Caving headlamps

Discuss caving lights, packs, helmets, clothing, etc.
For rope and vertical equipment, go to the On Rope! forum.
Cave electronics enthusiasts can also visit the Communications and Electronics Section forum.

Moderator: Moderators

Caving headlamps

Postby Dangerjudy » Dec 14, 2012 2:19 pm

Since light technology changes so frequently, I wanted to know what people are using for headlamps these days. Some of my grotto members have been buying 'bicycle lights' from China off of Ebay, and they are wickedly bright. I use a Spark ST6-500 CW and would like to get a backup light/side light.
Birmingham Grotto, NSS 49720. "I reserve the right to be ridiculous." bono
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 246
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 4:58 pm
NSS #: 49720
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Birmingham Grotto

Re: Caving headlamps

Postby Steven Johnson » Dec 15, 2012 1:07 pm

Interesting coincidence: I just found this document that is attempting to track "caveworthy" headlamps: ... xX3c#gid=1

From the document:

This is a list of proven caving appropriate headlamps which are either readily available production models or are currently purpose built and sold by enthusiasts. Headlamps with less than 200 lumen maximum output will not be considered. Generic headlamps without proper model identification will not be considered. Headlamps which are not currently available on the english language online mail-order market will not be considered. I will attempt to update this list as the market moves forward. Send suggestions for additions, corrections, etc. to

I don't know the author, but it appears to be a pretty reasonable list; only obvious omission I see is the plain PT Apex (he lists the Apex Pro and Apex Extreme).
User avatar
Steven Johnson
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 310
Joined: Sep 5, 2005 8:48 pm
Location: Oakland, CA
NSS #: 49562
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Diablo Grotto

Re: Caving headlamps

Postby GroundquestMSA » Dec 15, 2012 2:53 pm

Dangerjudy wrote:Some of my grotto members have been buying 'bicycle lights' from China off of Ebay, and they are wickedly bright.

My Grandfather gave me a $2 flea market 9led headlamp that he jokingly called, "The brightest light in the world." It's a complete pile of garbage that I could literally crush in my hand. I took it caving just for giggles. It was very bright and output didn't seem reduced after a 3 hour trip. I wonder if these lights could be used for parts?
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 1384
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm

Re: Caving headlamps

Postby NZcaver » Dec 15, 2012 4:27 pm

I currently use a high-efficiency LED module in a Petzl Duo housing as my primary, and carry some combination of PT Apex, 1 AA Zebralight, and/or 1 AA Fenix for additional light if needed. For convenience I prefer to use the same AA Eneloop (or equivalent) Nickel Metal Hydride cells in as many devices as possible.
User avatar
Global Moderator
Posts: 6365
Joined: Sep 7, 2005 2:05 am
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Name: Jansen
NSS #: 50665RL

Re: Caving headlamps

Postby mooreshire » Dec 15, 2012 8:48 pm

Steven Johnson wrote:I don't know the author, but it appears to be a pretty reasonable list.

Thanks. I hope folks find it useful. :grin:

Oh and while I own an alarmingly vast collection of headlamps, these days I mainly use the Zebralight H600w and the Kavelight with XM-L modules that were custom programmed for me. I'm working on replacing the Kavelight's two CREE XM-L diodes with five or so Nichia 219 diodes for better color accuracy and a smoother spot beam.

If it's low budget you're looking for then the best LEDLenser H14 knockoff (I mention them on the list) costs less than $20 from eBay and can be found by searching for "zoom 1200 headlamp T6 cree" and looking for the blue strap - it doesn't have a T6 in it nor does it make 1200 lumens (less than 700 actually) but it is cave worthy if you keep it above water and are careful with the cord. Slow shipping from China. Make sure your backup lights are bombproof if you're using imported generic knockoffs though!

I also just posted a safety article about lithium batteries which I hope folks will look at if they are considering switching to 18650 cells, which is very worthwhile but does require a new set of safety knowledge. (
Occasional Poster
Posts: 26
Joined: Mar 17, 2011 3:39 pm
Name: James Mooreshire
NSS #: 45688
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Cascade Grotto

Return to Equipment Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users