A Nearly Perfect Headlamp
October 4, 2014
I bought my first of these headlamps around 2007 at Walmart. It's 2014 as I write this and I still haven't found a better inexpensive headlamp. I have given them to friends and family, have worn through a couple of them, and have three at the moment. Battery Junction is the only place that has consistently stocked these awesome lights and their customer service has always been second to none. These lights hold up well to hard military and professional use and are inexpensive to replace if broken or lost.
These are my absolute favorite cheap headlamps. I keep them as back-ups/loaners at work, keep one in the truck, and one in the garage. This is what I give to people as a gift when they need a headlamp. I have more expensive Streamlight, Petzl, and Nitecore headlamps also. These get more use. While the IR, low modes, and helmet mount of the Streamlight have their advantages, the lack of a tailcap lockout on that light makes me use these instead sometimes.
If these had a low mode and a hard selector switch, these would be the only headlamps I used. Period... And I use a lot of headlamps.
The diffuser on this light is permanently attached and rotates back and forth covering either the blue and red, or the white light. Because it stays attached, you don't have to worry about losing it or keeping it someplace - it's always there. Because it rotates back and forth, it's never in the way. I wish this design was copied by manufacturers like Streamlight/Inova/Surefire on higher end IR capable and helmet mountable headlamps
I can't stress how important this feature is and how rare it seems to be in headlamps. When stuffed into a pouch, I never have to worry about a light AD/ND or battery drain.
Single AA power
Works with alkaline, E2, or NiMh (noticeably reduced output) AA batteries. A single spare AA is much easier to situate on your kit or wherever than the 3 pack of AAA's necesitated by Petzl and other lights.
Twist on Battery cap with lanyard
It is super easy to swap a battery in the dark while leaving the light on your head/helmet. You simply unscrew, let go, swap batteries, and re-screw. Much better than the clip in out design of so many other headlamps. The o-ring sealed screw on battery cap allowed by the single AA battery design also allows better water protection. The lanyard is the first part that breaks on these lights though (the ratcheting angle adjustment goes next, then the headband wears out. This is after a LOT of hard use though)
Works great as an around the neck light your clipboard to write on light - better than most headlamps b/c of the way the angle adjustment functions.
Cons:Battery life - Red light lasts forever, but the white light will burn through a AA in an hour and half or so though. This is mostly because of the single output (high), but the ease of battery changes and spare carrying (a single AA) make this kind of a non-issue. You'll get a bit more out of the (more expensive) lights with higher efficiency circuits from Petzl et al. but not enough to not have to keep spares handy and then you're keeping 3xAAA instead of a single AA and also have to trade off the tailcap lockout, ease of battery change (done while still on head/helmet), and water resistance (screw-on o-ring sealed).
No low mode for white light. Fine for a work/truck light. Not so good for mil/aviation/astronomy uses
UI - Click once = White, twice = blue, three = red, four = off. This is fine and intuitive, but you need to cover the light with your hand if going straight to red and trying to preserve night vision.