headlamps

7:43 p.m. on July 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I recently switched from my old incandescent headlamp to an LED headlamp, and I'm not happy. For some reason, the LED light seems to impair my depth perception, making it tricky to walk around on uneven terrain at night. But my old incandescent light isn't as bright as the LED and now seems inadequate.

Does anyone else have this issue with LED headlamps? Any recommendations?

9:46 p.m. on July 29, 2008 (EDT)
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I have noticed the same thing, but have not been bothered by it enough to do anything. I read in Ray Jardine's book "Beyond backpacking" to hold the light closer to the ground so it casts a shadow on the rocks etc. But I'm guessing since its a headlamp you probably don't want to cary it?

1:02 a.m. on July 30, 2008 (EDT)
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The depth perception problem is due to (1) the "flat" lighting you get when the light source is close to your line of sight, as it always is for a headlamp worn on your forehead (reason for Ray's advice to hold the light closer to the ground - off to the side works, too), and (2) most LED lights use a group of LEDs, which gives a more diffuse light, which exacerbates the "flat" lighting. There are LED headlamps that have a single very bright LED or a halogen bulb plus a group of less bright LEDs, with several levels of brightness and combinations of the lamps. The single bright LED or halogen bulb by itself is usually in a shaped reflector to make a spotlight, like your old incandescent had. Over the years, I have acquired several LED headlamps and find I do not use the "group" type very often. The two that I have that incorporate a single bright LED plus a group (Black Diamond Spot) or the halogen bulb with a group of LEDs (a Petzl that is no longer available) work much better for just about anything I do in the way of hiking, climbing, skiing, or bicycling in the dark.

3:32 p.m. on July 30, 2008 (EDT)
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Slightly off topic but those of us who sometimes have to drive
on unmaintained forest roads, or completely off road, prefer two sets of lights.
One set on top off the vehicle for general illumination, and one set down low for reading terrain. This is the only way to get to some areas around here.

I have a Black Diamond headlamp, if I am not mistaken it's single LED is a 3 watt, I also have a Brunton with multiple LEDs, and an Energizer with multiple LEDs.
I do like the single one best, it is also the brightest.

Maybe try hooking one onto your pack belt to help read terrain.

2:41 p.m. on August 1, 2008 (EDT)
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Thank you! This is exactly the info I was looking for.

7:53 p.m. on August 1, 2008 (EDT)
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I picked up a Petzl Tikka XP headlamp this afternoon. REI's datasheet on headlamps helpfully specifies which ones have a "spot" mode in addition to the usual "flood" mode, and I think the spot mode is what I need for walking at night.

10:11 a.m. on August 3, 2008 (EDT)
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I often wear my headlamp around my neck - necklace style. It helps slightly with depth perception, and also work well when I wear a brimmed hat.

I agree with the "flat light" problem. I hated the first LED light I owned. I think it was a Princeton Tec Aurora. I kept stepping in, and tripping over small holes and roots because I couldn't see them.

I've purchased expensive lights and quite honestly, I like some of the cheaper ones better.

My two favorites are the Rayovac Sportsman Extreme http://www.rayovacdirect.com/pc-37059-110-Rayovac-Sportsman-Xtreme-1W-LED-Headlight-DASH--DASH-RAYSE1WHLT--B.aspx(it has a diffuser filter, and red and blue high output LEDs. It's small, light, and only cost me $20.

My other favorite I use for extended trips and rescue. Check out the Garrity KH021 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000T8EG0I About 20 dollars and more features than any of the other expensive lights.

1:26 p.m. on August 3, 2008 (EDT)
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2:02 p.m. on August 4, 2008 (EDT)
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The Eveready headlamp from Lowes is only a 1 watt LED. It is ok around camp, but the newer 3 watt and stronger LEDs are much better for hiking/skiing/climbing/other backcountry activities.

3:28 p.m. on August 4, 2008 (EDT)
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I got a Petzl Zipka because it can be adjusted to fit on a wrist, knee, arm, head, or whatever. Could probably easily fasten it on the belt buckle.

12:41 p.m. on August 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Similar experience last night with a 4LED lamp on high. Walked back last night from a concert through terrain that was open fields, Nordic ski trails and fire road. First LED headlamp owned and 1st real long walk using this headlamp. Lamp has a 2 LED red, 4 group LED with high & low and ?halogen with high & low. Preferred the halogen at low level for most the walk. More of a flood effect with better depth perception.

9:11 p.m. on September 28, 2008 (EDT)
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I got a black diamond too. ICON model. the flood and spot are both pretty good. Spot I can see farther ahead of the trail which I usually leave it on for trail running while a partner has a flood on for up close vision.

It also has a battery indicating light to let you know whether you'll be needing fresh batterries or not before going out on the next excursion.

http://www.backcountrygear.com/catalog/accessdetail.cfm/BD8330

10:00 a.m. on October 1, 2008 (EDT)
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What do you guys think of the black diamond icon? Runs off of AA's.

12:52 p.m. on October 1, 2008 (EDT)
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The Icon is a good lamp, very similar to the BD Spot I have with a couple of exceptions. The 3 watt spotlight LED is the same as the Spot, while the Icon has 4 flood LEDs vs the 3 that the Spot has. Second difference is that the Spot takes AAA batteries, while the Icon takes either AAs or a rechargeable NiMH pack. The result of that is that the Spot is much much lighter than the Icon. The Icon's battery pack sits on the back of your head. At 6.6 ounces, this could get tiring if you were out for a long run or on a long night-time hike. Considering the very long life that I seem to be getting out of the Spot's AAA batteries (well over 100 hours for the first and second - still going - set of batteries), I would choose the Spot. I have a couple of headlamps that are similar to the Icon, and I have found the battery pack on the back of the head annoying.

7:58 p.m. on October 5, 2008 (EDT)
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My prefernce by brand is Princeton Tec for their great engineering and quality.
By model it's any headlamp, like the QUAD, which has "regulated circuitry". That means instead of losing light intensity as the batteries weaken the light output stays almost level until the very end of the battery life.

Black Diamond lights ae reliable but I don't think they have any regulated headlamps.

PETZL is my "bottom of the list" brand for lack of quality and inability to use lithium batteriws without burning out bulbs OR burning up wires, as in the recalled MYO series.)

Eric

11:28 a.m. on October 14, 2008 (EDT)
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I just returned from a GC river trip and used my Black Diamond Spot. I noticed that other folks with way more experinace than myself were using headlamps that have a red/ orange lens that seems to really help to keep light low- not blind others and also doesn't attract bugs as mine did.I also noticed that they had a very small blinking LED ( ? ) that made them easier to find in darkness. Now- I am shopping one that has the various output- colored lens and the blinker to find in the dark for those" groover runs" in the middle of the night. Anybody know which light does all this ? Thanks !!

12:51 p.m. on October 14, 2008 (EDT)
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There are a number of LED headlamps that have have multiple brightness levels, blinking modes, and red modes. It has been the "latest fashion" in headlamps for a couple of years now. Black Diamond, maker of your Spot, has several like this, as does Petzl, among the better names in climbing and hiking oriented gear makers. But some more general light manufacturers have them, too - Princeton Tec, RayOVac, etc etc

Despite what 300winmag says, I have used Petzl headlamps (and other Petzl gear) for many years and found them to be extremely reliable. OTOH, every Princeton Tec flashlight or headlamp I have had has developed problems by the 2nd or 3rd set of batteries. "Regulated" is one of the latest buzzwords - all LED lamps have some electronic circuitry (besides the LED), and many manufacturers are calling that "regulated" (that's the way the various light levels and switching combinations of LEDs is done).

Just go to a REI or EMS and peruse their headlamp displays. You will have several choices of multiple light level, color of light, and blinker settings with choices among AA, AAA, and "coin" batteries in several different brands.

There are also a number of industrial brands out there, some of which get up to "super-torch" brightness, and the orienteering supply companies have very specialized headlamps (Silva Sweden, Suunto). Caving (spelunking, potholing) and SCUBA supply shops also have some very good lamps that are very waterproof.

2:28 p.m. on October 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Thanks Bill,
I really like my BD Spot but was made aware on the trip of the other options. I guess the red color keeps the bugs from bothering you and also other folks.The small blinking light looked nice for finding it in the middle of the night. The Spot has served me well for all else and is nice to see that you like it also. For a newbie always nice to see that I did something right. I also appreciate the link left to the flashlight forum. Nice to know there are MANY flashlight feaks out there and I am not alone !! Great board- Thanks !!

12:02 a.m. on October 17, 2008 (EDT)
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i had a similar problem, that is untill i switched to the headlamp i currently own. a princeton tec eos. its battery life is superb and the bulb throws out an incredible beam of light on the highest setting. mine has suffered all sorts of abuse and has come out all right. i would reccomend that headlamp to anyone in the market.

6:55 p.m. on November 9, 2008 (EST)
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I know this will sound a lil silly, but I have had success using two headlamps on my legs. Seriously, better aim and further casting of the light.

My headlights aren't on top of my car, so why would I put one on my head?

8:16 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
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My Petzl headlight has both a LED light and a regular bulb light. I use the LED for close things like in my tent and the bulb for walking.

8:25 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
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I know this will sound a lil silly, but I have had success using two headlamps on my legs. Seriously, better aim and further casting of the light.

My headlights aren't on top of my car, so why would I put one on my head?

I know trackers who do this too. One has a light mounted near the base of his tracking stick (staff). This configuration elongates shadows and make locating clues a bit easier

8:43 p.m. on November 11, 2008 (EST)
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Yep, the closer to the ground your light is the better you can read terrain and such.
I have two spotlights on my 4x4 mounted low for this same reason.
I like to hike at night some and I have a light on my pack belt to illuminate my path. I often use just the red LEDs unless it's extra dark and scary out.

August 23, 2014
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