back-up lights

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back-up lights

Postby wendy » Sep 6, 2006 1:04 pm

Now that I have a new PC Apex as my primary headlamp, I need new back-up lights (one helmet mounted, one in my pack). SO what is everyone using? I am looking for something cheap, under $20.
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Postby Andy Shoun » Sep 6, 2006 1:45 pm

I normally just turn my head around if I want to back up, but I still like to make a little "beep beep beep" noise just for the fun of it.
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Postby JoeyS » Sep 6, 2006 1:46 pm

Can't go wrong with a Mini maglite. You probably already have one lying around. There are some drop in LED upgrades, I have seen a 3-LED replacement module at walmart. Terralux manufactures numerous drop ins for the minimag. They can be bought from Inner Mountain Outfitters under the bulb section.
Also, a princeton tec pilot is only 10 bucks, but it's only one LED. I wouldn't consider it much of a backup. But it looks cool.
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Postby Scott Shaw » Sep 6, 2006 2:24 pm

A backup light should take the place of your primary in case of a full failure. It should be helmet mounted as is your primary. You can get many such lights for <20$ at wally world or a home improvement store. One that comes to mind is a Ray_o_vac headlamp I picked up years ago. It has a helmet strap, runs on AAs, and is quite rugged. It saved my tail on a Fern Cave (AL) trip once when my primary (Nite Lite) bit the dust (battery short). No way you are gonna get far on a Mag-Lite while trying to negotiate those canyons between the Blowing Hole and Helicitite Heaven. You need at least three hands for that portion of the trip.
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Postby JoeyS » Sep 6, 2006 2:50 pm

Scott Shaw wrote:A backup light should take the place of your primary in case of a full failure. It should be helmet mounted as is your primary. ... No way you are gonna get far on a Mag-Lite while trying to negotiate those canyons between the Blowing Hole and Helicitite Heaven. You need at least three hands for that portion of the trip.


I respectfully disagree. I would mount the minimag through the vent holes in the helmet with some zip ties. Ray o Vac doesn't really make good products (we all know their batteries are third-rate), and may fail while bouncing around in one's pack and when you go digging through your pack (in the darkness.. won't that be fun?) looking for the ray o vac back up, you could have just reached up and twisted on a minimag that is on the helmet already. I never suggested carrying it around like a spelunker. A minimag is a much better instrument than a plastic wallyworld headlamp.

If you want to tote an extra headlamp in the pack, a princeton tec eos might be a more dependable option (although a bit more $$). Not to diss a Ray o Vac totally, it would be fine for around the camp, but I would not call it "cave worthy".
Last edited by JoeyS on Sep 6, 2006 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby wendy » Sep 6, 2006 2:53 pm

Just to clear things up, I carry two back-ups...one on my helmet (permantely mounted) and one in my pack.
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Postby nordicjw » Sep 6, 2006 3:09 pm

Wendy, Real open ended question, other than cost. I like both princeton tec and petzl. Both the Quad and Tikka Pllus are good lights but take AAA batts. I'd stay with led lights for greater battery llife and not having to carry spare bulbs. Staying with only one battery type is going to limit choises. Also I'd get a light that has self contained batteries. You don,t want another battery pack on the back of your helmet.
The Quad or Tikka Plus can be had for $25 to $30. Search the web. The MiniiMag with led conversion will be about $20. You can mount it on the side of your helmet to the holes, if you have a Petzl Roc or to your new Apex strap. All you need is a couple of plastic wire ties.
Good Luck with the decision, you'll probably get alot of advise. Just my two cents worth.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Sep 6, 2006 3:19 pm

The Princeton Tec EOS is an excellent back-up (reserve for Andy) light. But it uses AAA batteries. That means you would need to carry two sizes of spare batteries. Not a big deal, just not as efficeint as you could be.

I hate mini-mags mounted to helmets. I used to carry one bungee corded to the vent holes in my helmet. I was constantly hitting it on stuff, getting it caught, etc. I took it off and have greatly lowered my impact on the cave. Good lights, bad place to mount them, IMO.

I have had a back-up Ray-O-Vac light in my pack for several years. I keep expecting to take it out and find it in pieces, but it fires up every time. Tougher than it looks. Of course, maybe they don't make 'em like they used to.

FWIW, I use a Duo 8 LED as a main. PT EOS as a helmet mounted back-up. Cheapo Ray-O-Vac I modified with a 1W LED in my pack. A UK 4AA Xenon in my pack. And a Petzl Zipka in my pack.

Wendy, can you wait 'til the Cave-In? Best selection will be there and you can try before you buy.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Sep 6, 2006 3:25 pm

I just checked Flashlightreviews.com, they recently reviewed and liked this light: LINK

Streamlight Enduro 0.5W LED Headlamp. Two AAA batteries, 4.5 hr runtime, $14.99 online. Looks like a decent option in that price range.
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Postby NZcaver » Sep 6, 2006 4:21 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:<snip>
FWIW, I use a Duo 8 LED as a main. PT EOS as a helmet mounted back-up...

This is exactly the setup I used to use. :kewl:

I currently use a PT Apex with a Gerber Infinity Ultra backup. That one uses a single AA battery - see http://www.basegear.com/gerberinfinity.html. True, it's not the brightest light - but it's small and efficient, and uses an AA!

The Apex is a big improvement on my trusty long-serving Duo. I even had a 1 watt LED in the highbeam side, but the Apex obviously blows that one away. As for the EOS, I found it sucks batteries really quick, and the beam is really tight. It is rugged/well-designed, and although I was initially impressed with it as a caving backup, over time I've realized it's less than ideal for the job - in my opinion.

I too dislike having a 2 AA Maglite strapped to the side of my helmet. But the Gerber I can live with. My third source of light is usually a spare LED headlamp kept in my pack.

Here's my setup: (I rigged the Gerber so it can be swivelled up and down to aim the beam.)

Image
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Postby JoeyS » Sep 6, 2006 6:51 pm

I too dislike the minimag for mounting on the helmet, but that wasn't until I discovered INOVA flashlights. I used a minimag for a long time without any issues. I currently have an Inova XO rigged to my helmet. I also have the INOVA X5 and used to keep it on my helmet, but I loaned it to another caver buddy because she needed a backup. The X5 is a very bright 5 led model but it runs on expensive lithium CR123 cells. I like the XO because it uses just one AA.
You will get a million opinions on backup lights, but I just recommended a minimag because they are cheap, durable, upgradeable, can be bought anywhere and run on the oh-so-common AA battery.
Another good light is the Underwater Kinetics 4AA dive light, which comes with a silicone rubber strap that can be rigged to a helmet with no tools. I think it would be too heavy for a small head, but I suppose it could be kept in the pack and rigged in the event of primary light failure. UK's products seem to be very durable and obviously waterproof.
I've also seen the petzl tikkas on sale on many websites. The original can probably be bought for 20 bucks if you shop around.

Or, you could wait until TAG and I know a guy who has a couple of gently used Petzl Micro's for sale, REAL CHEAP heheh...
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Postby NZcaver » Sep 6, 2006 7:21 pm

JoeyS wrote:...Or, you could wait until TAG and I know a guy who has a couple of gently used Petzl Micro's for sale, REAL CHEAP heheh...

Ever thought about upgrading the Micro with a 1 watt LED bulb (or something similar)? That might make for a good backup headlamp.
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Postby JoeyS » Sep 6, 2006 7:32 pm

NZ: I have thought about it, but I have not seen a screw type mod that would fit. And, the price of the Terralux drop-mods are about as much as a new light. Unless you know of another mod manufacturer...
FYI... I have way too many flashlights and headlights as it is... It's sort of an addiction...
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Postby NZcaver » Sep 6, 2006 9:00 pm

JoeyS wrote:NZ: I have thought about it, but I have not seen a screw type mod that would fit. And, the price of the Terralux drop-mods are about as much as a new light. Unless you know of another mod manufacturer...
FYI... I have way too many flashlights and headlights as it is... It's sort of an addiction...

Yeah, it's an addiction with me too. :grin:

Have you seen the Tektite LED bulb? http://www.led-replacement.com/ls233.html
I use the 4-cell version of this in the highbeam side of my (now semi-retired) Duo.

It's still a bit expensive at $23 shipped, but maybe if I wait long enough the price will come down a bit... :pray:
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Postby Scott Shaw » Sep 7, 2006 7:44 am

The burntime of a mini-mag is pretty low, especially if you find yourself several hours from the entrance. With an LED upgrade, the burn time is better, but unless you get a 25$ 1-Watt led upgrade (vs the 5$ wallyworld 3-led module), the light output is not enough in my opinion to safely complete a trip. Again, a backup light should take the place of the main light and allow you to safey complete a trip. Not just for providing some, if minimal, light.

As for the Ray-O-Vac reference, I was basing the product on Wendy's stipulation that it be less than 20 bucks. I currently an EOS or a DUO as a backup, those are more than $20. As for it failing, it hasn't in 10 years. It's basically a lamp holder with a contact switch to a cord to a battery box. Pretty simple actually, and not much to fail. All-in-all it's not much different than the ever reliable Justrite or B&B electric lights that have been around for years.


JoeyS wrote:
Scott Shaw wrote:A backup light should take the place of your primary in case of a full failure. It should be helmet mounted as is your primary. ... No way you are gonna get far on a Mag-Lite while trying to negotiate those canyons between the Blowing Hole and Helicitite Heaven. You need at least three hands for that portion of the trip.


I respectfully disagree. I would mount the minimag through the vent holes in the helmet with some zip ties. Ray o Vac doesn't really make good products (we all know their batteries are third-rate), and may fail while bouncing around in one's pack and when you go digging through your pack (in the darkness.. won't that be fun?) looking for the ray o vac back up, you could have just reached up and twisted on a minimag that is on the helmet already. I never suggested carrying it around like a spelunker. A minimag is a much better instrument than a plastic wallyworld headlamp.

If you want to tote an extra headlamp in the pack, a princeton tec eos might be a more dependable option (although a bit more $$). Not to diss a Ray o Vac totally, it would be fine for around the camp, but I would not call it "cave worthy".
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