Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech specs

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Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech specs

Postby mooreshire » Jan 28, 2013 6:52 am

This is my attempt at making and maintaining a comprehensive list of proven, bright, and readily available caving appropriate headlamps. I know this has been shared in at least one thread here on CaveChat before and is listed in several other locations throughout the web, but I figured I'd make a formal post for it since I keep changing, updating, and asking for help confirming and collecting information for it. Please feel free to share the list elsewhere.

This is the link to the list (in the form of a Google Documents spreadsheet):
http://goo.gl/n3xhD


Acknowledging that I couldn't possibly maintain a list of all headlamps or even all headlamps that get used by cavers, the list is limited to those that meet a few conditions...

The guidelines:

Proven - to be considered for this list multiple cave explorers must report that they happily and regularly use the model in question as their main light.
Bright - headlamps producing less than 200 lumens will not be considered.
Available - only non-generic headlamps with proper model identification which are currently readily available on the English language mail-order market will be considered.

The first version of this list was written in October of 2012 and posted on several small caving forums/groups. By the end of the year it had been shared (by me or others) on nearly a dozen websites and online groups. I have already received feedback and corrections from explorers, distributors, and manufacturers as far away as Croatia, New Zealand, England, and Switzerland. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and corrections! (Replying to this thread should be just as effective as emailing me directly.)

This list is not meant to endorse any one lamp or manufacturer, nor does it claim to contain sufficient information for deciding on the best model for you - it is only intended as a starting point for someone researching the current caving headlamp market.

If link-shorteners scare you (and perhaps they should) then this is the full long format link:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aq_1dPxvBnXUdHZTckszcW1kcXZoSGh0OUhiYWdxX3c

Know of any I've missed? See any errors? Think of a way it could be (realistically) improved? Find anything confusing? Please let me know!
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Jan 28, 2013 6:59 am

The most recent additions were the Fenix HL30 (a nice budget camping style headlamp which uses two AA cells) and the Petzl Ultra Vario (Petzl's attempt at a caving lamp with the popular flood and/or spot beam shape configuration).

Hopefully soon we'll see the addition of the Zebralight H602 (a purely-floodlight version of the immensely successful H600 series) and perhaps the Petzl Ultra Rush as well (an update to the old Petzl Ultra's far-throwing spotlight design).
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Jeff Bartlett » Jan 28, 2013 1:20 pm

This is an excellent resource. Well done.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Caver John » Jan 28, 2013 5:35 pm

Great resource indeed.

No rude Nora though? She's available here in the states, and more than worthy.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Jan 28, 2013 6:51 pm

Glad to hear that folks are finding it interesting. Thanks. :grin:

As far as I know you can only buy the Rude Nora from the manufacturer. He (John) has been sold out for a few months now but told me he plans to make up another run soon. Unless you know of a reseller who has them in stock, we'll have to wait until they're available on the website again. (From http://www.littlemonkeycaving.co.uk/Pages/RudeNora.aspx: "Nora lamps are not currently available. We will be building more Noras in 2013. As soon as there is more than this to tell you, it will be [posted on our site].")
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Caving Guru » Jan 28, 2013 7:23 pm

Wow I am impressed by how extensive this list is. I wish I knew about all these headlights when I was buying my own headlight. I have never seen anything like this before. This is definitely a very good headlight reference resource.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Dev » Mar 5, 2013 12:28 am

Very nice list! I do have an odd question:

What is the range of weights between the lights?

I know people said sparks were great, and zebra 600s were super light and great, but looking at the list I saw tons of sparks and admittedly became kind of unsure which would be the most useful. I was also curious about people's thoughts on the fenix hp20?
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Mar 9, 2013 5:43 pm

Dev wrote:Very nice list! I do have an odd question:

What is the range of weights between the lights?

I know people said sparks were great, and zebra 600s were super light and great, but looking at the list I saw tons of sparks and admittedly became kind of unsure which would be the most useful. I was also curious about people's thoughts on the fenix hp20?


Thanks!

Initially I didn't make a column for weight just because many manufacturers fail to specify weather their advertised weights are with or without batteries, and even then there are noticeable differences between the weight of different brand/model batteries of any given size. But that's no excuse... I really should add approximate weights to the list. :tonguecheek:

The Fenix HP20 is awesome - it is rugged and bright, and it is a tightly collimated far-throwing spotlight, but that does mean that you can't expect it to simultaneously illuminate the stalactite you are about to headbutt AND the hole you're about to twist your ankle in at the same time. It is rated to survive prolonged powerful blasts of water from all angles, but it is not rated to survive complete submersion.

Yes, there sure are lots of Zebralight and Spark headlamps! They do it that way in an attempt to have a model available for nearly every preferred beam shape, battery type, and color temperature. One would need to decide which batteries they want to use, what color temperature they prefer, and how tightly collimated they want the light to be - then they get to try and figure out which of the headlamp models is the one closest to their preferred beam shape, battery configuration, and color temperature. And of course there is the issue that not all combinations are offered; for example at the moment you can only have a Spark floodlight that runs off of two AAs or a Spark spotlight that runs off of only one AA and not vice versa, and right now Zebralight is missing a completely floody 18650 option and a high color accuracy 18650 option (although you can get warmer whites and diffused beams in 18650 Zebras, but that's not quite the same).
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby trogman » Mar 10, 2013 12:17 pm

Thanks for this great resource. One item that may be of interest is international availability. I was very interested in the Iris Computers offerings, until I saw the note on the products page:
"SORRY, WE NO LONGER SHIP OVERSEAS."
That killed that idea.
Perhaps in the future the maker will decide to start offering shipment across the pond. In the meantime, has anyone on the forum had any experience pro or con with their headlamps?

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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Mar 10, 2013 6:36 pm

trogman wrote:Thanks for this great resource. One item that may be of interest is international availability. I was very interested in the Iris Computers offerings, until I saw the note on the products page:
"SORRY, WE NO LONGER SHIP OVERSEAS."
That killed that idea.
Perhaps in the future the maker will decide to start offering shipment across the pond. In the meantime, has anyone on the forum had any experience pro or con with their headlamps?

Trogman :helmet:


Thanks Trogman!

I don't know if that is a new policy of his or if I just missed it previously, but it does mean Roy's lovely lamps don't meet my availability criteria and so I've removed all the Iris Computer offerings from the list. :sadbanana:
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Adventurer » Apr 22, 2013 11:44 pm

I dont see the petzl NAO in there anywheres...Anyone know how it rates?
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Jun 29, 2013 5:47 pm

Adventurer wrote:I dont see the petzl NAO in there anywheres...Anyone know how it rates?


While I have seen them being used underground most cavers seem to agree that the drawstring strap, expensive-but-unimpressive proprietary battery, plastic housing, and sensor that doesn't like getting mud on it; combine to make the NAO better suited for above-ground use. It's an awesome and innovative light, but few owners seem to want to take theirs caving if they have a more rugged alternative.

In other news I have added the Fenix HP25 to the list with its affordable "flood and/or spot" configuration running off of four AA batteries. It is priced comparably to the Apex Pro, Black Diamond Spot, and Fenix's own HP11 and HP20 lamps; but seems to have a beam arrangement that should be better suited for caving - plus longer run times and luminous efficacy. (Although, it's not as bright as the HP20's tight hotspot nor is it as water resistant... so I doubt they'll discontinue the HP20 any time soon.)

Also added to the list is the Zebralight H502w, a warmer color temperature variant of their H502 floodlight. Running off of one AA battery it manages to achieve the same amount of output as the version with the cooler tint by using one of the new XM-L2 didoes (most of ZL's warm variants are slightly lower output when compared to their cool cousins but this is an exception).

Likely additions for the future include the new Armytek Wizard Pro which will eventually be available in three different tints (cool, warm, and extra cool for extra output) and two different beam shapes (70-degrees or 90-degrees, both with a 120-degree spill). As of right now only the standard tint is available with either normal or wide beams, with the rest of the lineup slated for release soon. It runs off of one 18650 lithium rechargeable battery and uses the new XM-L2 diodes. A special edition with U3 binned diodes will be available topping out at 1080 lumens, although the standard tint will have an output of 1010 lumens and the warm tint will produce 940 lumens.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby BenS » Sep 7, 2013 8:34 pm

This list needs to be updated with the Zebralight h600 mkII. It has around 1000 lumens and is the new version of the h600. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet on this forum.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby Cody JW » Sep 7, 2013 9:25 pm

The new Zebra looks very nice. Great output , durable and compact and at a price the salt of the earth working class proletariat can afford. 1000 plus lumen in such a small, lightweight package is incredible.
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Re: Caving Headlamp List - regularly updated, with tech spec

Postby mooreshire » Sep 8, 2013 2:49 pm

BenS wrote:This list needs to be updated with the Zebralight h600 mkII. It has around 1000 lumens and is the new version of the h600. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it yet on this forum.


It's only in pre-order, and there aren't even any photos of it yet so I fear Zebralight might not be as close to releasing it as they want us to believe they are. It was supposed to come out in January... then in February... then in March... then in April... Now they're saying October "if no delays" but the established pattern leaves me doubtful that they will get it released on schedule. I'm excited too (especially for the warm 120-degree floodlight "H602w" version), but I won't add it to the list until it is actually available and only after at least a few cavers report using it underground without issue.

Similarly, the aforementioned Armytek Wizard Pro headlamps had issues with their programming/electronics which were leaving some early customers in the dark (literally). Now they are redesigning it and I'm waiting for confirmation that the kinks have been worked out before I add it to the list.
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