Wowtac A2S Headlamp Review

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zeroair
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Wowtac A2S Headlamp Review

Wowtac makes some solid, inexpensive lights, and they’ve updated their A2 headlamp.  Wowtac has released the A2S, which almost doubles the output across all modes, increases throw, but retains the nice form factor of the headlamp.  Read on for full testing of the Wowtac A2S!


Official Specs and Features

Here’s a link to the official product page.

Versions

As mentioned, this is revision 2 of the A2.  So there’s the original, which is available in NW and CW.  And the A2S is also available in NW and CW (seen here).

Price

The Wowtac A2S retails for $35.95.


Short Review

This is a solid, inexpensive 18650 headlamp.  It performs well, and meets its claims.  Also it includes the needed cell, and is available in NW.  I’d call it a good buy.

Long Review

The Big Table

Wowtac A2S
Emitter: Cree XP-L (V6)
Price in USD at publication time: $35.95
Cell: 1×18650
Turbo Runtime High Runtime
LVP? Yes
Switch Type: E-Switch
Quiescent Current (A): 0.0001
On-Board Charging? Yes
Chargetime
Power off Charge Port with no Cell?
Claimed Lumens (lm) 1050
Measured Lumens (at 30s) 1180 (112.4% of claim)*
Claimed Throw (m) 182
Candela (Calculated) in cd (at 30s) 351lux @ 5.06m = 8987cd
Throw (Calculated) (m) 189.6 (104.2% of claim)*
All my Wowtac reviews!

* Measurement disclaimer:  I am an amateur flashlight reviewer.  I don’t have $10,000 or even $1,000 worth of testing equipment.  I test output and such in PVC tubes!!  Please consider claims within 10% of what I measure to be perfectly reasonable (accurate, even).

What’s Included

  • Wowtac A2S Headlamp
  • Wowtac headband
  • Wowtac USB rechargeable 18650 cell
  • Charge cable (USB to micro-USB)
  • Spare o-ring
  • Manual

Package and Manual

Standard Wowtac package here.  Notice the “Technically Supported by Thrunite” – the box even is very much like Thrunite’s box.

Good manual.

Build Quality and Disassembly

No complaints about build quality.  In particular I like most of the knurling.  The tailcap, which must be removed for cell changes, has plenty of knurling and is large enough for a good grip.

The knurling on the body is fine too, but probably mostly superfluous since as a headlamp the light won’t most often be gripped here.

And the knurling on the head is completely superfluous, because this part doesn’t even unscrew at all.  Well actually it does unscrew, but all it reveals is the electronic switch, so there’s no need to ever do this.  I’m very surprised there’s no threadlock here, actually.

The tailcap has a big spring, but no magnet.  Also note the threads on the body there – big beefy square cut threads, and not many of them.  Just around a turn and a half for removal.

The head has only a button for positive contact.

The cell tube is fully removable, and also reversible.  It works in either direction.  However, only one direction is sensible for headlamp use in the provided holder.

Size and Comps

Officially:
Weight:  108g (Battery Excluded)
Dimension:  106mm*30mm*23.5mm

Retention and Carry

As this is a headlamp, there are no real other ways to carry it except the provided headstrap.  No pocket clip, no lanyard, no magnet, etc.  But the headstrap is good.

Above, you can see the correct cell tube orientation for use in the headstrap.  If you have the tube in the other direction, the head is cantilevered out too far and the balance is very wrong.

The headband is just stretchy material; there is no grippy part to hold it in place.

And the over-head part isn’t removable, either.

Quick note here… the button protrudes too much for headstanding.

Power and Runtime

Wowtac provides the necessary cell for running this light.  It’s a 3400mAh 18650, and has build in micro-USB charging.

Here’s a runtime on Turbo.  Output beats the claim by a fair margin in my test.  The light steps down after a short (but respectable) while, and then finally ends with a warning from the main emitter (two flashes).

High output is essentially the same as Turbo but just starts at 450 lumens instead of stepping down to 450.

Both tests exhibit the two flash warning of low voltage.  Bench power does indicate the light has LVP, too.

The included cell has built-in charging via a micro-USB port.  An appropriate cable is included.

Charging is at a very conservative 0.55A, and takes around 7 hours to complete.

Modes and Currents

Mode Mode Claimed Output (lm) Claimed Runtime Measured Lumens Tailcap Amps
Turbo 1050 2.7h 1180 2.85
High 420 4.5h 433 1.15
Medium 126 14.7h 148 0.30
Low 24 4d 26 0.08
Firefly 0.3 59d ~ 0.03

PWM

Firefly and Turbo don’t have PWM, but the middle 3 modes do.  Note the timescale though – 50us.  That’s faster than I can notice by eye, so it’s likely to not be a concern for you either.

For reference, here’s a baseline shot, with all the room lights off and almost nothing hitting the sensor.  And here’s the worst PWM light I have ever owned.  Also one of the very first lights I ordered directly from China!

User Interface and Operation

There’s a single switch for operating the A2S.  It’s a head e-switch.  The button is proud and has a bunch of grip.

The UI is fine but there’s a bit of a quirk.  Sometimes the light goes from Medium back to Low, instead of going on to High.

Here’s a UI table!

State Action Result
Off Click On (Mode Memory (except Firefly and Turbo and SOS)
Off Hold Firefly
Off Double Click Turbo (really On, then Turbo)
On Hold Mode cycle (LMH) (excludes Firefly and Turbo and SOS)
Turbo Double Click SOS
On Click Off

LED and Beam

The emitter is a Cree XP-L HD.  The A2S has a smooth reflector, which is surprisingly deep.

These beamshots are always with the following settings:  f8, ISO100, 0.3s shutter, and manual 5000K exposure.

Tint vs BLF-348 (Killzone 219b version)

I compare everything to the Killzone 219b BLF-348, because it’s inexpensive and has the best tint!

Random Comparisons and Competitive Options….

Here’s a link to a relevantly filtered page on parametrek.com.  I use that site a lot!  As you can see, this is a very filled out category.  Nothing really competes on price, though!

Conclusion

What I like

  • Great price
  • Full package, ready to roll
  • Good build quality
  • Tail cap design is exceptional
  • Available in NW as well as CW.

What I don’t like

  • PWM on middle modes

Notes

  • This light was provided by Wowtac for review. I was not paid to write this review.
  • This content originally appeared at zeroair.org.  Please visit there for the best experience!
  • Whether or not I have a coupon for this light, I do have a bunch of coupons!!  Have a look at my spreadsheet for BangGood and GearBest coupons. Please subscribe and get notifications when the sheet is edited!!
Edited by: zeroair on 11/09/2019 - 21:21
zeroair
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Seems like some images get squished horizontally. Sorry for that. The old way of resizing them doesn’t seem to work today.

phouton
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Thanks for this review. How would you compare it to the Sofirn SP40?

I’m surprised the A2S weighs in at 106g while the SP40 is 63g, excluding battery in both cases… is that right?

zak.wilson
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I just weighed my A2S and got 58g without the headband, with a pocket clip. It’s about twice that with the headband. The official spec is probably for the light and headband without the pocket clip or battery.

Ceilingbounce – flashlight testing and runtime graphs for Android

phouton
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That makes a lot more sense, thanks. Misleading (and unfavorable) official spec!

raccoon city
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zeroair wrote:

Seems like some images get squished horizontally. Sorry for that. The old way of resizing them doesn't seem to work today.

If you're using the Advanced Editor, you need to manually delete the vertical dimension for each image.

zeroair
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raccoon city wrote:

zeroair wrote:

Seems like some images get squished horizontally. Sorry for that. The old way of resizing them doesn’t seem to work today.


If you’re using the Advanced Editor, you need to manually delete the vertical dimension for each image.


Actually thought I was trying that, but when I put in a value, the dimensions in the post didn’t change. Seems to be ok though?
raccoon city
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Depends on if you care if the aspect ratio is good or not.

Right now it is not good.

raccoon city
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The images look great now...

Thanks for the review!