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Discussion: Favorite Trekking Headlamp

in: Adventure Racing; Gear & Toys

Dec 11, 2012 1:55 AM # 
runninghils:
My headlamp recently died. I thought about replacing it with the same thing, but I figured technology had improved in 4 years. What is your favorite headlamp for trekking/orienteering at night in adventure races? Why is it so awesome? (I'm looking for a good balance of battery life, light weight, and brightness)
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Dec 11, 2012 2:44 AM # 
Double_Downon11:
They will cost you more than some lights but I would highly recommend Ay-Ups. I ordered a set earlier this year and used them for a 24 hr AR along with other night biking and trekking. Extremely reliable, good batteries and all the brightness you need (and more). I ordered them from Australia on a Friday and they arrived the following Tuesday.

Www.ayup-lights.com

Good luck with your decision!
Dec 11, 2012 3:22 PM # 
bugsInTeeth:
There was a bunch of info on a prior thread that may be helpful.

http://ar.attackpoint.org/discussionthread.jsp/mes...

Also this was just released and also has good info on a wide range of lights:

http://reviews.mtbr.com/2013-bike-lights-shootout

FWIW I use Magic Shines. Cheap, decent battery life (6-8 hours on high) and plenty bright enough (just shy of 1000 lumens I believe).
Dec 11, 2012 4:04 PM # 
Bash:
Most lights provide specs for their brightest setting, e.g. "1200 lumens! 7-hour battery life!" When you're choosing your light, look into more detail. With today's technology, you don't want a light with only two settings - on/off. The light I use (homemade) has 5 settings, and if I use level 4 (brighter than I need for almost anything on foot), the battery life is considerably longer than the brightest level 5 setting. So when you're comparing two lights with similar specs, check to see how their other lighting levels compare.
Dec 11, 2012 11:53 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
What battery do you need for 6-8 hours of high for a MagicShine? My 808 kit was only rated for three hours at that setting. I have been considering a spare battery for peace of mind and more full out runtime.
Dec 12, 2012 12:43 AM # 
runninghils:
It seems that many of you are using bike lights while trekking, based on these comments. Are you just putting the battery in your pack and using some sort of generic headband to attach them? (If Tony sees this, yes, I know what you're doing)

I have previously liked the non-rechargable lights for at least one light at expeditions so I don't feel that I need to have N batteries for each light where N=number of nights. That stresses me out about my bike lights and is why I have 3 batteries for my TriNewt and 4 for my MiNewt. (and always conserve to the point that I have batteries left at the end)... even at Idaho.
Dec 12, 2012 2:16 AM # 
Mr Wonderful:
I couldn't find my headband so I've been using my bike helmet. I bought another MS-type light specific headband and will try it out tomorrow. My XA 20 pack will take a battery and you can run the extension cord up through the straps, so you can still keep it zipped shut. Or if I wear the high visibility jacket I might try the back pocket if I don't think it will bounce too bad when jogging. Still experimenting.

Of course this only works for one more day because now the charger is missing. Grrr.
Dec 12, 2012 3:59 AM # 
Bash:
Grrr indeed. :(

I've always had a Princeton Tec Apex around as a back-up trekking/paddling light. 200 lumens, four AA batteries - in a pinch, it's acceptable for most activities, as are comparable lights. In fact, paddling navigation sometimes goes better using night vision with minimal lighting. One of my lights with rechargeable batteries also has a battery holder that takes eight AAs. If I were ever to run out of rechargeable batteries, I could switch over to that battery holder - but I have to make it waterproof myself. It hasn't ever come to that for me but I think Getawaystix used the AA pack in one of his exped races.

Until recently, I ran a wire down from a headband to a battery in my pack but the battery for my new light is small enough to strap onto the back of the headband. That's a really nice feature if you can get it since it's more comfortable and less "messy", e.g. no wires catching on branches when you bushwhack. It's also more pleasant if you ever remove your heavy pack and throw it on the ground in a TA, forgetting that it's attached to your head and thus giving your neck a major chiropractic self-adjustment. I won't confess how I know this but JayXC was a witness.
Dec 12, 2012 11:22 AM # 
Sovijarvi:
Short comment...

Lupine Piko, the new version, not very heavy, lamp 55g + battery 125g.
I'm using this with prof.head belt and also with bike mounting.

Expensive? Yes.
Reliable? Yes.

More details - http://www.lupine2013.de/en/
Even more details - http://www.lupine2013.de/files/manuals/Piko_900_Lu... , pages 14-27
Dec 12, 2012 1:30 PM # 
Tone:
Zebralights! Or the new Lezyne lights. Why? They are bright (400+ lumens), cheap (~ $90), and they run off rechargeable 18650 batteries which are only $10/each and they burn for a long time. Most lights run special battery packs that usually cost a lot of money.
Dec 12, 2012 8:07 PM # 
Cali Cowboy:
I haven't field tested this one, but 2nd hand I hear it is great. I have played around with one indoors and seems to be great for AR (especially for nav). Also seems to me that more and more lights / manufacturers will go to this 'reactive' lighting.

The Petzl Nao

http://www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/headlamps/nao

Essentially the lamp as a sensor and gives you the amount of light you need for your task automatically (and works instantly). Max of 355 lumens and your battery life gets extended as it goes to lower lumens when you don't need the brighter light. So all things being equal this lamp will get longer burn times than a non-reactive lamp both at 355 lumen max becuase the NAO will conserve battery every time you look at your map, dig in your pack, get in dense bush... The harness feels really nice on the dome as well.
Dec 12, 2012 8:28 PM # 
Bash:
A friend used the Petzl Nao for this year's Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and was really happy with it. Of course, he wasn't using the reactive feature nearly as much as a navigator would.

This made me think about a consideration for people with imperfect eyesight... Because I have a different prescription for reading vs. distance vision, I wear eye protection glasses with a reading magnifier inset so I can see details on the map. Something like the Nao wouldn't work for me because I read the map by lowering my eyes to look through the lower part of my glasses. If I tipped my head down to allow a headlamp to shine on the map, I'd be looking through the distance portion of my glasses and wouldn't be able to see as well. So I now have a separate tiny LED on my headband pointing down at the map.
Dec 12, 2012 8:32 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Our o club's night orienteering event was won by a Petzl Nao user.
Dec 13, 2012 2:56 AM # 
runninghils:
Oh, wow, that Nao sounds cool! I hate how looking at the map can kind of temporarily blind you sometimes.

So many choices! I wish there was some sort of expo where you could take each one out and try it. Hmm... I know we don't have any expeditions planned for this coming year so how many nights worth of batteries do I really need? One, maybe two.
Dec 13, 2012 3:02 AM # 
simpy:
Was out tonight and ran into AP'r osteo who was using the Petzl Nao, very impressive.
Dec 13, 2012 4:05 AM # 
osteo:
Guess I could chime in on all this as Simpy says I have the Nao. I picked it up a little while ago and have been using it for night trail runs, I'd say I have about 15 night runs on it. I will say it is costly, but I managed to get it in the States for $139, some of the more popular online stores often have it for 20% off (campsaver, etc...)

I do like the light, it is programmable (Simpy and BiT were laughing at me on that one!) but you can put in I think 4 different programs (Trail Running, Orienteering, Caving, etc..) and each program can have 3 different settings within it. These inner settings are based off of the Reactive Sensor. Basically it works sort of like a TTL flash for a camera, the more light is senses (or in this case reflects back) the less light it puts out. So, looking across a field or down a trail with nothing in front of you - Bamm - 350w, looking at a map 2' in front of you and it drops to almost nothing.

The other nice thing is programming it is easy, you download the software from Petzl, hook the light up to your computer (charges and connects via USB). It has a bunch of default programs of you can customize your own based on the outputs and burn time you want all via little sliders. So, if you want more burn time, you slide the slider to increase time and the wattage slider will decrease. As it will do 3 different settings within each program you can customize each setting in the same way.

There is minimal delay in the light intensity change, in other words I've run a 6:30 pace through a pretty technical trail and had no issues with it changing intensity depending on where I was looking.

The burn time varies on intensity as we all know, but what is nice is when the battery dies (custom 18650) it will give you 3-5min of warning and then it will go into limp mode (maybe 40w), which surprisingly is bright enough to still run by. I've run on limp mode for 45min, so not really sure how long it will last beyond that as I was back at the car.

It will also take 2 AAA's, which I did try the other night and honestly it sucked. The AAA's were freshly charged the day before, it was so bad I wanted to put the dead 18650 back in and use the limp mode.

I had the bright idea to use some of the 18650's I have kicking around, so ordered the wire leads and connectors (proprietary connectors so I was going to do some custom fabricating!) but it looks like there is a diode or resistor of some sort on the battery. Not wanting to ruin my battery by taking it apart I'm sort of stuck right now.

In short, I like the light, I will race with it I'm pretty confident I can get 1-2 nights out of it based on how I program it considering I would probably have a hand held with me as well, but not sure I can swallow the $45 replacement 18650's from Petzl unless I can find them on sale.

I have been meaning to take some pic's of it while running, if I remember I will do so on my run either Sunday or Monday.

Again, the biggest concern I have heard and was my concern was how fast was the Reactive Lighting, would it change fast enough?, and the answer is yes, at least if we are on foot. I have not tried it on my mtn bike so no comment there.

D
Dec 13, 2012 4:43 PM # 
runninghils:
Wow, osteo, that is one of the most helpful product reviews I've ever read. I think the Nao may be the winnner - the customizability is a huge selling point. I really appreciate everyone's help on this.
Dec 13, 2012 6:17 PM # 
Carbon's Offset:
Thanks Osteo and everyone. I had my eye on that headlamp previously but didn't have all of the info that was provided here. Now I'm quite keen to try it out!
Dec 13, 2012 7:10 PM # 
osteo:
THe more info the better... as long as it is useful info! and those were the things I was interested in so figured you guys might be as well.

That is why they call me Gear Goat on my team!

D
Dec 13, 2012 10:11 PM # 
jackson5:
I was intrigue by the Nao, now maybe i'll give it a try if I have a chance. Thanks Osteo.

I think one interesting way to go is with http://www.lt-box.com/bike-lights.html

As technology evolves so rapidly I feel it's easier and still cheaper to change the light itself from time to time (they don't last as long as premier brand) and keep all accessories and batteries (I have 11...) compatible and somehow trying to stay up to date.
Dec 13, 2012 10:41 PM # 
arthurd:
I've used the Princeton Tec Apex that Bash mentions for night-O and rogaines for several years - the high beam picks up reflectors from a good distance, and a set of lithium AAs pretty much lasts the night. (I keep the light on the lower settings as much as possible, and only turn it up off-trail or when I'm trying to spot controls.)

However, I just got a Gemini Duo as a helmet light for MTB - it has three brightness settings but each is customizable to one of 10 levels, is crazy bright (1400 lumens on max), claims really good battery life, and is very lightweight. The 2-cell battery is fine for head-mounting, but the 4-cell would need to go in a pack or pocket. So far I've only used it once so I can't speak to durability or the reality of battery life, but on 60% it was like riding in daylight. I'm looking forward to trying it for night orienteering.
Dec 13, 2012 10:58 PM # 
vlin:
For a big headlamp that also works on bike, the Lupine Piko and others are great, but if you need to consider value for your $$, look into MagicShine, Gemini Lights, or Gloworm. I used a cheap MagicShine for the last 3 years before the rechargeable batteries and light started getting unreliable. For a smaller headlamp for just trekking, I like my Zebralight, and have heard good recommendations for Fenix headlamp. My Fenix handheld flashlight worked well as a spot light before it got lost in Maine.
Dec 14, 2012 1:43 AM # 
runninghils:
I had the Princeton Tec Apex Pro, which uses the 123 batteries. It was really good when i bought it and I was still happy with it... until I killed it (probably with water) Oops.

Hmm.. a second vote for the Zebralight... If I went with that, I could ask to borrow Tone's extra batteries if I want to do an expedition (except that we were planning to drag him into doing the next one.) The Nao has that really cool/novel factor that's still making it seem like the top choice.
Dec 14, 2012 12:05 PM # 
Tone:
Huh?
Dec 14, 2012 12:06 PM # 
Tone:
You can borrow all six of my 18650's when YOU go do YOUR expedition race. :)
Dec 14, 2012 1:42 PM # 
'Bent:
Worth looking into the Glowworm lights. Smaller, lighter and brighter than Magicshine, with what sounds like good software and decent batteries.
Similar to the Piko and more powerful and flexible than ay-ups, but cheaper.
Should be good for trekking, Biking, whatever.

They have a 2-led version out now that gets great reviews, and a 1-LED light that sounds like a commercial Bentblaster taking pre-orders now.
Disclaimer- I haven't used one, but have been talking with their designers and giving suggestions.
Dec 14, 2012 2:18 PM # 
'Bent:
The Gemini Duo looks very good too, but I like the more compact mounts on the Piko and Glowworm. The Glowworm X1 just got a 7% boost in efficiency with a latest-generation XML U3 LED. Not sure if they will be making a headband-suitable 2-cell battery for either of these, but that's what I use for trekking.
Dec 14, 2012 2:39 PM # 
Harps:
I was wondering when the expert ^ would give his 2 cents. "Bent knows his lights!

If you don't want to experiment with some of the lesser known online-sourced lights and want to pick something up at your REI you might want to check out Princeton Tec's lights. They've been a staple on the AR scene for the past decade, sponsor several North American adventure races & teams, highly water-resistant, US-based/assembled and have great customer service. They supplied our team a few years ago with the Apex Pro headlamps for Patagonia Exp Race and I cannot say enough good things about the headlamp for trekking/paddling. I've used it for every expedition race trekking (and most paddling) sections since 2010 and never had an issue. One downside is the CR-123 batteries required which can be costly ($5) at a regular pharm/dept store but online can be found for half that.
Dec 14, 2012 2:45 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
I will lend runninghils all the lights and batteries she requires so Tone can step up and race expedition.
Dec 16, 2012 4:25 AM # 
inTIMidator:
A slight high jack. How many lumens should one look for in a trekking light and a MTB light? Also, should one use a handlebar mounted light and a helmet light when ridding or is it a one or the other situation?
Dec 16, 2012 5:15 AM # 
Tone:
It all depends on what you will be riding or trekking on. When I do a run down open dirt roads I can get by with 40 lumens but on a technical trail I would say that 100 lumens would work okay. With 150 lumens probably being optimal.

For biking a lot of it depends on the beam spread of the light. I think that 300 lumens on the bike is probably the minimum I would go. Obviously more is better but when running a higher lumen light you reduce the run time which may not be desirable. You could get away with a lot less if you are going slow but in situations where you are going fast, such as downhill on roads, you can actually out run your light. If you have one light I would mount it to your helmet because it allows you to see in the direction that you are looking. When mounting to the bars you are unable to look ahead in situations where the trail turns a lot because your bike may not be facing in that direction.

I ultimately chose a light that has a lot of setting because it allows me to regulate the output to the trail/surface type and also gives me the flexibility to conserve battery power when needed.
Dec 16, 2012 2:17 PM # 
'Bent:
Tone put it very well. If you have only one light on your bike, it *must* be on your helmet.

One more factor is beam pattern, flood versus throw.
For singletrack night racing I use about 1000 lumens in a narrow beam on the helmet, and about 500 on a wider beam on the bars. That's loads of light.

For longer AR I'm running them a lot lower than that, and just cranking up in the technical bits or looking for controls. On my lights, you get over 4X the burn time at half the lumens- full blast is inefficient. You get vastly longer burn times at lower settings.

I tend to run with a wider beam light on my headband, but I have a lot of choice in lights.

I pimped my Princeton Tec Apex to 200 lumens years ago, but it's too narrow a beam for decent trekking. Good for spotting things at a distance, but you need some flood component for trekkiing. My favourite lights have a nice tight hotspot with a gentle transition to flood.
Dec 31, 2012 5:25 AM # 
inTIMidator:
Is there any benefit to carrying a primary headlamp for trekking and a primary light for biking in an AR? Obviously this creates more logistics to ensure you have the right light with you at the right time. I have received a Petzl Nao and as a navigator the features are attractive but it is not quiet powerful enough for biking.
Dec 31, 2012 5:55 AM # 
Bash:
I've sometimes done that to conserve batteries for my bike lights. If I'm doing a CP-heavy foot race like a rogaine, then I want a super-bright light all the time but I've gotten by with less in events where the CPs are farther apart and on bigger features. These days, my bike light is brighter and smaller than it used to be, and it has lots of battery life so I probably wouldn't switch it out in a race of 48 hours or less.
Jan 3, 2013 5:54 PM # 
'Bent:
Interesting pics of the Glowworm lights. They look pretty cool!
The X1 should be a commercial version of the 'Bentblaster more or less.

http://forums.mtbr.com/10032004-post192.html
Apr 26, 2013 6:19 PM # 
runninghils:
As an update to this, I ended up buying the Nao, and I really liked it at last week's Shenandoah Epic. Granted, we didn't spend much time off trail, but when I needed to look out into the woods, it gave me the light I needed and when it was shining on my teammate's back on the trail, it went dimmer. The battery life seemed really strong because it was still showing full bars even after about 6 hours of using it on foot (over two legs... then the sun came up) I did buy the extra battery, but didn't need it. One crazy thing to note was that we were trekking and someone was coming up the hill toward me with a really bright bike light and it made my light go right off, but as soon as they passed, it came back on. I had thought that the battery died, but it was just reactive lighting doing its thing. For this reason, it would not make a good back-up bike light as an oncoming car headlamp could make it turn off. I didn't buy it for the bike, so that is not a problem for me. I'm very happy with my purchase, though, and would definitely recommend it.
Apr 26, 2013 6:38 PM # 
Bash:
Wow, interesting!
Apr 26, 2013 7:19 PM # 
mayer22:
I saw you using that headlamp on one of the treks and was gonna ask you how you liked it. Didn't realize you were the one who originally started this post.
Apr 27, 2013 1:43 AM # 
Mini Forklift:
Pretty interesting how it has an auto-off function, never heard of that before ?!
Apr 27, 2013 2:43 AM # 
osteo:
An old thread... (sorta). I came across this review a month or so ago and in it he describes how he mod's the battery compartment and electronics so you can use a normal 18650 battery instead of the Petzl batteries.

I've had a few emails with him to go over the details a bit more clearly and have since ordered all the parts for the mod, just haven't had a chance to brave taking it apart yet!

All the parts I think cost me a total of $20 (not including batteries) and I have a bunch of 18650's already.

We have a race in weeks, will probably do the mod next weekend.

Here is the link:

http://www.light-test.info/index.php?option=com_co...

D

To add to your review Runninghiis - I;ve found even the reflection off of someone's pants/jacket in front of me will dim the Nao. One of the guys on our team has 1x6" reflective stripes on his lower pant leg. Running behind him the light will actually dim and brighten in time with his running gate as the back leg comes closer to me. It responds fast enough between each stride!
Apr 27, 2013 3:30 PM # 
runninghils:
I thought it turned off but maybe it just went REALLY dim. I did notice that the reactive changes were very fast as well and would change when we were on the trail anytime my light was pointing at someone or slightly off to the side.
Aug 31, 2013 3:33 AM # 
OutdoorsMama:
A very late post re: the Nao......the IP X4 "splash proof" rating....has that caused problems for anyone? I.e. can it handle a night-long rain? The splashing from a night time river swim? (assuming one doesn't actually dunk one's head under water).
Aug 31, 2013 2:52 PM # 
RASPUTIN:
The new L&M lights are brighter and lighter. A bit more $$ especially if you buy an extra battery....but how much easier will you find nighttime Cps? I am happy to take a weight penalty at night with a "proper" light so my team can move faster and actually find CPS/features/signs.
Sep 1, 2013 3:32 AM # 
osteo:
I used the Nao at Wilderness Traverse 2 weeks ago, turned it on about 8:30p and off at around 6:15a, no problem. I had it on a lower programmed setting for max battery savings but it still had it running on Reactive Mode. That night was clear with an almost full moon, but we were in the bush for quite a bit of it, so it would not have been putting out max lumens. When I checked the remaining battery power level I still had one 1/3 remaining the next day as per the meter on the back. So I would not get 2 night out of it for sure.

I leant it to a friend running a full Ultra (100M) in Seattle (Cascade Crest) and she said it lasted only 6hrs. I suggested she use my setting, but not quite sure what she used as it has 3 programs in it so easily could have used one of the higher setting programs.

I'm still happy with mine, but will be doing the battery mod so I can drop in non-propietary 18650's.
Jan 6, 2014 9:52 PM # 
osteo:
This thread was linked and brought to mind that I did the mod to use standard 18650's instead of the proprietary battery from Petzl. It took me maybe an hour to do the mod, and at times finicky as the leads/wires are pretty small, it was not all that bad. I probably spent 25min slowly cutting, and shaving the lid to the battery compartment so that it would fit over the new battery and its holder.

The super plus side is 18650's can be had fairly inexpensively (2 from DX for $9) and the parts to do the mod as I said above somewhere cost me $20, which gave me enough parts that I can do 2 more lights.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased!
Jan 7, 2014 1:49 AM # 
runninghils:
Any difference in the battery life with the 18650s?
Jan 7, 2014 2:53 PM # 
'Bent:
If you use 18650s, source Panasonic 3400maH from a reputable vendor like Fasttech.com and you'll probably have double the capacity of the cheaper dx ones.
Even the better Trustfire ones are only around 2200maH.
Some of the ones in early Magicshine knock-offs were probably 1200maH.

Watch out for fakes though.
Also- you need to check if the batteries need a protection circuit. If your light and charger both have protection, you can use unprotected batteries. Otherwise you need to buy protected cells, but be aware they are slightly longer.
Jan 15, 2014 4:31 AM # 
osteo:
Sorry, Runninghils - I seem to get about 6hrs of life out of them - so that translates to approx 3-4 runs for me at 1.5hrs ea. The battery warning still works (flickers twice) and after the first warning I get about 20min and then the 2nd warning, and over the next ~20min it starts to get dimmer.

'Bent makes a good point with the 3400mAh batteries, and the price difference from fasttech.com as an example is worth the extra couple bucks. At the time when I ordered the 18650's, I didn't know about anywhere else, so got them at DX. Another place I have since sourced batteries from is all-battery.com, but they are killer for shipping to Canada.

Runninghils - if you are interested, shoot me an email and I can open it up and take some detailed pic's if you want to see what I did.
Jan 15, 2014 2:15 PM # 
runninghils:
Thanks osteo! I feel like I get longer than 6 hours out of it on low/reactive with the proprietary battery. Since I already have two of them, I may just buy one more and call it good. I probably wouldn't take the time to actually do this, even though it sounds like a good idea. Also, I'd be too worried that I'd mess it up.
Jan 15, 2014 6:08 PM # 
osteo:
Runninghils- No problem! If you already have 2 batteries then I wouldn't bother either... I'd sell you my stock battery if interested, no longer need it, shoot me an email if interested.
Jan 16, 2014 2:07 PM # 
runninghils:
Interested! What's your e-mail address?
Jan 16, 2014 3:44 PM # 
osteo:
dennis
at
offroadadventures
dot
ca
Nov 2, 2014 10:59 PM # 
posttrip:
I'm liking my Boruit - RJ-3000 light I got from amazon for $33 canadian, but I have not fully tested it under a abuse of race conditions, nor length of battery time, yet.

It has 3x Cree Xml LED lights, which are rated at 1200 lumen each. It runs on 2 x 18650 - 4000 mAh batteries which I think will give the light upwards of 3 to 5 hours of life?

A few Mod's that I'm thinking about doing:
1) to increase the battery life I'm thinking about replacing the LED driver to have a 1/4 and 1/2 power option on only 1 of the 3 leds, (plus the current full power on for 1, 2 or 3 of the led's)
2) Redesign the battery housing to be more waterproof.
3) Change the reflectors on the 2 small lights. The current ones I find do not output as much brightness as the larger reflector.

Also if you have an old laptop laying around with a battery that does not work, your can salvage some 18650 batteries from the laptop battery. As I understand most laptop batteries are made up of the 18650 wired in serial and parallel to make up the voltage and life required. I salvaged 12 batteries from my old laptop. I'm expecting to have 2 or 3 dead cells that will not hold the charge with the rest being fine.

Hope this helps.
Nov 3, 2014 5:18 AM # 
havarti:
Get Outside Fitness will be testing the RJ-3000 light in a few weeks for overnight nav, so hopefully some good feedback for everyone.
Nov 3, 2014 5:40 AM # 
RASPUTIN:
As bright (many lumens) as possible, if you want to find CPs and move fast over gnar terrain in the dark. Light & Motion (bias alert!) or similar. Weight penalty is nothing when you're able to move faster and spot CPs.
Nov 5, 2014 7:18 PM # 
'Bent:
One caution on 18650 batteries- there are tons of totally fictional maH ratings on batteries bought online. Flat-out lies. Disreputable vendors salvage cr@ppy old laptop batteries and put a new shrink-wrap on them.

Nobody makes any with more than 3500 maH and they are pretty exotic and expensive.
The Panasonic 18650b are rated at a true 3400, and I tested some to be fairly close, over 3000 at least. Sanyo 2600s are usually pretty close to their rating.
I am getting good genuine batteries from Hunk Lee's store FMA Battery on eBay.

The rest... I tested a cheapo at 1200, far less than half the claimed power.
Mix-and-matching used batteries with unequal capacity is a bad idea. You may be OK if you have a way to test them first and can live with lower capacity.

As for longer burn times with lower output- excellent idea. The burn time goes up vastly when you turn the power down. 3 LEDs on very low will be more efficient than the same amount of light from 1 LED. I build lights with 5 levels, and rarely use the top end.
Nov 5, 2014 9:35 PM # 
posttrip:
@'Bent you mentioned that you build your own lights. Do you make your own multi mode LED drive or buy a prefabbed unit? If you buy one, which ones do you recommend for providing the 5 levels? If you build your own, I just have to wire in resistors at the different power levels I want? The specs for the Cree Xm-l is "forward voltage 2.9 @700mA to 3.35 @ 3000mA" Can I go below the 700mA?

Thanks for the note on the Batteries. The 12 batteries I salvaged where all Panasonic CGR18650a, which the internet states are in the neighborhood of 2000mah. Of the 12 batteries, 1 cell was bad, as it did not hold a charge when reading the battery with a voltage meter.
Nov 6, 2014 12:28 PM # 
'Bent:
You can get good XML drivers from George at Taskled.com
or DrJones http://drjones.nerdcamp.net- check out the Mobydrv versions.

There's tons of info on those sites- the manual for thel-flex driver I use is 30 pages long.

You can drive them much lower than 700ma if you want.
Nov 6, 2014 1:44 PM # 
Ifor:
I highly recommend Taskled stuff. I have probably used 10+ drivers over the years with no problems in my home made projects. Good quality stuff and with some work I was able to do my own firmware.

I have a 4 xml setup when commuting with people around they are only getting the equivalent of 100ma and I get complaints. I very rarely go above 750 ma on the road. The 3000ma is reserved for showing off or serious mtb downhill.
Nov 8, 2014 1:47 PM # 
'Bent:
I got some cheap batteries to donate to a clinic in Belize along with some headlamps. They were labelled Ultrafire 3600maH. I tested one, and it came out at a feeble 1856 maH, pretty much standard for an online cheapie.

That should be more than enough for the clinic as they run pretty low power on the operating headlamps, but once again the label is total fiction.
Nov 9, 2014 6:45 PM # 
posttrip:
Bent - how do you test for maH? Do you have an one 1000 ma circuit that you how long the batteries take to drain or??
Nov 11, 2014 11:36 AM # 
'Bent:
No, I have a special Geek-level charger that will charge, cycle or discharge almost any type of battery and display how much power went in or out.

http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/__7028__T...
Nov 21, 2014 1:31 AM # 
posttrip:
Havarti, Eroc and I tested out my Boruit - RJ-3000 light headlamp last weekend. I'm amazed at the brightness of a single cree xml LED has. I think the run time for the set of batteries was over 2 or 3 hours for the 2 x 2000mah batteries. (I pulled the 4000mah batteries early, thinking that they were starting to dim - but after the voltage testing there was still a fair bit of time left on them).

Ifor I do agree with you - the full 3000ma is a bit overkill for most trekking - I don't need daylight everywhere I look when trekking for a few km on a well define trail.

I think the price of $33 on Amazon.ca is well worth the purchase.

This discussion thread is closed.