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Thread: Headlamp question.

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    Default Headlamp question.

    What makes a $90 headlamp worth $90? I've always went by way of thriftyness. A $12 Energizer LED headlamp that lasts a year or so, throw it away and buy another. Is it worth the extra money for a few years more use? A $90 headlamp would have to last 8 years to pay for it's self. I use one for nature calls and a little bit if the dark catches up with me to set up camp.

    Do these high dollar lamps have some superpower that I am missing? I know I can keep buying my cheap ones and be content, but I'd like to know what qualities make an expensive lamp worth the cash. Perhaps this can help others as well. Heck, up until a couple of years ago, I carried 2 MagLites. I had a small one and a big one. I thought i went high tech when I bought my first headlamp.

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    I've never bought a $90 headlamp but my $30 petzl has bought me a lot of piece of mind. I prefer having gear that I know will survive what I put it through and I've had too many cheap products fail on me when I needed them. A headlamp is not something I use often (much prefer to work in daylight or moonlight) but when I need it, I want it to work. A cheap headlamp that lasts a year and breaks means that I need to bring two light sources camping when one have done if I had brought something of quality.

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    Durability and brightness and features such as battery life, weight, comfort, and more. If you do something like mountain climbing you absolutely need a more expensive headlamp but around camp a cheaper one will do imo at least.
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    I once paid 120 for a headlamp and let me tell you, aside from a little more beam clarity the difference amounts to jack in most cases. Said headlamp broke within a deployment where as the 20 dollar petzl I have is still kicking 4 years later. Sometimes price is just to make people feel special. If it works and it's cheap, why buy something expensive right?

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    I love the overlap across many specialized forums. BudgetLightForum's crew would most answer your question as "nothing." In most cases, the mark-up on flashlights is insane. $90 is my budget for three lights and cells.

    Are you in the market for a new one?

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    Okay so here's a bit more detail on what I said before. Here's one I like the specs at $85 MSRP. I would spend $85 for this headlamp personally because when I need a headlamp I NEED a headlamp. Small rocky trails down the sides of steep mountains and we have made a mistake somewhere and the sun has gone down. Anyway so here's why I personally feel this headlamp is worth the price highlighted in bold from the specs.



    Built for wall climbers, ultra-runners, cold-weather adventurers and anyone else who prefers a lighter-weight, high-powered headlamp, the Black Diamond Icon Polar features a massive 200-lumen output and a detached battery compartment. The Icon's QuadPower LED and 4 SinglePower LEDs give you 6 different lighting modes and the waterproof construction makes for all-season, all-weather performance. The detached battery housing stores in your jacket or pack to both preserve battery life in cold conditions and to lessen the weight on the headband.

    1 QuadPower LED spotlight, 2 SinglePower white LEDs and 2 SinglePower red LEDs emit 200 lumens (max setting)
    Red night vision mode has proximity and strobe settings and activates without cycling through the white mode
    Rugged design uses 4 AA batteries in a detached battery housing to help lessen weight on the headband and conserve battery power in bitter cold
    Settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red night vision and lock mode
    Three-level power meter shows remaining battery life for 3 seconds after switching on the headlamp
    Protected against water immersion down to 1 m (3.3 ft) for 30 minutes (IP X 7)
    Headlamps like this give exact specs like this:
    LED Type : 1 QuadPower, 2 SinglePower
    Lumens : 200
    Max Distances : 100 m (QuadPower LED), 10 m (2 SinglePower LEDs)
    Max Burn Time : 175 H (QuadPower LED); 250 H (2 SinglePower LEDs)
    Batteries : 4 AA (included)
    Weight With Batteries : 300 g (10.6 oz)
    IPX Rating : 7
    I have nothing in it for Black Diamond I just like the specs on that one. The one I personally use is a cheaper local brand about $50, 160 lumen, 100 m throw at it's tightest beam.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cellis View Post
    Okay so here's a bit more detail on what I said before. Here's one I like the specs at $85 MSRP. I would spend $85 for this headlamp personally because when I need a headlamp I NEED a headlamp. Small rocky trails down the sides of steep mountains and we have made a mistake somewhere and the sun has gone down. Anyway so here's why I personally feel this headlamp is worth the price highlighted in bold from the specs.





    Headlamps like this give exact specs like this:


    I have nothing in it for Black Diamond I just like the specs on that one. The one I personally use is a cheaper local brand about $50, 160 lumen, 100 m throw at it's tightest beam.

    I love my black diamond Icon headlamp, it has been soaked dropped whacked and so on. Definitely worth the $65 price tag.

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    Well I have a streamlight sidewinder 2, it wasn't 90 but their more than 30. The thing is a tank it doesn't quit, it can run on a cr123 or a AA, my pack has Molle on it so I can pop it off the head band and clip it on my pack. I've dropped it in the drink a couple of time and other than a wet headband none the worse for wear. One feature that I like that many might not feel nescecary is that it has a flashing beacon mode, something u may never use, but if I'm hurt and alone at night fall any signaling is better than no signalingImageUploadedByTapatalk1362488111.476694.jpg

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    Dr. Fishguts Bush Class Basic Certified kgd's Avatar
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    I always felt it rather hilarious that there are entire forums on flashlights along with flashlight collectors just as addicted to their widgets as the "Cutlery Crackheads" and the "How fast can my stove boil water?" enthusiasts. But, hey, who am I to judge, I get just as tunnel visioned on gear choice as everyone else, but flashlights haven't really been my thing.

    Yet, there are quality aspects that I think come with some of the better models out there that are worth going for.

    1) Brightness - personally, I think 90 lumens is sufficient (For MY uses), but even if my uses are mostly restricted to puttering around camp at night, I find that 90 Lumens provides much better light than the bargain bin LED lamps out there.

    2) Light level adjustment - this is very handy, particularly in a head lamp - it can save battery life as well as save your skull (from having your friend bash you with a log after shining your light in his eyes all night).

    3) Robustness - it doesn't have to be knurled aircraft aluminium, but it should be tough enough to survive some hard hitting. Headlamps take a lot of abuse because you usually take it off at night and it gets lost, sometimes finds itself underneath your body weight, it gets jumbled around in packs. It needs to be tough.

    4) The Switch - I had a decent 'cheapo' headlamp that met all the above criteria except for the switch, it was placed on the body in such a way that the switch would often get triggered while the headlamp was in my pack, wasting the batteries. That sucked and its now something I look at closely when getting a new model.

    5) Battery type - this is often a personal choice, but my preference is to have something that uses AA's for compatibility with my other electronics - e.g. GPS. If your going to carry spare batteries, it works out best if one set of batteries fits everything - of course that never happens, but its good to keep in mind when considering new e-gear choices.

    Right now - I'm using a cheap Coleman model but it meets criteria 1-4 and cost $25. Its only downside is that it uses AAA's.

    Other features I like are the RED-led, it really does make working at night e.g. on a boat easier without constantly blinding your companions and not degrading your night vision too much. I don't currently have one with a red light capability, but I've used them before for work and like them.

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    I have a tiny little Petzl now (tikka model, I think?), and the choice, for ME, was weight. But, when I used to do a lot of winter stuff-I found that there is a difference, with some of the more expensive ones. Primarily, their ability to function in consistent low temps. A removeable battery pack is a definite plus-keeping the battery pack inside your jacket keeps the light working. Impact resistance is a plus-ice climbing, I would constantly get conked from falling debris. An even light is a plus-especially when you are climbing. Bad ice can be hard to spot sometimes. As we usually started climbing before the sun was up, a good lamp was a good purchase. But, you bought one, once. And used it for YEARS. I have LONG since stopped climbing, and, as I now just generally hike, I just went with something small & convenient. But, were I to buy another one, I would likely go with a lamp that takes simple AAs. I use them in my GPS, my camera, etc-makes it a little easier to simply carry one type of battery, instead of trying to guess.
    So, yes, in certain specialized sports, you can justify the cost. But, in general, in my opinion, cheap works fine. Water resistance and weight are my only real concerns now.
    My blog: http://oldsoldiersadventures.blogspot.com/ Intermediate cert progression: 2 of 11 classes, 0 of 7 electives, 2 of 3 overnights, 5 of 10 outings.

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