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$1 Wallyworld and Dollar Tree Headlamp

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by leghog, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    Picked up one of these from Walmart and another from Dollar Tree. A 3 LED headlamp with two CR2032 batteries for $1. Weighs only 28 grams (with batteries). My Black Diamond Spot weighs 3X as much. Bet this thing will do everything I need it to do when I'm out.


    This guy banged it, sprayed it, dunked it, and froze it. Kept on working.

    fishiker likes this.
  2. JD Mandrell

    JD Mandrell Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2001
    I keep one in all my First Aid kits, for guaranteed hands free lighting when I need it.
  3. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Doesn't look bad. For emergency I mean. Those batteries are not going to give you much runtime. Any idea of the approximate runtime expected from those headlamps?
  4. JD Mandrell

    JD Mandrell Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 20, 2001
    IIRC, 2-4 hours
  5. fishiker


    Nov 5, 2006
    I've bought several for my son and other kids to use when we were camping and they hold up really well. If they can take the abuse of a 5 year old boy they should serve most adults well.
    JD Mandrell likes this.
  6. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    The following will be pretty familiar to many here but for those moving into the world of LEDs (welcome) or wondering if spending more gets you more I have a couple thoughts that I think are worth while.

    Color: (or rather color temperature) During LED manufacturing they are sorted based on the desired specification (search product binning) Cheaper ones are allowed a wider specification. One of the hard things to do with LEDs is to get good clean warm white, or true white which is why many small lights seem to cost quite a lot. A lot of cheaper LEDs or LEDs that have been over-driven to get more output get a purple tint to them. This is partly just annoying at first, but if you need to do any close tasks with them, the color can lead to eye fatigue pretty rapidly for a lot of people. Odd colors can also make tasks like map reading, or even walking in the woods very difficult. I've come across a few that had a green or blue tint, and those were very bad against trees as the contrast made it very hard to focus.

    Dimming: LEDs cannot be dimmed quite the same as an incandescent. What normally happens is the LEDs are turned on and off rapidly. This is sometimes done to extend run-time, is often adjustable on lights that have more than one feature. Its good if you need to do close work, as the light pattern of LEDs is more glare inducing than incandescent, so less becomes more. But that flicker can often be seen by others around you, even if its just indirectly. They become a bug magnet, and a cheap PWM (pulse width modulation) light in rain is very hard on some people's heads, and long close work will be very tireing. More expensive lights use higher rates of modulation to get the same effect, and there are other methods always being developed.

    Vampire drain: better lights tend to not drain batteries when not in use, but its not always the case. For a very long time Princton Tech was notorious for it, and even some of my black diamond lights need a refresh every six months or so.

    Pattern: Cheap lights tend to just blast a big blurry haze of light from the LEDs. Because of the way light comes out of an LED chip it takes some real work to make lenses and reflectors for them, and that has a cost. A lot of times it is not as noticeable, but in any sort of dust, smoke or even light fog, you might as well be shining the light in your own eyes, and the only remedy is to hold the light out in front of you like you would a hand-held.

    Runtime: The FL1 standard which some makers use is the time it takes for the light to be outputting 10% of the initial. Some makers list based on best case situations where you can still cast illumination a very short distance. The drain curve on LEDs and alkies means some lights will run for days where there is still light, if you look for it. Obviously not everyone follows it, even some of the high-end, but it gives you an idea of what they really mean. Some lights are long useless before they get to 10%, depending on your needs.

    All this adds up to, being around a bunch of kids with cheap LED headlamps is very annoying. You probably don't want them to have features like strobes, and you might want to spend an extra couple dollars for battery doors that are attached. One of the first things I teach the kids I'm working with is that its not a headband, its a neck strap. This keeps them from shining you in the eyes when they talk to you. All in all if a dollar light is all you are looking for, then by all means, go for it. But if you are looking at survival equipment and thinking that all lights are created equal, then it could be a rude awakening when that light doesn't work well with your vision.

    Obviously the last few years the tech has really taken over, and the cheap end of the market is really getting flooded. But the saying "you get what you pay for" rings just as true as it ever did.
  7. Mikel_24


    Sep 19, 2007
    Regarding headlamps... I am not a candlepower freak, but I like my lights to work properly and be dependable. If a light refuses to work when I am heading for an early start climb (early like in "02:00 am early") I am going to ruin the day. AND if the nigt gets me while climbing, it may mean a long night non-expected vivac with less than ideal gear because I can't climb/walk in the dark.

    That said, it has been a while since I stuck to the Led Lenser headlamps. First it was a Led Lenser H7 and later on I bought the H7R.2 for my dad. Recently I bought that very same light for me. Along with two replacement battery packs. I can charge it from any USB outlet (I have several in my van). It can also run on four AAA cells but I rather not use them. That light taks up some room in the pack and it is heavy, so it is my go to lamp when I know I will be needeing it (overnights, winter climbs, etc.) for "just in case" lamp I use a Decathlon brand rechargable (straight USB) light with does not put out as much light but works reliably and it is very light. It is also cheaper.

    As Gadgetgeek stated, it is not a good idea to skimp on a good headlamp. I rather have a crappy hardshell or fleece jacket than a cheap headlpamp.

  8. leghog


    Aug 10, 2013
    Still using one of these $1 lamps a month later.

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