A bright light for a low price, but you get about…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: about $35
A bright light for a low price, but you get about what you pay for. The focusing is limited and the light a bit uneven. The low setting is a bit too bright for tent life. The colored LEDs other than red are of limited utility for the outdoorsman.
- Bright light for a low price
- Red flashing LED on battery pack good for night cycling
- Good headband
- Uneven light
- Limited focus and light levels
- Unpredictable flashing blue LED
Good headlamps are a staple of life during the midwinter months here in Norway. I picked this light up at REI during a trip to the US nearly two years ago. The brightness/price ratio seemed worth a try. I have used it for morning runs in the dark, some night xc skiing, and cycling to work, trading off with various other Petzl, Black Diamond, and Silva headlamps for comparison.
It's supposed to deliver 138 lumens and I think that's about right. I can read the snow or trail surface out to maybe 50 meters, and see my dog's eye glow a lot further than that. Enough light for night xc skiing up and down on groomed trails, but you would want more for night mtn. biking. Totally sufficient for night hiking. It's supposed to go from spot to flood but I find the focus pretty limited, and would especially like a little more concentrated light on the spot end.
The lens is plastic and seems a bit cheap. There is an annoying dark spot in the upper left region, I think from a break in the reflector where the LED is wired in. The thumb activated zoom is a continuation of the clear plastic lens, and conducts/leaks a little light downward toward the eyes, especially annoying if you wear glasses as I do. I colored it black with a permanent marker and that helps. The low light mode is unnecessarily bright for use in a tent and too bright for reading. There is a click-rotation mechanism that has a lot of stops so you can point the light where you want it. Supposed to be high-impact plastic, I haven't broken anything yet!
Here's a Silva L1 on the left and the eGear on the right, both on max, at only about 2 meters, with fairly fresh batteries in both. You can see that the Silva gives much more even light. I was surprised that they have a similar field at this distance and that the hot spot in the eGear actually looks brighter than the Silva. In actual use the Silva seems brighter and more focused at a greater distance than shown here — I think the glass lens gives much better quality light.
It also has moderately bright red, blue, and green LEDs. I have used the red for slower skiing on flats and uphills, thinking it might help preserve night vision and I think it does. You can also get flashing red for warning/signaling. The blue and green LEDs are unnecessary (except that I have used the green as a safelight in my lab when I don't want to expose leaves to photosynthetically active radiation).
One odd quirk is that the blue LED will unpredictably come on in flashing mode — I'll find it in my pack or on a shelf flashing away, usually shortly after recent use. But there is no way to get flashing blue by rotating through the options!
The battery pack is on the back of the head so the whole is pretty well balanced, and the extra over-the-head band keeps it form slipping when running and helps keep it on a bike helmet. A red rear warning light on the battery back is s nice touch for cycling. Battery life is supposed to be 16h on high setting. I haven't tested that, so I can only say that I have gone out for multiple runs or night skis without thinking about a recharge. 3 AAA batteries is an inconvenient number if you use rechargeables. The battery pack has a rubber seal and seems pretty watertight.
The single, rubber-sealed switch is top center, easy to find and operate even with mittens. I haven't had any problems with accidental switch-ons in a pack, but I think that could happen. One click turns on the bright light or blue LED on (whatever you used last), single clicks to get to low light and flashing light or to cycle through the colors before switching off, so it can take three or four clicks to switch off. Press and hold to switch between white and colored light. Another rubber switch on the battery back for the rear light. So it's a logical "OS", no real problem there (better than my BD).
Best for: Night hiking and trail running, more limited for skiing and cycling.