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Foxelli Headlamps


Original Post
Goran Lynch · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 6

I wanted a headlamp that was:


- rechargeable

   -- I don't like wasting batteries, and it's nice to always have a bright light


- Li-ion or polymer

   -- Other battery technologies are terrible in comparison

   -- ... ok, so the charge/discharge management of these batteries is a bit scary, but there are many off-the-shelf chips that should safely manage that task these days.


- reasonably durable

   -- obviously


- would not turn on accidentally

   -- BD, man, those lights are incapable of staying off in a pack, "lock mode" or not.


- lightweight

   -- also obviously  


After a bunch of hunting, I couldn't find anything from the big climbing brands that fit the bill. Besides, my ReVolt was horrendous. It would fail to charge, die spontaneously, turn on in my pack. That thing was a liability.


And then I stumbled into the brand "Foxelli" on Amazon. I got one for my wife, and then got one for myself as well. Literally the only feature it lacks is a small red light for working around camp or in a tent. Its on/off button is stiff, slightly recessed, and on the side of the lamp. It's never turned on accidentally. There's a battery indicator light that glows green (usually) or red (if really low), and I'd recommend the black case light, 'cause the green battery indicator glows a bit through the white case. It's a bit odd, but no big deal.


Eventually, after 2+ years of use, the headlamp stopped charging and I contacted the brand. They sent me a new replacement lamp immediately. Moreover, I should note that the defective light still has charge after multiple night runs; its failure mode, while problematic, was hardly catastrophic. I should also note that I tried their MX10 lamp, which fell apart quickly and was replaced with a MX500 free of charge.


Long story short, the MX500 listed on the link below is the best lamp I've ever owned, and Foxelli, whoever they are, have been stalwart in supporting their products.


https://www.foxelli.com/collections/headlamps

Don Ferris III · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

Climbing gear companies make shitty headlamps.  On candlepowerforums.com (the mountain project of flashlights) Zebra Light and Armytek are regarded as the best all round headlamps money can buy. Spend $100 once and have a light that will blow your mind or spend $20-$50 every year or so on plastic pieces of frustrating garbage. You decide. 

climber pat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 215

Neither the Zebra light nor Armytek light appear to be appropriate for climbing.  The head/helmet mount looks like it would be easy to lose by bumping your helmet against the rock.  It is just snapped into a plastic holder.


john l. · · Westchester, NY · Joined May 2012 · Points: 475

Thanks for the recommendation -- I am in the market for a new headlamp.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

I have used coast, petzl and blackdiamond.

Fenix is shitty quality and is poorly designed mine snapped while changing some batteries.

Petzl lights seem to be super dull and unless you spend a small fortune and even when you do they lack basic features like a red or green led for map reading.

The new BD storm has been my only experience with BD headlamps and as a person who has used it a fair bit i must say it performs excellently, it's got one big main switch the does the important bits and a capacitive switch on the side that controls the brightness this is excellent as it means it can be used even with mitts on. It's plenty bright and every feature on it has been useful at some point. It's also the only headlamp i have used that actually has a reasonable battery life allowing me to use it through an entire night not needing to changed it's batteries, I cant speak for the other headlamps BD make but this one was pretty damn good.

Dan Bachen · · Helena, MT · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 551
that guy named seb wrote:

I have used coast, petzl and blackdiamond.

Fenix is shitty quality and is poorly designed mine snapped while changing some batteries.

Petzl lights seem to be super dull and unless you spend a small fortune and even when you do they lack basic features like a red or green led for map reading.

The new BD storm has been my only experience with BD headlamps and as a person who has used it a fair bit i must say it performs excellently, it's got one big main switch the does the important bits and a capacitive switch on the side that controls the brightness this is excellent as it means it can be used even with mitts on. It's plenty bright and every feature on it has been useful at some point. It's also the only headlamp i have used that actually has a reasonable battery life allowing me to use it through an entire night not needing to changed it's batteries, I cant speak for the other headlamps BD make but this one was pretty damn good.

I've used a Fenix lamp for nighttime field work and caving (HP25R) and can't say enough about the durability, quality, and ease of use. I've dragged the thing through cave mud, soaked it in water and bleached the thing and it still runs like new. Maybe Seb's experience with them was with a cheaper model, but I know a few people who use them and cant say enough positive things about them.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205
Dan Bachen wrote:

I've used a Fenix lamp for nighttime field work and caving (HP25R) and can't say enough about the durability, quality, and ease of use. I've dragged the thing through cave mud, soaked it in water and bleached the thing and it still runs like new. Maybe Seb's experience with them was with a cheaper model, but I know a few people who use them and cant say enough positive things about them.

they all have the same shitty abs back plate, BD use glass fiber reinforce nylon with really good over molding in their headlamps the same found stuff used on drills, impact drivers, and other tools you will find on construction sights around the world.

Don Ferris III · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175
climber pat wrote:

Neither the Zebra light nor Armytek light appear to be appropriate for climbing.  The head/helmet mount looks like it would be easy to lose by bumping your helmet against the rock.  It is just snapped into a plastic holder.


I WAS going to shame you for not knowing what you're talking about but then I checked out the current iteration; they seem to have added a "feature".  I hate it when companies fix things that aren't broken.  Mine (purchased 4-5 years ago) is securely fastened and has never been an issue.  In that case I would just go Zebralight.  





mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40
mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40

Question - has anyone done their homework and figured out which model(s) are comparable to some of the lighter BD or Petal ones that are targeted for climbers? Or geeked out and done weight/lumens comparisons? 

Just poking around at the zebra light offerings, this one looks pretty good - brighter and lighter than BD Spot, for example - but I don't have a clue about temperatures, beam patterns, what lumens really mean in the real world, or whatever else. 

http://www.zebralight.com/H32-CR123-Headlamp-Cool-White_p_150.html 

Input would be welcome from those who have thought more deeply about this! 

Jacon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 200

I finally got fed up with shitty headlights from BD and Petzl a few years ago, geeked out hard, and settled on a Zebralight H600 MK II (it was before the MK III).  

These lights blow everything else out of the water—no comparison at all—and it's so noticeable that five or six of my adventure buddies have dropped the $100 and made the switch as well.  Pros:  it's far, far brighter (and far dimmer, when I need it to be), it made of machined aluminum, it's fully waterproof (I've taken it swimming), and it runs off a single rechargeable li-ion 18650, which is roughly the energy equivalent of 4 AAs, but much lighter.  

Cons: it's about 1 oz heavier than average Petzl/BD headlamps (not comparable headlamps: they don't make comparable headlamps).  The other con is sorting through the battery shenanigans, as 18650s come in many different quality-levels.  After a long talk with Zebralight, and a few inferior batteries, I bought a couple of their red ones, which are Panasonic cells, and have been extremely happy ever since.  

For those that are curious on the deets: I chose the H600 because 18650s are the most energy-dense battery out there, with the possible exception of Tesla's new 2170s.  That's why 18650s power everything from Makita power tools to Tesla Model S.  I started with the floody but then sent it back for the 80 deg spill / 12 deg spot, which I found is better for climbing.  I went with cool white for the extra lumens (the MKIIIs hit 1300!).  

Anyway, yeah.  Hard to believe anyone buys those awful things from the climbing companies.  


mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40

Jacon - 

good beta, thanks, and I like that you geeked out on this. I like the 18650s - I recently got a flashlight with one and it's astounding how much light it puts off. But that's going to be a lot to carry around (I wouldn't carry a 4-AA headlamp around climbing, so if that's what you're comparing it's not the comparison I'd make. I have typically used more like a 2 or 3-AAA version). 

Thinking about it, I'm not sure about the aluminum as a plus, also - being a bit of a weight weenie something small and light is more likely to actually stay in my pack for when I need it, and I have yet to break a plastic headlamp. It seems these may be overbuilt for climbing purposes, or at least for mine? Did you look at any of the smaller offerings? How do they compare in weight vs. brightness to the climbing oriented offerings? 

Dan Africk · · Brooklyn, New York · Joined May 2014 · Points: 275
climber pat wrote:

Neither the Zebra light nor Armytek light appear to be appropriate for climbing.  The head/helmet mount looks like it would be easy to lose by bumping your helmet against the rock.  It is just snapped into a plastic holder.


I beg to differ. This zebralight has lived permanently on my climbing helmet for the past couple years. It gets beat up and banged against rocks constantly, as well as tossed around on the way to crags, and is non the worse for wear, and never comes loose. I have the standard strap I just keep it extra tight. I haven't put my H603 on my helmet yet, but the additional top strap (which would pull up against the helmet clips) and wider base should make it even more secure.

I own a bunch of Zebralights and I think they are the best headlamps around by far. 

Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 480

I got a Zebralight a few years ago and was surprised how nice and bright it was. Lost it last fall and replaced with a Fenix - not much difference as far as I can tell. Guess I'm not bashing the backplate as hard as Seb! Rechargeable batteries work great in both.

Dan Africk · · Brooklyn, New York · Joined May 2014 · Points: 275

I've been using Zebralights for years, and I think they are the best headlamps available on the market. I love the simplicity, durability, lockout feature, excellent optics, and ease of battery changes (I can literally change the battery in the dark without taking it off my head). I currently own 4 different Zebralights (and I've lost a couple in the past), in a variety of battery types and beam angles, so it might be useful to some of you to give an overview.

They make a variety of models, it really comes down to preference of what battery type, beam angle,and color temperature you want. The biggest decision is battery type, since there are pros and cons to each:

  • H32/302 series: Uses CR123 cells, this is the most compact / lightest option. Very bright but short battery life- fine for short periods, emergencies, or pushing your climbing into night time, but you'll be changing batteries often. If you plan on mainly using lithium primary (disposable) batteries, these are actually cheaper than AA lithiums if you buy them online ($1 each from batteryjunction.com), but they are egregiously expensive and hard to find if you buy them in a retail store. Rechageable CR123s are available but they are terrible.
  • H600/603 series: If you want a powerful, long-lasting rechargeable option, this is the one for you. Bigger than most headlamps, but man this 18650 battery is a beast. I recently upgraded to this light and use it as my primary hiking / camping light, and it's nice to be able to blast a thousand lumens and never worry about running out of battery. If I was planning on doing a lot of night climbing, this is the one to use. 18650 batteries may seem uncommon to non-flashaholics, but it's actually a widespread, standard battery type- you'll have no trouble finding replacement or spare batteries by a variety of manufacturers anytime soon. You can even get an 18650 with a built-in USB port, so you can charge it with just a standard USB cord.
  • H52/53/503 series: Uses one AA cell, any type. One of the more versatile options, since you can use the most common battery in the world (AA alkaline), but still have the option of lithium batteries for better performance or rechargeable Ni-Mh cells for economy / environment. This is the version I recommend to most non technological savvy people, also it's a good option for travelers. It's still brighter than most mainstream headlamps on the market, but the battery life on high is pretty short. However since it only uses one cell, and spare batteries are compact and very easy to change, it's not a big deal to keep a spare battery or several in your pocket / chalk bag / pack.

Beam Angles:

  • Full-flood wide angle (302/603/503 etc): No reflector or frosted lens. This one is best for close-up climbing, and for hiking. However it comes at the expense of much less 'throw', since, the light is completely spread out (180° spread) and not focused. Also the light will seem much less bright than a more focused a narrower light with a more focused beam, and you're going to have to run it on a higher level to achieve the same brightness. If you want to light up everything in front of you, with plenty of peripheral vision, this is what you want. If say you're trail running or hiking fast at night in steep terrain and want maximum illumination to avoid obstacles, this would be very helpful. One major drawback especially when camping in a group, is that you'll be constantly blinding all your friends, even when they're not directly in front of you.. 

Note: One perk of this model, which they don't advertise for some reason, is that instead of a reflector, there is a glow in the dark coating around the LED, where the reflector would otherwise be. So if the light was on recently, it glows fairly brightly, making it easier to find.

  • Spot + Fill- Reflector, clear lens (32/52/600 etc): 80° Spill, 12° Hot Spot: This option has the most 'throw', with a nice hot spot, but also a decent amount of 'spill'. If you want your light to reach long distances, i.e. to see the ground from the top of the pitch, this is your best option. This beam still isn't anywhere near a searchlight, and doesn't have as much throw as my Fenix flashlight. It's actually a very nice balance of decent throw and useful spill. This is the one I keep on my climbing helmet, and even though it's the least floody, it still works fine for climbing.
  • 'Floody' - reflector, frosted lens (32F/52F/600F etc) - 90° spread, frosted lens: A balance of the above two. Very even distribution. Aside from climbing, there is rarely a need for much throw, and 90° is good amount of flood without unnecessarily wasting your lumens or pissing off your friends.. This is perhaps the best option for most people, although for climbing (especially multi-pitch), the unfrosted version may be advantageous.

Color temperature:

I won't get into this much as this post is already way too long, but bottom line, warmer is better. You sacrifice lumens, but these lights are all plenty bright, and you'll appreciate the nicer light quality more than a few lumens. Get the versions ending in 'w' - H53w, H53Fw, H603w, etc.

Bottom line / TLDR:

Get the H53w or H53Fw if you want a great all-around headlamp that runs on simple AA, with an option for lithium or recharegable, and don't mind short runtime on high. Get the H600w or H600Fw if you want a longer runtime, rechargeable option, or want the brightest light, and don't mind a bigger / heavier light.

PS- A note about lumens: Humans do not perceive lumens in a linear fashion. The difference from say 50 to 100 lumens is much more noticeable than from 100 to 200 lumens- The brighter you get, the more drastic the increase in output has to be for you to actually notice it. This is part of the reason there is such a huge leap in brightness settings from medium to high. The reason I point this out is to say that all of these lights will be very bright on high, and the difference in lumens from one model to the next is trivial at the higher end, and the beam angle is far more important in terms of perceived brightness.

Jacon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 200
mike again wrote:

Jacon - 

good beta, thanks, and I like that you geeked out on this. I like the 18650s - I recently got a flashlight with one and it's astounding how much light it puts off. But that's going to be a lot to carry around (I wouldn't carry a 4-AA headlamp around climbing, so if that's what you're comparing it's not the comparison I'd make. I have typically used more like a 2 or 3-AAA version). 

Thinking about it, I'm not sure about the aluminum as a plus, also - being a bit of a weight weenie something small and light is more likely to actually stay in my pack for when I need it, and I have yet to break a plastic headlamp. It seems these may be overbuilt for climbing purposes, or at least for mine? Did you look at any of the smaller offerings? How do they compare in weight vs. brightness to the climbing oriented offerings? 

Sure thing.  I'm a total weight-weenie as well (like, Frankenpons with aluminum rear-ends and spectra straps, etc. etc.).  I did break a few plastic headlamps, which is why I appreciate the aluminum.  I didn't think about the smaller options because the 18650 seemed like the battery of choice.  I would never carry a 4 AA headlamp either.  My point is just that the 18650 is roughly the energy equivalent of 4 alkaline AAs, but much, much lighter.  The H600 I have is like 1.3 oz heavier than the Petzl Tikka (which I regard as sort of the standard always-carry headlamp), but it's infinitely more effective, so that 1 oz is worth it to me.  I imagine I could shave it down, too, with smaller elastic strapping and no top strap.  

Charles Proctor · · Somerville, MA · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 75

You can even get an 18650 with a built-in USB port, so you can charge it with just a standard USB cord.

Dan,

Thanks for giving a detailed rundown of Zebralight options, your research is appreciated. I can't seem to find any lights on zebralights site that have the USB charging option though. Can you point me to which models have this? This is the one feature that might convince me to pony up the cash for a zebralight as Jacon has been spewing about them for awhile.

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 218

After being enlightened this thread, I picked up the Streamlight Protac HL. Wow, it is by far the best headlamp I have had!! Super happy, glad someone asked about it here - I have been carrying around sets of rechargable AAAs which stink!

mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40

This is turning into a very useful thread. Thanks Jacon and Dan in particular for sharing the fruits of your research. 

mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40

Here are my couplefew data points for the brightness/weight/(and cost) curve: 

Zebralight H53w 330 max lumens / 2.8 oz (79 gram) with an Eneloop AA battery and headband / $59
H32 CR123 Headlamp Cool White  480 max lumens / 2.6 oz (74 gram) with CR123A and headband / $64 [don't see specs for the warm model on their site but probably similar]
BD Storm  350 max lumens / 110 g (3.9 oz) with 4 AA batteries / $49 

Zebralight H600w Mk III XHP35 Neutral White 18650 Headlamp  1126 Lm / 4.4 oz (124.6 gram) with ZL634 battery and headband / $89
BD Icon 500 max lumens / 300 g (10.6 oz) with 4 AA batteries / $99

I get that I'm oversimplifying and overestimating, have not looked at battery life at all, the 18650 batteries and charger cost money, and I have read zero fine print, but by these simple metrics Zebra wins easily for me.
@Jacon - what am I missing based on your comparison - I don't see any weight penalty based on brightness? 

Dan Bachen · · Helena, MT · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 551
Charlie Proctor wrote:

Dan,

Thanks for giving a detailed rundown of Zebralight options, your research is appreciated. I can't seem to find any lights on zebralights site that have the USB charging option though. Can you point me to which models have this? This is the one feature that might convince me to pony up the cash for a zebralight as Jacon has been spewing about them for awhile.


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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