When I first got into adventure sports, my headlamp was a flashlight combined with a Velcro strap, and the Petzl Zoom headlamp was the headlamp that I lusted over. When I could afford a headlamp, I went out and bought a Zoom and it served me well until Princeton Tec started to introduce lighter and smaller headlights. I was working retail at the time and got a box of samples to try out. That trial box turned me into the corporation’s headlamp geek. I was hooked until a few years later when Petzl introduced its first LED headlamp, which got something like 40 hours of battery life. I got one at the OR show and have been using LED lights since then.
One thing that I didn’t like about LED lights was how dim they were. I never found the older styles bright enough to navigate by, and I didn’t think that they’d get much attention when shinned at an approaching boat. That changed a couple years after the introduction of the first LED headlights with the introduction of new headlamps, and this year I final got around to trying two.
For the first, I bought a Princeton Tec EOS. The EOS features a Maxbright LED that puts out 80 lumens and burns for 121 hours on 3AAA batteries. You can use alkaline or lithium batteries. The lamp is waterproof to 1 meter, has bright, medium, low and blinking settings. It weighs 3.6 ounces with the batteries. The headlamp uses plastic detents to tilt instead of screw tension. The LED itself gives off a warmer color temperature than the typical blue light of an LED.
While the headlamp is heavier than others on the market, I’ve found that the combination of the waterproof seal, the tilt control and the brightness to be ideal for kayaking and canoeing. The light is plenty bright to navigate by, it can be seen from far away and it feels okay on the head. I haven’t made many purchases this year of camping accessories, but this one was worth the purchase. It’s definitely better than the old Aurora that I had.
The second headlamp that I tried this year wasPetzl’s Zipka Plus 2 with a CORE rechargeable battery pack. It puts out 70 lumens of light and burns for 185 hours on 3AAA or the rechargeable battery pack. The housing is water resistant and features three modes: high, low, strobe. It also has a red light which can be set on strobe or continuous lighting. The lamp’s cord retracts to make a compact package, but you can’t change the tilt. It weighs 2.3 ounces with the CORE battery pack. The light’s color is the typical cool blue of a LED.
The Zipka Plus 2 is plenty bright to navigate by and shine at approaching crafts, but I miss the tilting control that the EOS has. The rechargeable battery recharges via USB, so I haven’t had to buy a battery for it yet, and on a longer trip that I’d bring solar power along, I can see the advantage of carrying the Zipka Plus 2 over the EOS. I think I’d prefer the strap of the Tikka Plus 2 vs. the retractable strap of the Zipka Plus 2.
I’d like to try a few of Princeton Tec’s other headlamps, such as the Remix. If you have had any experience with newer headlamps, I’d like to hear it.