NiteRider Adventure 180
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by NiteRider for testing and review)
To start out with I just want to say I really like this headlamp. It has some flaws, but then again most things do. As a general use headlamp for an outdoor enthusiast the Adventure 180 is great. You would like this headlamp if you want a multipurpose light for use around camp, map reading, cooking, gathering firewood, and to an extent night hiking or other activities where long range visibility is wanted.
What makes this headlamp really stand out is its broad range of light output. You can use the diffused modes for around camp tasks, or use the higher powered spot beams for long range viewing or to brightly illuminate an area. This headlamp is best suited to limited duration night hiking.
If you are planning on doing some extensive night hiking or other night activities over the course of a few days then this light may not be a practical option for you without also carrying a means to recharge it. Featuring both red and white LEDs, diffused and spot beam patterns, the NightRider Adventure 180 headlamp is very versatile and is an excellent choice for those trying to stick within a tighter budget but still want to have a higher end piece of gear.
- Comfortable to wear
- Very bright with a fully charged battery
- Easy to operate with gloves on
- Rechargeable battery
- Red and white LEDs
- Budget friendly MSRP of $69.99
- No or insufficient voltage regulation
- Charging port opens easily, allowing debris and water infiltration
- Relatively short battery life
What’s in the Package?
The NiteRider Adventure 180 Headlamp
A 6 inch micro USB charging cable
Construction and Fit:
Overall the construction of the NightRider Adventure 180 is good, using quality materials; featuring a very comfortable headband, a tilting head, red and white LEDs, a Lithium polymer internal battery, and a large easy to operate button.
The headband has two adjustable tension slides at the rear of the band to accommodate a large size range. Otherwise, the headband has no other objects or material on it, providing a very comfortable fit for long term wear. The rear half of the band where the tensioners are is constructed of elastic, while the front half of the band is a more solid material, with some kind of soft material on the inside to provide sweat wicking and comfort.
I found no discomfort after wearing the headlamp for up to 8 hours. Of all of the headlamps I own, this one by far was the most comfortable to wear for an extended period of time.
Utilizing the tilting head will yield about 30 degrees or so of adjustment vertically. The light head itself is constructed of a two-piece plastic shell pressed together with a seal. A charging port on the top rear of the headlamp provides a micro USB port for recharging the internal battery. This port is sealed with a rubber plug connected to the charging port.
One issue I found with this charging port is that it opens down and towards the user. Theoretically this would be fine, however, the charging port has a tendency to come open during use and when in a pack. This allows for dirt, debris, and water to be introduced into the charging port, as well as the potential for items to damage the connector in the charging port.
The connector on my particular headlamp suffered minor damage while in my pack through the course of testing. On one occasion during a rainstorm the headlamp shut off while hiking due to the charging port coming open and water filling the port (I assume this was the cause). The resolution was to take off the headlamp, shake it off good, blow forcefully into the charging port to remove any water and then to reclose the charging port. The light was able to be turned back on after these corrective actions, and this was the only time during testing that this condition occurred.
As you can see by the picture below, once the charging port is open there is nothing to prevent water infiltration into the interior of the light. There are openings to either side where you can see the internal circuitry of the light.
Operating Functions, technical details, and run time:
The control for this headlamp is one large button on top of the light. One click will turn the light on in the red mode, and a click and hold will turn the light off in red mode. While a click and hold (1-2 seconds) will turn the light on in white mode, and a click and hold will turn off the light. In both cases the light turns on in diffused mode, which is the lowest setting.
If the light is in the red mode of operation, and the button is pressed a second time the light will begin flashing red. When the light is in diffused white mode, a second click will switch the light to the low/walk mode, a third will switch to medium, and a fourth will switch to high. Pressing the button a fifth time will switch the light back to low diffused. Pressing and holding the button while the device is off will turn it on into a white flashing/strobe mode, and pressing of the button again will cycle between SOS and strobe flashing.
I found the controls for this headlamp to be pretty intuitive to operate, similar to most other headlamps on the market. Though if there is any doubt as to how to operate the light in all of its functions, included are clear and concise operating instructions. I found the button easy to operate while wearing gloves. I operated the headlamp without issue wearing Smartwool glove liners, lightly insulated leather work/utility gloves, and Outdoor Research Flurry Gloves (a thicker wool glove).
This headlamp to my knowledge does not have a way to lock it in the off position to prevent it from inadvertently being turned on. I did not have any issues with it being turned on in my pack, but I still would have liked to see this feature.
While the headlamp is on, the button on the top of the light will dimly illuminate blue. This light will turn red as the battery drains below approximately 50 percent charge, and conversely when charging the light it will be red until it gets close to full charge and will then turn blue.
I did find that when the light turns blue during the charging cycle that it does not mean the light is fully charged. Charging from EOD (end of discharge) to full can take up to approximately four hours. The manufacture states charge time is 2 hours and 15 minutes, though I found that actual run time is severely diminished with only charging for that amount of time from a computer USB port. I can only assume that the manufacturer's claimed charging time is from a usb wall adapter or battery pack sufficiently capable of being able to put out maximum current.
The caveat to this is it will obviously depend on the charger being used. I was charging the headlamp off of a computer USB port for most of the charging during the testing process. I also charged it in the field off of a New Trent 9900mah battery pack, which does provide a bit faster of a charge than a computer USB port. It would be nice if the manufacturer provided a wall plug USB adapter along with the usb charging cable.
I strongly recommend carrying a rechargeable battery pack in addition to this headlamp, especially if you plan to use this as your primary headlamp on trips longer than 2-3 days. My 9900mah battery pack can recharge this headlamp about six times. This would allow me to have this headlamp as my sole light for up to 18 days of moderate use, and could even go as long as a month if use was mainly restricted to the diffused and low modes.
You will find an average battery life of 2-4 days per charge cycle on this headlamp with moderate to heavy use, and 4-8+ days with moderate to light use.
Weight: 85 grams actual, manufacturer claim: 87 grams
Lumens: 180, manufacturer claim
Rum time manufacturer claim: 2 hours 30 minutes – 37 hours
Rime time actual:
Diffused Red: Approximately 30 hours
Diffused White: Approximately 29 hours
Low White: 12 hours 40 minutes, 2nd test: 13 hours 3 minutes
Medium White: 5 hours 15 minutes, 2nd test: 5 hours 11 minutes
High White: 1 hour 44 minutes , 2nd test: 1 hour 57 minutes
Strobe Red: Approximately 34 hours
Strobe White: Approximately 33 hours
*Approximate times: Due to the length of time of some of the light settings, the light shut off was not always immediately found. These times may be off by as much as 30-60 minutes.
I did notice that on both the high and medium settings, that if you turned the light off or switched modes after about 75 percent of the total time of the test that the light would stay in low and not switch back to medium or high.
In both the red and white diffused modes, I had no issues or complaints with the quality of the light output. It was sufficient to accomplish tasks that require a low level of light; such as map reading, cooking, setting up camp, etc. However, after about 60 percent total time of discharge a noticeable difference can be seen in the brightness. The light slowly gets dimmer the longer it is in use. This is especially noticeable in the medium and high modes of operation, With the maximum run time of these modes being relatively short, if you suddenly switch to one of these modes after the light has been in use for a time you will find the light output noticeably dimmer.
If this headlamp does indeed have a voltage regulation circuit then it is either faulty in my device, or poorly designed and severely lacking in proper function.
Observations during Field Use:
Through the course of testing this headlamp over about two months I tried to use it in a variety of ways, to most reflect any circumstances that someone would reasonably encounter. The headlamp was tested in the Northeastern United States, in moderate fall feather and in some colder weather, as well as rain and snow.
I used the NiteRider Adventure 180 headlamp on two three-day backpacking trips, and on about a dozen night "day" hikes. I also used the headlamp almost daily at work, and around the house for various tasks. For backpacking, I found the battery appropriate for a typically three-day trip, involving several hours of night hiking on each day.
I would not want to bring this headlamp on a trip of any duration greater than three days without a means to recharge it. Use as just an around camp light it would easily last a week or more if only the diffused and low modes were used. I have been using the light for about 1-2 hours a day at work and at home doing outside chores such as moving firewood etc, and I have only had to charge the light about once every two weeks.
The following backpacking activities I performed with this headlamp, and found them to be sufficiently accomplished:
Night hiking/backpacking, including locating blazes or other trail markers as far as 100 feet away, and map reading.
Signaling to others in my group from up to 1/2 mile away via the red or white strobe light. Useful for marking a campsite when others are approaching in the dark, especially in an area they are unfamiliar with.
Searching for ways around obstacles such as blow downs, or overgrown sections of trail.
Camp chores such as cooking, setting up my hammock and tarp, finding items in my pack, gathering firewood, and filtering water.
Hanging the light from an object to illuminate a large area as a makeshift lantern.
The headlamp has two functions that I used the most, the red diffused and white diffused. In these two modes the light does not broadcast very far in front of you, maybe 4-5 feet, but it does broadcast out to the sides several feet. It is a very dispersed level of light for doing camp chores and other things where long range visibility is not necessary.
I found the amount of light available in both of these modes of operation to be more than sufficient for accomplishing mundane tasks. I regularly used the white and red diffused modes for setting up camp in the dark, cooking, reading maps, etc. I mainly used the red diffused mode for accomplishing tasks that did not require high attention to detail, and when around others at night. However, the amount of light was largely insufficient for actively hiking in my opinion.
The Low mode was the primary mode I used when I was actively hiking. This mode of operation provided ample light to clearly illuminate the trail out to about 15ft in front of me, with a good dispersement of light to provide adequate peripheral vision of the trail sides. Field of view was approximately 6-8ft x 15-20ft.
Medium mode was most useful for searching for a trail blaze or other landmark in the distance. I also used this mode for searching for a route around blowdowns etc. The lumen output from low to medium is substantial, at least double. Field of view with the medium mode was approximately 10-12ft x 30-35ft.
When I am giving these field of view distances I am referring to the distance at which maximum efficiency is achieved. You still have visibility for a distance beyond this, but the quality begins to rapidly drop off due to the light dispersement.
High mode is indeed very bright at 180 lumens, and provides more than adequate light for illuminating an area or locating something far down the trail, across a stream, field, or other area where long range visibility is warranted. I did not find myself using the high mode of operation frequently on the trail, but it was very helpful to have that boost of light output when required. I used the high mode of operation at home the most. I have about 300ft of cleared area, about 100ft wide, to a treeline in my backyard, I can clearly spot coyotes and other wildlife across this distance on high (identification by shape only). However, best visibility is at about the 100ft range.
Field of view on high is approximately 12-15ft x 75-100ft. The only times I found myself using the high mode of operation on a backpacking trip was surveying an area to locate a blaze in the distance, however this was also easily accomplished on medium. Due to the limited run time of the light when in High, I tried to limit its use on a trip unless it was truly necessary.
The light beam in all modes other than the diffused modes is somewhat concentrated or focused. This allows the light beam to be useful for spotting or identifying objects in the distance, vice a broad short highly illuminated field of view. In the diffused mode the main central LED is turned off, and smaller LEDs on the sides turn on to provide the diffused light.
I found that the headlamp could attach to a thin rope or line by using the tilt function of the light, placing the line between the light and the frame and then closing the headlamp on the line allows for just enough tension to hold the light securely in place. This was useful for having a lantern type effect while in camp. I mainly used this on my hammock ridge line but it would work on any thin line.
Low, Med, High. Approximately 30 feet to the blaze:
Overall I was impressed with the Adventure 180 headlamp. It’s a very budget-friendly, bright, lightweight, multifunctional, and versatile headlamp. While there are better options out there, I do not believe one could do much better at this price point. I feel at the price that this headlamp is offered ($69.99 MSRP) that it has all of the key features that most people look for in a light, in a small, compact, and lightweight package.
Other options on the market that cost more than this light are in my opinion either very comparable, have a larger battery (and thus much heavier and bulkier), are brighter, and or have a quality voltage regulation circuit. There are tradeoffs with every piece of gear we select, and I feel that this headlamp is a fine balance between the best features of headlamps on the market today.
If you are looking to do multiple night hikes or long duration nighttime activities for more than a few days at a time then I would recommend investing in a rechargeable battery pack to have in addition to this headlamp.
I would recommend the Adventure 180 headlamp to anyone looking for a budget headlamp to accomplish a variety of outdoor activities, from use around camp to night hiking on your favorite long distance trail. If the company would make changes to the charging port so that it stays firmly secured and add a voltage regulation circuit this headlamp would be just about perfect.