Budget headlamp: Nichia vs. "neutral white" Cree? 18650 too heavy?

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nquinn
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Budget headlamp: Nichia vs. "neutral white" Cree? 18650 too heavy?

Hi all,

I’m looking to pickup a new headlamp this will be used for camping/hiking, but also to sit around the house for general use the other 99% of the time.

Right now I’m leaning towards a budget 1×18650 type headlamp, but have a few questions:

1. Do people find 18650’s too heavy for headlamps? These all seem to have an ugly 3 straps, and I’m wondering if I should go for a 1 × 14500 instead.

2. Nichia seems to be the most recommended LED, but I can’t seem to find it in hardly any affordable lights. Am I missing any models?

3. How close are the Cree “neutral white” to Nichia? I see, for example, that the Skilhunt H03 neutral white uses an XM-L2 variant I guess? Good enough? (Seems like 4000-5000 temperature range is what most people recommend).

Would love to hear your budget suggestions in the < $40 range, ideally < $30.

Edited by: nquinn on 09/11/2017 - 22:56
k-wong
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This the only headlamp I know of with nichia option:

http://www.mankerlight.com/manker-e03h-aa-headlamp-350-lumen-angle-flash...

Persechini
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1. I have used a Nitecore HC30 (uses 18650) and I don’t find the weight uncomfortable. The tube has very thin walls compared to my other lights, so it’s very light, but I don’t know if all headlights follow this rule. It has the over the head strap, but that can be removed if you like. I have not hiked with it, so I don’t know if only the around the head strap would be enough for that. I don’t have any experience with 14500 headlights, but I’d imagine the lower run times may be an issue.

2. Nichias are more expensive, yes. The current most commonly used model seems to be the 219C, replacement to the previous 219B. So far in this forum the vast majority of flashlights I’ve seem using nichia leds are modded so, not stock

3. I’d go neutral white over cool white for sure, but only you can say how essential having higher CRI and nicer beam are. In my outdoor tests, having the 90+ cri nichia for sure is good to look at, but not essential to the point that other leds look bad

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My collectionConvoy: C8 Clear / S2+ Clear / S2+ / S2+ UV / S6 ― Nitecore: Tube / Thumb / Concept 1 / HC30 / Tip ― Trustfire: Z2 ― Sofirn: SF10 / SF12

Angler
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1. Do people find 18650’s too heavy for headlamps? These all seem to have an ugly 3 straps, and I’m wondering if I should go for a 1 × 14500 instead.

Definitely not too heavy.
Those 3 straps are optimal if you plan to be using it during any activity such as jogging, hiking etc, even a lighter headlamp would be prone to slide down on your head otherwise.

I would avoid the 14500 due to it having ~1/4 the energy of 18650 and the obvious limitation of runtime/brightness.

Wow! Such bright! Many collection! Very torch! Amaze.

Lightbringer
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One word: Boruit RJ02. Big Smile

18650, a bit cool, but lightweight enough for me to not object to wearing it too long, and the dual-strap (around’n‘over) setup is pretty comfortable. In hot weather or if you’ll be sweating, you might want to put a small layer of cloth between it and your forehead so it won’t feel so “rubbery”.

Takes standard 20mm TIRs, which I already replaced for 60°, and my 90s and 120s came today, so I’ll be trying those as well. You can even keep extra TIRs along with your spare cells if you need flood vs spot or v/v.

And how’s 10bux sound? For dropping a Hamilton, you get a decent light, and can afford to buy 3-4 for your budget. Big Smile

Downside? Yeah, it’s on the cool side. Definitely not Angry Blue™, but cool. I always wondered about a pale-yellow filter to “warm” it ever so slightly, but never got around to trying that.

People here have torn it down, swapped emitters, but like I said, for the price, it’s “perfect” as-is. Big Smile

Oh, built-in usb charging, and magic wave-on/wave-off IR sensor.

Me personally, I never liked the (lack of) runtime of AAs/14500s, so I (again, personally) wouldn’t pick one for any extended use.

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Lightbringer
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Oh yeah… advantages of swapping out the TIR lens for a wider angle?

First, being able to see to the sides as well as in front of you.

Second, no nauseating/dizzying jerking back’n‘forth of a bouncing spotlight in front of you as you’re jogging along. The nice even beam of a wide-angle TIR lights up everything very evenly.

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nquinn
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Lightbringer wrote:
One word: Boruit RJ02. Big Smile

What type of LED does that guy use? The cold temperature is a bit of a turn-off, but the price is appealing.

Also, I think I’m sold on 18650. Lots of runtime just seems smart.

ZozzV6
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Skilhunt H03
-With coupon it is under 30$ almost always
-It is almost the lightest 18650 headlamp
-it has nice floody beam
-It is available with nice neurtal tint efficient XM-L2 U4 led
-very good overall quality both the head strap and the flashlight
-usable as EDC light with magnetic tailcap and pocket clip
-it has thermal regulation and programmable modes

I have a Boruit RJ-02 and this H03. The H03 is newer for me and after I got it I never used the boruit again. The Boruit is heavier, the head strap sewing is itching my head. The strap material is much softer on Skilhunt. And the boruit switch become faulty and I need to press hard to work.

nquinn
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ZozzV6 wrote:
Skilhunt H03
-With coupon it is under 30$ almost always
-It is almost the lightest 18650 headlamp
-it has nice floody beam
-It is available with nice neurtal led tint
-very good overall quality both the head strap and the flashlight
-usable as EDC light with magnetic tailcap and pocket clip
-it has thermal regulation and programmable modes

I have a Boruit RJ-02 and this H03. The H03 is newer for me and after I got it I never used the boruit again. The Boruit is heavier, the head strap sewing is itching my head. The strap material is much softer on Skilhunt. And the boruit switch become faulty and I need to press hard to work.

Thanks for the reply – I’m strongly leaning towards that one!

Questions:
- It looks like the temperature range is “4000-5000”? Trying to find out which emitter it is since 5k is starting to get pretty blue but 4k is pretty neutral.
- Isn’t the XM-L2 pretty old by now? Any reason people aren’t using at least the XP-L’s?

ZozzV6
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Sorry I edited the post.
The U4 is the newest and most powerful bin of XM-L2.
It has 60 degree TIR lens so it has very good beam. I worked under my car 5 hours and I almost forgot that it is on my head. Tomorrow I can make some beamshots if you want or you can find plenty reviews here on BLF or on youtube if you search.

nquinn
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ZozzV6 wrote:
Sorry I edited the post. The U4 is the newest and most powerful bin of XM-L2. It has 60 degree TIR lens so it has very good beam. I worked under my car 5 hours and I almost forgot that it is on my head. Tomorrow I can make some beamshots if you want or you can find plenty reviews here on BLF or on youtube if you search.

Sounds really nice, but I’m also thinking about just going really super cheap instead. Hmmmmmmm. Any 18650 headlamps under like $15-20 that are good other than that RJ02?

ZozzV6
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I can not name one. A few days ago the Imalent HR20 was on sale at banggood with coupon for 26,5$ included battery and with Micro USB charging.
There is a gap between Boruit RJ-02 and H03 and HR20.
When I bought the RJ02 I was happy.
When I bought H03 I thought I spent too much for a headlight..
But after the first use…It worth every penny and the boruit collecting dust since.

nquinn
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ZozzV6 wrote:
I can not name one. A few days ago the Imalent HR20 was on sale at banggood with coupon for 26,5$ included battery and with Micro USB charging. There is a gap between Boruit RJ-02 and H03 and HR20. When I bought the RJ02 I was happy. When I bought H03 I thought I spent too much for a headlight.. But after the first use…It worth every penny and the boruit collecting dust since.

Actually, any idea what the main difference is from the Skilhunt H02 -> Skilhunt H03? That H02 is only $20 and looks rather similar!

ZozzV6
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The H03 has more thinner wall of tube and a bit less material in the head so it is lighter.
And I think the UI is better. The H02 has 4 modes fixed. But the H03 has 4 modes with selectable lower or higher submode and the light memorizing what you selected. For egzample I use it in low2, med2, High1, and turbo2. 2 is higher output than 1. you can switch between 1-2 with double click.

Lightbringer
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nquinn wrote:
Lightbringer wrote:
One word: Boruit RJ02. Big Smile

What type of LED does that guy use? The cold temperature is a bit of a turn-off, but the price is appealing.

Definitely an XP footprint, but dunno if it’s even a real XP-G. Probably some generic Mystery Emitter. I’d love to swap it out for an XP-G2 or so, whatever’s the lowest Vf of the XP series, just to keep it in regulation as long as possible.

It’s not that “cool”, let alone “cold”, so don’t be scared off by that. I was out chiselling out a coupla feet of frozen snow that drifted up against a door (snowed, melted, refroze) for quite a while this past winter, and even reflecting off white snow, I didn’t mind it at all.

Gotta confess, with the price being what it is (and having like 4 spares), I kinda beat the Hell out of this critter, and other than losing the tethered rubber plug over the usb port (no idea how…), it’s held up admirably.

Hey, anyone know/recall offhand if 219BTs have the same solder-pad pattern as XP-Gs? I’d love to go high-CRI in at least one of these puppies. Big Smile

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Lightbringer
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nquinn wrote:
- It looks like the temperature range is “4000-5000”? Trying to find out which emitter it is since 5k is starting to get pretty blue but 4k is pretty neutral.

- Isn’t the XM-L2 pretty old by now? Any reason people aren’t using at least the XP-L’s?

5000K is wonderfully neutral. My first experience with 4300K was, “Hmmm, warm…”. Well, warmer than I was used to, at least.

The XM-L2 and XP-L both use the same exact chip. Just the XM footprint/package is bigger than the XP footprint/package.

So the XP-L is just an XM-L2 on a smaller substrate, with the dome shaved down on the 4 sides to make them fit when stacked next to each other.

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nquinn
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Seems like the H02 isn’t too bad of a deal at all. Main differences seem to be:

- Overall lower lumens (not the U4 version of the XM-L2)
- Doesn’t have the TIR lens? Not sure
- 4 modes instead of 8 modes
- Low standby current below 0.5uA in H03 only
- H03 is slightly lighter (0.5oz)

H03: 0.5, 3, 20 (75hrs), 70 (25hrs), 160, 365, 490, 900
H02: 5, 110, 380, 820

Doesn’t seem to be available on gearbest right now, though =/

Downsides seem to be no firefly mode (0.5) or lower powered medium mode in the 20-70 range. Not sure if either can ramp up infinitely between their modes.

ZozzV6
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H02 has TIR.
No ramping on skilhunts.

Jerommel
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H02 is taller and heavier than the H03.
But they have the same TIR or reflector.
H03 can preset all 4 modes in 2 levels with double click (low 1 / low 2 – medium 1 / medium 2 – high 1 / high 2 – turbo 1 / turbo 2).

Looking for:

5” parabolic reflector (for recoil light)

leaftye
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If you’re a long distance hiker, then yes, 18650 is too heavy. I have a Zebralight H52 to cut down some of that weight and bulk, but unfortunately for you, I don’t think there’s a Nichia option. Since I’m out there to hike, I’m awake for very little time when it’s dark, so I can easily get 500 miles from a battery, so it’s safe to use a lithium primary AA, which saves even more weight. The H52 really is overkill for me, but I really like the ability to get a spare AA while restocking my food bag in town. The beam pattern is great for hiking too. Just the right amount of flood and throw to light up the trail, but still enough throw to find campsites if I waited to long to get off the trail.

The low mode should be lower.

Reviews: Efan IMR18350 700mAh 10.5A, <a href="http://

joechina
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From the imalent HR20 review http://budgetlightforum.com/node/51092
a comparison of different lamps how floddy the Skilhunt H03 is

Lumenzilla has a giv with all brightness settings. The last picture
https://lumenzilla.com/en/reviews/review-skilhunt-h03-tir-optic.html

For HR20 and H03 NW there are coupons on Gearbest

My H03 bought from Gearbest 4 weeks ago is ~4500K and nice , but as always it’s a bit of a lottery.

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RollerBoySE
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For outdoor use, high CRI is what matters more than anything else, if you want to be able to see details.
The Nitecore NU20 CRI is a very nice lightweight headlamp.

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ZozzV6 wrote:
“I made some compare pics.”:http://indafoto.hu/Zozz/skilhunt_h03boruit_rj02

Nice comparison…

I swapped out the default TIR from my RJ02 to a 60°. Very nice.

Tried a 90 and 120 which I got yesterday, but didn’t like the beams. Too much of a “bullseye”, rather bright ring around the periphery, then slightly darker towards the middle, then pretty much the same hotspot as my 60. It’s annoying even in practice, not just white-wall hunting.

Sticking with the 60, as it’s nice and smooth. If I need a little more throw, I got the come-with TIR just in case.

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Gj
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The Imalent HR20 is $19.99 right now. (includes 2600mAH cell)

M4DM4X’s thread here.

joechina
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The Imalent HR20 is a nice package, but it has a normal beam, not a wide one, what more people prefer on a headlamp.
All comparisons I’ve read favour the H03 for headlamp and normal use.

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I have a H03 so I buy the HR20 on purpose for a far throwing headlamp.

WalkIntoTheLight
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Consider what you’re going to be using the headlamp for, before deciding on the battery type. An 18650 light really only makes sense if you need really long run time, or very high output + decent run time. Also, you don’t want to be bouncing around too much with the bulk and weight of an 18650 light on your head. Otherwise, a AA/14500 light makes more sense.

A 1xAA or 14500 light will give you about 8 hours at 50 lumens output, which is probably what you’ll be using most of the time. If you want to use it at 200 lumens, that just means you need to change the battery every couple of hours. If you need higher output than that on a constant basis, then you probably want an 18650 light.

nquinn
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WalkIntoTheLight wrote:
Consider what you’re going to be using the headlamp for, before deciding on the battery type. An 18650 light really only makes sense if you need really long run time, or very high output + decent run time. Also, you don’t want to be bouncing around too much with the bulk and weight of an 18650 light on your head. Otherwise, a AA/14500 light makes more sense.

A 1xAA or 14500 light will give you about 8 hours at 50 lumens output, which is probably what you’ll be using most of the time. If you want to use it at 200 lumens, that just means you need to change the battery every couple of hours. If you need higher output than that on a constant basis, then you probably want an 18650 light.

I am considering this. It might be nicer to have a lighter weight headlamp, and just carry a spare 14500 battery in my backpack.

I’ve read some mixed reviews – for camping/hiking, would you say most people end up using ~ 20 lumens (low mode) or ~ 50-70 lumens (medium mode)?

That will help me get a better estimate of the runtime I’d get from each battery.

Can anyone help me fill out this chart for most batteries?

Average Runtime Low (~20 lumens) Medium (~50-70 lumens)
186500 75hrs@20 25hrs@70
14500 x 3hrs@50 (acebeam)

Anyone have a good sense of how long I’d typically get on a 14500 in medium (50-70 lumens)? The 3hrs on that acebeam seems really short, but found another thorfire that seems to show similar. Makes me lean towards an 18650.

I’m not seeing anything that does 8 hours @ 50 lumens like you described.

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You really should pick up a Skilhunt H03.
It is a wonderful light, and I find it more comfortable than many of the smaller headlights that I had before becoming an BLF geek. It really does not seem heavy or bulky to me at all.

.
Do you want to have the ability to really light things up and see everything clearly, or do you just want to have enough light to make sure you don’t trip over a sleeping Black Bear? As far as lighting up stuff in your immediate field of vision goes the H03 is a game changer. However, if you are content with stumbling around on 50 lumens then its probably overkill.

Personally I would rather have the ability to really light things up when need be, it makes working on things like setting up a tent, cooking, or taking out the garbage much less of a struggle. If all you are doing is walking down a trail for 10 miles maybe you want a tiny headlamp like a nitecore NU10. if you want to work around the campsite the H03 is a no brainer.

If you need to see longer distances, then there are other versions of the H03 that are less floody, or you could go with the Nitecore HC30 / Imalent HR20

joechina
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Skilhunt H03 – 18650
High 2: 160 lumens 11 hours
Medium 1:70 lumens 25 hours
Medium 2: 20 lumens 75 hours

Skilhunt H15 – 14500
150 lumen 3 hours
50 lumen 8.5 hours

I have both and use the H03 for different reasons.
Runtime is 3x, for only 5mm longer. Compact and lightweight for 18650, warm white, good user interface, moon, if I want brighter.

H15 is kinda big and heavy for a AA

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