[review] 77Outdoor D25 headlamp

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Lightbringer
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[review] 77Outdoor D25 headlamp

Always a fan of Boruit headlamps, I saw this one from 77 Outdoors which looks very similar to the D25, and wanted to try it. The nice thing is the relation to Sofirn, which speaks to its quality. And indeed, this light came with a Sofirn-branded 2200mAH cell.

It came in a nondescript brown box, sturdy corrugated cardboard, not the usual Cheap White Box that might as well be made of wet pasta. Nicely packed, the headlamp and headband folded to fit, with USB charging cable on top. There were no printed instructions included, but I got a followup email with a .pdf of the manual. Just as well, as most printed manuals require an electron microscope to read the smudged molecule-sized text anyway.

First impression is that the light is very lightweight, even with the cell. Even with the headband loose, the light didn’t feel heavy at all and didn’t flop around much. The band adjusts quite well from brain-squeezingly tight to being able to pull it over my head and use it as a necklace. There’s no 3rd over-the-head strap, but it still fits well and seems stable.

Anodisation seems pretty good, a flat black, no nicks or bald-spots that I could see. There are two end-caps on the body. One on the switch-side unscrews but is captive, just opening enough to expose the otherwise protected USB charging-port. The other cap unscrews to replace the cell if necessary. Both caps are very thin-walled. Threads on both are frighteningly shallow. I imagine this is done to save weight, but makes me very hesitant to overtorque them. Minor quibble, but the threads could also use quite a bit more lube, as they’re a bit “scratchy”.

The light has a pair of emitters vs a single one. That can help as far as efficiency and brightness (sharing the current instead of handling it all). Front glass is in fact glass, not plastic. It uses orange-peel reflectors vs TIR lenses. Oh, well, maybe I can swap them. One downside of using reflectors, even OP ones, is that the beam has some artifacts. The hotspot has a bright corona with slightly darker center, and the spill has a few “bullseye” rings. This is only objectionable when looking at a blank wall, and doesn’t seem to interfere with normal use. It’s also a very cool-white, quite blue, especially in the spill. A warmer white, even neutral white, would be so much better.

On the bright(!) side, it is in fact quite bright! 1100lm? Yeah, I’d say so. I don’t have any meter to measure it precisely, but comparing to other ~1000lm lights via ceiling-bounce, it’s definitely up there.

As for the UI (user-interface)… I was all prepared to hate it, but it grew on me. LOL One click for on (medium), another quick click to high, another click for off. Simple. Chances are you’ll be using those two modes most of the time, so I can see how/why they designed it that way. Once on, press’n‘hold cycles from the current setting to the next-lower, cycling from highest to lowest. Eg, click on for level 3, then press’n‘hold for 3-2-1-5-4-3-2-1-5-4-…, release when you want that particular setting.

It’s no secret, I hate blinkies, especially on lights where it’s just inappropriate, eg, AA- or AAA-lights, headlamps, etc. A doubleclick gets you to strobe, another to SOS, another to beacon. Hate the first two, but beacon is a nice Nitecore-style beacon, a quick bright flash every few seconds Very noticeable, intensely bright, but very low average power. I suppose if you get lost in the woods, that’d provide lots of “beaconing” for days. Still, blinkies are fairly hidden.

Despite there being a “tailswitch”, make no mistake that this is an e-switch light, and there’s some parasitic drain unless you physically lock out (eg, partially unscrew the tailcap by the battery) the light. Treat it as such, and don’t leave it somewhere unattended for months as a just-in-case light.

So, the two most-used modes are just 1-2 clicks away, and you can still get to the others very easily. Like I said, it grew on me. Big Smile

Charging it in situ via USB (and included cable) comes in pretty handy. I’ll be doing more tests later on both the battery and the charging, but first impressions are quite positive. A similarly-covered indicator next to the port glows red when charging, green when done. Can’t ask for simpler.

Last, while the light swivels up/down in the ‘C’-shaped prongs on the headband, it’s removable, and quite easy to use when “palming” it. Hold the light as if holding a small can of breath-spray or Mace (just don’t confuse the two), and you can click on/off easily if not naturally.

All in all, it’s a great little headlamp. The color is way too blue and ringy for me, but it’s way bright, and the lightweight feel and pretty much every else wrap it up into a nice little package. And the included Sofirn cell is icing on that particular cake.

[pix’n‘stuff to follow]

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aswang
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Thanks for the review Lightbringer. Good to know you like the light. I’ve been eyeing this headlamp and the like because its quite cheap and seems to be built well. Is it easy to access the emitters? How’s the runtime/efficiency?

Lightbringer
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aswang wrote:
Is it easy to access the emitters? How’s the runtime/efficiency?

No idea about the runtime as I don’t have it on me (let someone borrow it for a while), but the front bezel is held in with those 4 screws, and the 2 LEDs are on a custom MCPCB that apparently can be pried off and replaced (rubbery Fujik-like stuff, not epoxy).

I was in fact going to do that, if 20mm stars would fit, solder the 2 together with one set of pads, use the other set to the existing wires coming out from the body. Then let the stars “float” on AS5 (regular thermal goop) held in-place by the reflectors or better yet TIRs if they fit (ordered, not received yet).

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aswang
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Thanks for the info :THUMBS-UP:. Just the answer I was hoping for. I think I might just buy one of these to play with.

gchart
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LB, it looks like we pretty well agree on this one. Nice for a cheap, bang-around headlamp. But not something I’d trust my life with.

aswang wrote:
Is it easy to access the emitters? How’s the runtime/efficiency?

Getting to the emitters, as LB said, is easy. Doing something with them… maybe not so much. If you want to replace the custom PCB, you might be able to fit 2× 16mm in there, but I don’t think 20mm would fit (I forgot to measure that). Easiest thing would be to reflow other XM-L2s in the original MCPCB.

As far as runtime goes, I measured 200 minutes to empty using a Samsung 35E:

Quadrupel
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From maukka’s H2R review

ys9spUl

D10&D25 uses same primitive driver with zero stabilization and low efficiency

ys9spUl Big Smile

gchart
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Yes, the driver in these is quite primitive… reflective of it’s low price. You’d be hard-pressed to find one of those nicer headlamps for the $10-20 that a D10/25 can be had for.

With how square the runtime of those other headlamps are, I’d say they must be using buck drivers which area definitely nicer but considerably more expensive.

It all depends on how much $ you want to spend.

Quadrupel
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Yes, indeed, i paid 8$ for it and think i can pay more 5$ for dedicated driver with attiny and few AMC7135 on board. Where i can buy it?? Big Smile

gchart
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Quadrupel wrote:
Yes, indeed, i paid 8$ for it and think i can pay more 5$ for dedicated driver with attiny and few AMC7135 on board. Where i can buy it?? Big Smile

Yeah… yeah… I think I might go ahead and design one just for fun. I need to take to original out and take some measurements. I’m thinking maybe 2x CN5710 for 2 amps (instead of 7135s) + a Attiny412 loaded with RampingIOS? That’ll get us proper linear regulation, a great UI, and temp regulation. I could see if there’s room for 4x or 5× 7135 (for 1.4A-1.75A) and an Attiny85 – that’s more familiar territory for a lot of folks. We’ll see.
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Waiting impatiently Thumbs Up
bikenber73
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I am thinking/hoping that this might be a precursor to a Sofirn-branded headlamp similar in design. I think it’s smart to release this under a different brand so as not to tarnish the Sofirn name, get some feedback, feel out the interest level. Hopefully come out with a nice headlamp in the near future.

gchart
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A true Sofirn headlamp does sound enticing! Maybe someone should bend Barry’s ear

Serlite
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gchart wrote:
A true Sofirn headlamp does sound enticing! Maybe someone should bend Barry’s ear

There have been signs that Sofirn’s working on some kind of headlamp, namely: http://budgetlightforum.com/comment/1463890#comment-1463890
No information other than that sole post, though.

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Serlite wrote:
There have been signs that Sofirn’s working on some kind of headlamp…

Thanks for that, I had stopped watching that thread and missed it
pennzy
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aswang wrote:
Thanks for the review Lightbringer. Good to know you like the light. I’ve been eyeing this headlamp and the like because its quite cheap and seems to be built well. Is it easy to access the emitters? How’s the runtime/efficiency?

I have used it a couple of times to cut in with a paint brush . Used on Med. most of a work day and charged it when I got home. It was down to I think about 15% left . So at Med it will last about I’d guess 6hrs ? It would easily last all day with a larger capacity battery.
DB Custom
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I got an email giving an Amazon discount on this light in twin SST-40 configuration. It was a little weak in stock trim, 2.55A or so at the neg end of the cell. I tweaked it and now get 1940 lumens at start on a full Molicel P26A at 6.34A.

Some neat features on this one, but still it’s missing some finer points… like that they should have made the cover plate from Al instead of plastic. I like it, have used it, and for the price it really is difficult to complain much here.

Hats off to Sofirn for some decent quality at an affordable price point. Wink

gchart
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I’m with ya… for the price point this thing is punching at, it’s a good deal. But just a couple small things could make it so much better (aluminum cover, taller threads).

The thing that worries me about jacking up the output is the lack of thermal mass and fins to shed the extra heat.

Lightbringer
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DB Custom wrote:
I got an email giving an Amazon discount on this light in twin SST-40 configuration. It was a little weak in stock trim, 2.55A or so at the neg end of the cell. I tweaked it and now get 1940 lumens at start on a full Molicel P26A at 6.34A.

Sooooooo… one of these dealies

like the 35,000lm headlamp mentioned elsewhere?

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gchart
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No, no… That’s the new Convoy H1 in stock form. Without any juicing, it hit and maintained 84°C. Not exactly what I want strapped to my forehead.

Now that I swapped MCU’s and it has RampingIOS with thermal throttling, it’s much safer. I no longer feel like I have a stick of dynamite strapped to my head.

DB Custom
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Well, you know, there are no prerequisite’s for actually using the highest level… Wink

At only around 20 watts it shouldn’t be too bad, Lord knows I have much hotter lights. Big Smile

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Still, I wouldn’t want Ol’ Sparky strapped to my head, either.

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PBWilson
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I just picked up my very own D25S and like it quite a lot. Most of my impressions match the comments above, but here are some particulars that I found while testing it out on the property:

Reasonably lightweight. Even with an 18650 cell, it stays put on the strap even without a top strap. I did my very best version of “13 year old me at the Iron Maiden Powerslave tour concert in the ’80s” and it didn’t slip or slide to any degree that caused me to worry after banging my head for a bit.

The angle adjustment isn’t super grippy, but it makes it easy to fine tune and still doesn’t slip.

The hidden USB port is a design that I like and I hope more manufacturers give it a try because it most likely keeps out grit and moisture better than some of the rubber flap designs I’ve had and tried out. It won’t wear out and need replacing either. It could use a touch of lube on the o-ring though. That would make it even more weatherproof. It didn’t come with replacement o-rings. I wish it did because finding a particular one for a particular light can be a pain. Hopefully it’s a somewhat standard size and one that is shared with other lights I have.

The levels are spaced well. It wasn’t hard to find one that worked for up close stuff or reaching out into the darkness of the edges of the yard. I didn’t read up on the UI and it confused me why it sometimes went up in brightness and sometimes down. I’ve still got to read and play with it a little more, but regardless, it didn’t take long to scroll through the levels to find one that fit a given situation. A good UI for me is one that can be understood with a very short amount of fiddling. I’m sure some would be confused, but with a number of different UIs in my flashlight collection, I don’t mind if one is different, just so long that I can navigate it in a minute or less. A lower low might be nice for reading in a tent without keeping my wife up though.

The light is only available in CW tint which definitely isn’t my favorite. I’d bet that they sell more with that tint and by being able to report the added lumens compared to a NW or WW emitter. I’ll survive with it. These are my first SST40 lights and they do the job nicely. I’ll most likely compare them to my other lights in the near future, but they put out a nice beam with a hefty dose of spill around the diffused hot spot. I prefer really floody headlamps so I don’t have to actually look down to see my feet. I’ll check soon to see how these fare. I can’t recall from my evening of playing around. I wonder how a diffusing film would work…

I’m not so keen on the battery drain. The “manual” or “smaller than a business card” fact sheet warns to turn the cap “half a circle” to manually lock it out. With anything going in a backpack, I do this anyway. It may be a pain or a sorry surprise if people don’t follow this tip, but for the money, it’s something I’m willing to deal with. It’s nice that they decided to share this in the paperwork with the light. It comes with a Sofirn 18650 cell that from the length of it, appears to be a protected cell. It’s a nice pairing for a light that might drain the cell faster than others.

About the money side, 77Outdoor and their related partner company, Sofirn are top notch in the budget light range. I’ve got a handful of their lights and my family has some of them also once they played around with my lights. Yup, there’s plastic and only an IPX6 rating, but for the final touches, they seem to cost more from other companies. Overall, I’m liking this light quite a lot and it’ll come in handy for a lot of jobs in the shop, around the house and yard and even on the trail. I’m a strong believer that more people should own a headlamp. Having hands free and not having to bite a knurled aluminum tube are well worth the price of admission.

Lightbringer
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I didn’t have complaints about the strap(s) at first, but now I sorta do. Not a big deal, though.

The adjuster doesn’t stay in place, often loosens for no reason. Once it’s taut, it more or less stays in place, but sometimes when slinging it on, it just “opens up”.

That, and the plastic clips that hold the light also let me pull the light off the strap, instead of pulling the strap off my head. LOL

I like the kind of enclosed-loop rubber mount like on the RJ02s. Them’s built like a tank.

 

But yeah, the D25S is more conventional in the UI, and is nice and easy to figure out. The UI on the regular D25? I think I’m in the minority, one who doesn’t hate it, and in fact it kinda grew on me. Medium right-off, another click for brighter. The 2 most-used modes are right there and ready.

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