Is there any budget, high-CRI, AA headlamp?

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Nyr
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Is there any budget, high-CRI, AA headlamp?

As far as I know, the market for budget AA headlamps with good light quality is dry at the moment:

  • Sofirn HS05 is discontinuued – still available from AliExpress, but only the 2700K version which is not good for a general purpose light.
  • Manker E03H II – high-CRI version has been out of stock for months now. Supposedly coming back, but still no news.
  • Convoy is working towards a AA headlamp, but still in the design phase, with no guarantees of becoming a reality anytime soon.
  • Wurkkos seems open to considering a product in this space, but only words at this point.

Is there any option right now?

  • Wuben H5 – good design, but low quality emitter
  • Fenix HM23 – mediocre all-around
  • Get a Sofirn HS05 2700K and swap the emitter – difficult because the PCB seems to be glued.

In case it matters, I am European, so not up to date on US-centric brands.

Quadrupel
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Why AA?

Nyr
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Quadrupel wrote:
Why AA?

Why not?

  • I can put a LSD NiMH inside the light and forget about it until the moment it is needed – same can’t be said about Li-ion
  • 18650 headlamps are bulkier and heavier. Smaller Li-ion form factors have little advantage compared to AA.
  • AA batteries are readily available and most of us already have plenty of spares. In an emergency, I can always go to a supermarket and get some alkalines.

Quadrupel
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So you need an emergency headlamp which will be used very rarely. So weight and CRI its not matter at all then.
You can put inside Li-on but not tighten tail cap fully. Li-ion rechargeable batteries have a self-discharge rate typically stated by manufacturers to be 1.5–2% per month ;))

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Nyr wrote:
* I can put a LSD NiMH inside the light and forget about it until the moment it is needed – same can’t be said about Li-ion
Why not? Li-ion have lower self discharge than LSD NiMH and while their lifetime might be shortened by storing them fully charged, in practice it’s not that much.

edit: Maybe I was wrong about self discharge, but in practice the difference is probably not noticeable.

Nyr wrote:
* 18650 headlamps are bulkier and heavier. Smaller Li-ion form factors have little advantage compared to AA.
14500 Li-ion have the same size. And they make more lights possible.

Nyr wrote:
* AA batteries are readily available and most of us already have plenty of spares. In an emergency, I can always go to a supermarket and get some alkalines.
Good luck finding alkalines in an emergency situation after everyone else bought everything that is available. Get a solar panel and recharge your Li-ion batteries.

With AA/AAA support there’s only the Manker E02 II WW / E03H II WW. Good luck finding one, they are not in production anymore, only the ugly CW version.

DrDevil
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AceBeam H40

Maybe no Budget Light but not to expensiv (O.K. I see with SST20 High Cri out of stock and more expensive)

https://www.stewitsch.de/p/acebeam-h40-stirnlampe

https://zeroair.org/2019/01/30/acebeam-h40-headlamp-review/

Nyr
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I need a headlamp which will be used:

  • When I need to work on something where a good quality light is required
  • When I go camping for a week, with no electrical power available

So getting a Li-ion headlamp implies getting multiple batteries in a form factor which I do not already have, and maintaining them. I see no advantage in doing that, compared to using what I already have.

Quadrupel wrote:
So you need an emergency headlamp which will be used very rarely. So weight and CRI its not matter at all then.

Yes, weight matters when I need to use the headlamp for a whole hour in my head. CRI also matters when I need to distinguish the color of two cables, or solder, or some other technical work. CRI also matters if I am camping, specially if I am cooking. I know my needs and what matters to me, so please do not be so condescending and assume I know no better.

SammysHP wrote:
Good luck finding alkalines in an emergency situation after everyone else bought everything that is available. Get a solar panel and recharge your Li-ion batteries.

Emergency situation for me, not end of the world scenario. I do not want to carry a solar panel + charger while camping, when I can simply carry 8xAA batteries.

SammysHP wrote:
With AA/AAA support there’s only the Manker E02 II WW / E03H II WW. Good luck finding one, they are not in production anymore, only the ugly CW version.

According to Manker they are indeed in production as of a month ago, I asked them. Apparently they were going to be available soon, but we will see.
.

Thanks to everyone, it looks like there is no great option at the moment.

Simon or Manker seem like the best candidates for something viable in the future.

Quadrupel
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Really? Zebralight is not an option?

Nyr
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Quadrupel wrote:
Really? Zebralight is not an option?

74€ shipped. Not a budget friendly option.

Marc E
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I have no idea why you’ve been forced to justify your choices, i find it quite hostile and unsupportive.

Unfortunately i don’t know of anything that fits your criteria, sorry. Hopefully something will become available soon.

There is an option to get a headband like this:

https://www.nitecore.co.uk/products/nitecore-hb02-head-band.html

and use an AA light of your choice, but i’m not sure how well the angles would work as the light would be in the side of your head without any vertical angle adjustment, and you may need to pad the light out for the larger diameter of the loops.

I have one somewhere, if i can find it i’ll see what it’s like in use.

Nyr
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Marc E wrote:
I have no idea why you’ve been forced to justify your choices, i find it quite hostile and unsupportive.

Unfortunately i don’t know of anything that fits your criteria, sorry. Hopefully something will become available soon.

There is an option to get a headband like this:

https://www.nitecore.co.uk/products/nitecore-hb02-head-band.html

and use an AA light of your choice, but i’m not sure how well the angles would work as the light would be in the side of your head without any vertical angle adjustment, and you may need to pad the light out for the larger diameter of the loops.

I have one somewhere, if i can find it i’ll see what it’s like in use.

Thanks, I also considered this.

For now, I am using a different “creative” solution: my AA headlights attached with their clip to a cap, which works ok and is kinda comfortable.

how crazy is this
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If the Manker E03H II comes back, and especially if there is a deal offered, I will most likely get at least one. The E02 II is my most used light because no other light I have tried is better at what I want from a flashlight most of the time. Not 100% certain but would like to test if the AA is still as versatile and unobtrusive as the AAA. I can clip or magnet the E02 II virtually anywhere and the weight is almost undetectable. My TH20 is into 18650 territory for weight, the Fenix clip I have for it is lacking, and of course the stock emitter / reflector are not even close to the excellent TIR and SST 20 high CRI.

No 18650 / 27100 light is ever going to be able to do what the EO2 II can do. The EO3 II just might. If it isn’t too large / heavy the extra battery capacity would be quite nice. As it is now most of the time I just swap batteries before I go out at night so usually it is not a problem.

The TS21 has the same LED great beam pattern and phenomenal battery life. Too heavy to be usefully clipped to a hat. Too bulky and wrong configuration for using the magnet as effectively in a server closet. It does fit well in a jeans pocket and is nearly always with me because sometimes I actually want / need more light than a AAA is capable of. Small percentage of what I use a flashlight for but also really fun to be able to put out more serious lumen.

bansuri
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Marc E wrote:
I have no idea why you’ve been forced to justify your choices, i find it quite hostile and unsupportive.

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smurcod
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Have you tried looking at brands aimed at hiking/ camping like Princeton Tec and Black Diamond? They’ll definitely fit the AAA/ AA criteria, but most likely not CRI or possibly the budget.

I’ve got an older 4 x AAA Black Diamond head lamp and recently picked up an 18650 Sofirn D25L , the Sofirn puts out a much wider, brighter beam and is far more comfortable to wear.

extremesquared
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It has certainly fallen out of fashion, but there are a hundred ways you can attach any AA to the side of your head. The key is to give it at least a few degrees of downward aim somehow.

gravelmonkey
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I don’t understand why everyone hating either… I’m also looking for similar. For me 14500 and AA compatibility and thermal Stepdown (which the Manker doesn’t have) would be brilliant

Oli
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Nyr wrote:

Why not?

  • I can put a LSD NiMH inside the light and forget about it until the moment it is needed – same can’t be said about Li-ion

It’s statements like this that make people question your knowledge of lithium-ion and and your refusal to get on board.
And I don’t really believe that anybody here thinks that taking eight AA batteries on a week-long camping trip to feed your main light is a reasonable choice. That is indefensible.

You can't compare the big flashlight in the sky to the little flashlight in your hand.

extremesquared
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gravelmonkey wrote:
I don’t understand why everyone hating either… I’m also looking for similar. For me 14500 and AA compatibility and thermal Stepdown (which the Manker doesn’t have) would be brilliant

The response is predictable. Most internet-forum-based experience is not going to be from “outdoors people”.

AA/AAA is the default at campsites, and there are perfectly valid reasons to stick with nimh.

Headlamps are also the default for a lot of valid use cases.

Ergo, the person’s question is one of the most reasonable questions we’ll ever see on here. We are the weird ones.

buck91
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Acebeam H40 and Thrunite TH20 are the first to come to mind. Both are very good headlamps in my experience. Easy easy to swap emitters in the TH20 (probably the H40 as well).

smurcod
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You could wear a cap and use a Sofirn SP10 Pro ? Smile (Or any other of the small AA flash lights with dual clips.)

The light output of the SP10 is impressive even with AA nimh batteries. 14500 is brighter again.

Nyr
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smurcod wrote:
You could wear a cap and use a Sofirn SP10 Pro ? Smile (Or any other of the small AA flash lights with dual clips.)

The light output of the SP10 is impressive even with AA nimh batteries. 14500 is brighter again.

SP10 Pro is absolutely excellent with NiMh, I love that light.

I am going to wait for Manker or Convoy to have something available, hopefully having a bit of patience will pay off.

extremesquared wrote:
gravelmonkey wrote:
I don’t understand why everyone hating either… I’m also looking for similar. For me 14500 and AA compatibility and thermal Stepdown (which the Manker doesn’t have) would be brilliant

The response is predictable. Most internet-forum-based experience is not going to be from “outdoors people”.

AA/AAA is the default at campsites, and there are perfectly valid reasons to stick with nimh.

Headlamps are also the default for a lot of valid use cases.

Ergo, the person’s question is one of the most reasonable questions we’ll ever see on here. We are the weird ones.

I have been on the internet long enough to not be surprised at all with the response. I understand that people are passionate about Li-ion in an enthusiast forum, and I own 14500 and 21700 lights myself, but already did my research and need no help choosing the chemistry.

Anyway the thread has been useful to have a more complete compilation of options than what I initially had.

how crazy is this
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Nyr wrote:

SP10 Pro is absolutely excellent with NiMh, I love that light.

I am going to wait for Manker or Convoy to have something available, hopefully having a bit of patience will pay off.

Agreed, except I guess I’m kind of a tint snob. Love the SP10 as well but prefer a warmer tint.

Really hope this format is not neglected and that another production run is forthcoming.

Chemistry has little to do with it from my perspective. Most every light that uses dual chem in this format limit their use for me to NiMh. Moonlight is far more important to me than the extra output from LiIon. A well driven AA is pleanty bright for what I would need most of the time. The few times I need more than that, most likely I would already be using something 18650 or 21700. Without a good moonlight it simply is not acceptable for me.

The reduced mass and ready availability of standardized cells with zero possibility of thermal runaway are things that this format can do that LiIon simply cannot. I think those attributes make this format very worthy of continuing and hope to see more lights in the future.

smurcod
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how crazy is this wrote:

Chemistry has little to do with it from my perspective. Most every light that uses dual chem in this format limit their use for me to NiMh. Moonlight is far more important to me than the extra output from LiIon. A well driven AA is pleanty bright for what I would need most of the time. The few times I need more than that, most likely I would already be using something 18650 or 21700. Without a good moonlight it simply is not acceptable for me.

The reduced mass and ready availability of standardized cells with zero possibility of thermal runaway are things that this format can do that LiIon simply cannot. I think those attributes make this format very worthy of continuing and hope to see more lights in the future.

The SP10 Pro (Anduril 2) moonlight mode with the 14500 works fine – the LED is barely detectable as being “on” in a lit room. That’s when looking directly at the LED.

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how crazy is this wrote:
… Moonlight is far more important to me than the extra output from LiIon. A well driven AA is pleanty bright for what I would need most of the time. The few times I need more than that, most likely I would already be using something 18650 or 21700. Without a good moonlight it simply is not acceptable for me…

Absolutely agree that lows are more important than highs. I’ve been putting up with the nimh low of the convoy t3, though, and am finding I can tolerate a lowest mode that is right at the low functional edge of dark-adjusted-vision trail-walkable. In fact, it’s sort of nice to just always switch on to a “perfect low”. I’d rather have this perfect lowest mode than have it spanned by moonlight and too-bright, but I guess if you’re an Anduril fan, that is not a concern.

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Used the TH20 clipped to my parka for walking the pooches last night. Remembered one thing that it does that many lights would not be able to do. It went through a complete wash and dry cycle! Actually I think it has went through a couple of wash cycles. The thing is very well made. Not very likely that any of the USB charging with flaps would survive that.
I still think it is a very nice beam pattern and quality — provided it isn’t side by side with an sst20 4k. Moonlight is too bright with the 14500 but the light is fine with AA. When people say it is easy to mod I assume that is LED swap. What I really would mod would be to give it a clip. I use mine with an old Fenix clip. That really makes the light more useful. What I would really like is a clip as good as the one on the EO2 II.

Lightfan
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how crazy is this wrote:
If the Manker E03H II comes back, and especially if there is a deal offered, I will most likely get at least one. The E02 II is my most used light because no other light I have tried is better at what I want from a flashlight most of the time. Not 100% certain but would like to test if the AA is still as versatile and unobtrusive as the AAA. I can clip or magnet the E02 II virtually anywhere and the weight is almost undetectable. My TH20 is into 18650 territory for weight, the Fenix clip I have for it is lacking, and of course the stock emitter / reflector are not even close to the excellent TIR and SST 20 high CRI.

No 18650 / 27100 light is ever going to be able to do what the EO2 II can do. The EO3 II just might. If it isn’t too large / heavy the extra battery capacity would be quite nice. As it is now most of the time I just swap batteries before I go out at night so usually it is not a problem.

I use a NW E03 II on a Wowtac H01 headband (included E03 headband is not as durable) just about every night around the house. I have 1 backup but will probably get another one during ansale.

river345
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Echoing some of the comments about taking people’s requirements to heart instead of telling them their requirements don’t make sense. OP knows what they want, and it may not be the same as you.

There was this thread from Sofirn about headlamp development that might be interesting to you. Maybe someday they’ll make one exactly like you want. You can see a few people asking for what you’re asking for, so you’re definitely not alone.

https://budgetlightforum.com/node/81366

I have a Zebralight AA headlamp, it was a splurge. I also have the $16 Sofirn HS10, a USB-C headlamp that uses 18350 li-ion batteries. The on-body charging makes it convenient to charge since I always have USB-C charging for my phone anyways. It took away a lot of the battery anxiety. It’s also super light weight and if you combine it with a $8 Skilhunt clamp type headband, it’s the perfect combo. The headband it comes with is just OK.

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extremesquared][quote=how crazy is this wrote:
… Moonlight is far more important to me than the extra output from LiIon. A well driven AA is pleanty bright for what I would need most of the time.

Agree.
Don’t want lithium battery on my head and didn’t need 100000 Lumens
much important have flood very warm light with firefly mode less than 0,1lm for read a paper and don’t lose natural night vision

Market lack single AA/A headlamp with emitter on center instead angle lights like HS05

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Sari33][quote=extremesquared wrote:
how crazy is this wrote:
… Moonlight is far more important to me than the extra output from LiIon. A well driven AA is pleanty bright for what I would need most of the time.

Agree.
Don’t want lithium battery on my head and didn’t need 100000 Lumens
much important have flood very warm light with firefly mode less than 0,1lm for read a paper and don’t lose natural night vision

Market lack single AA/A headlamp with emitter on center instead angle lights like HS05

thrunite TH20 or acebeam H40!

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Thinking about it, I’d take a budget, warm white, 60 degree beam version of the Zebralight H50. I don’t know if there are any modern headlamps with twist switch on the market?

buck91
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gravelmonkey wrote:
Thinking about it, I’d take a budget, warm white, 60 degree beam version of the Zebralight H50. I don’t know if there are any modern headlamps with twist switch on the market?

Ah, good light! That was my go-to headlamp for many years. In fact it still lives in a back-up BOB somewhere. My only complaint was that the external silicone shade didn’t stay in place all the great and without it I would get a very annoying shine on my nose!

Check out the regulation in this thread.

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