Dec 7, 2009 at 9:31 am #1243319
So there are lots of threads about headlamps, but I'm hoping to get some recommendations based on some specific criteria.
1) use AA (or maybe AAA?) lithium batteries
2) remote battery pack
Mostly to be used for long distance ultra-type events, with short daylight hours, and weather around 0F. Weight will be factored in, but more important is the ability to throw lots of light for long periods of time. I'd prefer something that takes 4 AA batteries.
For reference, I have a BD Icon that I use for this application right now. It's good in terms of brightness, but I'd like to get something with a remote battery pack, in order to keep the batteries warm, and keep the weight off my head.Dec 7, 2009 at 9:47 am #1551089
PrincetonTec APEX Extreme probably meets your requirement.
This is the same class as BD ICON, but is fully regulated and has remote battery pack. Compatible with Li-batteries and rechargeble too.Dec 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm #1551198
Thanks for the input, CK. The PT Apex Extreme is now on my short list.
The other contenders seems to be the "Petzl MYO XP Belt" and the "Petzl MYOBELT SB 5". I got an email response from a Petzl customer service guy today, advising that both can be used with "any type of battery".
However, the battery compatibility chart found on the Petzl website seems to indicate otherwise.
I'm sure someone here can clear this up for me?Dec 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm #1551227
I would trust the chart over the CS guy. Petzl seems to be slowly migrating their lights to lithium compatibility, but of the Myo series only the Myo RXP seems to have been through that process. Too bad, since they're otherwise very good and rugged lights.
That said, you could get away with alkaline and NiMH cells in the Myobelt since they will be warm, but at the expected weight and performance hits.
RickDec 7, 2009 at 4:44 pm #1551249
Dan DurstonBPL Member
I've got the regular version of the Apex and I've generally been happy with it. It's a really nice light although I generally don't take it backpacking due to the weight. The Apex Pro would save you a nice chunk of weight, but buying CR123 batteries gets expensive.
The only thing that disappointed me with the Apex is that it seems a bit fragile at the plastic pivot point where the light attaches to the headband. Mine was in my pack and I took a bit of a spill while hiking. When I got to camp later I discovered that that hinge had cracked. This was likely abnormal abuse that yours wouldn't experience.
Besides that, the light is super bright, battery life is fine on the high beam (a couple hours) and amazing (pretty much unlimited) if you're using anything else. I really like how it's regulated and waterproof.
I don't see the point of the Apex Extreme. It's just the regular Apex but with a larger battery case that holds 8 AA batteries instead of 4. I would rather just bring the lighter regular Apex and 4 spare batteries. It's not that difficult to change the batteries once they are dead plus the regular version is more versatile. If you are going on a longer trip you could bring 12 AA batteries to get 3 charges with the regular version, but if you had the Extreme you couldn't use the 4 extra fresh batteries so you'd need to either bring 8 or 16 batteries…basically you'd need to bring batteries in increments of 8 instead of 4. Then again, weight hardly matters if we are talking about headlamps weighing nearly a pound. Another advantage of the regular is that you don't have 8 AA batteries hanging off the back of your head. With 4 AA batteries it already seems a bit heavy back there. I haven't used the extreme but it seems like 8 AA batteries would be unbalanced.Dec 7, 2009 at 5:02 pm #1551255
Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
I think he wants the extreme because it has a remote battery case. That may not mean much to people like me, who rarely see temps down into single digits, but for those in really cold weather they need something where they can keep the batteries under clothing so they keep warm enough to work properly.Dec 7, 2009 at 10:18 pm #1551408
Petzl MYOBELT SB 5 is an old generation headlamp that uses the single xenon halogen bulb as the main light source, so unless you are fond on the yellowish light and do not mind of under efficiency of the bulb, you probably would drop it from the short list.
The latest version of Petzl MYO XP Belt can use rechargeable batteries. In fact, the early model's battery pack was on alert due to design defect that has a chance of fire when using the rechargeable batteries. This headlamp is being on the list of incompatible with Li-battery by Petzl.
BTW, Princeton Tec APEX Extreme probably can use only 4 x AA batteries when long duration of lighting is not needed. you may call Princeton to check it out. Dr Roger Caffin or others probably may chime in to explain the advantage of using two groups of batteries in parallel for driving the high-current appliance. :)
Based on my observation of the other Princeton Tec products, I will be very surprised if APEX Extreme can not be powered on with only 4 x AA batteries.Dec 7, 2009 at 11:26 pm #1551416
Dan DurstonBPL Member
I didn't realize the battery pack on the Apex Extreme was a remote pack. That makes a lot more sense.
One challenge with using 4 batteries in the Extreme (even if it does technically work) is that they may not stay in place in the pack. I haven't seen the design, but if the pack is half empty then the remaining batteries may fall out of place.Dec 7, 2009 at 11:26 pm #1551417
Sounds like you're talking about the Fennix HP10
It uses four AA… has many modes… if anything perhaps to many.
7 lumens for 210 hours
50 lumens for 22 hours
120 lumens for 7.5 hours
225 lumens for 2.5 hours
Cabelas and lowes have similar lights that run a little cheaper.
These are not something I figure an ultralight backpacker would go for though because they're way more powerful then you need for walking (and maybe a little bulky).
I use something very similar for bicycle touring.
The battery pack velcros on the back of my helmet in the summer, but I put a longer cord on it and hang it around my kneck in the winter so the cold doesn't affect the batteries.
Battery pack is separate from the light but it does hold togeter the headstrap at the back. perhaps this is all you meant by separate battery pack. If not it's pretty easy to modify it so you can stick it someplace… i.e. in your clothes for extrem winter cold.Dec 8, 2009 at 3:59 am #1551447
Arapiles .BPL Member
Problem is that most of the mainstream manufacturers are using old tech LEDs. In contrast the smaller bike light manufacturers are using the latest, or near to latest, LEDs.
If you use LiIon or LiPoly you may not need a remote battery pack.
When you say "lots of light" how much do you mean? 200 lumens? 300 lumens? If you really mean LOTS then you could try something like the AyUps with the optional headband: the smallest battery – which is about the size of a matchbox – gives me about 3 – 4 hours of light:
Because they're LiPoly they have a flat discharge, so it's like they're regulated. The new ones have a low switch, so may last longer again.
The other possibility is to mod the light you have – if you check candlepowerforums you may find a way to mod your BD Icon.Dec 8, 2009 at 5:58 am #1551457
Thanks for all the great input guys. I referred the Petzl CS guy to the chart I referenced earlier, and he changed his tune, stating "I was looking at the Tikka XP, yeah the Myo are not compatible with lithium." So, that issue is resolved, and I think the Petzls are out for me. I really like the performance of the lithium batteries (even in warm weather), so…
Dan, thanks for the firsthand Apex info. Bradford's right on about the reason I'm looking at the Extreme.
CK, thanks again for the awesome info. I'll check with the PT folks about using the Apex Extreme with only 4 batteries.
MM, that HP10 looks a lot like my BD Icon. I've tried to reconfigure my Icon so that I could use it with the battery pack around my neck. The wire running from the lamp to the battery pack would need to be maybe another 10 inches long. You wrote that you "put a longer cord on it". Is this a simple process, or did you need to splice wires, etc?
DW, by "lots of light", I guess I'm looking for something similar to my Icon, which (according to specs) maxes out at 100 lm (more would be fine, but not necessary). I'll check candlepower forums on the LiIon/LiPoly stuff, as well as info on modifying my Icon. I'm a little leary to be cutting and splicing wires…but it's certainly worth checking out.
Anyone here have any specific recommendations on LiIon/LiPoly options?
My other option would be just using the 8 AA cell remote battery pack, Princeton Tec bicycle light I already have, and just making a strap system for it. This wouldn't be too difficult. But it's probably 5 or 6 years old, and I'm not sure what model it is…and I'm not sure that it would work with lithiums. It does work really well with Alkaline and NiMH cells, though, so maybe I'll do a little more research in that regard.
Thanks again, everyone.Dec 8, 2009 at 6:02 am #1551458
@thomdarrahLocale: Southern Oregon
I've used lithium batteries with my tikka xp for over a year without issue, maybe just dumb luck. Both the headlamp and the batteries have performed flawlessly.Dec 8, 2009 at 7:09 am #1551475
If you do not mind it is so expensive, you may take a look at Petzl Ultra Belt:
This one is using the Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack. Besides the price, this expensive headlamp is listed as only IP66, so it is not fully waterproof. BTW, better check with the Petzl CS guy on the low level of brightness ,as it only has 3 level of brightness, the lowest level may far exceed the light level for preserving the night vision required for certain works.Dec 8, 2009 at 8:43 am #1551505
Yeah CK, I looked at those Ultras. I'm thinking that they might be a little overkill for what I need. But if money wasn't an option, I'd probably try one out, just to see.
As it stands now, I think I might just go with the "PT Corona Bike" that I've already got. I've posted a thread over at candlepower (it's not up quite yet) to try to figure out if it's compatible with lithium batteries. If it is, I think I'm just gonna use it. If not…well…not sure yet.
(I know the latest model of the Corona works with lithiums. I'm just not sure about the older models, like the circa 2004 one that I have.)
Given the weight of the Corona, I'm thinking that this may have moved outside the realms of UL. ;-) I definitely appreciate all the info everyone provided, though. It helped me immensely.Dec 8, 2009 at 9:23 am #1551520
Well, you probably already know that Corona Bike (which I expect using Nicha LEDs) circa 2004 only has around 30-40 lumen max. If it was listed as "regulated" at that time, I would presume it would compatible with those Energizer Li-batteries. Hopefully you can get more definitive replies over candlepower forums.Dec 8, 2009 at 10:21 am #1551537
Yeah, CK, it's definitely not as bright as my Icon, but based on my experience with it, I think it'll suit my needs. It throws a decent beam, and even alkaline batteries, strapped to my cross bar, last forever…even with winter commuting. There are 8 freakin' batteries after all, right? ;-) But I do wish I could remember if it's regulated.
We'll see, though. I've got a ~30 mile "day"hike planned for this Saturday, with some slower folks. Should be a good opportunity to test out the setup.Dec 8, 2009 at 1:57 pm #1551637
I was underwhelmed with the Corona headlamp when I tested it (in '05 back when dinosaurs reigned the backcountry). While nicely made it was dim despite (because of?) the many LEDs. It is "regulated" per PT but exhibited no performance indications of being regulated, with no measuable flat output over time. I wouldn't hesitate to throw lithiums into one, but I wouldn't cry if it died in a puff of electrical smoke either.
It would be easy to find something today at Target that would outperform it handily.
RickDec 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm #1551658
OK. So I just went through my Amazon history and discovered 2 things:
1) my memory ain't very good
2) I got the Corona Bike in October 2006
So I assume this is the 2006 model, altohugh I still can't find the paperwork that came with (I've moved twice since then, so it's probably gone).
Rick, did you review the "Corona headlamp", or the "Corona Bike light", back in 2005? While the light I've got is certainly not an overperformer, it doesn't seem *that* bad to me. I'm sitting here comparing it to my Icon right now (8 NiMH AA cells in the Corona vs 3 AA lithium in the Icon). The Corona doesn't throw light nearly as far, but for stuff up to about 30 feet away, I almost want to say it's *better*.
Am I crazy?Dec 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm #1551796
The headlamp (review here):
I'm sure in the years since they've upgraded the Corona LEDs for more output and better battery life, but I'm not wild about the boatload-of-5mm-LEDs school of headlamp design. Better to add at least one lensed superbright into the mix for good throw. The Apex suggestion is still a solid one.
That said, nothing wrong with trying something you already own!
RickDec 9, 2009 at 4:59 am #1551852
I'm gonna see how the Corona works out…maybe even use it on my waist, with the Icon secondary on my head if necessary…particularly if it's snowing.
If that doesn't suit me, I'll go ahead and spend the $80 on the Apex Extreme, and add to my headlamp collection.Dec 9, 2009 at 10:49 am #1551973
"If that doesn't suit me, I'll go ahead and spend the $80 on the Apex Extreme, and add to my headlamp collection."
It is written somewhere: "One cannot have too many headlamps."
This dictum has yet to be disproved.
RickDec 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm #1552007
Spruce goose said:
"MM, that HP10 looks a lot like my BD Icon. I've tried to reconfigure my Icon so that I could use it with the battery pack around my neck. The wire running from the lamp to the battery pack would need to be maybe another 10 inches long. You wrote that you "put a longer cord on it". Is this a simple process, or did you need to splice wires, etc?"
By put a longer cord on it I mean I weant to radishack, got a spare 4AA battery holder or two for $2/ea. I then bought two RCA composite cables at $5 each with male on one end and femal on the other. I then wired the RCA male into the headlamp and then made two female ends one with a sort cable (for helmet battery pack) and one with a long cable for keeping the battery pack in my clothes in the winter. I spliced and soddered these to the 4AA battery packs using some little 9-volt battery connectors so I could carry and quickly swap two battery packs.
The RCA cable may seem unconventional but for these low power uses they work very well. In fact I've been using it for over year now in lots of rain, cold and other extreme conditions and have had no problems with it.
The RCA connectors are solid. Since I'm using mine for biking the light is velcro'd to my helmet and as about 6 or 7 inches of initial cable which reaches through one of the air vents on my helmet. I think run my battery pack cable into the back of the helmet. The air vents perfectly hold and hid the cable inside the helmet.
BTW, someone one here suggested that these mass market lights I mentioned don't have the latest light technology. They are mistaken. While it is true that 99% of the stuff you see at big box stores are junk the ones I've mentioned all use the latest Cree light bulbs. They are highly efficient and very bright. As I mentioned my light is brighter than and lasts longer on 4 AA then a NiteRider Mini Newt.
The rapid progression in LED efficiency has led to some of these cheaper mainstream headlamps leap frogging the specialty makers like Princeton, Black Diamond and others in the 100-225 lumen range.
BTW, Fennix is no cheapy manufacturer either. I think right now the HP-10 is the best thing out there in the 120-225 lumen range. By far the most efficient.
What's more I'm sure there will be something even better out in the next 6-12 months. Yet another reason not to spend to much on a headlamp.
Lastly, there is a new AA battery type out called NiZn.
Actually the tech originated about 100 years ago, but in the last year or two there have been some major breakthroughs.
It is impossible for me as of yet to separate the tremendous amount of hype from reality, but they're selling like crazy, especially among digital camera affecianados and garnishing lots of praise.
Some of the advantages are as follows
– vastly improved high demand output.. i.e. for digital cameras
– lighter weight
– cheaper then NiCad rechargeables
– recycleable / containing no heavy metals or other major toxins
– lots of recharge cycles
Anyway, as I said there's so much hype I'm not sure what's real and what's not. Going to start a tread on them.Jan 30, 2010 at 4:08 am #1567820
What did you end up going with and how's it working out?
I hope you seriously considered that Fennix HP 10
I realize when you asked about external battery packs I told you about how I created one from scratch for my light.
I assume you're using this for extreme cold weather?
With the Fennix all you have to do is unclip the battery pack from the headband and possibly make the cord longer.
This could be as simple as semi-permanently spicing in a longer cable or creating a patch cable by splicing in some plugs with a little solder and some heat wrap for a professional fit.
I used RCA connectors and found them to work great, but I'm sure if you look around you can come up with something more low profile.
Anyway… sounds like you may have gone some other way. I'll have to look into this corona light mentioned.
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