Nov 15, 2013 at 12:34 am #1309850
One non-ultralight Item I still carry is the BD Storm.
BD claims 50 hours burn time in spot mode, or 125 hours in flood mode.
Are these numbers realistic? The spot is 100 lumens…for 50 hours?
On the other hand I recently relieved my Zebralight H52. Lighter, only 1 battery, brighter, but… The burn time specs are a lot less:
High: H1 280 Lm (0.9 hrs) or H2 172 Lm (1.7 hrs) / 108 Lm (3 hrs)
Medium: M1 50 Lm (7.5 hrs) or M2 25 Lm (12 hrs) / 12 Lm (27 hrs)
I feel like I'm not comparing apples to apples here…
Please share some wisdom on this if you know what's up.Nov 15, 2013 at 4:03 am #2044785
@namelesswayLocale: Mid Atlantic
Probably not quite the wisdom you are looking for, but I always go over to candlepowerforums to seek in-depth info about lighting. Here is a link to a review of the storm from a couple years ago: http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?314865-Black-Diamond-Storm-review-gt-Waterproof-100-lumens
I would imagine there are others in that forum that might have been wondering the exact same thing.
MattNov 15, 2013 at 5:38 am #2044790
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
I never use the brightest setting on the zebralite. You would never need it except for rescue purposes or doing a quick distant scan.
I do most of my hiking using the two lowest settings. I read at the lowest setting.
So I get a lot of life off of one battery.
I find the Zebra to a be a more convenient and flexible light to carry around.Nov 15, 2013 at 9:08 am #2044835
If you look in the BD instructions, they show the throw distance of light versus time on high and low. After 30 minutes the range on high has decreased from 70 meters down to 57 meters, and at 10 hours its about the same light as the low setting.
With fresh batteries, the light will run for 50 hours before being completely dead on high. 200 hours before completely dead on low.
Also, the 4x AAA batteries weigh 48g. Total weight 110g.
The H52 (assume standard model)is rated differently. Their ratings are how long the light will maintain a light output level before stepping down in power. So, you get a full 3 hours at 116 lumens (closest to BD light high level) before it even starts to dim. The single eneloop AA battery weighs only 12 grams. With single battery and headband you are at 80grams with the H52.
I have the H51, now obsolete. In the true dark, I can hike with the L1, which is 2.5 lumens. The similar level on the H52 (2.9 lumens) will run for 4 days, or about 100 hours, on 1 battery.
So, BD storm vs H52: At 0 hours, 3 hours the H52 is brighter. At 50 hours, maybe about the same. On a usable low, both run about 100 hours. The H52 is smaller and lighter by 30 grams. You can either bank the weight loss, or pack and extra 2 batteries for the H52. The zebralight lamps are truly great. The multiple AAA form factor is inefficient, lazy engineering. The single AA employs more expensive electronics to wring more power out of the cell, not to mention that AA batteries pack alot more juice for size and weight than a AAA.
Finally, you can put in some higher capacity lithium 14500 cells into the zebralight to really extend runtime or brightness. The glow in the dark headband for the zebralight is a nice touch too, I can typically see it for a few hours after going to bed.Nov 15, 2013 at 10:25 am #2044859
I own both of these lights and I know that you can't always believe what you read with the specs. I have a couple of Zebralights and a variety of other headlamps and although I prefer the Zebralight for build quality, the Storm is probably a better light for backpacking use although it's heavier.
Now I know that will upset a lot of Zebralight fans but here's what I base this on.
I recently did a test of my H52W headlamp and my Storm. I did an outside "spot light" test with both lights on high (both lights using rechargeable Eneloops) and the light illumination with both lights was identical to my eye. So much for the 280 lm vs 100 lm, my eyes couldn't see a difference and the beam pattern was very similar (the Zebralight beam is a bit cleaner but not noticeably brighter). I was illuminating a distant tree and did a trail walk illumination and the difference between the lights wasn't noticeable.
I used my LUX meter to measure the output of these lights on high and they are virtually the same.
I also set up both lights in front of my video camera and timed the output, measuring the output at intervals with my LUX meter. I set the Zebralight on level M1 which is 50 lm. That is what I consider a reasonable output for trail walking. I set the Storm to be a similar brightness using my LUX meter to come as close as possible to the brightness of the Zebralights M1 setting (the Storm has infinite variability… nice feature!).
The Zebralight was close to the manufacturer's specs and lasted 6.5 hours at a constant (regulated) output (manufacturer claims 7.5 but my batteries weren't brand new), and then dropped down to the next level. The Storm outlasted the Zebralight considerably (I gave up after around 10 hours) but the light output started to diminish slightly and steadily after about 4-5 hours of consistent output. It didn't diminish that much (I estimated about a 10 lumen drop in the Storms output after 10 hours, so not bad!) Note: LUX to lumen conversion is not all that accurate but the LUX drop is easily measurable)
So when you figure that you get trail walking brightness for much longer than the Zebralight's, and can extend that with infinitely variable output and a spot beam that is equal to the Zebralight, I think the Storm is probably a superior back-country light… so why don't I carry it?
I like the clean light output of the Zebralights and the build quality is top notch (I like metal lights!). The AA form factor works better for me as I only have to carry one type of extra battery when carrying my GPS. I can also put a 14500 Lithium battery in the Zebralight and boost the output to 500 lm which is amazing! The biggest advantage in my mind is that the Zebralight can be removed from the headlight band and used as a normal flashlight. A real bonus is that the Zebralight headlight comes with a pocket clip that works really nicely on my belt to allow the Zebralight to be easily used at waist level.
Bottom line, don't believe the specs!Nov 15, 2013 at 10:33 am #2044862
"A real bonus is that the Zebralight headlight comes with a pocket clip that works really nicely on my belt to allow the Zebralight to be easily used at waist level."
How do you adjust the light to shine further up the trail or closer to your feet?
Or is the beam pattern wide enough that it does OK pointing straight out?
And, thanks for the write-up.Nov 15, 2013 at 10:34 am #2044864
one thing to add to the above of what Mike said for the "average" backpacker
is to consider that BD is generally considered to have pretty good warranty service
and if you buy from MEC (or somewhere similar) which carries them then you get a lifetime warranty exchange, no questions asked
this is not insignificant for electronics, particular lights that can run hot …
one reads about headlamp failures all the time at those dedicated forums
;)Nov 15, 2013 at 11:03 am #2044881
@greg – the Zebralight has an 80 degree spill (12 degree hotspot), which at 50 lm is good for moderate trails at walking speed. If I need to see something that is up or down I just tip it for a second or bump the brightness up a notch. That works for me. The nice thing about the Zebralight is that the 80 degree beam is actually fairly bright right out to the edges of the beam which is one of the reasons I mention that I like the beam quality of the Zebralights. If you are running, it wouldn't work as well.
>> one reads about headlamp failures all the time at those dedicated forums <<
I have managed to kill my Princeton TEC EOS and my Black Diamond Spot in a fairly short period of time (switch failed on the EOS and the Spot broke in a bunch of ways (housing etc). Unfortunately, I couldn't find the receipt for the purchase of the Spot or it would have gone back to MEC. The problem with the warranty idea is that I just want something that "won't" fail, so once one light fails, you couldn't give me another one of the same model to use in the back-country. I like the Zebralights because they "seem" very well made and are metal. The simple silcone light holder seems fool-proof to me… no ratchet to break, and I like the glow in the dark holder that only cost me $3!)Nov 15, 2013 at 11:20 am #2044887
you actually dont need the receipt for MEC … just give em yr member/phone number if you bought it under that …
as to zebralights … theres been threads of failures and various polls on the forums in the past … now this isnt a knock against those lights as ANY headlamp can fail
the may use metal, but the electronic inside can go kaput like anything else
i personally like the fact that i can walk into a store and show em a non-working light, and theyll replace or credit it, so i can walk out with something that works … rather than wait weeks without a headlamp
;)Nov 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #2044911
It takes 4 times as many lumens to appear twice as bright, so 280 lumens vs 100 lumens, assuming that the beam of both lights was identical, wouldn't appear three tines as bright.
It also depends on the cell you're using in the zebralight. Zebralight have said that to achieve their high lumen levels, you need to use either a lithium cell or a good NImh cell. Alkaline doesn't cut it and neither does the super heavy duty batteries.
I was surprised to read that the lux for both lights was the same. Very interesting, was it the spot beam of the Storm headlamp?
Regarding the 100 lumens for 50 hours, that would have to be an unregulated burn time. I don't think even the massive Zebra H600 series can pull that kind of regulated burn time, certainly not from Alkaline AAA batteries.
Manufacturers like Petzl, Blackdiamond and Princeton Tec seem to quote unregulated burn time (50 hours, or 100+ for some older models) which is a bit disingenuous imo because you'd change the batteries far before 50 hours, due to the light only being a feeble glow by that point.
Hope this helps.Nov 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm #2044934
>> I was surprised to read that the lux for both lights was the same. Very interesting, was it the spot beam of the Storm headlamp? <<
I measured the spot beam.
Since lux measures the intensity of the light on an area, it's very difficult to get a true comparison between lights as their beam patterns are very different (hot spot vs floody beams over an area). For my tests I just measured the hot spot at a very close range (the Storm surprised me as well as I expected it to be much lower than the Zebralight). Since I was only using this to test how much the light diminished over time, it was effective enough to show the drop in brightness as the batteries died. What was very apparent is that the better quality lights (my Zebralight and Fenix lights) maintain a very steady brightness over the test time and even though the Storm is partially regulated, it dropped slightly over time (but not a huge amount, but it definitely degraded over time). I suspect this is because the circuitry in the higher quality lights is a little better.Nov 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm #2044972
"Storm is partially regulated"
Yes, it starts with four AAA batteries, which would be around 6 volts, and it regulates the voltage down to what drives the LED, which is normally around 3 or so volts.
Zebralight, in contrast, starts with a single AA battery, which would be around 1.5 volts, and it boosts the voltage up to what drives the LED.
Those two circuits are rather different, so they get different efficiencies, and that relates to the burn time for a constant light.
–B.G.–Nov 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm #2044974
What is wrong with the H602 with the LI battery?
Light Output (runtimes)
High: H1 1090 Lm (PID, approx 2 hr) or H2 660 Lm (PID, approx 2.5 hrs) / 350 Lm (3.9 hrs) / 160 Lm (11 hrs)
Medium: M1 70 Lm (30 hrs) or M2 32 Lm (66 hrs) / 12 Lm (172 hrs)Nov 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm #2045005
>> What is wrong with the H602 with the LI battery? <<
Nothing wrong with the H602, if that's the kind of light you want for backpacking.
From my perspective, I don't want a "floody" beam for trail walking (some people prefer them). The 18650 batteries are quite large and the headlight is heavy. The H602 is a flood beam which means no center hot spot for distant illumination of objects. The H600 Mk II has a hotspot, wide beam combo if you want a light that runs on an 18650 Lithium battery that has a decent throw as well.
My preference is for a light that takes a standard battery size and doesn't "require" rechargeable batteries. The nice thing about the H52 AA lights is that they run on AA batteries but also run on high output 14500 lithium rechargebles as well.Nov 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm #2045007
"What is wrong with the H602 with the LI battery?"
That is another new specialized battery, and I would have to purchase another new charger. Those batteries are new and unusual enough that you would almost never find them for purchase anyplace. I was thinking of the situation out on a long trail, and if the battery failed dead. In contrast, in the AA package, you can always find alkaline, lithium, rechargeable, etc., and they sell them at every convenience store and gas station.
–B.G.–Nov 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm #2045910
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
Has anyone noticed that the BD Spot headlamp has gone from it's initial version of, I think, 70 lumens max to the latest version having 130 lumens max??? That's 30 more than the max 100 lumens of the BD Storm. Perhaps the Storm will be upgraded also in the near future.
Bill D.Nov 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm #2045942
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
I guess the biggest difference for me is that I find a single AA battery to be much more economical and simple than a bunch of AAA batteries. I can carry a spare AA and usually never have to worry about not having light when I need it.
The idea of having a light containing a bunch AAA batteries and then having to carry another bunch AAA spare batteries for backup doesn't seem as elegant, nor lightweight.
I have had my share of experience with that old concept and don't understand how BD and other companies still push the idea.
But, I won't go to the point of having to carry specialized batteries just to be elite.
I need to know that I can get my batteries at any point of commerce along the trail and not have to hitch to a specialty store just for batteries for my GD flashlight.
And I would think that people would realize that rechargeable is out of the question when hiking. I have a hard enough time trying to get my cell phone charged, let alone another stupid pain in the ass rechargeable device.Nov 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm #2045948
"And I would think that people would realize that rechargeable is out of the question when hiking."
Not really. Rechargeable AA batteries normally have slightly less voltage when new. If you can get rechargeables to last for the duration of your short trip, then they are practical. For a very long trip, they might not last, and that is when they get impractical. It just depends on how you use this stuff.
–B.G.–Nov 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm #2045963
@rosyfinchLocale: the mountains
You think AAA batteries are 'specialized' ???
Er, last time I looked they are sold everywhere AA batteries are sold.
Anyway, my main criteria for a headlamp is color; not batteries types… The Spot and Storm come in bright red and orange… that's a must for me so I don't walk away and leave it sitting on a rock :)
Bill D.Nov 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm #2045965
Most AA batteries have about three times the energy of one AAA battery, so weightwise, they tend to be more efficient. Pricewise, AAA batteries cost almost as much as AA batteries, so they are not the best in that regard.
Remember thirty years ago when everything was powered by D or C batteries? When was the last time that you bought a flashlight or headlamp with those?
–B.G.–Nov 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm #2045982
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
> When was the last time that you bought a flashlight or C- or D-cell headlamp with those?
Last week. FAA Part 135 regs still dictate a flashlight with two D-cells be used to inspect the plane. Good Grief! Pilots are about the only people as obsessed with saving weight as we're are.Nov 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm #2045994
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
"And I would think that people would realize that rechargeable is out of the question when hiking."
It seems to me that depends on trip length. Perhaps if you are a through-hiker on one of the big three trails, but not for much else. I would suggest that few people take hikes longer than 10 day to 2 weeks, and the Zebralight is fine for that without any on-trail recharging.
Zebralight figures are for a 2000mAh Eneloop rechargeable NiMH battery. I use Imedion NiMH LSD cells because they are rated at 2400 mAh (an extra 20%). Let's look at how long 2 cells should last in an H52W:
*) Low (2.7y Lm) is plenty for in-camp use, cooking, tent light, trips to your cat hole, etc. It is rated at 4 days, which would be 115+ hours with the Imedions. Assuming you use the light 4 hrs per day, that is 28+ days — way longer than most people's trips.
*) M2 (25 Lm) is adequate for trail hiking. It is rated for 12 hours, which would be 14+ hours with the Imedions. Unless you are deliberately night hiking, an hour a day should be plenty — that means it should last at least 2 weeks on a single cell.
Bottom line: it seems to me that an H52W with two Imedion rechargeable AA cells (one in the light, and one spare) should be fine for trips of up to 2 weeks unless you plan to do a lot of night hiking. In that case you would need to take one more cell for each all-night hike you plan (M1, 50 Lm 9 hrs, or M2 25 Lm, 14+ hours).
Bottom line: all of your recharging would be done at home, before you leave on the trip. There would be no on-trail recharging for trips of up to 2 weeks.
–MVNov 18, 2013 at 6:17 pm #2046000
Grab the neutral or wait for the cool white?Nov 18, 2013 at 11:16 pm #2046081
I bought the H52W AA headlamp because I thought the better color rendition would be more pleasing to the eye when night. As it turns out, I much prefer the piercing white light of the cool white emitter (I also have the SC52 AA Zebralight, which is very similar to the cool white emitter used in the H52 AA).
So in my case I prefer the cool white if it's going to be used for trail walking. The advantage of the neutral white is that it shows up the bumps and dips on the trail a little better but it does seem a bit duller than the equivalent cool white.Nov 19, 2013 at 10:03 am #2046174
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
There are multiple considerations and as I've learned here, what works for the raven may or may not work for the conspiracy.
There are a couple basic issues when it comes to lights with respect to tradeoffs – brightness/runtime (the brighter the light, the less runtime all other things being equal), brightness/size (the smaller the light the less mass to dissipate heat and the less overall output is possible for any appreciable time at least – this excludes "turbo" short burst modes), runtime/battery capacity (bigger and/or more batteries will run longer than smaller capacity/fewer batteries). Everybody wants a light the size of the Zebralight H31 that has the output of a triple XPG emitter custom 18650 light and runs for 8 hours on high but that is simply not possible!
After that you get into the murky world of circuit design (single cell lights by and large need a boost circuit as noted already – multi cell lights use a buck circuit) which has a variety of relative impacts including efficiency and regulation (which in and of itself is the source of much confusion and marketing spin). There are also practical considerations like build quality and ease of service/replacement. Not to mention power supply replenishment to the extent needed.
Personally – I like a regulated light as I like to have "x" minutes or hours of light at a fixed level. I use mostly multi level lights however and for a long time have developed the habit of using the least amount of light necessary for the job at hand. If I need "high" I like it to be "high" for the time I need it and not a declining curve. Some are fine with a long extended tail – just a matter or preference.
I like a smaller light and recognize that runtime and overall output will take a hit. Given current technologies in emitters however, overall output gets overrated. My most used EDC flashlights are around 200 lumens on high which for almost all uses is more than enough light. I have two that will output a good bit more than that but in a single CR123 size light those modes are not that helpful as you can't use them for more than a minute or two on those levels as the light gets too hot. Better emitters for me, at least, brings greater runtime at the same brightness rather than just more lumens.
I also think having to replace batteries can be a red herring – I use CR123 lights mostly in headlamps and pocket lights. My Steripen (if I'm using it) is based on CR123 cells – and for me that works well – I only carry one size spare. But most of the time I carry a spare for true catastrophe as the headlamps or lights I take into the woods, at the levels I most use them – will run for days constantly and I don't use them constantly. I get that for long distance hikers – i.e. more than a week the ability to resupply at the local gas and sip matters as a safety net but for many folks it is not as big a concern as other things.
And lastly there are legitimate considerations around build quality and ability to get service. Buying a light from REI (or MEC) has advantages if you have one nearby. I always have a backup light and have a couple headlamps so if I did have a turnaround I'd be OK with it in all likelihood. But I understand some would prefer that distribution/service model. The downside is it limits you to the lights they sell which may or may not represent the widest selection.
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