Rating: 4 / 5
Serious Competition For the EOS
Weight: 2.2 oz. (not including batteries).
Settings: High (80 lumens, 2.5hrs), Low (15 hrs.), flashing (5 hrs)
Batteries: 2 AAA in water resistant enclosure.
Regulation: Full boost mode
Case: Impact and water resistant plastic.
Warranty: Lifetime (excluding accident and misuse)
Price: around $23
Remington’s RMHL2AAA-B is an inexpensive, unique and intriguing headlamp. The 80 lumen focused high beam puts it squarely in the night hiking class. It punches a deep hole 200 feet or more into the darkness to find that next blaze when the trail is obscured by snow or leaves. Off the trail, two flip-down diffusers, one red, one white, turn it into an area illuminator well suited for camp chores.
This lamp’s overall look as well as its capabilities will inevitably invite comparisons with Princeton Tec’s EOS, but the RMHL2AAA-B features and technology are different enough that it’s almost a stretch to call any comparison apples to apples. Deciding on one or the other is likely going to be a matter of feature preference for many users, but the Remington pulls slightly ahead for the way I use a headlamp.
The tight beam of the EOS can be an annoyance in camp when a broader field of view is needed. I was continually re-pointing it as I went about my camp chores. The RMHL2AAA-B solves this problem with two flip-down diffusers (one red, one clear) that significantly broaden the beam making re-pointing a rare necessity. The clear diffuser gets the most use, but I use the red after hiker midnight to avoid disturbing other campers.
As with the EOS, the low beam is adequate 90 % of the time. The Remington has no medium setting, but I never used the EOS medium beam so it’s not missed. Both headlamps have regulated beams. The regulation enables the lamps to maintain a constant brightness as the battery voltage drops, but there is a significant difference between the regulating technologies used.
The EOS maintains a constant brightness until the battery voltage drops below a certain level after which the lamp begins a long slow fade. The Remington uses a boost regulator. This type of regulation allows the same (or higher in this case) brightness to be achieved with fewer batteries (the EOS uses 3 AAA’s to the Remington’s 2) and it maintains this constant brightness until the batteries are virtually depleted.
The Remington is lighter and brighter than the EOS, but you can’t get something for nothing. Fewer batteries mean less stored energy which means shorter life, and many prefer the slow fade to the abrupt end-of-life loss of illumination characteristic of a boost regulator. And abrupt it is. When the batteries are depleted, the lamp simply winks out. By cycling the on-off switch, flashes of light can be coaxed out of the lamp that are sufficient to locate spare batteries in the pack.
I happen to prefer the constant full brightness output and I’ve always carried a spare set of batteries anyway. But now I only carry 2 AAA’s instead of 3. You pays yer money and takes yer choice.
At 2.2 oz. sans batteries, the RMHL2AAA-B is light for its class. It has a padded back and a wide, wicking strap similar to the EOS. It has detents for up down pointing adjustment. Adjustment is stiff and jerky, but frequent adjustment is rendered un-necessary by the diffusers.
I have yet to find any operating instructions for this lamp, either in the objectionable clamshell packaging or on-line. For the most part, operation is straightforward – press the switch once for high beam, again for low, again for off – but if the the on-line advertising hadn’t mentioned the flash mode, I doubt I’d have discovered it. After a little fiddling, I found that holding the switch down for a few seconds starts the flashing.
If they fell down anywhere in the design of this light, it's that it doesn't make full use of the voltage range of the higher energy density NIMH rechargables. When the lamp goes out, there's still 1.2 V on the cells. That's a fair amount of charge remaining on an NIMH.
No flaw was a show stopper, or even significant in the long run. I see the choice of this lamp merely a matter of matching the right features to the user. For me, it’s about as good as it can get. I rate it a four point five.
UPDATE: With more experience under my belt, I should say that the abrupt end of battery life deserves more emphasis. I always carry spare batteries on my person and have a miniature backup light so having the headlamp wink out isn't a disaster. That said, it is decidedly inconvenient to be in the middle of fixing supper on a cold winter night when your headlamp quits and you have to drop everything to replace the batteries. Prospective buyers should give this aspect serious consideration when making their purchase decision.
I should also point out that my need to continually re-aim my EOS was partly due to the graded lenses in my glasses. I have to raise or lower my gaze to focus at different distances and consequently re-aim the tight beam. If you don't wear bi-focals, or glasses at all, this may not be such a big problem.