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Headlamp recommendations
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Kris Sherwood
(Tuskadero) - F

Locale: Washington State
Headlamp recommendations on 02/26/2014 14:47:56 MST Print View

I need a new headlamp and was hoping to hear some recommendations from folks.

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
recommendations on 02/26/2014 14:54:07 MST Print View

For night hiking or just in camp? Any weight limits you want to stay within?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: recommendations on 02/26/2014 14:55:45 MST Print View

nm, TMC.

Edited by greg23 on 02/26/2014 14:58:08 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: recommendations on 02/26/2014 14:57:18 MST Print View

AA or AAA ? ... depending on current rechargables, other devices, etc.

mine on 02/26/2014 15:17:45 MST Print View

I currently use an Olite EOS i3S and clip to my cap.

0.68 oz with battery, and about 15 hrs of light on the 20L setting per AAA energizer ultimate Lithium battery.

Now, 20L isnt a lot, but I have about 10+ hrs hiking time in the dark with it on the AT, and its enough for me. I like to start hiking an hour or two before daylight. This light really rocks battery life on that setting with the energizer lithium. Will get maybe 1.5 hr on the high 70-80L setting.

Edited by livingontheroad on 02/26/2014 15:18:40 MST.

M Blick
(mattblick) - F

Locale: Ohio
Headlamp on 02/27/2014 08:21:21 MST Print View

I use one light for flashlight, headlamp, and lantern. You will get a lot of Olight recommendations in this thread, as above. I greatly prefer 186500 battery cells, they have a great weight/power ratio and extreme durability (they are the cells used in laptop batteries). Olight's offerings with an 18650 cell are 3x the price and 3x the weight of the one I use.

The flashlight: ShiningBeam S-Mini with Cree XP-G-R5 emitter (45g)
The light has 3 levels of brightness and NO annoying blinky modes: Low 9.5 lm (24mA), Medium 155 lm(400mA), High 360 lm (1,000mA). With my 3100 mAh 18650 cell I get over 3 hours continuous on high, 7:45 on medium, and 129 hours on low. This is with a constant current circuit; the light doesn't dim as the battery weakens.

The head strap: Nightcore HB02 (48g)
There are 3 loops in this band and you can place lights into. For trips I am planning on hiking in the dark I have added additional small AA cell lights into the side loops along with the S-Mini on top.

The $1 generic beam diffuser: (5.8g) Allows me to use my light as a lantern:

I also use my 18650 flashlight cells (I always carry at least 2 @ ~45g/ea.) as an emergency charger for my phone with this $6 doodad:
Miller ML-102 Universal USB Smart Charger (32g)

400 peak lumen headlamp, flashlight, lantern, and emergency phone charger with 2 batteries for 220g. Someone certainly could get lighter by forgoing capacity, brightness, etc; I am very fond of this solution however.

Edited by mattblick on 02/27/2014 13:20:44 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Probably the H52F. on 02/27/2014 09:44:42 MST Print View

If you go to the CPF forums, you can read a tremendous amount about headlamps in the dedicated subforum--which, by the way, is filled with hikers, cavers, and bicyclers. If I were to guess at the most commonly recommended headlamp for backpacking by the CPF'ers, it would be the ZebraLight H52F, because that beam is a center-weighted flood, so does duty both for night hiking and for trail chores. It's small, efficient, and hardy. If it were me, I'd avoid the cool white version.

The light is so efficient, there's no need to turn it off at night. Just turn to one of the sublumen modes, and set it in the corner of your tent, or clip it to a guy line, so you can easily find it when you need it. The light will run continuously for 2-3 months in the lower sublumen modes from a single AA battery.

Weight of the light is 32 grams / 1 oz. On high (depending on model) it can blind you with as much as 300 lumens.

Edited by Bolster on 02/27/2014 09:54:56 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Headlamps on 02/27/2014 09:49:13 MST Print View

+1 on Zebralight H52

You can get it in "flood" (H52F) or regular (H52) which is still fairly floody and a good choice. And you can get it in "cool white" (brightest) or "neutral white". So all told there is the H52, H52F, H52w and H52Fw.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Which Zebra do you have Dan on 02/27/2014 10:35:29 MST Print View


Which Zebra do you have?


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Headlamp recommendations on 02/27/2014 10:43:22 MST Print View

>> an emergency charger for my phone with this $6 doodad:
Miller ML-102 Universal USB Smart Charger (32g) <<


Thanks for that link! I wasn't aware of that charger/power pack and at that price (and weight) it's an incredible find. I've have the Zebralight H600 Mk II 18650 XM-L2 Headlamp and use 3400 mAh (18650) batteries. Although it's heavier than my H52W AA headlamp, the long run time and of the H600 means I don't have to carry extra batteries so for longer trips, it's probably a lighter (more versatile) solution. The fact that I can alos carry the charger mentioned at the link provided above, means I can do double duty with these high output batteries.

The beauty of the H600 is that you can set it for the output you require for backpacking and get incredibly long runtimes. My favorite levels are 160 Lm (11 hrs)
and 70 Lm (30 hrs). The 70 Lm setting is a very good level for night hiking and it will run at that level for 30 hours which is incredible! The fact that the H600 can also put out over 1000 lm for up to 2 hours makes it stupid bright (you don't need that much light) but it's impressive.

H52w AA Headlamp is a really good light as well and because it takes AA lithium cells it's my favourite for backpacking but the power supply device mentioned above is going to make me rethink whether the H600 may be a better all-round solution. The H600 is my choice for fishing trips (day trips) where I often walk out in the dark.

The H52W AA headlight weighs in at 2.5 oz with an AA lithium cell
The H600 headlight weighs in at 4.0 oz with a 3400 mAh 18650 battery (centre head band strap removed).

Since I'd have to carry a couple of extra lithium cells to match the extended battery life that the 18650 batteries provide, I think the weight pretty much balances out on longer trips.

One of the interesting things I discovered about the H600 is that the head band strap is so stretchy that I can actually wear the light around my waist just by extending the strap to full length. I have to "step into it" to wear it this way but I might add a release clip onto the strap so that I can just wrap it around my waist.

Headlamp on waist

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Headlamp recommendations on 02/27/2014 11:20:48 MST Print View

I wanted single battery lighting and use a Fenix. HL21 and an Olight i2 flashlight, both using a single AA. I can carry one spare that will fit either and also have the option of switching between the two if necessary. It is far easier to replace a single battery in the dark than fumble with three AAA's. The AA lights are a bit heavier but seemed to have more bang for the buck than the single AAA models.

I would like to get my hands on the Fenix HL10 to try for a AAA set.

M Blick
(mattblick) - F

Locale: Ohio
Headlamp on 02/27/2014 12:02:54 MST Print View


I'm glad you can get use out of that battery cradle. One important thing to consider - the one linked will NOT accept most protected cells without modification of the negative "-" side bar spring. There is an older version floating around, perhaps an international eBay seller will have it. That older model has a coil spring negative terminal that works with most protected cells. My light has auto shutoff and I bet your Zebra light does as well. You can still find good Panasonic and Sanyo cells without protection, but I typically just remove the shrinkwrap and yank the protection circuit off my cells.

In my previous post I forgot to mention the popularity of Zebralights as evident by 3 mentions in a short while; VERY popular brand. Fenix will show up here sooner or later, as Delmar mentioned there is likely CPF overlap here.((edit:Fenix appeared as I was typing.)) Zebralight seems to stay on the bleeding edge of getting the most output for the least input in their entire line. The interfaces are a bit convoluted to me but I'd deal with something like that for their performance IF it wasn't a $90 light. I just can't stomach the cost.

Perhaps at some point the LED and driver technology advances will slow, and the lumen race will end. The performance of XPE-Q and XRE-Q LEDs that were prominent 5 years ago were getting 200 lumens with much shorter run times. Today's XM-L and XP-G LEDs are providing 300+ lumens when driven lightly allowing for longer runtimes and reduced heat. The reduced heat has the added benefit of lower weight since less heat sinking is required. The state of the art light from 5 years ago can't match the performance of a $10 light today. Certainly the Zebralight will stand up to negligence/abuse longer than a cheapie, but $10 gets you a durable triple O-Ring Sealed 18650 light with an XPG-R5 LED that provides 300lm OTE.

I bought the $30 S-Mini in 2012 and will probably look to upgrade to another $30ish light in another year. $10/season seems like a good number to me.

Edited by mattblick on 02/27/2014 12:04:02 MST.

Morgan Rucks
(rucksmtr) - F
... on 02/27/2014 12:14:12 MST Print View

Black Diamond Storm,
works great, light enough,
its just a headlamp don't overthink it, they are all good enough

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: ... on 02/27/2014 13:54:38 MST Print View

^ what he said dont overthink it

Get something that works, and should you have issues is decently easy to take back

For general use, thats all there is to it folks


David T
(DaveT) - F
Petzl XP2 / Core on 02/27/2014 14:00:15 MST Print View

I have a couple of Petzl XP2 headlamps with the Core battery. Not the lightest, tiniest, whatever, but it has useful light levels, flip up diffuser, charges off USB, etc. Works for me - use them all the time.

Edited by DaveT on 02/27/2014 14:01:44 MST.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
petzyl on 02/27/2014 14:28:20 MST Print View

Zipka, it's the lightest one that has a very powerful beam. Attach it to anything with dyneema cord. Very cool head lamp.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Headlamp on 02/27/2014 16:43:22 MST Print View

+1 on not overthinking it. Flashlights are cool toys to geek out on, but unless you're caving, winter camping, or planning your hike around nocturnal activities, anything will do. People have lived for thousands of years without artificial lighting.

All of the lights here are excellent choices IMO, some even have me wanting to add to my collection again :)

The question really lacked any defining parameters, usage, battery preferences, etc., so I guess I'd suggest just walking into an REI and playing with all the display models. Find one that YOU like.

Patrick M.
zebralight on 02/27/2014 17:33:21 MST Print View

I have been quite happy with my zebralight. I have had the predecessor to the h52, the h51w since it came out. That was about 3 years ago. This light does almost everything for me and rides in my pocket every day on the pocket clip. Several times it has gone through the wash, many times been dropped onto hard surfaces, and it keeps going.

The clips allows for handsfree usage without the headband if needed for weight purposes. It goes well clipped between buttons on a buttonup shirt, or clipped to the side of a baseball hat.

The only time I have found myself wanting more light is for bicycle commuting after dark on the street, where you need a similar intensity of light as the cars to be able to see well.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zebralight on 02/27/2014 18:20:46 MST Print View


I've been using an H51 (regular version) for about 2 years now, and I recently bought my wife the H52w (neutral white) so I've played with that a bit. I like it better but it's hers.

Steve B
(geokite) - F

Locale: Southern California
And another opinion on 02/27/2014 21:16:49 MST Print View

Zebralight H52. Been through so many headlights over the past 20 years. Best I've used.


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: And another opinion on 02/27/2014 22:26:14 MST Print View

Zebralight H501W.


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Don't Think? on 02/27/2014 22:40:03 MST Print View

I very much disagree with the "don't think too much about a headlamp" advice.

First, we think about EVERYTHING here on CPF. Heck I posed a question on rubber bands and got lots of thoughtful answers. Why not about an expensive bit of electronic gear, upon which your life might someday depend? People will tolerate excruciating detail about windshirts and plastic groundcloths...what's wrong with detailed information about flashlights?

Second, when I started taking the quality of my flashlights seriously, I started seeing much better, in many more conditions. Seeing is actually important. The quality and volume and dependability of light is important. Most of the functioning of the human brain is devoted to processing visual stimuli. Why the heck would I "not think" about feeding my eyes?

Third, headlamps vary significantly in terms of their reliability. You need to inform yourself, before you know which brands are known for giving out, and which are renowned for carrying on. Even the best headlamps have known weak points that you should know about.

So my recommendation is: think about it. Thinking too much is less risky than thinking too little.

Edited by Bolster on 02/27/2014 22:55:31 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Don't Think? on 02/27/2014 22:45:13 MST Print View

Plus, it seems like so many headlamp purchasers are chasing after something that will put a spot on a wall farther and farther away. Instead, I go after one with a flood pattern so that I can see better the stuff around me. Also, I've been known to shoot photos at night using the flood, and it looks a lot more natural than if I had been using a spot.


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Flood on 02/27/2014 22:57:41 MST Print View

I'm with you there, Bob. The light I carry on a pack trip is either an H501w or an H502c.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Bottom line on 02/27/2014 23:17:55 MST Print View

The bottom line is that all these athletes out there generally use "name brand" headlamps for things much crazier tha what any of us will ever do

Heres ueli steck on his 28 hour solo of annapurna last year

Im going to go out on a limb here and say no one on this thread, perhaps even on BPL does anything as crazy as he does

Hes using a petzl tikka rxp, plenty of other athletes use the BD, and others use other "name brands"

Get something that works, is reliable, meets your need and price, and has a good warranty

These threads are like the windshirt ones ... Theres what works ... There nothing magic or revolutionary here

Dont overthink it


Edited by bearbreeder on 02/27/2014 23:19:29 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Zebralight H600 on 02/28/2014 03:47:27 MST Print View

Tried every major brand of headlights, there really is no comparison.

The Zebralight H600 is the best headlight by far.

Best compromise on beam profile (throw/flood) great tints offered, a 3400mAh 18650 will offer far better run time per gram than another other battery solution,.
Great output levels with a decent turbo mode and great medium and low levels.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Zebralight on 02/28/2014 05:39:20 MST Print View

Don't know who said the interface is convoluted. Maybe for the first five minutes because it offers three levels each with high and low, but the Zebralight interface is intuitive, genius. I have the H52F and it's the best flashlight I have owned. The BD ion is great if you want a glorified squeeze light for gram weenies. The Princetontec Remix is also a solid light with great weight, power, run time, etc., but it falls into the three-AAA camp and I am kinda over that PITA. To each his own. It's worth a little thought. I don't care what Uli Steck uses for anything. (A) he is heavily sponsored, and (B) we are not doing the same kind of trips. I want the best light for the money with low weight and low fiddle factor, and proven reliability.

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
Petzl e+LITE on 02/28/2014 07:40:54 MST Print View

less than an ounce and long runtimes, but I wouldn't want to use it for hiking

Petzl e+LITE

Matt Sanger
(IPARider) - MLife
Zebra on 02/28/2014 08:18:06 MST Print View

Then again...

I was happy with my minimalist e+lite, but I'm not into the retractable band on the new of course I thought I'd check out the Zebra stuff mentioned above...oops, need more gear!

I'm thinking of trying one out, but am not appreciating the difference between the H52 floods and the H502 floods

Any insights into why I'd go with one or the other?


Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Headlamp recommendations on 02/28/2014 10:28:18 MST Print View

>> but am not appreciating the difference between the H52 floods and the H502 floods <<

The H502's have a wider flood beam (120 degree spread). The H52 flood models have 90 degree beam spread.

The wider the beam the less throw you will get out of the beam (less distant illumination), so you have to decide what you need. The 120 degree beam will basically light up your entire field of view but won't travel far. The beam spread of the H52 Floody models aren't that much different from the non-floody H52 models (80 degree vs 90 degree beam spread) but with the floody models you won't get the 12 degree hot spot that the non-flood models provide (the hot spot provides distant illumination).

Edited by skopeo on 02/28/2014 10:29:37 MST.

M Blick
(mattblick) - F

Locale: Ohio
Don't Overthink it? on 02/28/2014 16:59:24 MST Print View

While you might not find lighting important to your backpacking experience, to me and others in this thread, lighting is critical. I frequently drive 5 hours after work to get to the Smoky Mountains and then hike in 4-5 miles in the dark. I need light that is bright and efficient in order to backpack light at night.

There are 920+ gear sub-forum pages, going back 10 years, describing the many ways we obsess about our gear. Discussing gear is a great way to vicariously spend time in the wilderness when we can't be there. Clearly this flashlight discussion is not the only thing that is being over thought?

Thankfully most of us are polite enough to avoid being egocentrically dismissive.

Paul Andronico
(Jakesandwich) - MLife

Locale: S.F. Bay Area
+1 Zebralight H52W on 02/28/2014 17:02:39 MST Print View

I tried 3AAA lights and the Petzl elite. Nothing wrong with them, but I love my H52w (the "w" version is the non-floody with a neutral tint).

light on 02/28/2014 17:31:38 MST Print View

I think many people get a bit carried away with headlamps.

For several hundred miles on the AT I only carried a single tiny photon. Works great if you dont hike at night. The one drawback is cannot change battery without a knife blade type tool, and cant do it in dark by feel.

My H51 has been on one 60 mile trip with me. Never was used. Only used the photon. After that, just left it home.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Interesting on 02/28/2014 20:15:11 MST Print View

What i found most interesting is that the OP hasnt indicates his actual usage pattern and under what conditions ...

It might be beneficial to clarify these before recommending actual models ....



Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Fancy Petzl is Not Overthinking? on 02/28/2014 21:12:51 MST Print View

LOL. Notice the example Eric gives for "not overthinking your light" is a top-of-the-line, bells-and-whistles, auto-adjust Tikka RXP Petzl at an equally fancy price of $95. I would say plenty of thought went into that choice, and it's a cutting-edge lamp. You can get a Zebralight for $65, but I suppose that would be over-thinking it.

If you *really* don't want to overthink your headlamp, go get a Defiant or an Energizer at Home Depot. It might give up the ghost on your first night out but REST ASSURED, you won't have taxed any brain cells.

There's some odd juju about light discussions here. When they come up, you often get a chorus of people intoning that the discussion is too deep, that actual harm will come from continuing to think about or discuss the issue.

If you can't use your lamp to hike at night, and you find it impossible to change a battery in the dark, and you need a separate tool to open it...maybe, just maybe, you NEED to think a little bit more about your headlamp choice.

Now excuse me while I go and don't over-think my quilt, tent, sleeping pad, puffy and stove. All of them need de-thinking.

If I catch any of the rest of you thinking about your gear choices, there'll be hell to pay...

Edited by Bolster on 02/28/2014 21:26:53 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Fancy Petzl is Not Overthinking? on 02/28/2014 21:25:31 MST Print View

i didnt recommend the petzl if you noticed

i just pointed out that someone who does more than any of us uses a regular "name brand" headlamp, which by the way if you buy from MEC has a lifetime no questions asked warranty (i would snap up a zebralight too if it was at MEC, since warranty tends to be the achilles of these chinese brands) ... and i pointed out other athletes use BD and other different brands

i simply recommended not to overthink it ... go buy something that meets your needs, is at the price you want, and has a good warranty ... as we all know that electronics can always fail

i mean outdoorgearlab recommended the coast HL7 as one that works as well as any of the $$$$ ones they claim, and you can get that for 35$ at home depot

but i wont "recommend" that one since i dont know what the OP will be using it for

i dont know how people can say "zebralight buy buy buy' without knowing what the OP really wants

and really ... dont overthink it

any decent name brand headlamp can and will work for what most people do here ... plenty of people use what they sell at REI/MEC/Backcountry headlamp section just fine

perhaps one should ASK the OP his usage intent, his price range, his warranty expectations, etc ... before going off about "zebralight"


Edited by bearbreeder on 02/28/2014 21:27:44 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Why? on 02/28/2014 21:28:01 MST Print View

Eric, why are you thinking about this thread so much?

Relax, man. Any other thread will do.

Edited by Bolster on 02/28/2014 21:28:33 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Why? on 02/28/2014 21:31:51 MST Print View

delmar ...

im simply saying one should probably ask him

and that for most general purposes any headlamp will likely work ... no need to overthink it

come to think of it maybe the coast HL7 is the new way forward ... i may need to pick one up .. hmmmm

you seem pretty worked up ...

perhaps we should stop with the recommendations till the OP clarifies his use?


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Who's Worked Up? on 02/28/2014 21:42:22 MST Print View

Self-edited ... my original response was too sarcastic. Apologies.

Carry on.

Edited by Bolster on 02/28/2014 21:53:35 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Why? on 02/28/2014 21:42:34 MST Print View

The OP has posted on other threads, but not followed up on this one...

go figure.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Re: Zebralight Interface on 02/28/2014 21:49:25 MST Print View

Brian > the Zebralight interface is intuitive, genius.

And the darndest thing, Brian, is that it causes me virtually no issues in regular use, but when I absolutely, positively need to turn it onto low, it seems I invariably get it on a higher setting. I think I pause a nano-second longer on the button, trying to be very deliberate to not be too fast (as a fast click gets you on high), and that's where I run into trouble. Cracks me up how the issue never occurs except when I'm trying to be very careful, and not blast my eyesight.

Edited by Bolster on 02/28/2014 21:50:46 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Who's Worked Up? on 02/28/2014 21:54:05 MST Print View

well delmar ...

if someone asks me for a recommendation for a climbing rope, the first thing i ask is what will they be using it for (theres alot of different climbing uses)

quite a few folks have said "dont over think it" on this thread

if you want to recommend blindly its your call ..

my recommendation is that the OP let us know what he wants ... and still not overthink it

its not like everyone who aint using a particular niche brand is having a hard time in the dark out there


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Edited. on 02/28/2014 21:57:10 MST Print View

Eric, I edited my previous sarcastic post, and apologized. We both know that the OP does not control the conversation of the entire thread. He has been asked for clarification multiple times. You're changing your stance from "don't overthink" to "don't recommend unless the OP posts more info." (Which is thinking about the issue MORE, not LESS...and I agree that's appropriate.) The OP is gone, the rest of us are discussing. More importantly, I think you and I are starting to irritate everyone else.

Edited by Bolster on 03/01/2014 11:03:13 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Edited. on 02/28/2014 22:00:55 MST Print View

no need to apologize

everyone has their own opinions

my opinion is what i stated last page

now if the OP will only tell us what hes going to use it for ...


Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Break in the action on 03/01/2014 01:23:07 MST Print View

Poor OP, he's probably sorry he ever asked...
I still say just go a good outdoor store and play with 'em, maybe then ask some more specific questions.

Maybe it's safe enough in here now that I can ask a question though ;)

I've seen the Zebralight around online a little, but there seems to be some kind of issue with getting a bad one and customer service and some kind of hang up over that whole can of worms. Anyone care to comment or have any insight?

I want to get one of the H52 models. I understand the differences, just need to make a decision. I'm more concerned about getting a dud or something.

Tuan Cao
Re: Zebralight on 03/01/2014 02:13:03 MST Print View

Flashlights are like a status symbol for the gear fanatics ;)
I also went through many flashlights because I just couldn't resist trying out a new one to see how they developed in the past months/year.
I read good things about the zebra lights, too. So before I bought one, I tried a $14.50 clone from DX to see if I like the angled head.
To my surprise, it was a really nice light and I likes it so much that I skipped the Zebras. This is my go to light now (with a head band):


I was googling for the dx-link and just ran into these ones ($31):
There's also one using AA and an updated version UltraFire UF-H7.
I wonder how these perform (must not buy new flashlight ;)

If $$ is no concern, the H52W is clearly the top pick. Want to try out the angled head first? Play around with the Z1.

Edited by zurich on 03/01/2014 03:03:15 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Repair & Reliability on 03/01/2014 10:14:26 MST Print View

> I've seen the Zebralight around online a little, but there seems to be some kind of issue with getting a bad one and customer service and some kind of hang up over that whole can of worms. Anyone care to comment or have any insight?

The loudest complaint I've heard about ZL, is that in the rare event you get a bad one, you don't get to return it to Texas headquarters and get a new one shipped out quickly as a replacement. Your ZL goes back to China for reworking, which takes IMO too long before it's returned--weeks. To me it seems you should have your replacement inside a week. I've never had a ZL go bad so this has not been a personal experience, just reading commentary of others. There's been talk that ZL would move its repair stateside; I don't know if that's happened yet, or will.

If that scenario is unbearable, you might consider a SureFire light, which will get repaired here in the US. For what it's worth, I have owned 3 Sparks, 5 Fenix, 7 ZLs, and probably a dozen other lights of various brands from good to junk including Petzl (case cracked), ShiningBeam (fine), Romisen (connection issues), and Energizer (bad design). To me, they are not all the same; one is not as good as another. The ones that have given me trouble are the inexpensive lights; usually a connection going bad. The Fenix have been solid (although with poor tints and hot spots), the Sparks have been great (one has a switch that doesn't always remember its last setting), and the ZLs have given me zero trouble, just none. If SF made a smaller headlamp, I'd buy one without question--they are good quality, just larger than I'm accustomed to.

I dunk-test all my new waterproof lights to make sure I don't have a leaker. I suggest the same for any new purchaser. Turn your light on, drop it in a glass of water for 15 minutes, and see if it stays lit. If it fails, send it back right away.

scree ride
H52 on 03/01/2014 12:20:50 MST Print View

I've had no issues so far. I bought directly from ZL though I understand it is better to buy from an independent for a better return policy.
It is sort of a status symbol when you really need a good light. I've yet to use it for a headlamp in which case there are cheaper choices.
The ZL, I keep in my pocket even when not hiking. It just comes in handy more often than you might think. A headlamp would be put away. When it comes to cost, which is cheaper, something I pay little for and use only on occasion or something I pay a bit more for and get multiple use out of?
It defiantly does appear durable. I've only had it a couple of months. Judging by the reviews of the H51, I have no worries.

M Blick
(mattblick) - F

Locale: Ohio
Trustfire Z1 on 03/01/2014 14:08:32 MST Print View


I like your suggestion, $15 is a great way to give the angled head design a shot. I also have a Z1, I keep it in my fly fishing chest pack (not for backpacking). Sometimes when you find yourself "making just one more cast", or "working just one more run" you find yourself needing a little help getting from the stream to the road. The angled head design practically provides an extra hand when you need just a bit more light to tie a fly on.

That ultrafire H1B is also available as a H3B, I really prefer the 18650 cells:

Edited by mattblick on 03/01/2014 14:12:26 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Who's Worked Up? on 03/01/2014 17:50:56 MST Print View

"if you want to recommend blindly its your call .."


Not sure if you've tried a decent headlamp, but i use my H600 for night hiking, work, working on the car, camp duties, even used it for free diving for a few trips last summer.

It's light weight, the beam has a great flood/throw compromise, it has a high enough boost mode to enable me to safely ride down the side of a mountain at night while hitting just under 60kmh (it's my MTBing back up light), yet has decent medium and lows to make it a great camp light without blinding everyone.

Only thing i've found it not particularly brilliant at is a tent light as the beam is a little too focused to bath the inside of the tent in light, my solution is a old white 35mm film canister, i wedge it between the light and the holder and it diffusers the light to give a really nice glow.

So it really doesn't matter what the use i've found my various H600's (i have a few) to be a great light for 99% of the activities i do.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Lights on 03/01/2014 18:58:35 MST Print View

The H600 does sound pretty awesome. I'd love one.

"but am not appreciating the difference between the H52 floods and the H502 floods"
H502 = 120 degree flood, no brighter "hot" spot in the center
H52 = 80 degree flood + brighter 12 degree hot spot
H52f = like H52, but frosted to blur the line between hot spot and flood, plus the flood is wider (90 degrees)

The H502 is likely the best for camp chores. The H52 is best for walking and the H52w slots in between. The H52f doesn't seem that different than the H52, but I haven't used it.

Edited by dandydan on 03/01/2014 19:00:07 MST.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: H52 on 03/01/2014 19:58:50 MST Print View

Seems the only H52 available even from the ZL website is the neutral "w" model, which is what I want. I'd prefer the floody, but it's not availabe either. I guess there's a few diffuser mods out there I could fashion if low power is still too much on the hotspot to ruin the flood effect.

A little too big for me to EDC though, I like my Maratac AAA for that. Ditched the clip and carry it in the little pocket in my work jeans. Twisty tailstander with only low/high but bombproof. Works like a charm, even straight out of the washing machine.

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
"Headlamp recommendations" on 03/01/2014 20:00:50 MST Print View

I have not used a Zebralight yet and the reason why, which for me is their biggest apparent drawback is they seem to have a very hard time keeping them in stock. Every time I've considered buying one they have been unavailable. Whether that is due to high demand or problems with the supply chain if availability is important to the poster this might be a drawback.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zebralights on 03/01/2014 20:03:08 MST Print View

You can order any of the lights listed on their site and it'll ship out with a small-medium delay. My H51 was out of stock when I ordered and it shipped in about 5 days, while my H52 took about 2 weeks to ship out.

When an item is out of stock then it ships directly to you from the manufacturer (China). Zebralight does seem a bit lax about keeping the lights in stock, perhaps because they prefer customers using retail channels or maybe they don't see it as an issue since the backorder/direct shipping method works pretty well.

Edited by dandydan on 03/01/2014 20:04:07 MST.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Zebralights on 03/01/2014 20:28:06 MST Print View

Dan, Sorry if I'm a bit unclear yet, but are you saying your short delays were when you ordered direct, or did you order through some other retail storefront distributor and got them dropshipped to you from China with only a short delay? And if you used a retail outlet, any you'd recommend in case of return issues?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zebralights on 03/01/2014 23:43:59 MST Print View

I bought direct from

On the page for a headlamp it often says "Availability: Back Order". My guess is that Zebralight just finds it easier to make them in small batches and ship them out directly from China (Just in Time production?) since it's been like this for a few years.

It's too bad there's not an estimated shipping time, but my experience is 1-2 weeks until it ships, and then another 1-2 weeks until you get it (sample size = 2).

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Zebralight Shipping... on 03/02/2014 00:08:35 MST Print View

I think you've been lucky Dan (to get an out of stock item so quickly from Zebralight). Probably just hit it right.

Zebralight ships your parcel for free if it's over $50 and if you are having it mailed to an address in the USA they use USPS (so not coming directly from China). If you are outside of the USA, they send it via China Registered Airmail. This is from Zebralight's website: "China Registered Airmail (2 to 8 weeks or months)"

My orders have taken many weeks even when the items are in stock, if I order directly from Zebralight. Since I'm in Canada, it's still an advantage for me to order directly from Zebralight because of the fact that it ships from China. If it shipped from the USA, I would get dinged for duty (and shipping if I ordered from a reseller in the USA).

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Zebralight on 03/02/2014 00:19:36 MST Print View

"Zebralight's website: "China Registered Airmail (2 to 8 weeks or months)"
This excerpt is only referring to the speed of the shipping service, so it is does not include the back order time. Note that the other shipping options listed in this spot are too fast to be including back order waiting (ie. DHL listed at 3-4 days).

While Zebralight lists this service at "2-8 weeks, or months", the faster end of that is normal for China Airmail to the USA or Canada (based on a lot of eBay purchases over the years; I'm in Canada too). Zebralight lists this huge range seemingly to cover shipping times to more obscure locations or for those times when a package gets hung up at a border. In my opinion, you can safely consider the free China Airmail shipping to USA or Canada to take 1-3 weeks.

The actual back order time is unfortunately non-transparent. However in the past I've heard of people sending a quick email to Zebralight to get an estimate and they seem to respond quickly.

Edited by dandydan on 03/02/2014 00:21:04 MST.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Zebralight Shipping.... on 03/02/2014 00:28:44 MST Print View

>> (ie. DHL listed at 3-4 days). <<

Yes, that's true... if you don't mind paying over $30 for shipping (half the price of the light... not me).

>> you can safely consider the free China Airmail shipping to USA <<

Zebralight uses USPS for orders from the USA (not China Airmail), so if the item is in stock you should get it quickly.

@Dan -

You are either up very late tonight Dan or maybe moved back to the west coast?

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Lights on 03/02/2014 11:20:29 MST Print View

Just up late....I'm on the PCT this summer and then back in BC for good in September though.

Brian Johns

Locale: NorCal
Over Thinking Things on 03/02/2014 22:25:42 MST Print View

Guilty - I guess. But I want to say that I agree with Eric. It's a freaking flashlight. Buy a good one and don't look back, it'll very likely do what you need and/or more. Still not sure where Uli S fits in here, but I have used a number of lights for many more years, maybe I've been lucky, but other than cheap-o's that I did not expect to do more than be a nice, temporary keychain, they've all done as advertised. On many trips, I barely even use a flashlight.

To the OP - get one, check it off your list. And take a nice trip somewhere you've never been.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
headlamp on 03/02/2014 23:00:30 MST Print View

Having a light that is able to attach to your head is very valuable. It makes night tasks go from one hand to two.

Go with a name brand and you will be fine.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: Headlamp recommendations on 03/03/2014 03:23:51 MST Print View

Fenix LD01. It fits on my ear or you can make an ear clip if not happy this way.

Best light I've ever owned. No need for heavy headlamp it fits on my ear like a pencil or you could make an ear clip for it very easily. Uses easily found light weight lithium AAA cell. Has no button or switch to wear out.

Cree XR-E LED (R4) with lifespan of 50,000 hours

Three output modes:
26 Lumens (3h8m)
3 Lumens (27h)
72 Lumens (1h28m)

       • Length: 75mm / 2.95in 
       • Diameter: 14mm / 0.55in 
       • Weight: 14 grams / 0.5oz

Made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum
Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with AR coating
Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish

If you stick it in a drill press and poor man's lathe turn it down with a file you can get it down to about 11g without going too thin but as is at 14g it's very very strong.

If you take the case off and just use the guts you can get it down to about 5 grams but it won't be very durable or water proof unless you spray the guts with epoxy.

I made one that just is a battery and led/reflector with no glass and no housings and it weighs under 5g including the paper clip it clamps around my ear with.

It is brighter and throws a beam further than any sub 5g flashlight out there and also most single cell lights period.

It is both a tea candle at 3 lumens and a search and rescue light at 72 lumens FYI. In a pinch that is.

You need to carry a brighter light with 12 hours of battery life to be considered a true search and rescue but this is better than nothing.

Buy a Fenix whatever you buy. Nothing else comes close to their models for the money.

I have a couple mods next to my guns in the house that are 1000 lumen lights with skull crackers that weigh 2 pounds and an LD01 for every room.

Buy a Fenix at REI and take it back k a year later if you hate it. Give them a shot and focus on maximum value. The more expensive lights are just the same guts in a different case with more expensive branding. Why pay more when all these different lights are made in the same factory?

Fenix isn't junk it's just not overpriced either. Ld01 is only about $20 and is rated accurately unlike other manufacturers.

Trust me I build reef lights and custom lighting for homes and home security. I can't build a light for free as good as a Fenix for the money. Fenix is the only flashlight you're not overpaying for on the market. Buy it at REI and you can't go wrong with their satisfaction guarantee.

I'm partial to Cree led bulbs too btw. They throw light further than any other led in the world and have punch/impact. The premium reef lights I build use Cree bulbs and I've seen the results on coral growth. Nothing else comes close but they are a bit spendy.

Edited by tchilds on 03/03/2014 04:08:07 MST.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Fenix ld01 on 03/03/2014 06:21:57 MST Print View

I also carry the Fenix LD01 in my jeans coin pocket daily everywhere I go and all day at work. It has survived longer in this hot/cold and body moisturized environment than the other lights I attempted to do this with.

The finish held up great even though it's stuffed in there with my hardened vc 17 carbon steeled lock blade and I labor all day flexing and bending that pocket hard and leaning into steel equipment on it.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Fenix ld01 on 03/03/2014 08:45:17 MST Print View

I carry an LD01 as my EDC light. I got it at the REI gear garage and it was there because it had a small ding in finish. It's a bulletproof little light.

If you use a light with twist-on/off feature, get in the habit of turning it a little farther when turning it off so pocket pressure doesn't wear out the battery. I've looked down to see my pants lit up a couple times :)

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: Re: Fenix ld01 on 03/03/2014 18:11:09 MST Print View

Yes I had that issue at first too. I then over corrected and found there were not enough threads holding on to keep it "bullet proof". In the end I marked where I need to turn it when in the off position and found there are plenty of threads to keep it both OFF OFF and still not leave play in the threads so that torquing on it in my pocket could possibly break it over time.

I felt like a VW engineer that had a car hit 200k the first time I was bending over at work and light started shining out of my butt. The guys got a kick out of it.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Don't underthink it either on 03/04/2014 10:15:48 MST Print View

Between being a slow hiker and generally enjoying night hiking, headlamp performance is really important to me. The PT Byte for example, was pretty mediocre when it came to battery life on its low setting and I think the advertised battery life is deceptive. Not a big deal for a weekend adventure but could potentially run out of battery before running out of hike on an extended trip.

Have the Tikka now and it's been a great headlamp (albeit heavier) in the few months that I've owned it.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
High CRI on 03/04/2014 13:32:31 MST Print View

So I'm in the camp that perceives quality differences in lights. What I value in an outdoor lamp (aside from basic durability and efficiency) is tint. Newer emitters are being produced that are "High Color Rendering Index" aka High CRI, and they don't have that flat look on leaves and bark. They look more like incandescent lights, with a fuller spectrum range. You can just "see" better with them, especially in the outdoors, compared to the common, inexpensive flat blue-tint LED lights. Consider these two photos taken by CPF member PJAndyHo, both with high quality LED lights, but one is HCRI and the other is not:


Interesting back story: police forces were slow to adopt brighter, hardier, longer-running LED lights. Why? Police complained they couldn't "see" very well with them -- they couldn't distinguish colors well. A suspect mostly obscured behind a tree would be really hard to spot with a bright blue-tint LED, whereas that same suspect would be readily visible with a dimmer incandescent light. Since the common blue-tint LED drops a lot of the spectrum around aqua, orange, and red (which has implications for human skin tones), police would complain it was like searching in black and white--sort of but not quite.

Fortunately the newer natural, warm, and high CRI tints are making up a lot of ground in this area. They generally aren't as bright, but offer better "seeing" in outdoor conditions. It's a difference you need to see for yourself. Once a friend showed me what he saw at night with his high CRI light, I've never been able to go back. Yeah, that makes me a "tint snob," (even though CRI and tint are different) but I generally get called that only by people who've not seen the difference a good tint can make.

Edited by Bolster on 03/04/2014 14:00:33 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: High CRI on 03/04/2014 13:47:32 MST Print View

If there is anybody who does not understand this color spectrum problem, let me make a suggestion. Go look at city street lights. Many that were installed fifty years ago are sodium vapor, and they make the scene look kind of yellow or orange. Many that were installed just after that are mercury vapor, and they make the scene look kind of blue. Now go look for some very modern ones that have a broad spectrum, and you can see normal colors better. I am not aware of any city street lights that use broad spectrum LED lights, but the day is probably coming.


Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
The Problem with LED on 03/04/2014 13:54:56 MST Print View

Here's a graphical image of the problem with the common "white" LED emitter. Notice how it drops important parts of the spectrum, and over-saturates others, primarily blue. An incandescent lamp, and sunlight, has a distribution along a normal curve. There's a perfectly good reason many people dislike LED lights, and here it is. A high CRI light goes a good way toward correcting this. Not perfect (ie, not incandescent full-spectrum), but a good deal better than the common LED.


Edited by Bolster on 03/04/2014 17:42:20 MST.

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Headlamps on 03/04/2014 14:06:19 MST Print View

I've had Black Diamonds and Petzls go out on me after less than 20 hours of use, forcing me to go to my back up. Maybe I just got bad ones, but I stopped buying them. I picked up a cheap Coast headlamp from Lowes and its lasted me over a year and quite a few hours. At 4.4 oz with alkaline batteries, its not the lightest, but at 175 Lumens, it lights up the trail nicely.

For my UL kit, I have an 25 lumen eGear eQ2 headlamp at 1 ounce (including batteries). I don't mind using it for short distances at night or early morning, but its not adequate for a sustained night hike IMO, although I've done it.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
resolution/spectrum on 03/04/2014 16:15:41 MST Print View

My reef lights use varying voltage dimmable ballasts on each spectrum to overcome the issue of a given single led emitting a specific spectrum.

The reason led's are so efficient is they target a very specific given wave length, not wasting off light like incandescent or other bulbs.

Lights utilizing multiple led spectra are available from Fenix and address this issue without giving up the efficiency and light throwing (par rating) of led.

It's a good thing they have lower resolution because this equates to more usable light and less waste light. Ie less battery weight for same hours of light.

My reef lights do not grow algae because the light spectrum simply isn't there to support it. I target the spectrum that coral or tomatoes or whatever uses and don't waste light off in the process of supplying it.

This can be achieved by blending led spectra for home or back country as well.

Edited by tchilds on 03/04/2014 16:23:36 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Re: resolution/spectrum on 03/04/2014 17:45:06 MST Print View

> Lights utilizing multiple led spectra are available from Fenix and address this issue without giving up the efficiency and light throwing (par rating) of led.

Which Fenix headlamp does that?

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
ZL H52w on order on 03/05/2014 02:27:13 MST Print View

Well, I finally got a ZL H52 ordered, and it was no easy task! All i have to say is the dang thing better work, cuz' I'm already fed up with their customer service and website. After trying to order through their site, all I would get was a message telling me my Credit Card couldn't be billed, try later. So I did, and it didn't. I contacted customer support and the reply I got back was along the lines of "You need to enter your information exactly as it appears on your statement" Really?!?! Gee, I never ordered nuthin' over them thar internets before. Can you even buy a ZL from a brick and mortar shop? So anyway, over the next day or two, I tried again, and again.... A total of eight times with varying incantations of zip code extensions, middle initial, etc,... No luck.

So I went hunting again and I found a place to order through Knife Center and they say 2-4 weeks out, like Dan was saying previously. So we'll see how long it takes.

I guess my CC works just fine still, like it has always done.

Ok, thanks for bearing with my rant. I really just wanted to kind of take a note of delivery time per the discussion I was involved in before.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: Re: resolution/spectrum on 03/05/2014 04:51:02 MST Print View

No idea which head lamp. I don't use headlamps because they're heavy in the wrong rather carry battery weight than light batteries and extra straps. It's easy enough to strap a light to your shoulder or clip onto your ear. I don't believe headlamps are useful since the light weight batteries are expensive, inefficient, and the straps are heavy and bulky.

Try emailing Fenix about it I've never looked into an actual head lamp sorry.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: Re: Re: resolution/spectrum on 03/05/2014 04:58:52 MST Print View

Just glancing at their website this one but their tactical lights are the ones designed to address the issue specifically.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Regular White LEDs in Fenix HP25 on 03/05/2014 08:41:20 MST Print View

The Fenix headlamp referenced above isn't blending spectra from different color LEDs to create full-spectrum output. It's just using two white Cree XP-Es of unspecified tint bin. Nothing against Fenix (I've owned plenty of them), it's just they're not using an LED color blend technology as implied. The reason the HP25 has two LEDs: one optimized for flood, the other for spot. The only headlamp mfg I was aware of that mixed colored LEDs for spectrum balance was FoxFury; but there may be others.

If Fenix is using an LED blend technology in one of their flashlights, I'd like to know which one. That would be an interesting light. You'd have to do some careful balancing of output to make it work. Most of the marketplace is headed in the opposite direction of individual LEDs with a fuller spectrum of "white." Thus my interest in a blending approach.

Edited by Bolster on 03/05/2014 08:52:24 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Re: resolution/spectrum on 03/07/2014 12:26:54 MST Print View

"Try emailing Fenix about it I've never looked into an actual head lamp sorry."

Struggling to understand why you posted in a "Headlamp recommendations" thread Troy.

Fenix do indeed make some great lights, my TK70 still has the best beam out of any light i've tried and believe me i've tried many.
Their headlamps are still a fair ways behind the likes of Zebralight though.

"I don't use headlamps because they're heavy in the wrong rather carry battery weight than light batteries and extra straps. It's easy enough to strap a light to your shoulder or clip onto your ear"

Your inexperience with headlamps is showing here.

A headlamp with a well designed strap will distributed it's weight, i've been running with a 18650 powered headlamp and had absolutely no discomfort.

I don't see how strapping a light to your shoulder or having one "clip onto your ear" would be comfortable, never mind more comfortable than a well designed headlamp on a well designed head strap

" I don't believe headlamps are useful since the light weight batteries are expensive, inefficient, and the straps are heavy and bulky."

Again your lack of experience with headlamps is showing here.

gram per amp hour it's not possible for the public to buy a more efficient battery than say a 3400mAh 18650 battery.
Again gram per Ah or Ah per mm a lithium battery is absolutely the best you can get.

Even if you stick with AA's a lithium AA will be lighter per Ah than a NiMh equivalent.

I can understand your evangelical posts on Fenix products, as i say they do make some outstanding torches.
In this case though in my pretty extensive experience with many different types of headlamps (Fenix included) i personally believe Zebralights offering are lighter, brighter and more useful for more circumstances.

I have used and would ise again Fenix headlamps, it's just if it's my money i wouldn't buy one over say a H600.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Lumens vs PAR on 03/07/2014 13:01:28 MST Print View

Modern output ratings for flashlights are usually in lumen, sometimes lux, rarely candela. "Par Ratings" is a vintage standard, shorthand for Parabolic Aluminized Reflector, generally used for plug-in lights.

I'll second what Mark says: you'd be hard pressed to find a more efficient, reasonably small cell than an 18650 Li-Ion. The only reason I don't use them, is a bad experience once with a funky charger and an overheating cell. Out of an excess of caution I dropped back to AAs. But if you are on top of your charging process and have good gear, 18650s rock.

Now, for a long pack trip, you don't toss a dead 18650 in the next trash can you find; it stays with you for the duration of the trip whether dead or alive. But you may only need one 18650 for a very long trip! Alternately, occasional resupplies with lithium AAs may be a convenient alternative, if you don't require the wallop that the 18650 gives.

Edited by Bolster on 03/07/2014 13:14:30 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Lumens vs PAR on 03/08/2014 03:27:44 MST Print View

It's always tough recommending torches as peoples expectations, experience and how they plan on using it makes a massive difference.

I let a friend borrow one of my SC52's a few weeks back, he'd only ever used cheap torches or maglites before, he was visibly stunned by the output from a torch so small.

Another mate who does a fair bit of trail running at night felt the tint on the same torch was terrible.

Funny thing is, this guy runs on extremely rocky paths at night with a H502, a torch that i personally find pretty much useless for walking with, never mind running.

For me personally i tend to prefer a torch that has more throw for night hiking, as i find i tend to like planning my footsteps a fair way in advance, i've also found that if you have a beam strong enough to enable you to see say 20 meters in front, it helps me judge obstacle heights as the shadow from said obstacle will get smaller as i approach it.

On the battery front.
One of my other hobbies is radio controlled cars, planes, copters, boats, as a result i've been using Lithium batteries in these craft a few times a week for what must be over 10 years now.
I've seen many many fires from lithium batteries, from crashes, bad charging, bad care and just plain bad cells.

One of the most violent battery incidents i've seen though was from a NiMH battery.
The guy was charging his cells inside his car on the passenger footwell, one of the cells literally exploded, the car was burnt to a crisp by the time the fire brigade arrived.
It was 100% user error, the guy had blocked off the cells vent, plus was charging incorrectly, it still goes to show though that ANY battery can be dangerous if mishandled.

Lithium batteries do get a bad rep as they're a little more sensitive to misuse, personally though i NEVER leave ANY battery unattended while charging and i always charge outside with a mindset that the cell will pop/fizz at any time.

It sounds extremely paranoid but in practice it really makes no difference if the batteries are charged in my office, kitchen, bedroom or outside, the setup is exactly the same and it takes no more time.
So setting up outside takes no longer but offers a lot more security "just in case"

With regard to batttery choices, although many people prefer AA or AAA powered torches because batteries are easier to find, i have to say that in my experience this is not the case.
Sure more stores sell AA or AAA batteries than 18650's but will you be near a store when you need one and more importantly will the store be open?

For me i tended to find that i'd just simply take along more batteries as finding a store 1/2 way up a mountain at midnight proved difficult.
If i take more batteries then i figured that's the convenience of AA's ruined so how about weight?

One of my Eagletec 3400mAh 18650 cells weighs 48 grams
One of my Sanyo Eneloop 1900mAh AA cells weighs 26 grams

Sounds a close race until you realise that the Eneloops are 1.2v and the 18650 is 3.6v (both nominal voltages).
3.4 amp x 3.6v = 12 watts
1.9 amp x 1.2v = 2 watts

So i would need to carry 6 Eneloops to provide the same power as 1 x 18650
6 x Eneloops = 156g or over 3 x 18650's

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Re: Lumens vs PAR on 03/08/2014 03:49:11 MST Print View

I'm not sure I follow.

Edit: Nevermind, answered my own question, kind of... Carry on :)

Still not sure comparing hi cap li-ions to mediocre cap nimhs is an apples to apples kind of thing though.

Edited by Glenn64 on 03/08/2014 04:07:09 MST.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Too many lights on 03/08/2014 06:33:59 MST Print View

Guess you'll just have to become an expert and build your own at which point you too will realize it's all a compromise.

Backpacks should come with power supplies built into the frame and a USB power supply ;)

Internal batteries are lighter and more efficient than cells since they're just wrapped in a thin film and have a couple wires.

Head lamps are so far behind I really can't find ANY I like. You lose too much value and tech going from a torch to a head lamp. It seems to me most headlamps are selling people overpriced straps and nothing more than a gimmick.

Shoulder light, ear clip light, or bust. I use head lamps to work not hike.

I've been searching for a head lamp to recommend for days now and can't find a single one that offers everything this thread cumulatively requires of a light.

Ever wonder why police don't use head lamps? They screw up your peripheral and balance, make your eyes tired because they never get a break etc etc.

Edited by tchilds on 03/08/2014 06:48:42 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Police on 03/08/2014 08:37:44 MST Print View

> Ever wonder why police don't use head lamps? They screw up your peripheral and balance, make your eyes tired because they never get a break etc etc.

That's odd...the military is positively wedded to headlamps & helmet-mounted lamps.

Stephen Komae
(skomae) - MLife

Locale: northeastern US
Police headlamps on 03/08/2014 08:45:11 MST Print View

Actually, police don't use headlamps because perps tend to shoot directly towards light sources. If a flashlight is carried and used near center mass, a bullet is more likely to hit armor.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
One weird trick eliminates headlamp problems on 03/08/2014 09:49:59 MST Print View

There is a government conspiracy to keep the best headlamps out of the hands of civilians, so that when the One World Order takes over at night, they have the upper hand. Read on for one weird trick that will keep you safe.

There is no perfect headlamp, just like there is no perfect pack, stove, or sleeping bag. And plenty of people will be happy without the item at all.

Sometimes I take a headlamp, sometimes I'm happy enough with a photon light on a clip, and on some trips I don't even use that.

People have discussed, compared, praised, and trashed headlamps for hundreds of thousands of words, on BPL, CPF, and elsewhere. The good news is that so much information is available, both good and bad, that you can totally geek out on headlamps in pursuit of "the one". Or you can walk into a store and buy the first one you see. Both will work OK most of the time. Both will fail to meet your needs some of the time.

In the whitewater rafting community, most people have cheap headlamps, because we can't afford expensive ones after spending $3,000+ on boating gear, or we're making less than minimum wage guiding guests down the river.

If you get 10, or 20, or 30 rafters around a camp at night, one problem comes up over and over again: Mutual Assured Blindness. You walk over to talk to someone, you look at each other to speak, and both are blinded by the other's headlamp.

So I'll share the one weird trick secretly passed to me by another raft guide.

  1. Turn off your headlamp.
  2. Take off your headlamp.
  3. Stretch out the headband.
  4. Slide the headlamp down until it is around your neck, not your head.
  5. Turn on the headlamp.
Voila, no more MAB. You won't get quite as dizzy from the beam zipping around when your head moves, and it points more-or-less where you need to see most of the time.

One more weird trick.

For those of you who believe flashlights are superior, because when the One World Order descends from their black helicopters at night, they will aim their shots at your hand or body armor instead of your head, I have one more weird trick.
  1. Turn off your headlamp.
  2. Take off your headlamp.
  3. Hold the headlamp in your hand, with the beam pointing forward.
  4. Turn on the headlamp.
Voila – you have a flashlight with a strap.

Thanks for your attention. Please keep up this entertaining thread.

-- Rex

PS - to learn more about the marketing psychology of "one weird trick" ads:
Prepare to Be Shocked!

Edited by Rex on 03/08/2014 09:51:44 MST.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Re: Lumens vs PAR on 03/08/2014 10:16:30 MST Print View

"I'm not sure I follow.

Edit: Nevermind, answered my own question, kind of... Carry on :)

Still not sure comparing hi cap li-ions to mediocre cap nimhs is an apples to apples kind of thing though."

Hi Glenn,

Yea sorry i did ramble on for a bit.
The thing is although they're different formats and often different chemistries it's really the choices that we are given.
A AA or AAA torch or a 18650.
Obviously there are other formats, but IMO they're even more of a compromise (e.g. CR123)

A lithium powered AA torch or 14500 is an option, but are you going to be able to find charged 14500 cells ore lithium AA's out where we tend to prefer to hike?

"Guess you'll just have to become an expert and build your own at which point you too will realize it's all a compromise."

Admittedly cynical i know, but i'm always wary of anyone that calls themselves a "expert" there are no qualifications or experience level required to be a self appointed expert, so it's not really worth anything in real terms.

I have modified and assembled several torches over the years i don't see how that's relevant on this thread though as it has absolutely nothing to do with recommending head torches.

It's equivalent to a taxi driver giving Jenson Button tips on driving a F1.
Both are professional drivers but there is a vast difference in experience and skill sets between the 2.

"Internal batteries are lighter and more efficient than cells since they're just wrapped in a thin film and have a couple wires."

In theory you are correct.
In practice though torches with "soft cells" will have to have tougher cases, regulators and charge points built into them, in real world terms this will often make a torch with internal batteries a fair amount heavier than a torch with a hard case battery.

Had a quick rummage through my photobucket and found a few pics of weights of a few of my torches to compare

LD01 with battery (Sanyo Eneloop) 26.4g
 photo IMG_1821.jpg

H502 with battery (Sanyo Eneloop) without strap 43.4g
 photo IMG_1747.jpg

H502 with battery and strap 66.6g
 photo IMG_1744.jpg

MKI H600 with battery (Eagletec 3400mAh)and strap 105.5g
 photo IMG_2139.jpg

MKII with battery (Eagletec 3400mAh) and strap 127g
 photo IMG_3163_zps532670cd.jpg

"Head lamps are so far behind I really can't find ANY I like. You lose too much value and tech going from a torch to a head lamp. It seems to me most headlamps are selling people overpriced straps and nothing more than a gimmick."

If you meant this phrase to be humorous then i'm sorry my friend i just didn't pick up on your humour.

If you meant it as a serious statement then please take a look at any half decent headlight.
Here is one example i recommend, the Zebralight H600
Cree XM-L2
1090 lumen boost, 660 lumen high with decent lows and medium levels from 0.01 lumens.
PID thermal regulated outputs
Good UI
Battery capacity indicator
Built in over-discharging protection
soft-touch switch
Waterproof to IPX7

I'm struggling to see how think that is going to "lose too much value and tech" compared to the LD01 you recommended?

As i say i own a few LD01's they're great keychain lights and fantastic VFM, there is absolutely no comparison to any of my LD01's and even a H502 though.
Beam pattern, lumen output, UI they're all in a different league on the H502 never mind the H600.

"Shoulder light, ear clip light, or bust. I use head lamps to work not hike."

I work on pretty complex systems and use my LD01 most days at work, there is absolutely no way i'd use it clipped onto my ear though.
For one it would be unsafe (if i drop something into the system then it is powered down and unusable till it's found) for another it would be extremely uncomfortable.

If that works for you and the job you do then fantastic, it's still not a headlamp though and it's still not what the op requested.

"Ever wonder why police don't use head lamps? They screw up your peripheral and balance, make your eyes tired because they never get a break etc etc.""

LEO's have their lights in parallel with their guns so they can shoot where they shine

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Rex... on 03/08/2014 10:28:26 MST Print View

...loved the article on "One Weird Trick" and enjoyed your riff on same.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Police on 03/08/2014 12:18:48 MST Print View

"That's odd...the military is positively wedded to headlamps & helmet-mounted lamps."

That is, unless you are equipped with night vision goggles or something similar. Then, you do not want any headlamps or flashlights around.


Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
love it! on 03/08/2014 14:22:03 MST Print View

I'll never find the one now!

I'm still standing by my recommendation of an ld01 that accepts commonly found batteries and easily sits on your ear like a pencil.

I certainly have learned a lot though and appreciate the ideas behind the recommendation which definitely give consumers reading this thread something to think about!

My gutted ld01 "ultralight" model can be pinned anywhere on my pack or clothing and only weighs 5 grams.

I've smashed plenty of lipoly batteries and they still work fine trust me. RC air helicopters smash the he'll out of them and they are fine usually.

Edited by tchilds on 03/08/2014 14:26:37 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Military on 03/08/2014 14:22:20 MST Print View

No, they keep the helmet light, but turn it off, or if they think its safe, or necessary, will use NVG (night vision green). But those Surefire helmet lights stay clamped onto their heads at night regardless.

Edited by Bolster on 03/08/2014 14:28:07 MST.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
lipoly/internal is lighter on 03/08/2014 14:34:13 MST Print View

Here are examples of lippy batteries without all the heavy bs attached to give you a warranty and protect companies from frivolous lawsuits.

Build your own it's much lighter. Gut a Chinese flashlight and enjoy.

Add straps if you want to call it a head lamp I guess.lipoly

It makes more sense to carry a battery system that charges all devices than it does multiple batteries to me since this makes every piece of gear multiple purpose/redundant and much cheaper/more valuable. All my devices charge off one USB cable that has 3 form factors to charge other people's various USB devices if necessary too.

Run on sentences from hell I d c.

Add a hydrogen reactor, hand pump generator, solar, or Peltier device and you can now cycle these cells hundreds of times over 18 months without plugging in too.

I am now running wires to all my devices from one unprotected extremely light battery and carrying a second battery as backup that has a volt stepper circuit and pass thru as well with a charging switch just in case my primary shits a brick.

Edited by tchilds on 03/08/2014 14:47:15 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Military on 03/08/2014 14:38:50 MST Print View

Incidentally, you can see a lot more without using battery-powered devices if you just give it time.

While on a military training exercise, we were stationary just after sunset, but before the sky got very dark and before our human night vision was working much. About 60-70 yards out, one training person lit a cigarette, but we couldn't see it at all. Then we did some other activity in the dark. After 30 minutes or so, we went back to our original positions and the training person lit a cigarette again. Geez, everybody could see it in an instant, clear as a bell. Our night vision worked.

So, next time you are camped, keep things as dark as you can without tripping and breaking your fool neck. Let your human night vision develop, and then see what you can see. Due to the way our eyes are built, you might get best night results by looking slightly off-center at a target.


Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: lipoly/internal is lighter on 03/08/2014 15:02:29 MST Print View

My secondary battery is also a flashlight, vaporizer (ecig), emergency fire starter, bullet proof water proof case, and passthru/backup battery with 5 volt stepper circuit and regulator circuits built from old junked electronics like vcr and tape decks.

2600mahbackup lipoly

Oh and it's an ohm meter. Lol!!!

Anyway, build your own stuff and system for all powered devices and get away from marketing and BS solutions like headlamps and torches built to make profit not light.

Enjoy, learn, do. Keep it simple and get a simple light if you're not up to it like an ld01.

As for myself I'm more of a mac guy ver.

Edited by tchilds on 03/08/2014 15:14:07 MST.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
7mm on 03/08/2014 19:34:36 MST Print View

Troy's posts are having the same effect on me as drinking a half dozen cups of strong coffee one after another, so I'm going to go enjoy a minor detox in another thread.

Bob makes a good point; lots of people with lights get impatient and use electricity when they could simply use a wider iris in their own eyes by waiting another 30 minutes. Let it expand to a full 7mm (if you're young; 5mm if you're a geezer) and enjoy the natural night vision.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
Re: 7mm on 03/09/2014 06:00:48 MDT Print View

Lol sorry I don't talk to folks much but just trying to help people be lighter and think outside the box.

I agree to use your night vision but unfortunately that isn't always easy to do without going completely solo and or imposing on others.

Troy Childs
(tchilds) - F
diy on 03/09/2014 06:08:41 MDT Print View

I guess I'll just have to make a diy thread to hold people's hands on lipoly tech since few want to learn on their own.

I seem to have lost people on my radical oversimplification of my system because the personal messages won't stop with such basic questions.

Mark S
(gixer) - F
Re: Re: Military on 03/09/2014 12:56:40 MDT Print View

Good post Bob,

I much prefer hiking without a light if i can, i think there are few times when you feel closer to nature and the universe than hiking on a clear bright night without a torch.

Problem i tend to have though is tripping.
Partly because i'm usually near the end of a hike when it's dark so am absolutely knackered, and partly because the terrain here (Greece) is extremely rocky.

Was talking about retaining night vision with a friend of mine a few weeks back, he also comes from a military background so was really feeling exposed walking around with a torch on.

Problem was it was a very cloudy night with very little natural light, plus we were hiking through a intermittently heavily wooded area, so for me it just wasn't worth the risk of not using a torch.

At the start he insisted on having his headlamp on the lowest setting he could get away with, even then he was adamant that his was keeping 1 eye closed.
Problem was he ended up stumbling more than when he didn't have his light on.

So we sat for a brew and i asked him "what are you saving your night vision for?"
It's not like we could have safely hiked without the lights on (IMO), after a bit of a "debate" we set off again only this time he had his torch on max.
Once hed got over that initial nervousness about making a target of himself he really enjoyed seeing this well worn hike in a different light (literally).

Guess what i'm saying is, as adults we use our knowledge and experience to make a judgement call on if there is enough natural light to safely walk by, but IMO once you've made the decision to use a torch as long as you have enough batteries there is no reason not to use it on it's highest setting.

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Re: Re: Military on 03/09/2014 22:41:15 MDT Print View

"keeping 1 eye closed"

Isn't this why the Pirate's wore an eye patch? So they had one eye dilated to see in the dark hold?

Maybe someone could market a hiker patch, call it an "eye gaiter".

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Military on 03/09/2014 22:44:38 MDT Print View

"Maybe someone could market a hiker patch, call it an "eye gaiter"."

Name it the General Moshe Dayan eye gaiter.

He was a very security-minded guy and became famous for his comment, "I'll be keeping an eye out for you."