PETZL e+LITE – Rethinking the Headlamp.
Part LED headlamp and part button-cell minilight, the PETZL e+LITE offers more features and flexibility than is typical with either form. With both white and red LEDs, a detachable lamphead that can clip to a hat, a rotary switch and a handy storage case, never in the history of flashlightdom has 1 ounce provided the user with so many choices.
- Miniscule size and weight
- Flexible, adaptable design
- Useful, adjustable output
- Night-vision friendly red mode
- Brilliant switch
- Screw-free battery change
- IPX6 waterproof rating
What’s Not So Good
- Fleetingly brief initial bright output
- Minimal difference between high and low modes
- Competitive price?
Two CR2032 button cells power the e+LITE.
|5 mm LED button-cell headlamp|
|Measured (lamp and strap without case): 1.0 oz (28 g) |
Manufacturer’s specification: 27 g
|Lamphead: 0.6 oz (17 g) |
Strap: 0.4 oz (11 g)
Case: 0.6 oz (17 g)
|Two CR2032 lithium button cells/6 V|
Tool Required to Change Batteries?
|IPX6 (1.0 m – 30 min)|
Number of LEDs
|3 white, 1 red|
Number of Modes
|5: white – hi, lo, flash; red – steady, flash|
Manufacturer’s Battery Life Claims
|35 / 45 hours usage in white, hi/low modes|
Manufacturer’s Beam Distance Claims
|19 / 11 m (62 / 36 ft) beam range with fresh batteries in hi/low modes|
PETZL threw out the book of headlamp design creating the e+LITE; it’s as though they held a design competition fueled liberally with Burgundy and espresso. Whatever its genesis, the resulting e+LITE blazes a lot of new ground.
What It Is
The e+LITE is a button-cell flashlight. But unlike other such lights, it sports multiple LEDs (four, total) in two colors and a lever-operated rotary switch instead of a pushbutton. The e+LITE is also a true headlamp, with a detachable elastic strap that threads through the lamphead base. The lamphead attaches to the base via a ball-and-socket joint, which gives it unlimited tilt and swivel. The base also features a metal wire clip that can anchor the lamphead to a cap bill or hat brim, sans strap. Versatile.
The e+LITE has a triangle of three white 5 mm LEDs that operate on high, low and flash. A single red LED centered inside the white trio operates in steady or flash. All modes are accessed using a lever switch that rotates through a 180-degree arc, with click-stops at each of the five modes, plus “off” settings at either end and a lock setting that folds it flush, protected against accidental operation. The sequence is lock, off, low white, high white, flash white, flash red, steady red, off. Clever; different.
The two-piece e+LITE storage case can attach to a packstrap or belt.
The e+LITE comes packed in a plastic two-piece lozenge case that’s held closed by an o-ring. A belt loop on the case allows the e+LITE to be stowed on a packstrap. Handy.
What It Isn’t
The e+LITE isn’t a substitute for a multi-AA or AAA-powered headlamp. The miniscule button cells simply can’t match the staying power of their much larger cylindrical cousins. But, thanks to the latest generation of high-efficiency 5 mm LEDs, the e+LITE does provide very useful campsite light for a multi-night backpacking trip. While fresh batteries light up a trail enough to walk with confidence, extended nighttime navigation isn’t the e+LITE’s forte because the initial output’s duration is brief.
Why consider an e+LITE instead of an advanced microlight such as the Photon Freedom? In addition to the obviously greater feature set and the brighter, broader beam, there are the batteries. Instead of the typical two CR2016s, the e+LITE uses two CR2032s. These are twice the thickness and more than twice the capacity of the 2016s: 225 versus 90 mAh, each, which translates into a significantly extended useful life. The weight difference? About a gram, each. (All button cell lights should switch to CR2032s. Despite the minor increases in thickness and weight, they’d gain greater capacity.)
Straps to any pack, handy and protected.
Output testing reveals the e+LITE’s strengths and weaknesses. Initial high-level output is a fleeting 300 lux, with an exact reading impossible because it drops so rapidly during the first fifteen minutes. After this initial plunge, high and low mode outputs show no appreciable difference, as the convergent curves show.
The white beam is reminiscent of other multi 5 mm white LED lights: an indistinct pool of light with a brighter purplish center. The beam diameter is about nine inches at two feet. The red beam is narrower and dimmer than the white, but bright enough to be useful.
|Beam Center||1 Ft Off-Axis|
|In lux, with fresh batteries, from two feet.|
NR = Not recorded
Wearing and Operating
The 1-ounce e+LITE is certainly easy to wear, and is basically not noticeable once the strap is adjusted for comfort. Clipped to a ballcap the 17-gram lamphead is likewise unnoticeable, and the stout wire clip is reassuringly tenacious. Backscatter is eliminated using the cap option, and wasn’t bad using the strap. The ball-joint allows limitless aiming, and at least for our test remained stiff enough to hold its setting.
The e+LITE sans strap clips to a hat bill or brim.
The switch can be operated wearing gloves, as long as it’s first taken out of the locked position. I sometimes overshoot my preferred position and have to back up because it’s difficult to feel the click stops through gloves.
Assessment: Toy, or Tool?
Implicit in the e+LITE’s packaging and indeed its name is to serve as an emergency headlamp. The case can be threaded onto a packstrap, well protected and ready for quick access. I believe it can fill that role quite adequately. The bright initial output can resolve typical nighttime puzzles; it’s just not a light that’s going to support an unplanned all-night march.
Whether it can become your sole backpacking headlamp depends on the use. As a campsite light the e+LITE works well. I quickly learned to primarily use it on low, reserving high as a boost mode like that provided on Petzl’s XP-series headlamps. The red mode is a great option for those interested in preserving night vision, and the switch allows switching it on directly to red to prevent dazzling the eyes. Because button cells have a solid rebound after resting a few hours, even worn cells provide 200-300 lux for at least a minute or two, which is adequate for brief technical navigation or stringing a bear bag line. With prudent use it can certainly support a weeklong backpacking trip, and toting a few extra grams in spare batteries would assure weeks of use. They’re also gratifyingly easy to swap, with the headstrap toggle substituting for the coin you might otherwise use to open the battery cap. It’s a thirty-second task.
Buying button cell batteries can be an experience. Despite being widely available, CR2032 prices vary hugely. I paid as much as four dollars each during this test, but have found them on-line for as little as thirty cents, in bulk. Because they have a long shelf life, shopping the sales and keeping a supply handy seems like the way to go.
Could the e+LITE represent a test platform for design elements that might migrate to other headlamps? If so, we say “heap them on,” especially the switch, the red light option and the robust IPX6 waterproof rating.
A bezel protects the bare LEDs from damage, reduces glare.
For a somewhat princely thirty bucks, the e+LITE isn’t everyone’s impulse, gotta-have-it purchase. The same amount can buy a “serious” headlamp such as one of Petzl’s Tikka models or a small fistful of generic button-cell lights. Serious nighttime navigation requires more light than the e+LITE can muster, but little 1-ounce wonder will give enough hands-free light to operate easily around camp, with the added benefit of night-vision-friendly red.
Compared to the Photon Freedom, the brightest single-LED button cell light we’ve tested, the e+LITE’s beam is broader and more useful in all applications. Both are similarly affected by rapid drop-off with time, although the Photon’s continuously variable output allows more flexibility in matching output to task. Interestingly, the two miniscule lights offer what no popular “regular” sized headlamp does: the ability to switch on directly to low.
Nearly everything about the e+LITE is new and fresh, from the modular form to its white-and-red LED array to its rotary switch to the storage capsule. The e+LITE is also the only immersible Petzl light we’ve tested.
Recommendations for Improvement
Low mode could be lower for more distinction from high. Add regulation circuitry.
Question for Down the Trail
Will the ball-and-socket retain adequate tension with extended wear?