Loc: Seattle area - East Side
I'm looking to replace my headlamp and flashlight. I'm sure I could figure my questions out if I were to go into a store and look in person, but just no time for it right now.
Current flashlights: Handheld Light#1 Positive: Water resistant. Wind up so I never have to replace batteries; Negative: bulky and fairly heavy. Also loses charge quickly so I'm always winding (Amazon Winding Flashlight)
Handheld Light#2 Positive: Bright as the sun. Negative: fell apart/buttons broke in bag. Kind of heavy (flashlight)
Handheld Light#3 Positive: lightweight and durable; Negative: single beam setting, batteries don't last (Mini Maglite from Home Depot)
What I'm looking for: Kinda the positives from each. Light, durable, battery that lasts, multiple brightness and beam settings -flood and spotlight if possible.
Current headlamps Pretty much every headlamp I've ever purchased has slits where the elastic band attaches to the actual headlamp. The elastic gets normal wear and begins to slide out of those slits and the headlamp won't stay on. Extremely frustrating to say the least.
So mostly looking for a headlamp that won't just fall off my head. Trying to stay under $25 but if it's a headlamp that won't break if treated roughly and the elastic won't slip off, I'll go higher.
I have been using the same Petzel e-Light since 2007 and have yet to change the batteries. I have heard some people complain that it is not bright enough but that is not my experience. I used it on two thru hikes of the JMT with a total of about 8 hours of use and have not felt the need of anything "better" (ie, more expensive). The light uses two CR 2032 batteries and seems to go forever on one set. I carry spares in my repair kit but so far have never used them. I also carry a small pinch light (Photon) for simple, in-camp chores, for replacing e-Lite batteries in the dark and for finding gear in the tent after dark. I replace the pinch light CR 2016 batteries every spring. The e-Lite costs about $30.00.
Backpacker magazine just made a plug for a headlamp, some Princeton Tec something or other, in their most recent edition. You can probably find it on their website as well. If I remember correctly, the cost was around $30. I might need to go back and re-read the advertisement. If I find the actual name, I will share it on the post.
Did you know that 83.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot?
Petzl e+Lite or Petzl zipka. No elastic headband - instead, there's a line that reels in and out of the light. Simple to use, always the right tension, and no bulky elastic band to store. Both are light; e+Lite is ultralight, but not as bright as Zipka. Zipka uses 3 AAA batteries, and is therefore heavier but brighter.
The retracting line also lets you use either one as a handheld light or, with a bit of imagination, a hanging light.
I've used on or the other for the last 5 years with no problem.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I found the Petzl e+ lite totally inadequate during an emergency hike out at night last summer. My grandson, who was using my Princeton Tech Aurora, kept having to turn around at every rough section of trail so I could see where to put my feet. That got awfully old awfully fast! It's fine for around camp tasks, but I'll never take the e+ on another trip!
I've had that Princeton Tech headlamp since 2006 and use it constantly--it's my emergency light around the house (wonderful to have a nice bright hands-free lamp for repairs in dim or dark places), I take it with me when driving (if, Lord forbid, you have to change a tire at night, it's really handy), and, of course, on all dayhikes and backpacks. I even used it to spotlight my dog's nails when clipping them. It's also regulated, so (1) I can use the much-longer-lasting lithium batteries and (2) the light stays strong until the batteries die--none of this dimming when the batteries are only half gone. I've had no trouble at all with the elastic. Yes, it weighs 2 oz. more than the e+ light, but it's well worth those extra 2 oz.
At least I've been able to use the leftover e+ light batteries in my digital bathroom scale.
I would skip the hand-held flashlights in favor of a good headlamp. The hands-free option is priceless!
Edited by OregonMouse (08/05/1501:05 AM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
Loc: Southern California
OregonMouse, I really appreciate you sharing your experience with having to bug out at night. I wasn't even thinking about the need for good light in an emergency. That's the type of thing I have to watch out for when trying to shave the weight off my gear.
I agree with OM - the e+Lite would probably not be good for walking at night over tricky terrain. It's great for the local backpacking I do, where I'm usually only out for a night or two, and my trails are well-groomed. But, when I head out longer or into more remote (as in less traffic and trickier footing), or when the nights will be long, I take my Zipka.
Sometimes, I take both. For some reason, headlamp batteries never go dead during the day, so on a longer trip it's kind of nice to have a spare light so I can see to change batteries. The e+Lite is also nice for middle of the night sojourns to "commune with Mother Nature" - the lower light levels don't disrupt the rest of the camp.
I tested the e+lite (using a light meter) when it first came out and while it's fine for camping it's only adequate for hiking for a very short while, with a fresh set of batteries. Reason being the output isn't regulated and the batteries can't maintain illumination, meaning light intensity drops from the moment its switched on. It's bright enough for "real" navigation for a scant few minutes.
The "e" stands for emergency in Petzlspeak. Better than nothing, but only just. Now some folks have excellent night vision and can navigate distinct trails with no light at all. For you, the e+lite might be just fine--switch it on just to check a junction then off until you next need it. Use it first in red mode to preserve your night vision. Nobody should presume you can navigate with it for an hour because in that time it fades to a small fraction of the initial output.
What of overcast nights or forested trails that lack star and moonlight?. What of typical crummy and confusing Sierra trails? For those there's no substitute for a "real" headlamp. I've settled on the Petzl Tikka series with LiIon rechargeable cells. They have enough output, beam configuration, length of operation and even programmability to meet all my needs. They're also waterproof and I carry a charger to keep them topped off during long trips, giving them unlimited run time.
Beyond the OP's budget, but Tikka models with replaceable cells might sneak in under that amount. They're good too.
Just out of curiosity, why Tikka rather than Zipka? The only difference I can see is the Tikka uses the wide headband, and the Zipka uses the retractable line. Is it personal preference (I can see that), or have you identified a problem with the retractable line that I haven't found yet?
Functionally, they're identical; I just find the Zipka more compact and convenient.
I have a couple choices: the Bushnell Solar Wrap Mini and the Brunton Ember. The first has a small storage battery but can completely recharge in the field. The second has a much bigger battery but only partly recharges from the sun due to its small panel. Either can keep a small gizmo collection going, but a device with a big battery like a phone (typically >3,000mA) will completely drain it in the process. The Petzl Core battery (discontinued, but still around for the persistent) that powers my 3-AAA Tikkas is less than 1,000 mA, so charges easily. The only situation where I wouldn't be able to keep it going indefinitely would be in winter.