Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

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Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Steven Johnson » Feb 11, 2011 2:54 pm

I new caver was recently asking for my advice on a first headlamp to get -- for a while I've suggested the Fenix HP10 and PT Apex as good main headlamps for beginners, but there are a lot of newer (cheaper) headlamps out that I wonder might be worth considering. Anyone have any other recommendations for a budget headlamp that's genuinely caveworthy? (ie: doesn't need stupid amount of lights, but needs to be rugged to cave conditions and have good battery life.)
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby self-deleted_user » Feb 11, 2011 6:11 pm

The Corona does well, it's like $40 instead of $70. I'm not aware of many more that are decent enough for cave use and any cheaper. I caved on a Corona with a crappy Coleman (not cave worthy) headlamp backup for about 6 months (16 trips) before getting an Apex.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby NZcaver » Feb 11, 2011 6:23 pm

Search the equipment forum. There are plenty of previous topics discussing cheap caving headlamps.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby David Grimes » Feb 11, 2011 7:04 pm

I would say it depends on the area and type of caves. I frequently pick up cheap headlamps to test out when I spot a good deal at the store. I have tons of headlamps as a result but I found allot of them tend to do just fine as a main light in a cave under the right circumstances. Most of these lights are not waterproof but they do just fine in regular cave humidity. I have found some that were priced cheap for the quality that are completely waterproof (sometimes better then the more expensive lights). With LED technology really taking off the price of a really bright light is dropping drastically and the battery life is improving. I will see if I can dig up some links to some of the lights I have purchased over the years. I know Sears carries a couple headlamps that claim from 120 to 220 lumens and to be waterproof to several meters (I have not tried any of the Sears lights).
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Jon » Feb 14, 2011 1:39 am

Checking the forum is a good idea but what I would do for a newbie is recommend what a lot of people in the area use as a secondary light. That way if and when they move up in lumens they have a good secondary already rather than a light to take the garbage out at night. Cheap lights are just that cheap lights. Most will do one thing only, spill or throw. For newbies spill is more important than throw. Better to see where you are going than to see where you almost got to before they had to rescue you.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Marduke » Feb 14, 2011 2:04 am

Jon wrote: For newbies spill is more important than throw. Better to see where you are going than to see where you almost got to before they had to rescue you.


Mind if i steal that?
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Jon » Feb 14, 2011 2:20 am

Go ahead. Rather people not get hurt or hurt a cave when looking down because they have a pencil beam.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby rlboyce » Feb 14, 2011 8:15 am

I'm not exactly a newbie, but I also prefer spill/flood as opposed to throw. A tight hot spot is much less useful for walking and up close tasks as opposed to a very broad beam. I use the spot on my Apex... but very rarely. For those of you looking for a light with wide light, you want to look for very shallow reflectors, no reflectors at all or cloudy/frosted lenses.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Jon » Feb 23, 2011 1:04 am

Yeah I like spill also. Strange how lights vary. I have an old 60 lumen Apex which is supposed to have better spill than the newer 130's (don't have a 200 ....YET) My 130 has super sweet spill compared to the 60. I have a Sten Prem 7 with frosted optics and my caving bud got Stenvy. Well he ordered a Sten Prem 7 with frosted optics and his spill is identical but his throw has more diffusion so same modle can vary. Often the luck of the draw. What makes the Sten so great is the optical "buttons" Best bet is to order a bunch os Clear buttons and have a machine shop "dust" buttons with their glass beader till you find what works for you. Keep trying different levels of dusting till you find what is the sweet spot for you. If Princeton tec would make an Apex that was water proof, and had a spot with a Sten like button we would have a primo light at an affordable price. Oh yeah Princeton make the pivot point a bit stronger also and you would kick everybody's butt. In this day and age of "automated quality control" it is amazing the variances that occur. It's fun when you can toss a "loaner " to somebody and they think you are lending them the primo light. The neat thing about lights is that people can and do tweek them and it's not like tweeking vertical gear, nobody gets hurt, just laughed at or gaining sainthood.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby JR-Orion » Aug 1, 2011 11:43 am

speedlunk wrote:I go with Petzl every single time. I know its a big brand, but I am convinced that these headlights are the standard in safety for me and my group at least...


My first helmet and light was a Petzl, it's still going strong and I've been quite happy with it. Then I got this idea that maybe I should suprise my wife with her own helmet, so we could go out together once in a while. I considered getting her something cheaper, since most likely she won't be caving with me all that often, but then it occurred to me... I didn't want to imply that her skull was worth less than mine. :doh: So now we have matching Petzls.

Although going by what I've seen in the movies, if you want to drown or be eaten by cave monsters (or both at once), Petzl seems to be the brand of choice. :laughing:

For a more affordable back-up light, I've looked at the Fenix HP10. $60 at Amazon, 225 lumens, uses AAs. 210 hours in oh no we're trapped mode, then 22 hours, 7.5 hours, and 2.5 at max brightness.

Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp. $43, 60 lumens, uses AAAs. Up to 160 hours run time depending on brightness level.

Princeton Tech and Black Diamond also make some affordable headlamps.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby JR-Orion » Aug 1, 2011 12:17 pm

Turns out the HP10 is being replaced by the HP11.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby rlboyce » Aug 1, 2011 12:24 pm

Kind of off topic, but I think a cheaper helmet doesn't necessarily mean it's less safe.
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby Marduke » Aug 1, 2011 7:35 pm

rlboyce wrote:Kind of off topic, but I think a cheaper helmet doesn't necessarily mean it's less safe.


I will agree with that, but then you tell you wife that her comfort is less important to you.... :doh:
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Re: Budget Cave-Worthy Headlamps?

Postby rlboyce » Aug 1, 2011 8:51 pm

LOL!! Well, all you have to do is make sure she doesn't wear any other brand of caving helmet, then she'll have no basis for comparison. : )

"Honey, why is this helmet so uncomfortable?"
"I don't know babe... they're um... they're all like that."
"Can I try yours to see if it fits any better?"
"NO!! ... I mean, uh, I'm sorry, but the light on this one is getting dim. I better keep this one on in case I need to change the batteries... I don't want it dying on you when you're in the middle of a crawl or something."
"Why don't you just change batteries now??"
"......... err, I forgot to bring a lot of spares. I want to use these for as long as I can."

(Yeah, I have some practice with this sort of thing.... :big grin: )
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