Headlamp question.

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by Silverlion, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Silverlion

    Silverlion Scout

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    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.
     
  2. peregrine2000

    peregrine2000 Supporter Supporter

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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.
     
  3. cellis

    cellis Post less. Do more. Supporter Bushclass II

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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.
     
  4. NorthBushman

    NorthBushman Tracker

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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?
     
  5. Eagle Scout

    Eagle Scout Supporter Supporter

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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?
     
  6. cellis

    cellis Post less. Do more. Supporter Bushclass II

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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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
     
  7. Bill Cox

    Bill Cox Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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

    ranastas Tracker

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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 signaling ImageUploadedByTapatalk1362488111.476694.jpg
     
  9. kgd

    kgd Dr. Fishguts Bushclass I

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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.
     
  10. oldsoldier

    oldsoldier Guide Bushclass I

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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.
     
  11. Panzer

    Panzer Prepared Wanderer Supporter Bushclass I

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    I think there is a point to $90 headlamps or any other expensive headlamp. You have to consider there are professions and hobbies that require high lumen output and features. Caving and SAR are two that come to mind. The occasional camper that needs a headlamp to find their way to the head is not the intended purpose of higher end illumination tools.
     
  12. MtnNomad

    MtnNomad Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    one thing that comes to mind is battery life. When I run hounds of a night the last thing I want is the battery to go dead. I use a Bright Eyes 21 v led and my friend has the reg 21v and they are not even close.

    jm2c
     
  13. jinya1004

    jinya1004 Scout

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    I think of my Zebralight H600fw and Spark ST6 NW when reading this thread.

    My "high-end headlamps" use rechargable 18650 batteries that last longer and provide more power than a AA battery.

    They also produce much more light than my Petzl's, Princeton Tec's or Black Diamonds. My high end lights are making around 500 lumens vs the sub 100 lumens that most production lights make.

    The other thing that most people don't think about is the color. My higher end lights produce a more natural/neutral color/light that doesn't wash out browns and greens compared to the cooler tint that most production lights have.

    I compare this to why people need Turleys when Moras work just fine ; )
     
  14. Hog On Ice

    Hog On Ice Scout

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    well from a backpackers view my choices are a bit different - I wanted light weight, performance in the cold, long life when turned off, and a switch that does not turn on accidently but is easy to work when desired, and dependable for up to 10 days (time between resupply stops)

    my main light is a Petzl e-lite

    and I have a strapless Princeton Tec Scout that is my backup light which uses the same batteries as the e-lite

    I carry enough of the CR2032 lithium coin cells to replace the batteries of one of the lights on the trail

    One thing to avoid IMO are the "regulated" LED lights that can take either alkaline or lithium or have a battery sensor included - both things will run down the battery even when light is turned off
     

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  15. jinya1004

    jinya1004 Scout

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    The e+lite is nice for those looking to save the weight. I'd like to compare it to a typical $65 Zebralight (H51)

    Weight: e+lite(1oz) / H51 (3oz)
    Cost: e+lite ($30) / H51 ($65)
    Battery: e+lite (CR2032) / H51 (AA)
    Lumen: e+lite (29lm/30min) / H51 (200lm/54min or 30lm/480min)


    I would recommend to try a Zebralight or Spark. Its hard for me to go back to using my Petzl/Princeton Tec/Black Diamond headlamps after using my "nicer" ones.
     
  16. Dickey Moe

    Dickey Moe Tracker

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    I have tried petzl, energizer and a surefire saint. cost aside, if I could only have one I would choose the petzl. When I know I will need a headlamp I take the saint. At work I use the cheaper energizer. The old saying about "no one tool does it all" applies here also.:3:
     
  17. Silverlion

    Silverlion Scout

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    Well, I have plenty to absorb. For the most part, my question is answered. I'm an avid camper and occasional camper. I'd like to believe my life will never depend on my light, but poo poo happens. I want something waterproof, doesn't turn on in my pack, a red LED feature, and bright enough to see 10 ft in front of me. I keep a flash light for times I want to see further. When I looked at prices, I freaked a little. Couldn't figure out why on earth tiny things need to cost so much. I'll leave that high dollar stuff to the pros and the adrenalin junkies. Thanks for the input, folks!
     
  18. jinya1004

    jinya1004 Scout

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    Keep in mind I still have my 6 LED Energizer Headlamp from 5 years ago. It works perfect, I might say even better.

    I've modified it to reduce the glare that comes down onto my glasses and turned it into a more "floody" light.
     
  19. Seeker

    Seeker Woods Bum Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    The $90 one comes with this really cool logo on it, and you can pay the maker to wear it. Also, it might come with a very expensive cheap cloth bag/sack to store it in.

    I still have a 10 year old Ray-o-vac that runs on 2 stacked hearing aid batteries... works great, just didn't realize the batteries are $4 each.

    I use a $12 Energizer that uses 2 AAA batteries... had it about 4 years now. Daughter has a cheap one too, and it's fine (and it came with a really inexpensive cheap cloth bag/sack to store it in.)

    As stated, some higher end models might be worth it to those who need them, but for camping/hunting, i am happy with what i have.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  20. Pablo

    Pablo Guide Vendor

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    Three words: durability, reliability, and performance. I used to be into caving, and when you're 1000 feet underground, light=life. I've learned not to skimp on something so important. Even just as part of a survival kit, it's worth remembering that survival situations always seem to happen when it's dark and raining... no place for a cheap light! Besides, I can't stand cheap stuff. I don't think a good headlight needs to be expensive, but to get reliability and serious light intensity (if you need it, say for caving or search and rescue work), you might need to pony up the cash.
     
  21. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    I have to say that ( as an old climber) the remarks about robustness and reliability are on the mark for me.
    I have some old Pelican lights from my volunteer fire brigade days, their only drawback is their weight. I am saving for that particular headlamp myself. My current winter headlamp is the old Petzl Mega which I just rebuilt using the new LED replacement globe and I carry two cheap $5- LED headlamps as my backups / spares.
    If you need 3 ways of making fire you need 3 or more ways of making light.
    I keep torches in the car too and beside our beds and on top of the fridge in the kitchen and at least one torch and headlamp in each of my packs and bumbags
    We joined a rewards club at the local shop last month and the free gift was a key chain LED light, soon all my keys will have one of these as a standard fitting.
    So yes a good light is worth every penny of that $90- and I will still carry spares
     
  22. dryheat

    dryheat Tracker

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    I can't bring myself to buy a high end headlamp. Although i've probably bought enough cheap ones to pay for one high end lamp. I don't like the energizer ones because the battery compartment is easy to break and it gets turned on inside my bag and drains the batteries. I have a princeton tec aurora i got for ten bucks and the battery cover broke and it's not very bright. my current favorite is a coast led lenser because of the focusing ability. i can see surprisingly far with it.
     
  23. jinya1004

    jinya1004 Scout

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    I'm not sure how you broke your headlamp, but if it was to no fault of your own then you could ask Princeton Tec to fix it. Their warranty is lifetime and outstanding.
     
  24. dryheat

    dryheat Tracker

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    It's the type of cover you open by twisting a coin in a slot. It broke when opening. maybe I twisted the coin the wrong direction? I don't know but I think the shipping cost and hassle would make a warranty repair not worthwhile. it still works but it's cracked. kind of a bummer. I looked at newer models recently and the battery compartment seems like a much better design.
     
  25. pure_mahem

    pure_mahem Guide

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    I would have to say I haven't spent 90 bucks on a head lamp. Most I've spent has been 40 dollars and to me it was worth it for the added brightness and longer run time on one set of batteries. It also had several brightness levels and filters. I checked the cheap lights and they didn't even come close. My head lamp is the Princeton Tec Quad Tactical. Main advantage I found for using this brand is that the circuitry will handle lithiums with out an issue not all brands will.

    I also like the Streamlight PT-2L for a hand light. It's like having a 6 D-cell maglight in a AA MiniMag Size. I love this for a hand held wishit had a filter kit though.'

    Another light I like that I keep in all my kits is the Princeton Tec Blast. It runs on AAA like my headlamp has a key ring so it can be hung or put on keys or a lanyard. It's waterproof. It has a clip so it can be used as a head lamp on a strap, bandana, cord, or hat visor. It's not super bright but it's bright enough. Realatively inexpensive and comes in many colors. I usually buy the dayglo yellow and just put a big piece of Bicycle inertube over it That way it doesn't stick out but I can remove the innertube piece to use for a firestarter of ranger bands and the light will easily be seen when I need it to be seen. I also tuck a P38 in the clip. Last time I bought them I bought a whole box and only paid like 5 dollars a light. Usually find them right around 9 dollar a light though. I'a also experimented with this light and it works rather well being mounted as a weapon light if necessary. It will fit in a 1" scope mount wich will mount to the picitiny rail I just used a very cheazy scope ring I picked up somewhere for a dollar or 2 it was nothing special. Granted it's not super bright and it's a twist on but it works so what the heck. Just saying it could be used not like I keep it mounted there.

    I prefer to hold a seperate light with a stinger switch for use with a firearm. That's what my PT-2L is for and why it's part of my EDC.
     

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