For those that follow me, you know I get a bit off the beaten path. In the last few years, that has included more and more canoeing. With a few planned shots of cypress at night, I wanted a headlamp that would help me navigate and be seen, should I be in a higher traffic area.I have also always been a flashlight junkie, looking for brighter and brighter lights. Well, with LED technology, this has advanced very quickly and allowed for more compact and powerful lights that actually have decent running times.
I have had a few of the random run-of-mill headlamps from Princeton-Tec, Black Diamond, etc. They are all basically the same. Plastic housings and around $40 and 40 lumens or so. Great for camp and hiking but when I am paddling I want much more illumination than that. Since I am using both hands to paddle, I could not use a handheld flashlight so I went looking for a more powerful headlamp. Enter the HP30. I was immediately impressed with the specs, 500 lumens on high and nearly 4 hours of runtime and an aluminum body. Also with 4 main brightness settings (4, 65, 200, 500 lumens, and turbo 900 lumens) it isn’t just a one trick pony. The other detail I really liked it that the reflector makes it more of a spotlight with a flip-up diffuser for when you want it more like a flood light. For paddling, this is great because I want more throw to my light, to see where I am going, but then can switch to a dimmer setting and put on the diffuser at my destination when I want to rummage through my gear and canoe. Also, if I am light-painting my subject at night, it will be nice to have both flood and spot in one light to try different effects.
I took the light out to the Everglades the other night to try it out and the high really is powerful. I have stronger handheld lights, but being used to the wimpier headlamps, the 500 lumens was really impressive and lit up everything I needed across the pond.
The downside of this power is additional weight from increased battery size. Fortunately, the battery pack is on a long cord that can reach your pants to clip on a belt loop. I actually dropped it in my shirt pocket, which is what will usually be available since I wear hiking shirts a lot. It was convenient enough and not an annoyance. One thing I really liked is the battery pack is not a self-contained unit that needs to be charged, but houses 2 18650 Lithium batteries. I already use these a lot and have rechargeable versions. This is great because I can have back-ups ready to go and just swap them out as needed. The other huge bonus I didn’t notice until I got the light is that the battery pack has a USB outlet to charge other accessories in an emergency.
All in all, I am really excited to get out with this light. The other option was a Light and Motion headlamp at several hundred dollars. For under $90 the HP30 seemed like a bargain, but after playing around with it, I definitely feel this is a great bang for your buck. It is exactly what I was looking for and I can’t wait to try it out this summer on some of my planned outings and images.