hours @ 90 lumens.

What a joke!!!

Edited by awsorensen on 01/30/2014 18:44:31 MST.

J C
(Joomy) - M
No Zebralights? on 01/30/2014 21:39:38 MST Print View

Omitting Zebralights is like omitting Zpacks from an Ultralight pack review. The H52Fw is the best head lamp I've ever used or seen. Programmable from 0.3 to 250+ lumens, nice warm beam and great optics, waterproof, tough.

Edited by Joomy on 01/30/2014 21:42:30 MST.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: headlamp reviews on 01/31/2014 00:02:12 MST Print View

until Zebra fans insisted on a recent thread that one AA battery lasts longer than two AAAs. Despite no milliamp ratings on the Eveready lithium Ultimate cells

Energizer L91 Ultimate Lithium AA specifications, including milliamp ratings sliced and diced several ways:
http://data.energizer.com/PDFs/l91.pdf

Energizer L92 Ultimate Lithium AAA specifications:
http://data.energizer.com/PDFs/l92.pdf

In brief: One AA has 2900 mAh , 2 AAAs 2000 mAh, at the same discharge rate and temperature.

One AA wins on battery life.

-- Rex

Edited by Rex on 01/31/2014 00:06:41 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Zebras on 01/31/2014 01:01:30 MST Print View

The reason they omit zebras and other such is that you cant walk into most retailers and buy em

With BD, pretzels, p-tech, etc ... You just walk in and cha-ching!!!

Even coast is sold at home depot up here

They even review the battery bunny brand

These reviews are meant for the masses ... And for that target group theyll work just fine

The vast majority of "outdoorsy" folks want something they can return easily, touch and feel before buying

The other thing to note is that many of these brands are used by their sponsored athletes and teams just fine who do things crazier and more intense than most BPLers

Unless you are caving or diving ... Do you really need those fancy uber lights

;)

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: Re: Re: REI Responds - on 01/31/2014 11:40:04 MST Print View

"That's very convenient for REI to say. It's also called looking the other way."

What would you expect REI to do? The only thing REI could do it test every lamp outthere and only sell one ones that meet the spec. I am guessing that would be very frew and those would likely be more expeensive and only be of interest to a few people. Testing all the lamps would cost REI money and and it would limit the sellection in there stores and reduce sales. With the profit margin being what it is they cannot afford to do that.

The only people that can enforce a standard is the government. If the issue is not safety related the government will have very little interest in making a law mandating the standard.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Standards on 01/31/2014 11:42:52 MST Print View

When complying with a standard becomes a positive marketing feature then standards can be enforced without the government. Otherwise...

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
If I wanted reliable headlamp reviews... on 01/31/2014 12:12:04 MST Print View

...I'd go to CandlePowerForums. These guys and gals maul new lights, run their own tests, and come to rather independent conclusions. You also get long-term reviews there, with people posting (in furious anger) when a light fails, and cat-calling the manufacturer when it does. If you want to read merciless flashlight/headlamp reviews, check out CPF.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: If I wanted reliable headlamp reviews... on 01/31/2014 12:27:05 MST Print View

+1 on Candlepowerforums. As rabid as any pack of Gram Weenies and encyclopedic knowledge dispensed freely :)

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: If I wanted reliable headlamp reviews... on 01/31/2014 12:48:18 MST Print View

Hmmmm, I'd recommend you not get too excited about that forum, after all they whole-heartedly recommended the PrincetonTech Byte when it first came out (and that was a miserable POC).

Candlepower is just another forum, with average participants, filled with a mixture of solid knowledge and noob doo-doo.

Regarding Outdoor Gear Labs - I noticed that they show the PT Vizz as only splash-rated when in fact it is rated 1 meter/ 30 minutes. Just shows that they weren't all that thorough.

Edited by BurnNotice on 01/31/2014 12:49:02 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: REI Responds - on 01/31/2014 13:19:09 MST Print View

"The only thing REI could do it test every lamp outthere and only sell one ones that meet the spec."

Steven, REI could choose to test no headlamp and to advertise no claims about performance. Instead, when REI simply takes the manufacturer's word and then advertises those numbers, then REI is part of the problem.

--B.G.--

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: REI Responds - on 01/31/2014 16:57:16 MST Print View

+1 on CandlePower Forums.

WAGs are quickly "torched".

Hard data is highly revered.



But you have to put in the time to find it, and to look past the first search result, as these folks don't give it up after the "initial impressions".

Edited by greg23 on 01/31/2014 16:59:53 MST.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
ER Ultimate lithium pen cells on 01/31/2014 17:42:03 MST Print View

Rex,
Thank you for the capacity specs on the AA and AAA versions of the above, with the links to boot.
Still love my Garmin 301 with 2 AAAs, but am getting to like the Fenix HL 21 because it 'remembers' your preferred setting thus requiring only one push of the button, has a good diffuser, steps down to low beam when the batteries are low thus not suddenly leaving you in the dark in mid-stride, and the single AA cell can be replaced easily in the dark. Someone complained that the beam angle or height adjustment was too loose, but haven't had that problem. It is kind of retro-looking, compared to the sleeker models, but I'll take function over form any day when there's a distinct improvement in the former. Bringing some spare AAAs for the Garmin, as well as AAs for the Fenix, is no biggee, and may not even be necessary because I rarely use the GPS and it is not essential. I bring it to record coordinates for other folks' future reference. Was raised on map and compass, and to take them away you'd have to claw them from my cold dead hands.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Excellent headlamp review and deceptive advertising on 01/31/2014 21:22:53 MST Print View

>> steps down to low beam when the batteries are low thus not suddenly leaving you in the dark in mid-stride <<

@ Samuel

Can you confirm this? I have the Fenix HL 21 and while I think it's a great light, I stopped carrying it in the backcountry because mine just dies when the battery hits a certain (low) voltage. No step down.

I've had mine for quite a while now so maybe Fenix has improved this but I really didn't like the fact that it was fully regulated until it died. Typically, mine runs at full brightness, may dim a little just before it quits. The worst thing is that sometimes it seems to be fine until you turn it off and then it won't power back on because the battery is too low.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Another headlamp review: The Wirecutter picks BD Spot on 02/02/2014 20:52:08 MST Print View

This update today to The Wirecutter's headlamp review:
http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-headlamp/
relies heavily on the Outdoor Gear Lab reviews, and does some real world testing of their own. Not as thorough as the OGL review, but it does add some other perspectives.

-- Rex

Delmar O'Donnell
(Bolster)

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Say what now? on 02/02/2014 23:40:36 MST Print View

" I'd recommend you not get too excited about that forum, after all they whole-heartedly recommended..."

LOL. CPF doesn't whole-heartedly recommend ANYTHING. A high proportion of that audience is engineers. That community carps about the best, the worst, and especially the mediocre. Each high quality manufacturer has articulate, professional-level haters on that forum. Light failures of top brands are a frequent subject of multiple-page threads. If there's a complaint to be made, it's that the CPF community is so critical of everything, it's hard to find the good stuff; you will find negative reviews on virtually everything. The trick is to look for the gear with the least negative reviews, and the gear that the knowledgable people actually own. Just like here at BPL!

Regards the comment that CPF is the usual internet forum mix "of solid knowledge and noob doo-doo," well...they're not a gated community. I don't think we should hold forums to a higher standard than our body politic, and in the USA we let just about everyone vote: the few people with solid knowledge, AND the vast majority who vote doo-doo. That's democracy. It's up to us to sort the wheat from the chaff.

As Greg says: Hard data is highly revered at CPF.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F - M
Re: Another headlamp review: The Wirecutter picks BD Spot on 02/03/2014 00:55:50 MST Print View

This update today to The Wirecutter's headlamp review:
http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-headlamp/
relies heavily on the Outdoor Gear Lab reviews, and does some real world testing of their own. Not as thorough as the OGL review, but it does add some other perspectives.


they give a "secondary" recommendation for the byte ...

"A cheaper option that's less powerful and versatile than our main pick, a good option if you don't plan on using it much."

of course BPLers and others have had issues with that particular model ...

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=86928

which is a problem with ALL these reviews ... they review one or two example at most of a particular lamp

you have no idea of the true reliability ....

your best bet is going through the online aggregate reviews at popular sites and looking for peoples bad experiences with failures ... and even that is still biased

one full "test" review does not tell you anything about the failure rate for that particular piece of electronics ... and ALL electronics fail

i used to drive around a dodge 95 caravan that had no problems at all for over 17 years ... if i wrote a "full" review, i would call it a totally "reliable" car ... and we all know that model is anything but reliable generally

;)

Edited by bearbreeder on 02/03/2014 00:56:28 MST.

Zorg Zumo
(BurnNotice) - F
Re: Say what now? on 02/03/2014 10:09:55 MST Print View

My point is that it is just a forum. I pointed out the Byte because it was such an obvious screw-up of a product. Somebody posted a really posh review of the Byte claiming it was the most wonderful thing going. Everybody chimed in praising the reviewer. If you went by that thread you would have run out and bought one. But the Byte was a POS from the get-go. Parasitic drain, bad switch, strange behavior on low battery - all things that the elegant review missed.

I'm not dissing CPF, but I am telling folks that it isn't an engineering site (I are one). So I think it is just one data point folks should use when researching a headlamp.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Say what now? on 02/03/2014 10:26:46 MST Print View

I think the Byte is okay now.

There's parasitic drain but if you're okay rotating one battery between trips, this isn't an issue.

There was an initial version that was totally unacceptable. It was a problem with voltage regulator I believe - after a few hours the battery voltage falls, then the regulator doesn't produce power to the processor which doesn't operate so it doesn't see when switch is pressed,... But they fixed that.

It's such an obvious bug that I wonder about Princetontec. Why would they put out a product like that?

For the new version of Byte, I think their review is okay. The small size and weight is nice.

I'm just leaving mine on the shelf and using a 3AAA headlamp because I don't want to rotate battery between uses.

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
CPF on 02/03/2014 10:27:44 MST Print View

I have posted for a long time at CPF and like any open community you need to sort through the good and the bad - but mostly the opinions are backed with real experience and often hard data.

The Byte's parasitic drain was noted in the one review I read - not to turn this into a debate on CPF or the Byte.

The only issue folks here might have with CPF is that while there are headlamp users and some outdoors enthusiasts - they may or may not always have the same priorities folks here might have with respect to a headlamp. After all, most there (myself included) are flashlight enthusiasts and headlamps are a secondary albeit for me increasingly important interest.

People go down rabbit holes early and often - but wade through the detail and there is usually some good information.