Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Headlamp recommendations
Display Avatars Sort By:
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