CAMPING - POWER & LIGHTING
The renowned German lighting product innovator, Ledlenser, has a range of rechargeable head torches. We chose two from the Zen Imports range to evaluate: the MH8 and the top-shelf H14R.2. Both can be recharged, or as back-up, can use AA batteries.
Before we tested these head torches we charged them and left them charged and off for three months, simulating camping gear that can be often stowed away for lengthy periods. We pulled them out at the end of that time and both lit up straight away, having dropped virtually no battery life in the meantime.
We inspected the batteries and there was no sign of leaking and that’s one of the great advantages of rechargeables over AAs. We’ve sometimes checked our camping gear before a trip and found installed batteries that have leaked and damaged some devices, because we forgot to take out the batteries.
Another great advantage is that rechargeables can be plugged into solar-powered electrical systems and charged during daylight hours, for use after sundown. Battery life is less important with that possibility.
The compact MH8 is a versatile torch with a single, white LED and a second, coloured LED. The coloured light can be red, blue or green, with the default being red: a useful colour to preserve night vision and prevent ‘night blindness’. Turning off the white LED and switching on the red LED is done by a three-second press of the on/off button.
In addition, the LED and battery module is clipped into a yoke on a two-part elastic strap – around and on top of the wearer’s head. Pivot points on the yoke allow the beam to be lowered from horizontal to 45-degrees downwards. A lowered beam is handy for close up work and for cooking and eating.
The white LED sits behind a magnifying lens that can zoom, changing the beam from wide-spread to spot. Four beam-strength settings are available – low, mid, power and boost – giving beam distances of 40m, 120m, 180m and 200m.
Claimed run times with a full battery charge are 60 hours on low; 10 hours on mid and seven hours on power. Boost is a temporary setting with no specified run time.
A USB charging cable is provided and can plug into the unit without removing it from the yoke. However, if the rechargeable battery needs to be replaced, or substituted with two AAs, the head unit can unclip from the yoke, allowing easy access to the battery.
The MH8 weighs 139 grams and is claimed water resistant to IP54 standard: dust, sweat and rain showers.
We checked out the Ledlenser MH18 in the bush and found it very useful for general camping use. Mostly, we used the spread beam, swinging it up and down as required, but the spot beam was handy for forays away from the camp, where some distance lighting was necessary.
On-line pricing for the Ledlenser MH18 varied from $120 to $160. Ledlenser’s warranty is an unbeatable seven years.
The H14R.2 is a professional head torch with a single, white LED and a remotely connected rear battery pack that has an integrated red LED. The battery module sits at the back of the two-part elastic strap that fits around and top of the wearer’s head. If worn in that fashion the red LED becomes a ‘tail’ light.
An extension battery cable is supplied with the H14R.2, allowing the battery module to be removed from the head strap and clipped to a belt, halving the weight on the wearer’s head.
The H14R.2 has a spread beam that can be zoomed to a spot beam and the head can swivel up and down though 90-degrees.
Beam strength can be low, power or boost, with beam distances of 70m, 200m and 300m.
Claimed run times with a full battery charge are 35 hours on low; 12 hours on mid and six hours on boost.
A USB charging cable is supplied, plus a 240V adaptor. The included lithium ion battery can be charged in situ and, if four AA batteries are required to replace the rechargeable battery, the battery case is easily opened.
The H14R.2 weighs 340 grams – around half in the head unit and half in the battery module – and has IPX4 water resistance: sweat and rain showers.
This Ledlenser head torch may be overkill for some campers, but if you want a long-battery-life unit that can work as well spotlighting as it can doing camp illumination duties, go for it. The only downside is bulk.
On-line pricing for the H14R.2 ranged from $185 to $220, meaning it’s a lot of light for the money. Ledlenser’s warranty is an unbeatable seven years.
Check out the Ledlensers against some competitors.