DUO vs Apex

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DUO vs Apex

Postby tcabner » Dec 13, 2007 9:36 pm

For fear that I was sort of hijacking another thread, I decided to post here as well. Also, I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse on the whole headlamp issue...but I'd rather be annoying a few folks on here than sitting in the dark...
Ok, so I recently purchased an Apex at a local outfitter, but after reading so many complaints on their reliability, I'm a little skittish. I have several reliable backups such as the PT Attitude and a 2AA Maglight zipped to the side of my helmet, so I'm covered on that front. The thing is, obviously, I really don't want to have to use them unless I really have to. I just noticed karstsports has the Duo14's for under $100 now, and I'm really entertaining one and just taking the Apex back. While I'm only doing mostly dry caves right now, in the near future I will more than likely be doing a few wet caves and some survey trips, and I do not want to have to worry about my main going down after getting a little soggy. How reliable are the new DUO's, waterproofing and all that? I know even the biggest claims on a product can fail, but I'm just trying to minimize that failure.
I know a lot of people hate comparisons, so thanks ahead of time for your patience and advice!
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Dec 13, 2007 10:13 pm

I get the impression that the Duo has more reliable waterproofness.

It rated to -5 metres so that's about as deep as you're ever going to want to go without diving gear.
By comparison the Apex is rated to 1 metre (which it has proved unreliable at).

I think but for the waterproof issue I'd find the Apex a better light than the Duo but I completely understand why you're worried I'm a bit the same.

If I'd known about the waterproof issue I'd probably have gone for a Duo and looked at replacing the halogen bulb with a 3 watt LED if possible.

So to conclude if you are sure you'll be doing wet caves I'd probably go the Duo as I spend the majority of my time caving with the 4 LEDs on the Apex, I figure the 14 LEDs on the Duo should be the same or better and as I only use the main LED for spotting I think I could put up with the Duo's halogen globe or replace it eventually.

That said since I did the waterproofing mod on my Apex I haven't had a problem but I'm now avoiding dunking it where possible, so it hasn't been under very much. In a wet environment I'd rather a light I had confidence in :sad: apart from that the Apex is great.

My 2 cents (AU$)
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Postby tcabner » Dec 13, 2007 10:25 pm

Yeah, the first thing I did when I got home was shorten the screws on my Apex to avoid the common cracking problem, but it was already developing tiny hairline cracks around where the screws went in! I know they may only be superficial, but any flaw like that is unacceptable on a piece of equipment I forked over $90 for...to me anyways. The outfitter I bought it from told me that if I didn't like it for whatever reason, to just bring it back and they'd take care of it, so I'm thinking just to be fair I will see how much they can get the Duo14 for. I like the Apex and the all LED design, but I really think PT needs to start listening to its consumers and develop a more solid unit or drop the waterproof claim. Until they make a more solid unit, I think I'm going to err on the side of caution and go with a proven product such as the DUO. Anyone got any horror stories on the DUO?
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Dec 13, 2007 10:41 pm

tcabner wrote: Anyone got any horror stories on the DUO?


Oops, I just remembered I have seen an older Duo with water in it (not much) but I think it was acting up as a result we pulled it apart and left it open to dry out after that AFAIK it worked fine she still has it and uses it.

I'm not sure what she did to get water in it but it certainly wasn't 5 metres under water, this is one of the older Duos with 5? LEDs and I'm not sure how or if the design has changed since. (I don't remeber them being waterproof to 5 metres though) I may have been just that there was no silicone grease on the seals or something similar...
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Postby NZcaver » Dec 13, 2007 11:07 pm

The Duo has been known to have switch issues, but I think that's only prevalent with the older models. All of my ones have been fine, and several of them date back to the '90's. There's also an issue sometimes with battery contact corrosion, but it seems this only happens when you leave the batteries in for long periods of time (instead of removing them and leaving the battery compartment open when storing the headlamp).

I replaced my primary Duo 8 with an Apex about 18 months ago, and I've never looked back (although I did return the original Apex for replacement, and then did the waterproofing mod to the new one). However... I hate to say this, but you may be more confident getting a Duo 14. If we're talking about similar dollars, it's probably worth it. You can always get another Apex as a backup! I got my spare on sale for $50 last year with free shipping and no tax.

If you do get the Duo, get one of the 1-watt LED replacement bulbs for the high beam side - it costs about $20. With current LED technology, my suggestion is to avoid trying to find 3 watt drop in LED. For that, there is unlikely to be sufficient heatsinking in the Duo, and the LED will either lose efficiency or overheat or both.

PS welcome to the forum, tcabner. :waving:
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Postby tcabner » Dec 13, 2007 11:32 pm

Yeah, I was just perusing the forum and noticed many people mentioning the ls407 1 watt replacement that is comparable in brightness to the halogen bulb in the duo. I believe I will try that. The Duo just looks and sounds like a more durable light than the Apex, but who knows. My other headlamp is a BD Night Ray that works OK, meaning it would get me back out of a cave, but I need something a bit brighter. Thanks for the insight and the welcome!
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Postby NZcaver » Dec 13, 2007 11:46 pm

Oh, forgot to mention.

I discovered the Apex does have one big plus, not mentioned in any description or reviews (that I know of). When the 4 LED mode is used, because the LEDs are in 2 groups set about eye-width apart, they seem to enhance depth perception. Kind of a 3D thing. The first time I swiched over from my Duo 8 LED to my new Apex (an hour into a cave, no less) boy did it make a difference!
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Postby ek » Dec 14, 2007 1:47 am

My Duo LED 14's switch tends to freeze solid and become entirely inoperable when hiking back from caves in the winter. Other than that, I've been entirely happy with it. I've submerged it in cave water for significant periods of time without any problems. On the other hand, I actually open up the battery compartment after use so that any water that's in there (e.g. condensation) evaporates. Petzl specifies that this is *required* in order for waterproofness to be guaranteed. I suppose it's possible that I'd have waterproofing problems if I didn't.

But my grotto has Duos that are often subjected to considerable abuse, comparatively speaking. I think nothing that would void the warranty, but rather things that would void the waterproof guarantee. One of the battery packs has cracked (and that light is still usable)--other than that, we've had no problems.

I am a little worried about my Duo in the event that I might visit glacier caves.

My grotto also has Apexes. More of those than Duos, though we've not had them for as long. So far one of them has stopped working, with visible condensation. The outside insulation on the wire came free from the grommet *before* it was used in a wet environment (the Lost Passage in Gage Cave, NY), which may explain the cause of the leak in that specific case.
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Postby InTucky » Dec 14, 2007 7:19 am

I have the duo14, and I love it! My friend is using a older duobelt, and we also have a helmet we borrow that has a older duo. None of them have failed us yet. Also my trip wed. helped me find out how water proof my duo14 is, there was a lot of water in there :shock:
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