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LED headlamp advice?


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I want to get an LED headlamp, and I'm ready to drop a few bucks on a better name if it's worth it. I'm just not sure if it's worth it.


I know Petzl is a huge name in headlamps, if not the biggest. I was looking at their MYO 5, which looks like a fine lamp. It has 5 LEDs plus a Xenon bulb for distance. The downside is it's $60 plus shipping.


The leading contender is the Streamlight Septor. Also looks like a nice lamp. Seven LEDs instead of 5, but no Xenon bulb. The upside is it's about half the price, at $32 shipped.


The final contender is the budget choice. Energizer just released a 3 LED (2 white, one red) headlamp for the low, low price of $12.50 at Wally World. It's not even on their website yet. This may be all I need, but I tend to buy things that will last a while instead of disposable goods. I'd hate to use this for a couple months and replace it.


So, what do you think of my choices? Anything else I should be looking at? Any personal experience you'd care to share? Anyone? Thanks,




[This message was edited by Verboten on April 15, 2003 at 03:05 AM.]

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I've used LED headlamps, but don't care for them. They don't produce much light. It's more of a glow, rather than a focused beam.


I only find them useful for reading in the tent. For most other tasks, night hiking, cooking dinners in camp, setting up in the dark, I much prefer a headlamp with a focusable beam like the Petzel Micro.


The Petzel you mention, because of its xenon bulb, loses the cheif advantage of LED lights, which is very long battery life.


This being said, many fans of LED headlamps seem to like the Princeton Tech Aurora and

Petzel Tikka.


[This message was edited by BrianSnat on April 15, 2003 at 03:18 AM.]

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Yeah, LEDs are good for ~100,000 hours. That't over 11 years of full time duty! icon_eek.gif That and low power draw are why they're such cool lights.


But I'm not concerned with replacing it because an LED burned out. I'm concerned with replacing it because it sucks. I just need some input from people who have used headlamps because, because I never have.



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The Petzel you mention, because of its xenon bulb, loses the cheif advantage of LED lights, which is very long battery life.


But it only uses the Xenon bulb when you turn it on. Otherwise it's on LED. The bright light/battery dilemma is in the hands of the operator.


But that's good stuff to hear. I didn't know that focus was a problem with LEDs. That kind of makes me think I should spend on the Petzl. Kind of a best of both worlds option.


But the Septor is half the cash. Dilemma! I'll check out the Princeton Tech Aroura, too. Thanks, Brian.




Edit: Do you know many LEDs were in the lamp(s) you used?


[This message was edited by Verboten on April 15, 2003 at 03:35 AM.]

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I've had the same experience with the PrincetonTec Aurora as ABXGuy reports for the Petzl Tikka. I bought an Aurora in October as the shortening days forced me to become a night cacher. I love night caching! I've used this headlamp on approx. 20 night cache hunts and have yet to change the batteries. (In fact, I'm having trouble getting the battery compartment open... any tips?)


In thick underbrush, I much prefer the "glow" of the three LED's in my Aurora. You can see twigs, thorns and other obstacles all around you. With a beam flashlight, if you're pointing it at the ground, it's harder to see branches before they hit your head. I usually carry both: The headlamp for a zone of light right around me, and a beam light for seeing ahead of me, finding trail blazes, and searching in hollow logs to find the cache.


The Aurora is universally available for $29.00.



.sdrawkcab dootsrednu tub sdrawrof devil si efiL

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I have an Aurora also and like it for its small size, battery life, waterproofness, low cost, and 5 different light settings. It is more of a glow but works well the things Brian said he doesn't like using it for like hiking, setting up a tent, cooking and such. I do prefer a more direct light when looking for a cache so I also carry a small flashlight for that. Using those two together make for a great combination. I have looked at the Petzel that you mentioned witht he 5 leds and one regular bulb and I think that would be great but the size and weight is up there which would make for more cumbersome use. Again I've been very satisified with my Aurora but know it is not a end all for everything, you will want another hand light to go with it.


Lep I think I used a dime or quarter to open the battery compartment on the aurora before, maybe a knife. I agree its not the easiest to open so its a good thing it doesn't have to be done that often.




So far so good, somewhat new owner of a second/new Garmin GPS V 20 plus finds so far with little to no problem. We'll see what happens when there are leaves on the trees again.

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I have a Petzl Tikka that I am very happy with. I don't use it as my main night-caching lightsource though, for that I use a big hand-held 3D cell Maglite. The LED headlamp is usually only switched on after I find the cache and is quite useful for signing the logbook, trading up, putting the cache back in place, getting the camera equiptment ready, etc.. I like the way it bathes a nice wide area with a bright glow. You can very well use this on it's own to get out of a dark forest without getting into trouble, but for spotting the cache, you 'd need something that focuses a beam.


If you want a headlamp as your only source of light for caching you may be better off with a non-LED one.

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I have a Petzl Zoom that I use for most outings, but keep a Tikka in my pack for in the tent, cooking, etc.... The only downside to the Tikka is the lens is very exposed and can get scratched up pretty easily.


It's OK in an emergency but unless the batteries are brand new - don't throw enough light far enough to see anything more that 20 yards away. Of course, it could just be my eyes going prematurely!


Nine out of ten people who change their minds are wrong the second time too.

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I bought a 4-led Lightwave headlamp demo-model a couple years ago from a caving vendor with batteries in it. It STILL has the same batteries and is going strong.


The 4-leds are the bare minimum I'd want for lighting anything (I use it caving in combination with a separate incandescent). I too prefer the LED's due to the even and broad lighting rather than a narrow irregular beam. I find myself using it instead of other lights for everything--right down to car repair!


Due in the next few days are a couple of the Septor 7-led headlamps from an EBay vendor for under $30. I can tell you more about them when they arrive..


I know Petzl is the "big name", and they are a big presence at caving conventions. However, I consider them EXTREMELY overpriced, usually running 50-100% more than similar products!!! I can't imagine why anyone would ever buy one.


Hope this helps, and I'll post a review when my Septors arrive...






PS: I noticed on my night-cache, that the 4-led headlamp wasn't nearly as useful for highlighting the reflectors--my little double-AA w/a halogen bulb did far better! {grin}

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I know Petzl is the "big name", and they are a big presence at caving conventions. However, I consider them EXTREMELY overpriced, usually running 50-100% more than similar products!!! I can't imagine why anyone would ever buy one.


While I agree that you are paying for a "name" with petzl products, they are quality. I paid ~$25 for my Tikka and don't think that unreasonable at all. I have a few bits of Petzl gear on my climbing rack too. While those items can get pricey, they have well made items that other manufactures don't offer (yet)


"No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible." -George Burns

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I was inches away from buying the Streamlight when my girl brought me home a "treat." I was disappointed that she brought me the energizer head lamp as I was excited to have finally committed to a top brand light. However, I've had the Energizer for several months now and simply can't go buy that darn Streamlight... this one works just grand. No problems and I like the fact that it is a warm glow, not a focused beam. Makes the hike more gentle, serene - so to speak. Of course I have my Streamlight Stinger in my hip pocket for when I want to light up the spaceship overhead ;-)


Still, a man never can have too many flashlights…I just imagine I’ll get my Trident at a later date.


BTW, the Trident is made by Streamlight, has LEDs and krypton... a bit cheaper then the MYO 5. I have Streamlights and they ROCK!


-Lets play global Thermonuclear war-

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i have used the petzl duo for about 3 years now and have no complaints. i replaced the low power incandescent bulb with the l.e.d. upgrade last year and have been very satisfied. i use the l.e.d. around camp, and the high power incandescent when paddling in after dark, in fog, or anytime i really need to throw a beam a ways out there. the only downside is the weight of the unit which is not a problem while paddling, but is a bit more than i like to carry in a pack on my back. i bought a petzl tikka for backpacking and have been quite satisfied with it also. plenty bright enough to hike after dark and works well around camp at night. one advantage of the l.e.d.'s is that the bluish light doesn't seem to wreck my night vision as badly as do the incandescent bulbs. good luck. -harry

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I've had a Petzl Duo for a few years and I changed the "low beam" to a 5 LED unit last summer. You can buy this as a factory setup also. I like this unit a lot. The LEDs are bright enough to do anything around camp, in the basement, or under the hood of the car. The Leds will still be operating ,long after I run the thing over or lose it, and they cast a very pleasing smooth and wide beam pattern. The halogen High beam is quite bright and focusable. It can light quite a distance down the trail when night hiking. . There is a spare halogen bulb stored in the head. A big thing for me is that it operates on AA batteries- I only carry AA batteries so everything is easier. The switch and zoom controls are easy to operate and the switch has a lock, so the thing won't get switched on in your glovebox or rucksack. Long story short I thing the Petzl is worth the money.


I am not addicted to geocaching, really.

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My advice to you is to get a good one, because that will serve you in the long run. Make sure it suits your needs. I purchased a compact one at REI for my boyfriend for Valentines Day. He really likes it. He gave me his old one. It has many straps, but is more comfortable for me. I would have never known that was the one, which would work best.

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Originally posted by Jamie Z:

Does anyone prefer the AA models to AAA? I think I would like that all my gear uses the same batts...


That was my reasoning when I went shopping for one, too. I'd be $100 richer if Monty Hall asked for AA batteries - I always seem to have them.


I'm normally not a big weight geek, but since this IS something strapped to your head, weight does matter. The 70-100 hour burn times of the current generation of LED units will get you many days of caching between changes (as a practical matter, months for many) so it's not like, say, the GPS or a handheld flashlight where for a day of serious caching you're going to have to carry spares. It's more like your PDA where you want to have a set with you in the car, but you don't have to have a set with you every moment of the day they're in use. The AA units are generally being phased out in favor of the AAA's since the tradeoff of weight and longetvity is favoring the AAA's in most corners of the market.


I've been happy so far with my Black Diamond Moonlight. Unlike some cachers, I really don't want flame-thrower brightness. I do carry a small incandescent light as plan B to give me the flame thrower action at ground zero but even when a park DOES allow after-hours visitors, I just don't want to call that much attention to myself...


It was also quite nice for a recent home repair. No octopus required.

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I did look at the reviews page, though no one had reviewed the Septor. The Titan was tempting, but I wanted more than 3 LEDs, so I went with the Septor after all. The MYO 5 looks real nice, but I can't really justify $65 on a headlamp.


Thanks to all for the input,



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I have Black Diamond Moonlight that I use for backpacking (I always carry a mini maglite as backup) and it has served me well in the backcountry. I haven't used it for caching but it emits enough light for walking (I wouldn't use for running at night) around in total darkness when looking for a spot pee at two in the morning. There are so many headlamps on the market today I would really recommend you go to your local camping/mountaineering store and test a few in person. I did just that and it saved me $25 on a headlamp that would've been overkill.


REI-Outlet.com has the PrincetonTec Aurora on sale for $22.43 and Black Diamond Space Shot $36.93. click link below




REI has all lamps mentioned in this post and more



Good Luck!

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I've been using the $12 Eveready for a couple of months. It actually works quite well. It gives a surprizingly useful beam of light, in red or blueish-white. I've found several caches with that light alone.


I think the big difference you will see is in waterproofing. The Eveready has none. If you will be hunting in heavy rain or underwater (my Princeton Tech headlamp IS submersable - I've tested it), you will need to spend more money. If not, the Eveready is worth buying.

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As promised, the Streamlight Septors arrived today so here's a review:


First, my background. As a caver, I've kept abreast of LED flashlights and headlamps for several years now, back when articles in caving publications were being written on lights before prices dropped much below $100!


A coupla' years ago I purchased a vendors demo model 4-LED Lighwave Illuminator headlamp with the batteries in it. It has become my favorite light for all purposes since then despite being dimmer than my 2nd favorite, a 2-AA incandescent that I installed a Halogen bulb in. 4-led lights are the minimum brightness I'd want for a general use flashlight, definately dimmer than a standard incandescent (especially as the batteries wane).


Wanting to upgrade now that prices have dropped again, I recently purchased two Streamlight Septor 7-led headlamps at a cost under $30 each.



- 7 LED bulbs w/reflector

- 3-way switch (off, 1 led, 3 leds, all 7)

- water-resistant

- 1 led = 120hrs, 3 = 40hrs, 7 = 18hrs battery life on 3 AAA




After cutting open the blister pack, and installing the included 3 AAA batteries, I turned on the light to blind myself. Shining it on the floor, the one LED barely makes a light spot on the carpet in my ambiently lit living room. Hitting the switch a couple more times produces much more satisfactory results. The hue however, is decidedly bluish (more on this later).


The case is designed interestingly, rather than stacking the batteries horizontally on top of each other, they supply a "barrel" assembly which carries the batteries and has to be slid in the correct direction. The warning label on the end to orient it correctly makes me thinks they've had people break it's track. The battery case cover is NOT retained by anything, so between these three loose parts and three batteries--be careful not to drop anything in the dark! Additionally, the case cover must be aligned in one direction ONLY to be put back on. Since it's round, it's only apparent by lining up the little white dot--again, a problem in the dark. If they had made the retaining nubs symetrical, it could have been reinstalled by feel.


Although there is a rather slim o-ring, I doubt the light would hold up to anything more than rain or a brief drop in a puddle. Most of the housing and bracket are made of a lighter plastic than similar headlamps and will probably break before a bulb ever fails. The rubber-encased LED housing does sport a shiny reflector and clear plastic shield which'll help keep mud and dirt out off the bulbs. The surrounding rubber does protrude enough to protect the lens from scratches if dropped.


When adjusting the angle of the headlamp, there are decidedly LOUD clicks (bound to be even worse in a cave) at each detent--and again that plastic doesn't seem too robust. The straps that go around your head or helmet sport two plastic adjustors without thumb tabs. Where the strap goes over your head to join in back, there is no plastic piece but it is simply folded over and double-stiched.


Now, to the closet. Wow this thing's bright w/all bulbs lit! Where's my halogen flashlight? It's brighter!?!! Where's the 35mm SLR camera? Sure enough, the light meter shows the 7 LED's to be 1 f-stop brighter than the halogen flashlight. A quick check with a digital voltmeter showed why, it's batteries were down to 1.35 volts. No wonder.


Since I don't own a flashlight with a regular incandescent bulb anymore (they all have halogen, krypton or are 6-volt incandescents), I can only subjectively come to this conclusion.


The 7-led Septor offers nearly the same brightness spread over a greater area. The others are brighter in one small spot.


Now, the question of color/hue. I opened the second Septor (don't let my brother read this), and found it's light to be much whiter. Hence the relatively inexpensive cost. For those that don't know, white LED production is NOT an exact science. As they are produced, they are sorted into different categories of "whiteness". More bluish bulbs are sold cheaper, more pure white are VERY expensive. It seems Streamlight has capitalized on this by buying in the middle to bring an affordable product with few downsides (the human eye doesn't discern color as well in low-light conditions).


End result? Perfect product for my all-around and caving needs. Water-resistant, brighter, whiter than incandescents, long emergency battery life (I've rarely been in a cave 5 hours nevermind 5 days).


Did I miss anything?




PS: If I were designing the flashlight, I'd have an on/off switch separate from a brightness switch for convenience. I'd also illuminate 4 instead of 3 bulbs in the middle position (for 30 hours and more brightness). I do wonder, since you have to push the switch three times to turn it on and one for off how long it'll last.


PPS: Oh yeah, the straps have "STREAMLIGHT" stiched into them all over--rather tacky.

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I own a Princeton Tec Matrix model...only three LEDs. YOu can convert it to battery use though.


It's worked ok for me. Even went caving once...yes, the the beam is more of a glow, but is surprisingly pretty strong.


I done some nighttime caching and hiking with it. I'd like it a bit brighter, but the plus is that I don'thave to worry about batteries. I'll look into getting a Petzel model down the road. Friend owns one and is very happy with it.

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I've only ever used one, the Aurora, but it's a good little light that's reliable and lightweight. When I need more power I just switch on the BFL. I get the best of both worlds - long runtime with the Aurora to get to a cache site, and all out intensity (up to 3 million candlepower!) with the BFL when I want the cache to surrender its location.

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Got my Aurora. Bought it at Bass Pro Shops. (I sure wish we had a real outdoors store here. I mean, besides Outdoors, Inc which is way out of line on their prices) Paid $30.


Of course I haven't used it yet... but it seems to be just what I need.


Lep.. I had some issues with the battery compartment, too.. but now I figured it out, and it comes off easy.


Also (in general), what's up with the switch? You can't tell if you've pressed it or not. It's a lot like the Meridian in that regard. The switch works.. but it's a whole lot more effort to figure out which setting I have it on than it should be.


Seems to fit my head pretty good. I'm happy.



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My choice is the Princeton Tec Aurora. I use this constantly for everything. I do a lot of camping by myself and this is the only light I need with me. A mini mag serves as backup. Extremely long life and dependable. Am now waiting on the new model "SCOUT" to arrive so I don't have to keep switching the light from my kayak gear to camping. The scout promises 30 times the battery life of the Aurora using watch cell batts. Good luck in your quest.


People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.. Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten LOST!!

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I've had my Petzl Tikka for over 2 years now (bought it as soon as Mountain Sports got them in. I've changed the batteries only 3 times and have spent over 150 nights camping in that time.


I have absolutely no complaints. I am a light-weight freak, though. Backpack long enough and you will be, too.


The only thing I have to add is this: Someone further up the thread said they use their headlamp for night hiking. Try night hiking without your light. Give yourself about 20 minutes without light, then take off. Even on a moonless night, you can see almost everything, instead of only that which is illuminated by the light. Do this only within reason. If you are navigating a tallus field, or bouldering, wear your light.


Nuff said.


Adversity is certain, misery is optional.


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I use Pelican flashlights. They are made for the fire service, scuba, and avionics industries! They make four very powerful LED headlampsincluding one which also has a zenon bulb in it,all under 35 bucks!! I am a firefighter in RL and use two Pelicans on the job; Big ED and the SuperSabre Submersible 3C and every single guy in my hall has at least one. Most are explosion proof, waterproof, and rated for dangerous environment use! Trust me use can beat the snot out of these things and they NEVER fail! They are also guaranteed against shark and bear attack but not children under 5.....i'm serious it really says that on the pakaging. Find a local dealer you will never buy another after a Pelican!http://www.pelican-flashlight.com/flashlights.html


"The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number one, 'Cover for me'. Number two, 'Oh, good idea boss'. Number three, 'It was like that when I got here'."


[This message was edited by twoloosescrews on May 15, 2003 at 10:36 PM.]

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Aurora looks good, and it's <$20 this week at the REI Anniversary Sale.


I have a Tikka, and like it's pocketable size. Currently, it's my only thing with AAA bats, but that just means it will never be unwisely cannibilized for it's batteries. I use it for urban caching, in combination with a palm sized CMG Infinity Ultra single-AA LED flash. The Tikka's soft glow is more stealthy, and the CMG LED provides discrete spot lighting. The CMG throws almost as far as the PrincetonTec Impact II 4-AAA single-LED flash.


The CMG gets 1 AA lithium and my Black Diamond Gemini LED/Xenon gets the other 3 AA lithium. Lithium has a 1-2 year shelf life, so I just leave these lights in the car; their bats are become another back up reserve for the GPS. NiMH bats are hit and miss for me keeping the recharging generations straight, so they seem to self-drain faster. Note: no AAA lithium, but of course AAA NiMH.


I use the Gemini for suburban and rural night caching and hiking. Like having the stealth mode and the hedge penetrating mode.

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I bought one at Wal-Mart, a Rayovac, and love it. it was the red led, the blueish led, plus a standard bulb. This way you can choose between the 3, the red works good if you want to keep your night adjustment on you eyes, the white one is great for close work (i hunt nightcrawlers with it) and if you want alot of light, but cut the battery life, you have a standard bulb. It is very comfortable, and it was about $12 also.


It's not a sport unless there is something dead in the back of the truck when you get home.

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Originally posted by Jamie Z:

Does anyone prefer the AA models to AAA? I think I would like that all my gear uses the same batts... but it seems as though most of the headlamps use AAA. Do the batteries last long enough not to worry about this?




Black Diamond has a new Moonlight pro on the way, It will use AA batteries, this gives the option of using the Eveready AA Lithium Batterieds

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I bought a Rayovac Head lamp for $12.95 at Wal Mart. It is waterproof and light weight. It uses three AAA batteries. There are two red leds, one white, and one krypton bulb. I love it. the red leds are brighter then the military angle head flashlight with a red lens over a krypton bulb.


I could run through the woods at dark with this head lamp.


If you get lost while geocaching, don't worry. Someone else will get lost while geocaching and find you. icon_wink.gif

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I'm a big fan of the Petzyl Zipka headlamp. It is essentially the same as the Tikka, but the straps are internal. So it holds in the hand very nicely, can strap to any size head or leg or arm in an instant, and pops into the backpack with no fuss. I got a friend one, loved it, bought myself one and then got one for another friend for her wedding shower! Great hands free light.


UPSCWRU (University of Puget Sound, Case Western Reserve University)

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