Headlamps [29]

By Jim Croft

All sea kayakers and outdoorsy people need headlamps and a quick survey around the camp of an evening reveals that most go for Petzel of one form or another. These range from the cheaper micro models with standard powered by a couple of standard penlight batteries to the more up market halogen burners with expensive 4.5 v slab-like batteries. They are all excellent units, well made, and are sealed enough to be considered splash-proof and rainproof. The prices range from $20-something to $40-something.

But what is needed is really a combination of this range – the halogen models are blinding as you peer into the Trangia at your simmering noodles, and the smaller models do not have the grunt to pick out that cryptic campsite in the dead of night or to alert a drowsy fishing boat that is about to run you over. And wouldn’t it be nice if the whole unit could be made really waterproof?

Well, Petzel must have listened to someone and a year ago produced a dual bulb waterproof headlamp that met all these requirements. Initially it was recalled as soon as it hit the shops because of some shortcoming in the battery pack seal but when it finally finally arrived earlier this year the temptation was too great.

Called the Duo (E60), it is claimed to be waterproof to 50m depth, takes 4 AA alkaline penlight batteries in an O-ring clamp-sealed pack that sits on the back of the head; the lamp housing on the front of the head is oval rather than round and has two reflectors and two bulbs which are selected by means of a switch on the left hand side (which can be locked ingeniously in the off position). The normal low wattage 6v bulb is fixed focus and the quartz iodide 6v bulb is variable focus with a small zoom leaver on the right hand side. They reckon it weighs 200 grams, is effective for 20m and lasts for 12 hours with the standard bulb and 100 m and 3 hours with the halogen bulb. There is a spare bulb of each type mounted inside the housing. The lamp housing and battery pack are a rugged yellow plastic.

The combination of features works well and for most purposes rechargable nicad batteries provide adequate power for evening use, although I pack alkaline batteries for serious overnight stuff. In most cases, the low power standard bulb is more than adequate.

At about $100 it is probably a bit frightening as Christmas presents for the kids, but it is a nice toy nevertheless, for whose who wish to practice eskimo rolls at night.