UK Caving

TECHNICAL FORUMS => Equipment => Topic started by: Keris82 on May 08, 2019, 05:29:04 pm

Title: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 08, 2019, 05:29:04 pm
I know this is a common topic but I want some opinions please.

I had to return my fenix HL55 recently because the contacts got loose and the torch stopped working - bad design flaw!  :(

I have been looking at buying a black diamond revolt lamp. Has anyone got one and how do you find it? I have a backup black diamond storm torch which is ok but it's not totally waterproof so may not be suitable for very wet caving. Also the light it gives is more of a spot than giving a wide beam. I wonder if the Revolt is the same?  :-\
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: droid on May 08, 2019, 05:39:37 pm
Roy Fellows on here makes excellent lamps
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 08, 2019, 06:24:40 pm
Roy Fellows on here makes excellent lamps

I think I have heard of him...
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 08, 2019, 06:47:43 pm
I've seen a petzl ultra vario on inglesport. Has anyone got one?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: aricooperdavis on May 08, 2019, 07:31:44 pm
The revolt is a nice headtorch, but for me it's a camping/walking torch rather than a caving headtorch. It doesn't have an incredibly robust feel due to its size and plastic construction, and whilst it's bright enough the AAA batteries that it uses really lets it down on runtime. If you want to go with Black Diamond then I loved my Icon for caving. It's powered by 4x AA batteries giving it a reasonable brightness and runtime, and it's next to bombproof. It's also supported by the excellent black diamond warranty.

That being said, I think it's worth going for a torch powered by Li-Ion batteries these days, as the newer technology provides better runtimes and brightnesses, although you have to look after the batteries a bit more carefully as they have impressive energy densities. There are lots of manufacturers producing little torches that run on 18650 Li-Ions (look for reputable brands like Fenix, LedLenser, Olight, Zebra, Nitecore) with good beam colours and shapes. Some have the lens pointing out from the side of the body of the torch such that it can easily be strapped on the front of a helmet (e.g. (https://www.torchdirect.co.uk/led-head-torches/nitecore-hc33-led-head-torch.html)), whilst others have the lens at the end of the torch so that they can be side-mounted on a helmet (e.g. (https://www.torchdirect.co.uk/led-hand-torches/olight-s2-baton-led-torch.html)). Loads of choice!

One thing to watch out for:- if you want to do any surveying try and avoid magnetic end pieces (which seem weirdly popular in these little torches from cheaper manufacturers) - they're a gimmick that you'll very rarely use and will muck up your compass readings!
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: droid on May 08, 2019, 11:01:58 pm
I've got the Nitecore torch you reference. It's a good bit of kit.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 09, 2019, 10:14:08 am
I've seen a petzl ultra vario on inglesport. Has anyone got one?

I use an Ultra Vario. It's fairly bright with a nice wide flood, and weighs less than a Scurion.

At one point the light died, due to water getting inside. Petzl replaced it for free.

The Inglesport price is a good deal. They are selling it cheap because it's old stock and Petzl have replaced it with the new Duo S, which is brighter and more expensive.

Incidentally it is compatible with most of the accessories, so for example you can use those plastic bracket helmet mounts for Duos. Haven't actually used a new Duo battery with it, but fairly sure they would still work.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Ian Ball on May 09, 2019, 02:05:59 pm
I use an old Duo with Custom Duo inserts.  Very good value, although people tell me it will start to fail for a multitude of reasons I've yet to experience.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 09, 2019, 02:06:18 pm

I use an Ultra Vario. It's fairly bright with a nice wide flood, and weighs less than a Scurion.

Incidentally it is compatible with most of the accessories, so for example you can use those plastic bracket helmet mounts for Duos. Haven't actually used a new Duo battery with it, but fairly sure they would still work.

It puts me off a bit that you can't use a battery pack that takes standard batteries, as the battery pack for the ultra vario is about £60 :(
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 09, 2019, 03:26:21 pm
It puts me off a bit that you can't use a battery pack that takes standard batteries, as the battery pack for the ultra vario is about £60 :(

Yeah, this is generally an issue with fancy modern lights, although some (like the Scurion, I think?) at least give you the option to use AAs and take a performance hit.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: rhyst on May 09, 2019, 03:52:15 pm
For someone on a budget:

https://www.fasttech.com/p/1319109

Perfect for strapping to the side of the helmet, extremely bright, cheap, takes 18650s. They have low, medium and high modes, plus some flashing modes but there is a mode where it will only cycle through the solid modes (this is the 3/5 mode thing).

I've got two, and they have survived a lot of caving and some canyoning (so they're somewhat waterproof).

They're quite focused so if you want a more flood-ish light you can combine with the light condom accessory: https://www.fasttech.com/p/1140010
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Madness on May 09, 2019, 04:16:15 pm
If you want a Convoy torch for the side of your helmet then the Official Convoy shop on Aliexpress is the best place to buy. Buy one that has the new Biscotti firmware and you can select from a wide range of mode options.

You can also buy optics to replace the reflector to change the beam shape.

Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 13, 2019, 06:06:05 pm
 I'm still hunting for a light at a reasonable price. How does Roy Fellows lamps measure up against the scurions? I've heard good things about them and the price is much more attractive.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 14, 2019, 02:02:34 pm
I'm returning to caving after a break and am also looking for a light. I was looking at the Roy Fellows Lynx Basic. I think his lights measure up well against Scurions, they're just spartan on features ie less programs, and they look more 'homebrew' which is not a bad thing.

Holes need to be drilled to bolt it to a helmet though which is something I prefer to avoid where possible - my helmet has strap clips so I may end up getting one of the Petzl Ultra Varios from Inglesport.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Fulk on May 14, 2019, 02:12:45 pm
Does anybody know if drilling a couple of small holes in a helmet really makes that much difference to its strength?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: mikem on May 14, 2019, 03:22:52 pm
It doesn't for most impacts, but having bolts on the inside may cause more damage in a head on collision, & you may not be able to do it with modern foam helmets.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 14, 2019, 03:44:19 pm
I'm returning to caving after a break and am also looking for a light. I was looking at the Roy Fellows Lynx Basic. I think his lights measure up well against Scurions, they're just spartan on features ie less programs, and they look more 'homebrew' which is not a bad thing.


Fair assessment.
But for anyone who wants to pay the money for shear quality nothing will compete with Mr Biffs new Rude Nora.

Onto my own
The basic is a bit basic as I am meeting a £95 cost target. Generally people have been happy with them, the only issues have been mud with Derbyshire diggers causing the buttons to stick.
I have built more expensive lamps with a IP 68 5 metre, 8 Newtons pressure push button, they they cost!

Horses for courses?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 14, 2019, 04:50:20 pm
It doesn't for most impacts, but having bolts on the inside may cause more damage in a head on collision, & you may not be able to do it with modern foam helmets.
I like the idea of the light not being a hard bolted fixture - I've often thought that if the lamphead or battery box sustained a collision the strain on the bolts could possibly foul the helmet.

But for anyone who wants to pay the money for shear quality nothing will compete with Mr Biffs new Rude Nora.

Onto my own
The basic is a bit basic as I am meeting a £95 cost target. Generally people have been happy with them, the only issues have been mud with Derbyshire diggers causing the buttons to stick.
I have built more expensive lamps with a IP 68 5 metre, 8 Newtons pressure push button, they they cost!

Horses for courses?
Definitely. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend your lamps - as you say there's a price premium with the Rude Nora and I think anyone looking at that or the Scurion have already decided that's what they want.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: PaulW on May 14, 2019, 05:24:00 pm
It doesn't for most impacts, but having bolts on the inside may cause more damage in a head on collision, & you may not be able to do it with modern foam helmets.

I have fitted and run internal cable on the new petzl Boreo helmet which has a large ploystyrene interior. Certainly this helmet you can completely dismantle for intalling and fixing the light
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 14, 2019, 06:47:02 pm
I have fitted and run internal cable on the new petzl Boreo helmet which has a large ploystyrene interior. Certainly this helmet you can completely dismantle for intalling and fixing the light

That was one of my concerns as I'm considering one of Roy's lights but my helmet has foam in it
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 14, 2019, 08:48:48 pm
Nothing to stop anyone fitting bolts other way round, ie with the head on the inside.

My recommended fitting, cable wise is to run it round the rim and use a cable tie. You can actually mount a good backup (not an aspersion regarding my lamps!) such as a Fenix E11 on the cable. The cable is about 7mm of flexible natural rubber with 2 copper core, maybe a bit heavy for taking inside the helmet. Its also very important not to put any strain on it at the glands. The glands are top quality IP68 5 BAR with cable support, but if anything is put under a strain it will at some time fail.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 14, 2019, 08:57:26 pm
Hi Roy. My concern is more about drilling my helmet as I'm not sure it's possible due to the foam
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: mountainpenguin on May 14, 2019, 09:02:28 pm
I used araldite (other glues are available) to glue the bracket onto one of my helmets.
Was still going strong a few years later.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 14, 2019, 09:07:57 pm
I use either an Ecrin Roc, or for working, and I do a lot of this, a Petzl Elios fitted with a Dragon and a Fenix E11 attached to the cable to shine forward. Last weekend I was at it 2 days and didn't take a spare power bank, good as gold it went out coming out on the Sunday and I used the E11 to find my way out.

The thought occurred that the place for spare lighting is on the head not a hand held torch. I mean this big time.

Both the helmet types I use have a sort of loose foam band inside that makes it easy to work between this and the helmet shell. I cant really comment on other helmets, I would have to see one. However my intelligence tells me that if a helmet is so constructed that you cant fit one of my lamps, you wont be able to fit anyone else's either unless you plan on sticking your lamp on. I believe that there is a tape product that does this but cant recall the name of it. I have seen a battery pack stuck on with it and the user had to literally tear it off to remove it. I would be dubious though, and not really trust this. I would want to see a lamp bolted on for piece of mind.

Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 14, 2019, 09:25:03 pm
Yes I would want to bolt on a lamp rather than glue it for security. I have a black diamond women's half dome helmet. Same as this one http://www.johncrossandsons.co.uk/black-diamond-half-dome-helmet-women-grey-2018-oeaorj-black-diamond-p-3176.html If you take a look at the pics I'm not sure how easy it is to remove the foam and drill it?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 14, 2019, 09:37:41 pm
I'm not sure either. The foam may pull away enough to allow drilling and bolting, but impossible to say without seeing it. My advice is to contact the helmet manufacturer before you buy any lamp, see my previous comments.

Looks a nice helmet though for the money.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: PeteHall on May 14, 2019, 10:05:04 pm
Yes I would want to bolt on a lamp rather than glue it for security. I have a black diamond women's half dome helmet. Same as this one http://www.johncrossandsons.co.uk/black-diamond-half-dome-helmet-women-grey-2018-oeaorj-black-diamond-p-3176.html If you take a look at the pics I'm not sure how easy it is to remove the foam and drill it?
Without seeing the helmet, it's hard to say, but if it was me, I'd consider drilling a slightly larger diameter hole through the foam from the inside, that the bolt head could be recessed into, then a small hole through the shell for the bolt thread.

Personally, I've never worried about drilling the odd hole in a helmet. It's mostly there to stop you bumping your head on the roof. If something falls on you hard enough to break the helmet, it'll probably break your neck too and if you fall on your head hard enough to break your helmet, you'll probably break too.

I like the idea of the light not being a hard bolted fixture - I've often thought that if the lamphead or battery box sustained a collision the strain on the bolts could possibly foul the helmet.
Seems a reasonable concern with these lightweight flexible shelled climbing helmets, however I would have thought that using a large washer would spread the load and mitigate the problem.

My advice is to contact the helmet manufacturer before you buy any lamp
I wouldn't bother. Almost certainly they will say don't drill it and use the provided fittings for an elastic band type head-torch, which is obvioualy non-ideal for caving. Also, the intended use is stated as "climbing" so perhaps they would just tell you not to use it for caving...
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: PaulW on May 14, 2019, 10:25:58 pm
i've drilled them like Pete suggest before

if you remove the 4 red clips shown on the ouside of the helmet then the crable will probably come out, and then the foam
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: markpot on May 15, 2019, 08:33:06 am
As above,drilling will be fine.Another option if your buying one of Roys lamps would be to source a gopro elastic head band.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Fulk on May 15, 2019, 08:56:16 am
I fixed my Fenix lamp (a HP 25R) to my helmet using cable ties around the head-band (and similarly for the battery pack at the back of the helmet), which means that there are no bolts projecting into the helmet:

Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 15, 2019, 10:05:57 am
As above,drilling will be fine.Another option if your buying one of Roys lamps would be to source a gopro elastic head band.

To clarify, only Scorpion series is GoPro compatible. I would dearly love to extend this to the Dragon as this lamp neatly fills the gap left by the Stenlight at a reasonable price. However having these made would seriously jack up the price. It is possible to fit a Dragon lamp to a GoPro helmet bracket using some spacer washes, but its a hash up.

Go pro headband, I have just sourced a selection from £2 a piece. I will probably look for best quality for money and get some stock in. They are on eBay from £2.99
Having said all this, a rigid mount using bolts would be best option for any lamp.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 15, 2019, 12:34:21 pm
Looking at the attached technical notice for Petzl's bolt on lamp mount for the foam lined Boreo helmet, it indicates that drilling through the foam is acceptable for bolt mounting.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Madness on May 15, 2019, 12:50:56 pm
The self adhesive Go-Pro mounts with the 3M adhesive pad stick very well. I've got one on my skiing helmet and one on my motorbike fairing. Both are solid.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 16, 2019, 10:43:04 am
I'll just note that I tried using Petzl's adhesive mount to fix an Ultra Vario to a Sirocco (and I did sand down the surface a bit). This is not approved by the manufacturer.

It fell off after very little caving. I'm guessing it would have been okay on a hard-shell helmet (which is the intended use).

Then very shortly afterwards, they released a dedicated mount for a Sirocco. FML.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 16, 2019, 12:14:08 pm
Will you go back to the Sirocco now Petzl make a light mount? I'm tall and prone to banging my head so doubt a soft shell helmet would last long for me...
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 16, 2019, 05:38:27 pm
Will you go back to the Sirocco now Petzl make a light mount? I'm tall and prone to banging my head so doubt a soft shell helmet would last long for me...

Yep, I already have the new mount.

The Sirocco is not designed for caving so caveat emptor, but the new version has a hard section on top of the head. I've walloped my head several times and it's not showing any real sign of wear yet. And neither is the helmet.

Mr Seddon described it as "intelligent misuse of equipment", which I think sums it up nicely. Time will tell.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Fulk on May 16, 2019, 11:38:09 pm
I looked at Petzl's video and it said that it (the Sirocco helmet) has been 'tested in the deepest caves' (whatever that might mean).
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: JasonC on May 17, 2019, 08:29:43 am
.. it said that it (the Sirocco helmet) has been 'tested in the deepest caves' (whatever that might mean).

obviously, the pressure on the helmet increases exponentially with cave depth   ;D
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 17, 2019, 10:35:34 am
I looked at Petzl's video and it said that it (the Sirocco helmet) has been 'tested in the deepest caves' (whatever that might mean).

Oh yes, I remember that now. That seems a bit odd, given they're not otherwise marketing it as a caving helmet. Maybe they haven't quite decided yet!
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 17, 2019, 11:02:28 am
I looked at Petzl's video and it said that it (the Sirocco helmet) has been 'tested in the deepest caves' (whatever that might mean).

Written for them by a politician maybe?
 :lol:
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 19, 2019, 07:07:09 pm
I'll just note that I tried using Petzl's adhesive mount to fix an Ultra Vario to a Sirocco

How do you detach the Vario's battery plug from the rear plate of the headstrap? (see attached image). It looks like tugging it sharply to the left would disengage it but I'm worried I break it.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 19, 2019, 09:09:01 pm
How do you detach the Vario's battery plug from the rear plate of the headstrap? (see attached image). It looks like tugging it sharply to the left would disengage it but I'm worried I break it.

You need to push it to the right (as seen in that image, you can see there is a gap on the right of the plate). Don't tug on the power cable.

It's a little awkward. I get really close to it -- maybe bracing my hands on my legs so they don't move too much.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 21, 2019, 09:32:31 am
You need to push it to the right

Thanks - that was helpful.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 21, 2019, 04:52:05 pm
Glad to help. :)
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Madness on May 22, 2019, 10:11:00 pm
Here's a new possibility

http://ylplight.com/en/katalog/1/nalobnye-fonari/panda-3r/

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67283
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 23, 2019, 08:31:57 am
Described as IPX8 and then:
WATERPROOF
The headlamp is secure against dripping and splashing water and rain, and it is able to withstand a short-time immersion to a depth of up to one meter.

......which is IPX7
Not very professional to start with.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 23, 2019, 10:54:46 am
Here's a new possibility

http://ylplight.com/en/katalog/1/nalobnye-fonari/panda-3r/

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67283

I was thinking about buying something like that  - I was looking at Zebralights - for a backup light. But for a main caving light I'd always choose something from Roy Fellows, Scurion, Rude or Petzl for a more convincing assurance of aftersales service.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: royfellows on May 23, 2019, 12:41:31 pm

But for anyone who wants to pay the money for shear quality nothing will compete with Mr Biffs new Rude Nora.

Sorry quoting myself, but has anyone bought one of these and in a position to do a review?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Cassidy on May 23, 2019, 09:19:24 pm
Anyone using a zebra light as a back-up?
Which model do you use, pro's/con's?
Given the choice, would you have opted for a different model?
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Kenilworth on May 23, 2019, 09:45:23 pm
Anyone using a zebra light as a back-up?
Which model do you use, pro's/con's?
Given the choice, would you have opted for a different model?

I have used Zebralights exclusively for the last five years or so. I generally use a white beam with a hot spot for general caving and especially big passages and a super wide, warm beam for sketching and small passages. Can't remember what models. Single 18650s. I don't want anything more out of a light, they have functioned perfectly through regular heavy use, are bright and tough and small with excellent runtime.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: dugadig on May 23, 2019, 11:43:00 pm
Are the normal Petzel Duo lights old hat now then? Or is everyone upgrading?
Mine still works.. I pulled it out my caving barrel from a load of rotten stuff. Very reliable I would say!  ;)
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 24, 2019, 11:57:03 am
Are the normal Petzel Duo lights old hat now then? Or is everyone upgrading?
Mine still works.. I pulled it out my caving barrel from a load of rotten stuff. Very reliable I would say!  ;)

Duos are still very popular. I'm getting one this weekend :)
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: ObviousSpectre on May 24, 2019, 12:22:17 pm
I can certainly vouch for the Duo. A really reliable and durable piece of kit. Just ordered one of the new CustomDuo omnis as the Duo’s main drawback is it’s light output.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Commers on May 24, 2019, 01:13:18 pm
Duos are still very popular. I'm getting one this weekend :)

One of the new Duos or the original? Will you be getting one of the custom inserts for it?

http://customduo.co.uk/Duo-Modules/
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 24, 2019, 02:13:58 pm
I'm not sure yet. It's 2nd hand from someone. I'm collecting a load for a friend
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: nobrotson on May 24, 2019, 02:44:58 pm
I'm also looking for a light similar to HL55 right now, that NiteCore one looks pretty on point. One question though:

I had to return my fenix HL55 recently because the contacts got loose and the torch stopped working - bad design flaw!  :(

What exactly do you mean by this? Did you consider just bending hte contacts back into place? Or that maybe you didn't screw the cap down hard enough... Maybe I have misinterpreted the problem. Either way that NiteCore HC33 that Ari posted looks pretty good.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Ian Ball on May 24, 2019, 02:50:17 pm
If you go caving on your own the Duo is a fabulous lamp.

If you go caving with Scurion wearers, it seems somewhat useless.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 24, 2019, 03:02:03 pm

What exactly do you mean by this? Did you consider just bending hte contacts back into place? Or that maybe you didn't screw the cap down hard enough... Maybe I have misinterpreted the problem. Either way that NiteCore HC33 that Ari posted looks pretty good.

I did try bending the contacts back in place and stuffed foil in the spring. It worked temporarily but still lost contact so I got annoyed with it and returned it. I always had to screw the cap on very tight but there's only so much you can screw something!
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 24, 2019, 03:05:03 pm
If you go caving on your own the Duo is a fabulous lamp.

If you go caving with Scurion wearers, it seems somewhat useless.

I may invest in a scurion at some point but in the mean time I've been offered a duo for a very reasonable price so can't really say no ;)
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Mike Hopley on May 24, 2019, 07:24:36 pm
Here's a new possibility

http://ylplight.com/en/katalog/1/nalobnye-fonari/panda-3r/

http://budgetlightforum.com/node/67283

That looks so good that I've gone and ordered one. The things that really appeal to me are the very light weight, cheap standard batteries, and of course having a spot and flood beam (which I haven't seen in this type of light before).

A couple of notes:
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Ian Ball on May 24, 2019, 08:33:26 pm
I find the headlamp strap can be a pain, the rubber holder leaves vertical pressure lines on your forehead.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Madness on May 24, 2019, 10:30:06 pm
Regarding the problem with the HL55 - Not all batteries are the same length. Perhaps you were using a particularly short unprotected battery.
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: cavemanmike on May 25, 2019, 08:40:12 am
 www.carbi.com
Look like good lamps
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Keris82 on May 25, 2019, 09:27:21 am
Regarding the problem with the HL55 - Not all batteries are the same length. Perhaps you were using a particularly short unprotected battery.

I tried 2 different batteries and had the same problem. I just think it's a bad design
Title: Re: Head torch opinions
Post by: Madness on May 25, 2019, 07:09:38 pm
www.carbi.com
Look like good lamps

I'm not convinced that they are robust enough for caving.