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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Headlamp Recommendations

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Sep 11, 2015 11:01 AM # 
the days are getting shorter (here in the UK) and the evenings dark, time to replace the headlamp

I'm looking for a competitive headlamp i.e. one with a long-range, wide beam, that also allows you to read the map without being dazzled, and is relatively lightweight. Budget <£120 inc. p+p

My LED Lenser did not have sufficient range.

Sep 11, 2015 11:53 AM # 
The hot light right now is the Nitefighter BT21. It's inexpensive but surprisingly well made, and the 4-cell battery pack is decent. 4 light levels, and the low one would be OK for map reading etc. It's pretty good right out of the box. Be sure to get the Neutral white beam version. Gearbest has a good kit for around $62 US including shipping.

A simple upgrade is to get a heat-sinking GoPro mount from Vancbiker, and use a GoPro headband.
You can also get a high capacity smaller 2-cell battery from FMA battery online which can go on the headband, but it needs waterproofing.
Gemini and Glowworm also sell waterproof 2-cell packs.
Sep 11, 2015 12:11 PM # 
I've given up trying to make the same headlamp work for good distance lighting and map reading without glare on the case. I use a tiny LED emergency headlamp pointed down in combination with a good quality multi-level light like the one 'Bent describes. Outdoor stores often sell map reading lights that can attach to a headband - haven't tried one of those.
Sep 11, 2015 12:56 PM # 
I've bought several of the $17-$25 Chinese-made headlamps on ebay (two for myself, the rest for gifts), and I'm hard-pressed to come up with a reason to spend any more. They use a pair of 18650 cells that you buy separately (and you can carry extras for longer events). The ones that can be focused are a better choice and worth the extra couple of dollars. (My brother bought one that apparently had a short circuit and threatened to catch fire, but the seller sent him a replacement, no questions asked, no problem.) And yeah, a separate light for map reading is a pretty good idea.
Sep 11, 2015 1:41 PM # 
Are any of those set up to recharge from a USB cable? I find it really convenient to recharge our headlamps from the phone charging cords (that we already have plenty of, including in vehicles) and not have to deal with charger specialization/proliferation. I have both high-power bike/headlamps and more pedestrian varieties that have this ability now. The BT21 above, which looks otherwise like a great light, does not. (But none were in the $17-25 price bracket.)
Sep 11, 2015 1:51 PM # 
I haven't find that BT21 so tempting yet because modes aren't quite what I would like them to be. Turbo is too high (last 0.5 amps mostly just heats it up without adding too much additonal light) and high way too low. With ~ 0.5 A lower amperage would let me race with 2 cell pack instead of four, it would make it a lot more lightweight without too much lower output. My races are about 1 hour races and light starting to from after 75 minutes is fine, race should be over by then.

But it sure is a great light, quite something else than typical ebay chinese lights.
Sep 11, 2015 1:54 PM # 
The cheap lights are charged from an AC adapter only, although it's likely possible to rig up something to work from a 12V car outlet. USB seems like it would be a more complicated task.
Sep 11, 2015 2:22 PM # 
I like the Solite. We got these for XC skiing training at night but also use them for MTB, night-O, or anything greater than a walking pace. With this I can see as far as I need to even when rocketing down a narrow XC ski trail. I usually run it on one of the lower settings and only bump it up to high when descending a hill. Recharge from USB cable. It's not cheap, looks like it will use your entire budget, Parkino.
Sep 11, 2015 4:05 PM # 
Looks like the ebay ones are now shipping with both AC and DC chargers, and often include the batteries as well.
Sep 11, 2015 6:12 PM # 
Jagge, the High mode on the BT21 is plenty bright. I haven't needed the Turbo mode yet for my bike rides home.

The thing about this light and the Yinding, is that they are actually well built, and the battery is respectable. Many Chinese cheapos have lousy heat sinking, poor waterproofing and fictional lumen and battery specs.
Sep 11, 2015 6:15 PM # 
For my map light I put a Petzl e+LITE around my neck, and tilt it down a bit (it tilts and pivots) ... works really, really well, and the batteries (2x coin CR2032s) last a long time (days). Only 1 oz (27g). Great around the house at night, too.

And fair warning: they do warn not to put it around your neck. ;)
Sep 11, 2015 6:44 PM # 
Thanks, guys. This would be for night-O, plus trail runs. My LED Lenser was light and comfortable and never got knocked around, not to mention a good price, but it didn't cut it in the forest when searching for those orange and white markers (or picking out features). I like the look of the Petzl Nao's beam, wide and long. Fossil, what's the range of the Solite?
Sep 11, 2015 7:14 PM # 
As for USB charging- I make adapters so all the Bentblaster lights can be both charged by USB, and use their battery as a USB power source to charge other devices.
Sep 11, 2015 7:55 PM # 
I've got a Black Diamond Storm. Have used it for 2 24-hour and several shorter. Only complaint is that it 'can' turn on in the pack even when locked. Maybe they've fixed that. The lighting config is good for map reading and distance. Uses AAA's.

It's replaced my L&M HID light for night nav.
Sep 11, 2015 9:10 PM # 
I have the Petzl NAO and its great for reading the map and running at the same time. Also nice for just night running which I enjoy. Highly recommend but also comes at a higher cost.
Sep 11, 2015 9:51 PM # 
Petzl eLite is my map reading light too - but on my forehead!
Sep 11, 2015 11:28 PM # 
I think I must have long eyelashes, 'cause with the eLite on my forehead the tips are lit up!
Sep 12, 2015 2:53 AM # 
I'm happy with my Gemini Lights Duo with the 2 cell (18650) battery pack, but it's about double your budget. I just repaired it last week and got a new battery pack for it after it was chewed up by a dog. I like the broad, yet punchy enough beam pattern ( ) and the 1500 lumens (actual 1,200+ lumens according to tests by I like that it sits above it's mount - I also set it high on my forehead - so that it's farther from my eyes to avoid lighting up my nose. Though it is super bright, I can read a map with it by using sidespill of the beam no problem. The beam is powerful enough that I aim it up the trail, and map reading naturally falls below the bright part of the beam.

I came across Lucifer Lights in the past week or so while browsing mtbr and candlepowerforums. (plus a blog, plus a facebook page). I don't have experience with Petr's lights, but he orienteers and his Lucifer MkII headlamp is very nice looking, as well as in your price range 107 Euro. Anyone use that light here? He is currently developing a smaller headlamp that can also use 1x18650, so it will be smaller, though it goes up to only 700 lumens.
Sep 12, 2015 12:19 PM # 
The Gemini is excellent. I did a budget version by getting a Yinding from Gearbest and changing the driver board with a 10-level one from Kaidomain. I used my own batteries though.
Sep 12, 2015 12:49 PM # 
Here is the most powerful 2-cell battery pack you can buy.

It's half the cost of other battery packs, but you have to waterproof it yourself.
I use self-fusing silicone tape with an outer coating of heat-shrink tubing, but others have used Plasti-dip.

You can buy a battery with 2/3 the capacity already waterproofed here:

They sell lots of other name-brand batteries too:
Sep 12, 2015 1:13 PM # 
I also suggest getting one of these well made 2 x cree xml lights for O. Gemini duo, bt21, yinding or Lupine pico. Will not go much wrong. For occasional night jogging or ultras you might find something like nao bright enough, or if you are serious night elite orienteering capable running sub 1.15 half marathons and and aim for winning 10mila long night and all then you may prefer having more light and get lupine Betty or some other monster light. For rest of us these lights are pretty good. Bright, lightweight 70g lighthead, both budget and premium versions of the same 2x concept are available.
Sep 12, 2015 8:12 PM # 
The reactive lighting technology in the petzel lights is perfect for map reading as it cuts the lumens and goes from spot to flood for close up objects. You can even program them to do exactly what you want.
Sep 13, 2015 6:39 AM # 
Reactive lighting is great but if you are someone (like me) who wears glasses with small reading magnifiers, you may have trouble reading the map if you have to tilt your head down to shine the light on it rather than just lowering your eyes. Another reason for two lights - sadly!
Sep 13, 2015 12:52 PM # 
For the light geek types, I modified the Yinding and BT21 using one narrow and one medium beam optic, so you get close-up spill and a distance throw. It's a $2 fix.
If you were MTb racing, you'd have 2 lights with a medium beam on your bars and a narrow beam on the helmet.

I also use a heat-sinking GoPro mount and GoPro headband, which is more secure than the standard Magicshine O-ring type.

I will be bringing them to Belize for my volunteer dental mission, but for dentistry I will use 2 narrow beams and 3 lower levels of power.
Sep 13, 2015 12:54 PM # 
One caution- Kaidoman and others sell clones that look just like the Gemini/Yinding, but are very poorly made.

The Lucifer light looks like a fine unit, but in the Gemini or Glowworm price bracket.
Sep 13, 2015 3:00 PM # 
the Lucifer does look good
Sep 13, 2015 4:58 PM # 
Not exactly on topic, but a Public Safety Announcement-
Charge the batteries safely in a fireproof manner, especally no-name Chinese cheapies.
Sep 14, 2015 6:47 AM # 
I have played with different optics like 'Bent, but so far I have preferred using yinding's original optics that produce large even spot with no distinct edges.

I wonder why some of you seem to need map separate map reading light. There is three reasons I know of that may cause problems like that. Lamp being too low on your forehead, makes it difficult to use side spill to read map. Lamp is not powerful enough, so side spill is too weak for map reading and you have to use the beam itself for map reading. Or beam is too tight with no side spill.

I haven't tried those reactive lights myself, but have been told I those are nice for trail ultras but rather poor for orienteering. Simply not bright enough and some also find it annoying hitting a branch at high speed makes light go down, makes it hard to see anything.
Sep 15, 2015 3:33 PM # 
I'd say my beam is tight enough and aimed high enough - and my eyes are old enough - that side spill just doesn't do it for me! I like a relatively tight beam that throws a long distance since I use the light for mountain biking as well as orienteering, so I need to see a good distance along the trail. But hey, if people are able to read the map OK without a separate light, good on them. I remember those days!
Sep 18, 2015 12:17 PM # 
Bargain alert! Gearbest has the light head for $22 US with free (slow) shipping.
Sheesh, I pay that much for a custom GoPro adapter mount.

Note- it's just the light, not the full kit. You still need batteries, charger and headband.
Sep 18, 2015 1:02 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Chiming in to represent "no second light, only main light spill".

I happen to be in the sweet spot where my stupid eyes can't focus as well closely with my glasses, so I look underneath them (the opposite of the cranky service manager at your car dealership who looks at you over his glasses in a condescending fashion), which sets up the spot and spill perfectly.
Sep 18, 2015 1:19 PM # 
@ Mr Wonderful Same thing happens when you get old enough to need trifocals. No need for second light.
Sep 28, 2015 1:22 PM # 
Inexpensive GoPro adapter, but without extra heat sink fins:
Sep 29, 2015 8:11 AM # 
I plumped for the Lucifer Lamp from the Czech Republic. Arrived yesterday. It feels well-made, very comfortable, and from the first test of the beam, broad and long (enough).
Lucifer Headlamp Mk II
Sep 29, 2015 8:33 AM # 
Nice. Let us know how it is to run with. I'm tempted, but I already have a great headlamp.
Oct 30, 2015 1:05 PM # 
Gemini lights have been solid performers, but they just upped their game and dropped their prices for full kits.

The Xera would probably fit the bill nicely for orienteering and running.
The Duo is a bit stronger on high and more efficient on medium. It also comes with a wireless remote!
Their battery packs are mid-range capacity but decent.

2 caveats:
Their light tends to be on the cool-white side. Neutral can be better for trail running.

I still don't like their rubber band mounting system- I'd suggest getting a GoPro adapter and using a GoPro headband if you find theirs too bulky or fragile.

You can also put in narrower beam optics if you want.
Oct 30, 2015 1:09 PM # 
Note- Gearbest got swamped with orders for the BT21 and ran out of stock, so there have been delivery issues.
Oct 30, 2015 2:17 PM # 
I think we have determined that purchasing (or making) proper gear, including headlamps, is passe'. Race organizers will provide tape at the start of night events so that participants may fashion a headlamp.
Oct 30, 2015 3:31 PM # 
fossil: the 2nd line, where they will have 60 seconds to perform this task before moving on to the map line.
Oct 30, 2015 3:42 PM # 
There exists tape that creates sparks when you peel it off quickly. Like chewing on wintergreen lifesavers. Or maybe it's just static electricity.
Oct 30, 2015 3:56 PM # 
Poor 'Bent - he doesn't read the rest of the AP Orienteering forum. He's going to be confused!
Oct 30, 2015 4:24 PM # 
I didn't dare respond to the guy asking for a source for fabric for making orienteering clothing recently. My only thought was that there was going to be a station to "make-your-own clothing" as well!
Nov 1, 2015 3:39 PM # 
First report on Lucifer Headlamp MkII for orienteering.

It didn't feel like I was running at night. The beam has good combination of length and breadth. Picked out those orange and white kites pretty well. It's lightweight and I wasn't really aware I was carrying anything on my head.

I did have trouble reading the map, but this may well have been due to not wearing glasses - I can't get away with it at night. It was a short race so no challenge for the battery life.
Nov 18, 2015 8:38 PM # 
Light geek alert- very good deal on a high capacity 4-cell battery pack already waterproofed:

Too big for headband use, but it can go in a pocket.
Nov 18, 2015 9:46 PM # 
Just make sure you don´t put the forest on fire... (don´t miss the hover text)
Nov 18, 2015 11:30 PM # 
Yet looks like flashlights in movies all use 20 years old technology all throwing tight 1 meter radius beams with zero spread.
Nov 23, 2015 9:32 AM # 
I went for the Lucifer headlamps on the back of this thread, and got the first MkIII shipped to me last week. Ran the Southern Night Championships with it and I can report that the light is superb. In optics I opted for the narrowest spread + widest spread combination, and it worked well for me as the spill light was good for reading the map and peripheral vision (did not need to turn my head so much for spotting features I was expecting to run past).

Any time loss I had suffered I can not blame on the headlamp :)
Nov 23, 2015 3:04 PM # 
I'm curious as to how long your event lasted? Also, by narrowest + widest spread you mean the 13 and 29 degree versus their recommendation of 13 and 20 degrees, right?
Nov 23, 2015 4:51 PM # 
A French lamp
Nov 23, 2015 7:59 PM # 
Russian one!project/cngp
Nov 24, 2015 9:39 AM # 
Carich, in terms of spread, yes you are right. I never thought about these things so wasn't sure if 29 deg. will be sufficient but had a hunch that 20 would be. Yes, 29 sacrificed some of the light strength looking ahead but that did not bother me in the forest, as it covered the distances I needed, and the wide spread helped me. I suspect depending on the terrain you MAY miss some of the longer beam (in a more open environment), but it wasn't a problem in the forest. Also if you have fog/rain etc. it would limit visibility anyway so I don't think (for now) that I will miss the distance covered.

In terms of length - my run was just over 70 minutes, which I ran in a "high" setting (i.e. not the highest), and about an additional 40-50 minutes was covered in "medium" getting to/from the car parking and to the start/warm-up. No sign of any weakening of the beam. Considering it was about 1 degrees i.e. cold operating temperature that may affect batteries, it held on without any issues. I expect there was plenty of charge still left in the battery by the time I finished.
Nov 24, 2015 9:58 AM # 
I use that Russian Vaska headband Oleg posted, or a prototype of it, with my Yinding light. If you look a the headband you may notice how high on your forehead the lamp gets or can get with that design. It makes you see better in fog, and rain (reflection from fog is not straight in front of you eyes right where you try to look at but slightly higher) and also you less easily blind yourself when you read map with side spill(more distance makes beam spread more, so you don't end up spotting your map with the brightest part of the bean that easily).
Nov 24, 2015 12:03 PM # 
... and if you have a strong neck, you may try and put this light on as a headlamp as well:

90000 lumens.

Sure to be able to see in the forest, though you may struggle to fight through vegetation! (and will have a slight issue with how long the batteries last).
Dec 7, 2015 3:23 AM # 
'Bent wrote: "Note- Gearbest got swamped with orders for the BT21 and ran out of stock, so there have been delivery issues."

Mine was shipped on Sept 24th, and I haven't seen it yet. Anyone else have a long delivery time? I'm assuming mine got lost or stolen. Their website has a photo of an envelope with my address on it, so I have to assume it actually shipped.
Dec 7, 2015 3:48 AM # 
Where was it shipped from? I ordered a CD earlier this year that I got the supplier to resend because it took so long, then the original showed up after three months so I sent that one back. The first was sent from Europe through regular post and the second one through registered post.
Dec 7, 2015 11:27 AM # 
Grumpy Old Coach:
i ordered mine around 15th of october, had to sent an email as it took 10 days to process, but then got shipped in two packages (additional stuff and the lamp itself) by the end of october. took about two weeks to germany.
Dec 7, 2015 9:58 PM # 
Here's a photo of me wearing my Duo yesterday morning with the lamp positioned very high on my head as I mentioned in my first post here and as Jagge also likes. I ran a poor race (DNF), but ran a 4:46 downhill trail mile in the dark with perfect lighting partway into the 50 miler. Looking through the race photos, most other people had their headlamps with the beams coming from 1.5 inches above eye level, which is not ideal.
Dec 7, 2015 10:06 PM # 
As for the Gemini reduction in price and 'Bent's mention of the Xera, I'd say if you go Gemini, definitely skip over the Xera for the Duo. I had 2 Xeras before my Duo, and the beam is on the narrow side. Only on the highest setting is there enough incidental spill for good peripheral vision and seeing the ground while having it pointed up the trail. The Xera in 'Bent's link is updated, but apparently keeps the narrow beam according to the MTBR tests. Some mountain bikers like the narrow beam on the head, but only in a two light setup as a supplement to a wide beam on the bars.
Dec 8, 2015 11:11 AM # 
A further note on the experiences with the Lucifer MkIII. I ran with it yesterday in the Wessex Night League in Boscombe, which was semi-urban (so included unlit parks and trails as well as some lit streets and seaside).

I did start up the lamp on the "High" setting (so that is not the max), and walking to the start in the lit areas my clubmate did not recognise me the light was so bright in his eyes, even though I did not direct the light at him. Early on in the run I switched it back to Medium, and used it like that from that point on (even in the unlit areas of the parks and smallish woodland areas), had no problem picking out controls from a distance when others were searching for them in vain in the vicinity. I had quite a few oncoming people visibly being disturbed by the brightness of the light (again, it was turned down to medium at this point). So far, feels like a good purchase!
Dec 8, 2015 12:23 PM # 
Not sure about the Xera as I don't own one, but the optics are easily replacable in the Yinding Gemini clone and the Nitefighter. I use 1 narrow and 1 medium in those for trail use, but 2 narrow beam optics for mission dentistry.
$1 each from LEDDNA.
I tend to use a 10 degree narrow in my single lights.
If I had one on my helmet and a different one on my bars, I'd go 10 degree for helmet and 15 frosted for bars.
Dec 22, 2015 2:52 PM # 
Light Geek Alert- if you have a Gemini, Yinding or Nitefighter 7.4v light, there's a great deal on an uber-powerful and waterproofed battery pack. It has the standard Magicshine type connector. This has two 3rd generation batteries that are a real 3500mah- nearly as strong as the earlier 4-battery packs.
Dec 23, 2015 11:09 AM # 
On the MTBR light forum some folks are having problems with the latest batch of BT21s. It looks like they will be coming out with a revised version- I hope those will be well made like the first ones. Mine has been fine.

The Yinding light (Gemini clone) still seems to be inexpensive and good quality, but unless you're a tinkerer I'd suggest getting an actual Gemini or Glowworm if it's in your budget.
Gemini will be coming out with a more neutral tint light soon too.
Jan 13, 2016 1:13 PM # 
Light Geek Alert again- there is now a nice uber-powerful 4-pack battery that has tested very well at a great price.

It's not in a rubberized pouch so may need more waterproofing, but the batteries and circuitry are the real deal.
Feb 8, 2016 4:37 PM # 
Light Geek Alert- Factory Refurbished Glowworm lights and batteries, with 2 year warranty:

The Glowworm X1 and X2 are very nice lights.
Feb 8, 2016 4:46 PM # 
I just have to say---'Bent, please keep this up.
Mar 5, 2016 9:29 AM # 
I am thinking of making an issue of our club newsletter a "Night-O" focused edition to try and tempt some newcomers/regular day orienteers to come and play in the forest at night, probably in September just before the season gets going again. I was thinking of including a "10 best headlamps" type of review to give people an idea of what is available, probably qualified with such things as "best budget buy", "best money no object buy", "most powerful", "best for trail running but not really O" etc.

Does anyone have any thoughts, suggestions etc, or has anyone already done this kind of exercise that I could just copy the results.... I get that if you ask three orienteers you will probably get 6 different answers and it is very much up to individual tastes, but really what I want to do is put out a list of headlights that a relative newcomer can roughly know that if they buy that one, they will be OK for a year or two until they know a bit more about what they are doing.....
Mar 5, 2016 3:37 PM # 
Just buy anything from aliexpress/gearbest for ~15$ with Cree leds (T6 or similar), and that will do for starters.
Mar 5, 2016 4:00 PM # 
Go on ebay, search for "cree headlamp", buy anything that has two 18650 batteries on the back of your head. For some purposes it may be inadequate, but for night-O, it will put you at about the same disadvantage as not having the world's best compass. Hard to justify buying anything else for night-O in North America unless you also need it for some more demanding purpose.
Mar 5, 2016 4:01 PM # 
I have three ranging from $15 to $350+. The $15 one is a cree T6 from ebay but I think it is IMPORTANT to get the zoom model. That will let you zoom way out to light a broad area which is more important than trying to make your light reach out 200 meters. The problem with the $15 unit is that when it's cold (maybe 20 F or colder), it may not work. Plus, with this light, I would surely want to take a back-up just in case.

I also have the Petzl Ultra Rush which is about $350 though if you wait you can get a used one for about $150 on ebay. I think this is a whole lot more reliable than the $15 model above but it has no more light.

Lastly I bought the Lucifier mentioned near the top of this thread but it just arrived and I haven't tried it out yet. It is about $150 depending on exchange rate and appears to be well made and relatively small and should have more light than either of the above. When the weather warms up a bit, I intend to try all three side by side. If you want this one, order well in advance because the transit time for mine was about 4 weeks.
Mar 6, 2016 9:51 AM # 
Black Diamond is nice. I used it last night for night o. Pretty good. The best thing is the adjustment of the lumen. I can lower it when I am reading the map and rise it when I am searching for the control in the dark.
Mar 6, 2016 5:23 PM # 
I've been running for years with those $15 lights for anything from local 30 min night orienteering to us champs to roganes to all night trail runs. No reason to use anything else, I did not have a single one fail on me. Get one with three light housings and the LED to be the newest Cree - XML U2 . In that model the middle light has a long throw, the two side ones are set on a soft spread. The best part for me running with this model as opposed to the two led heads or even the zoom model is that the spread they have is so wide. My periferal vision has enough light for me to see without having to turn my head all he time left and right.
Mar 6, 2016 5:40 PM # 
The light above should last 3+ hours on a pair of quality 18650 batteries. Usually the batteries that come with the light will be crappy so you need to buy separately couple of sets if you need to be out longer that 3 hours.
I on my phone now but later I might link a source of quality batteries will have threads on good battery sources if someone want to browse through.
For rogaines and longer runs I use the same light head but not with a battery holder on the back of head but one that ends with a connector cable and use a bigger battery pack in a chest vest or belt

That's all. from the categories tommig have above, lupine Betty is the money no object and most powerful light and for all others this cheap-o light is the answer.
Mar 15, 2016 12:06 AM # 
I have a couple of Yindings per reading here. Awesome! Any recommendations for (do they exist?) a USB cable to charge these packs with? Or (failing that) a car charger? Bewildering searching for this stuff.
Mar 15, 2016 10:12 AM # 
Nikolay: has both
Mar 15, 2016 12:14 PM # 
I see a USB cable there for charging other electronics from their batteries but I don't see one for charging the battery from a USB port. A really handy feature that allows one to cut down on the number of chargers you carry around when traveling.
Mar 15, 2016 1:15 PM # 
When I was making lights that ran on 3.7v cells I built lots of USB chargers for folks.
Not too hard as USB provides 5v. I was also able to make a reverse adapter, so you could use the battery packs to power and charge USB devices.

Charging 7.4v is harder as you have to step up the 5v of USB. I haven't seen any commercial chargers or DIY kits for that yet.

This will work for the car:
Mar 15, 2016 2:46 PM # 
'Bent---I have a friend with a Lupine charger that looks like a USB stick. I think it's about $40, and that it has only two pins in the output. Might be worth a look, especially if it's possible to source the Lupine battery plug or jack to make an adapter cable for other packs. The big question I've been looking for is: What circuitry is in a "typical" Li-Ion pack, and do the different packs play well with different chargers?

{Edit: the Lupine USB Charger is $20, but they also sell another USB stick that charges USB devices from Lupine battery packs. It is about $40.}
Mar 15, 2016 3:21 PM # 
Thanks, 'Bent ... ouch ... $28 with shipping! How about ? It doesn't say 'smart' ... but it's only $7.

My battery packs are the Ebay ones and the KaiDomain ones, if that matters ... I think they are already 'smart' (overcharge protection)?
Mar 15, 2016 6:22 PM # 
hughmac: car charger like that came with one of my lights with 7.2 battery pack.

It should work. Make sure your battery packs or 18650 battery you are going to charge with have the smarts :) (overcharge protection)
Mar 15, 2016 6:47 PM # 
Back to the lights---we did a nonscientific test of the Petzl Ultra Rush, the Lucifier MkIII and a $15 zoom model cree T6. The Petzl Ultra Rush and the Lucifier were very similar though the Lucifier seemed to have a bit more reach and breath (we have the 13 and 29 degree optic option). The $15 cree T6 model is also very good but it doesn't seem to have quite as much breath or reach as the other two though it is way, way cheaper. One other thing about the $15 model we used is that the light has a very distinct edge. This may just be related to the zoom model we had but there was a circular boundary on the ground where it was light inside the circle and dark outside. With both the Petzl and Lucifier, there was no distinct boundary where the light stopped.
Mar 15, 2016 7:09 PM # 
Here's the Lupine USB Charger for $20:

It looks like the batteries are 2S (nominal 7.4V, max 8.4V).

Just a question though: How many people store their Li-Ion batteries at half-charge, like you're supposed to? I see it the manuals, but other than some batteries with fuel-gauges, I don't see an easy way to get a proper storage charge level with the OEM equipment.
Mar 15, 2016 11:31 PM # 
carlch, This model is much better for orienteering than the zoom one as it has two extra LEDs that have the wide spread optics. I've been using that for several years now. Here is one example of the three heads light:

I have the zoom as well and the difference in the forest is huge. The zoom as you said has sharp edge where the light drops off and does not allow me to see the map by just glancing down without moving my head much. Same restriction for glancing left/right. With the three heads light above, I can use my peripheral vision left/right as well as down without much moving my head.

You can find them from ebay, amazon, dhgate, any other asian retailer, anywhere from $12 to $30. Definitely recommend. About quality, YMMV since there are so many producers and competition, but I've not had a light fail on me except loosing them or mechanically breaking the up/down pivot mechanisms while in my backpack.
Mar 16, 2016 12:22 AM # 
If those lights come with batteries they most definitely will be crappy ones, and usually last as little as half the time as a quality 18650 battery.

Haven't looked recently for batteries, but quick look gave me this thread:

And two of the top batteries in terms of price and charge as per CandlePowerForums users are:
Orbtronic 3500mAh Protected
KeepPower 3400mAh Protected
Mar 16, 2016 1:59 AM # 
Cedarcreek, that Lupine Boost charger looks like the real deal.
Hughmac, that charger is *not* the right voltage for your battery pack. I wouldn't touch it with a 7.4v battery pack without a voltage regulator in between. Google "Li-ion battery charging fire". You may be fine, or you may be in trouble. Maybe someone smarter than me can chime in.

Nikolai et al, the lights and batteries I wrote about between Dec and Feb are all well built and reliable, and perform to spec.You can get a well built light head for $30, a real battery for $20, and a charger and headband for $20 more. The Glowworm deal is over, but that is an excellent light.

The "3000 lumen" $15 ones are dicey, and both the lumens and battery specs are usually as reliable as an election promise by Donald Trump, I'm afraid.
Mar 16, 2016 2:46 AM # 
Might be "dicey", but the ones I've been using attest to the fact that they light the way pretty effectively for running in the woods. (I have had one that has stopped lighting up, seems to be a loose internal connection, but the ones I've given to family and friends as gifts are all fine, as is my current one.)
Mar 16, 2016 5:10 AM # 
Well Bent, the light type I recommended is better for orienteering due to the wide spread, stronger lumen output due to the 3 XML Crees as opposed to one or two (your link with three heads cost over 100$ ), costs $16, have well build housing , the two batteries models I linked are recommended by live long flashlight geeks from reputable forum
I've been using those dicey lights over five - six years(when those got strong and reliable enough so I stop building my own) and I have demolished, lost, dropped in lakes and rivers many of them-( they are not waterproof but have survived poring rains ) retired perfectly good ones 'cause the next stronger Cree LED model came out, I have not had one to just die on me.

I don't sell any of this stuff and just want for people to have the best experience and feel confident in the woods after dark. It's that simple, the light above is functionally great for orienteering, the market and manufacturing process is marginalized so any of them will have similar satisfactory if not great built quality, the Cree LEDs are the same for everyone the drivers are simple electronics much simpler than your nineties remote control. There is not much to go wrong . And if it does ...You have one in reserve because you got 2 for $32 :)

I am a bit sad to push nonoriginal products, but outsourcing and oversees manufacturing has long taken over every single aspect of our lives so I am gonna leave it at that.
Mar 16, 2016 6:47 AM # 
One version of that 3 x light and old version of one of the lights 'Bent recommends were tested and compared here:

The 3x light is not any brighter, beam pattern isn't any better but it weights 3 times more on your forehead (192g vs. 63g). And smaller light's reputation is good, build quality is good and you can select neutral tint. So some may see $15 well spent.

I hope this illustrates why these tiny lamps are here recommended over the bulgy ones. But note, you can do just fine with the bigger ones, those just are not as handy and comfortable making night O slightly less enjoyable experience.
Mar 16, 2016 1:50 PM # 
I think Jagge put it well.

I'm a fiddler and builder. I'm running with a fairly inexpensive, well built, reliable and tiny headlamp that I modified with one wide and one narrow beam, a neutral white colour that's tuned for the forest, the most powerful battery pack for the weight you can buy right now, a bombproof headband mount, and a safe charging system.
The whole setup cost about half of a good commercial one, but more than the cheapo versions. For me it's the sweet spot. I use it twice daily in winter, and weekly all year round. I still use my home made lights for longer racing.

No commercial interest, no critique of someone using a cheap or expensive system, just putting the info out there FYI so you know what you're getting into without having to follow the light geek forums.

One or two models stood out on the forums as having unususually good build quality for a budget light, and I just wanted to share that.
Mar 16, 2016 7:51 PM # 
Good to see this thread still going six months on.

Breadth and reach is crucial and I've been pleased with the Lucifer II over the winter season. (Bagged a bronze in the National Champs, in fact.)

However, I've now got a battery-charging problem. The charger's light switches from red straight to green after a few minutes. Subsequently, the lamp goes straight to conservation mode when turned on. Is this a problem with the battery pack or the charger?
Mar 16, 2016 8:16 PM # 
Can you check the pack voltage? I'm guessing it's low, either from having not been charged or from a fault in one of the batteries. If it's a 2S pack, the "normal" voltage range is 6.0V to 8.4V. Nominal would be 7.4V.
Mar 17, 2016 10:44 AM # 
You may have tripped the low-voltage circuit and it may have stayed in protection mode. If you can get the pack boost-charged with a smart Hobby charger it can reset.

I haven't needed to do it, but here's what Battery University has to say:
Mar 17, 2016 10:17 PM # 
Thanks. I'll see if I can check the voltage. I've taken good care of the batteries so it would be disappointing to find one had failed within six months.
Mar 20, 2016 5:45 PM # 
Voltaged checked: 8.1v (but this is not 'under load').
Mar 20, 2016 6:27 PM # 
I think when the other cell gets to (4.2V and re-charging gets stopped for it) the other cell is only at 3.9V and not charged properly. And when you discharge it the voltage of the low cell drops fast because it was not charged properly. Unbalanced pack it possibly is. You may get more use cycles by balancing it, you will need to open the pack and discharge the high one or recharge the low one to make them match again. But this is sign of a not that high quality pack and getting a new better pack may not be a bad idea
Mar 20, 2016 9:42 PM # 
Okay. Sounds plausible, Jagge.
Mar 21, 2016 10:38 AM # 
Jagge might be right about the unbalanced pack but it's also possible that the cells are not individually monitored and that the charging stops before the current approaches zero.

3.9 V would actually not be very far from fully charged for most lithium-ion cells but corresponds to at least 80% full. Maybe one cell died an early death an now has a very low capacity and/or large internal resistance, it happens.
Apr 10, 2016 3:52 AM # 
Now the tricky bit: Doesn't seem like 18650 cells or the batteries made from multiple 18650's are making it into New Zealand. I've been told that's more to do with the airplanes than border control. Allegedly it is possible to get them shipped to New Zealand if they are on an actual boat rather than a plane. Not sure if that's true.

I've just ordered a pack from Kaidomain, so we'll see if that makes it to NZ. I Don't really want to shell out 4 times the price on Gloworm battery packs which have less capacity!
Apr 10, 2016 10:35 AM # 
I've found the Panasonic ones to be good. I've heard bad reviews about the various trustfire/ultrafire ones.
Apr 10, 2016 3:08 PM # 
Green Panasonics all the way :)
Apr 10, 2016 7:04 PM # 
Kaidomain sent mine via boat. Only took 1.5 months. ;) Worth the wait for the good (but inexpensive) stuff though. :)
Apr 11, 2016 2:22 AM # 
@Hugh, how did you have to go about organizing the Kaidomain shipping? Did you have to do anything or are they already aware?

I've got a few battery packs lying around to use temporarily, so am happy to wait for slow shipping. Would be ordering a lot of these to get me through expedition races, makes it expensive if they don't arrive and getting money back would be difficult I imagine!
Apr 11, 2016 2:31 AM # 
@Greig, Trademe guy selling NCR18650B's (panasonic's good ones) from Nelson is selling fake ones with half the capacity. I believe the guy from Auckland is selling the real deal.

Getting individual cells and then somehow turning them into full battery packs is another option I'm looking at. I know of a place where I can order legitimate panasonic's in bulk (30+ cells) for $10.50 NZD ea shipped. Just looking at how much time and money it would take to either make battery packs from them myself, or get someone else to do it for me. Not really sure what it requires in terms of wiring up protected cells, or using unprotected cells with some kind of protected circuit board.

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