Friday, June 14, 2019

I see the light

Watching, reading or listening to stories of hikers on the famous trails typically take place in daylight hours. Occasionally there are stories about a night hike here and there. But what I never hear is someone hiking the Big Cypress at night. On the AT, PCT and CDT a hiker can just stop, wrap themselves in a tarp or tent and go to sleep. But in Big Cypress unless it's the dry season or you are on high ground... or you have a hammock then you gotta finish...

But how does that work if your flashlight or headlamp stops working?

Petzel, Vitchelo, Olight

I have several flashlight with different features. Let's start with my least favorite...

The Viitchelo is the worst. I have two models. One with shock cord and two with a strap. The buttons are unreliable. The cap clip is too strong and the lamp too heavy for a boonie had. The clip makes managing the strap very difficult. However the two biggest issues are [1] battery life is different even in the same model [2] the button functions are different even though the lamps share the same form factor. The batteries are the CR2032 and are quite common but not as common as others.

The olight is a good light and I mostly use it when I walk the dog or I'm wandering around the house looking for things under beds. The clip is mainly meant for a pocket or a belt or maybe a ball cap but not a boonie. It has two lumen settings but no red. The high setting is good to 100 feet but does not have a focus ring. But this one is metal and therefore heavy. Also the replacement batteries are AAA and so they are more common.

The Petzel's are pretty good. Between the e-lite and the Bindi I pretty most of my use-cases covered but do I really want to carry two lamps? And what about my other use-cases? But there is a lot going on here...
  • the elite comes with a red case. Sure I will find it in my pack or belt but the fit is poor.
  • The elite output is 50 lumens for 12 hours from 2x CR2032.
  • The description for the elite includes "emergency" so I'm not sure it's good for every day use.
  • The Bindi power consumption is no where near the elite even computing the averages
  • The Bindi is not waterproof. That probably because the micro USB port.
  • The elite is somewhat waterproof (3 feet for 30 minutes)
  • The worst part of the Bindi is the button.
I do not want to dump the Bindi or the elite but the real champ here is this one.

I do not know the real manufacturer's name because it seems to be re-branded under many different names. This particular model:
  • Output is not great - 550 lumens on high - 30 min - 15 lumens - 3 hrs.
  • will clip on my boonie
  • great on a key ring
  • charges in 45 minutes
  • mostly waterproof

What a crazy set of decisions! Only the Petzel elite has enough juice for at lease one complete night hike or disaster at MAX lumens. But if the Batteries die in the middle of the mission then what? On a moonless night you're replacing the batteries in the dark and you better have plenty of them. Also, if you're looking in the pack for batteries then another headlamp makes the most sense because you probably need to be hands-free. I could make a stronger case for a second elite.

No comments:

Post a Comment

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...