Good Headlamp, flood or zoomable, long battery life, for close tasks?

I need a headlight for working on close objects, with good flood and no hotspot. I have a cheap zoomable XM-L flashlight and suspect that’s what I want for a headlamp since the flood is very even, while I can also zoom if needed. For walks and bumps in the night, I use flashlights, so throw isn’t mandatory in the headlamp. Primary uses: painting (not only at night, during sunny days under overhangs some fill light is needed), working on cars/tractors, gardening.

Currently I have a cheap 3xAA headlamp and aside from the awful beam pattern, the battery life is unacceptable for my needs. Thus I’m looking for something with: 2x 18650 Li-ion. I’ll be using safety precautions:

  • Protected cells.

  • Rewire the battery pack for remote mounting on waist.

  • Possibly swap in a different LED driver with low voltage protection. Maybe the original board will have it, maybe not.

For reduced glare and better color accuracy I’ll probably drop in a neutral tint (3C or 4C) XM-L2. Here are just a few headlamps I’ve found. I’ve seen reviews of the first but not the second.

Zoomable XM-L 2x 18650, bulky, clicky switch on battery pack.

Zoomable XM-L 2x18650, bulky, clicky switch on wire between light and battery pack.

Zoomable XM-L 2x18650, w/nice cooling fins, clicky switch on light. Also in black.

Any thoughts or experiences with them? I don’t mind paying a bit more for a better light, but this won’t be used professionally or for demanding activities like biking, hiking, rock climbing, battelfield maneuvers, ect., so I’d put an upper limit of about $35, maybe $45 if the light were totally awesome.

If you have a smallish EDC that you really like, and it sounds like you like your zoomie - have you looked at a headband holder like this?

For the price of those you noted, you can always play around w them a bit and come out ahead.

The zoomable I have is big 3 C cell Duracell flashlight designed to sell batteries, so it won't fit on my head very well.

I guess I like the idea of a dedicated headlight since for a flashlight I'm looking for different beam characteristics.

If you want a $55 flood monster headlight/EDC light. Then check this out. I have one and love it. If it is for a task light. The Atom also has a strong Magnet on the base. It holds well.

I actually sold my
Zebralight H52w
Zebralight H502w
Zebralight H600w Mk II NW
Just because i bought a coast HL8 on a whim, that’s how good it is as far as i’m concerned.
The battery life from 4 eneloop 2450mah AA’s is brilliant. It’s well over 20 hours on the 344 lumens high, and i haven’t even come close to having to change batteries with the 66 lumens low, and if you use the zoom function you can get what looks like a varied lumens light output going from spot to flood gives a really bright hotspot or a wide area but not overpowering to look at things up close.
Just seen your price objective, i guess a HL8 is about double what you want to pay, never mind, good luck with the search.

I’m looking at this

for working under a car and EDC. Lots of positive reviews. Might be too small for you but they make a 18650 version that many like even more. I find 18650 too big for EDC.

Might checkout this thread. See post 37 about a cheap alternative which makes a great flood light (though you lose zooming).


Post #37 is a zoomable?

Thanks for all the suggestions, it looks like there are lots of options in a slightly higher price range. I think I’ll try one of the $16 Singfire SF-536 headlights first since, besides being cheap, it looks to be easily modified. If it sucks then I’ll cough up the money for a quality headlamp.

I’ve also delved into a few tint discussions, and it looks like I’ll be swapping in a 80+ CRI XM-L2 emitter. If I’m working on electronics I need to be able to ID wire colors. Testing my cool white XM-L light on a few wire harnesses, it was clear that the tint would not do for a work light.

I’ll be sure to add my impressions to the Singfire SF-536 review sticky.

I haven't built mine yet, but the mod is removing the aspheric lens and replacing with glass (AR coated if you desire) so you'd lose the real zoom effect.