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Small headtorch for emergency climbing / descents

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 ed34 03 Nov 2021

I'm after a small headtorch for use in case of having to finish a climb in the dark or descend in the dark. Summer use only really as I don't winter climb so don't need massive runtime

Is the petzl e+lite any good for this sort of use or should I look at something a bit brighter? 

Any recommendations?

Thanks

 Guy Hurst 03 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

The Petzl e+light is perfectly adequate in most situations. The Petzl Bindi gives a lot more light with very little weight penalty. I'd reckon It's as good as most main heaadtorches 10 years ago or even less. But it costs more than the e+lite.

In reply to ed34:

Plenty of cheapo ones on Amazon etc that would do that.

7
 AlanLittle 03 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

Sticking with Petzl, the Bindi is vastly superior to the e+lite and completely adequate for the sort of use you describe. 
 

Torch nerds will doubtless be along shortly to tell us there are even better options from more specialist manufacturers 

 gravy 03 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

I think that one of the key points about the e+lite is the battery - designed to sit, unused for 10 years in the bottom of your chalk bag and then work in a proper emergency.  I'm not sure I'd trust any of the others to do that.

For your purposes a simply tikka like thing will do the job and 3AAA batteries last a lot of late descents. 

While you can get other brands the simple Petzl ones aren't expensive and are generally well thought out, for instance, they don't spill light into your eyes and ruin your night vision, the elastic lasts a good long time, the buttons and tilt functions are good and reliable and work with gloves on and they work in the wet - I can't say that about most of the other sorts I've used!

Post edited at 20:22
OP ed34 03 Nov 2021
In reply to gravy:

Yeah the battery life when not in use is a good point as I'd like something that can live in my chalk bag pocket and know it's ready to go, so something like e+lite or with AA batteries might be better. Zipka looks ok but need to check my chalk bag pocket see how big it is.  Bindi sounds good - bright and small, not sure how slow rechargeables lose their charge if not used . I suppose if i got one it's not too difficult to remember to stick it on charge every month, just add another reminder to my phone calendar!

In reply to ed34:

Had an elite for maybe 16 years, Briefly used it for running on unlit roads, (perfectly adequate). Changed the batteries once about 10 years ago. Sits in my running kit. It's waterproof, has a hard plastic case that's also waterproof and tough. Use it occasionally to swap batteries out in my main headtorch.

Good bit of kit.

 Basemetal 03 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

Lithium AA or AAA (Like Energizer Ultimate) in any small torch will give you the (typically) 10y shelf life for a standby.

Some torches though, used to say specifically don't use Lithium primary batteries (i.e.disposables) due to very slightly higher voltages though I think this is no longer the case. I've not experienced any problems with 1st Get Petzl Myo or other 'noughties models.

Lithium primary batteries are lighter than alkaline too. 

In reply to ed34:

Petzl elight is brilliant for a torch you plan to never use, real dire emergency hope to never use it stuff (20 lumen 9.5 hours or 30 lumen 3.5 hours). But if you plan for occasional use, like climbing with it, you probably want a bit more light and you probably don't want to replace a CR2032 coin cell after every use.

I agree with the others that you are looking at either Petzl Bindi  (if you think your use will be short and occasional

or the Petzl Tikka and I suggest with the rechargeable "Core" battery if you think it could be semi regular. (300lm for 3 hours or 100lm for 7 hours https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/How-does-my-lamp-perform-with-the-CORE-rechargeable-battery-?ProductName=TIKKA). Or maybe the Taktikka which is almost the same as Tikka but has a slightly longer runtime on 100lm for 9hrs (with Core) and 350lm for 3hrs (Core)

I thoroughly recommend the Tikka (+core) or Taktikka for walking and climbing and I would own a Tikka now if my Dad hadn't left it somewhere on Cnicht last Summer

In reply to Basemetal:

> Lithium AA or AAA (Like Energizer Ultimate) in any small torch will give you the (typically) 10y shelf life for a standby.

> Some torches though, used to say specifically don't use Lithium primary batteries (i.e.disposables) due to very slightly higher voltages though I think this is no longer the case. I've not experienced any problems with 1st Get Petzl Myo or other 'noughties models.

> Lithium primary batteries are lighter than alkaline too. 

This is primarily a problem with torches that use several batteries in series (e.g. 4x1.5 batteries for nominal 6v) because the extra voltage is multiplied by the number of batteries. Can be same issue in reverse with rechargeable @ 1.2v. Read the torch manufacturer instructions!!

Post edited at 08:13
 99ster 04 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

Another vote for Petzl Bindi!

 tjin 04 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

+1 for the Petzl Bindi 

Or a alternative is a nitecore NU25.

In reply to ed34:

> Is the petzl e+lite any good for this sort of use or should I look at something a bit brighter? 

As per other comments, the e+lite is a little lacking as far as output is concerned and there's only so much you can do with it in anger. The Black Diamond Flare, which was reviewed a month or so ago, looks similar - albeit a bit brighter (but not much: 30 vs. 40 lumens). If you're never planning to use it that's fine, but if you are, it really isn't...

Whilst I haven't used the Bindi, that looks like the sort of thing I'd favour, simply because it's still pretty light (e+lite = 26g / Bindi = 35g), but more importantly it does what you'd actually need it to do well enough to be able to use it properly.

 kmsands 04 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

Not a torch recommendation but a torch maintenance recommendation: next time you're in a chip shop or suitable cafe, pick up a few sachets of vinegar and keep them in your kit together with a few cotton buds. If your torch stops working in the damp and even fresh batteries don't seem to work - just when you need it for the emergency descent - cleaning the battery contacts in the torch with the vinegar can bring it back to life.

1
In reply to Rob Greenwood - UKClimbing:

Yes, the Flare just has the edge over the old e+LITE in terms of brightness and burn time. Both have the advantages of compactness, and the fact they can be stored for years with minimal battery drain. The disadvantages would be clear when you actually wanted to use it for anything fiddly requiring you to see a reasonable distance -  such as finishing a climb in the dark, abseiling, scrambling off the top of a crag, navigating home after nightfall etc. It's designed for emergencies, not regular use. You can get by with it and no more. In that niche it's pretty good.

Review here: https://www.ukhillwalking.com/gear/camping/lighting/black_diamond_sprint_225_and_flare_headtorches-13738

The Bindi is a lot brighter, and has a good burn time for its size. It's not quite as compact, but still very small compared to a standard torch. However you couldn't leave it in a pack or chalk bag indefinitely, it'd need to be recharged periodically.

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/gear/camping/lighting/petzl_bindi_headtorch-10453

As others have said, for regular use you're probably best off just buying a standard no nonsense compact-ish headtorch from a brand like BD or Petzl  (other makes are available, but I wouldn't go too budget). A model with batteries mounted in the front unit will be more than adequate for most uses, and should be a bit more packable than designs with a separate rear battery pack.

This old-ish group test could be useful for general guidance on what to look for, though some of the models will have changed (i.e. got better, since LED technology seems to improve all the time):

https://www.ukhillwalking.com/gear/camping/lighting/compact_headtorches-12111

 nniff 04 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

e+lite for me.  Lives in a little pocket at the bottom of my chalk bag in the summer and in the breast pocket of a shirt winter climbing, for those 'rucksack bounding down the hill moments' or other mishap.  Weighs nothing and is barely adequate, which is good enough.

 AJK87 05 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

Not a rival for the Bindi but if you were going down the brighter tikka core route I have an alternative suggestion that will no doubt raise eyebrows amongst brand snobs.

The lifesystems intensity 280 despite its rather crude looks is a superb torch. It has a built in sealed lithium Ion battery. The battery lasts forever and charges via USB port. It has an SOS signal flash mode.

The most staggering quality for a such a cheap torch is that it is IPX6 water resistant. This surpasses most run of the mill torches twice its price. IPX6 means it will resist high pressure sprays of water. This makes it the perfect emergency torch.

I bought mine as a back up torch but it has now replaced my expensive branded torches as my go to torch.

£20 Amazon

I don't work for Lifesystems, honest

 SFM 07 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

I have a couple of e+lites squirrelled into bags etc(note self re battery check) and have used them in anger on a couple of occasions. 
Climbing-not great unless you know exactly where you are going and there is a bit of moonlight. Very emergency use I’d say. 
Abseiling- ok if just setting up and single pitch. Multi pitch is a bit more iffy as you need a bit of range to see past your feet/find bolts/next anchor. 
Don’t get me wrong I was immensely grateful to have one but much better to have something more “normal” with working batteries…

 DaveHK 07 Nov 2021
In reply to kmsands:

> Not a torch recommendation but a torch maintenance recommendation: next time you're in a chip shop or suitable cafe, pick up a few sachets of vinegar and keep them in your kit together with a few cotton buds. If your torch stops working in the damp and even fresh batteries don't seem to work - just when you need it for the emergency descent - cleaning the battery contacts in the torch with the vinegar can bring it back to life.

Do torches actually fail in this way? I can understand the mechanism but I've never seen it. Also, can't say I'd be too keen on fannying around with sachets of vinegar and cotton buds in the dark!  

Post edited at 06:50
 Rick Graham 07 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

> Do torches actually fail in this way? I can understand the mechanism but I've never seen it. Also, can't say I'd be too keen on fannying around with sachets of vinegar and cotton buds in the dark!  

Yes, torches and TV remote controls often work better after a quick roll of the batteries with your thumb.

 veteye 07 Nov 2021
In reply to AJK87:

I love my life systems head torch (not sure which model it is), but the battery pack on the back has to be held together now after many years, with rubber band. I tried to buy a new version, but they no longer do one with the rear/red light which I like for when I go for a run on the road.

Any recommendations for a rear light head torch, for improved safety when running?

 DaveHK 07 Nov 2021
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Yes, torches and TV remote controls often work better after a quick roll of the batteries with your thumb.

I've done that with a TV remote but it's not a thing I've noticed with headtorches or at least not to the degree of it failing. It seems a better solution that carrying vinegar and cotton buds!

 Tom Ripley 07 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

I bought a Bindi recently on a bit of a whim. 
 

It would be perfect for keeping in a first aid kit or chalk bag, but unfortunately it doesn’t have lock on the on/off button. Risking it turning itself on and running itself flat inside your pack.

I normally use a cheap alpkit torch with batteries turned around as a spare. Not quite as compact or light as a bindi, but lighter and better than the battery on a Petzl Zoom! 

1
 More-On 07 Nov 2021
In reply to veteye:

I went a slight different route and got some Alpkit Blips, which fit on the head torch elastic and flash red. I've seen similar in various running shops.

The Blips have worked well so far (only had them for a few months mind) and are easy to turn off and on, and remove as required.

In reply to ed34:

Stating the bloomin obvious, but keeping the batteries with, but not inside, the headtorch really helps.

 Dave Todd 07 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

I've got a couple of Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 which are tiny and work off 2 AAA.  Variable brightness between 6 and 160lm, lockable, red or white lights (plus strobes), IPX8.  Really well thought out bit of kit.  Less than £18 on Amazon.

 nThomp 07 Nov 2021
In reply to Dave Todd:

I'd only recommend the Spot if they have moved on from this (http://s7ondemand1.scene7.com/is/image/MoosejawMB/10187934x1052427_zm) style.

While bright, light, and doing what they say on the tin, the locking mechanism (essentially holding down the on-button for a few seconds) has meant mine nearly always had flat batteries when I came to use them, having turned themselves on in my pack as a result of pressure.  Having the "lock" being the same button as the "on-button", and requiring nothing more than prolonged pressure to deactivate it, is negligent. 

In reply to More-On:

> I went a slight different route and got some Alpkit Blips, which fit on the head torch elastic and flash red. I've seen similar in various running shops.

> The Blips have worked well so far (only had them for a few months mind) and are easy to turn off and on, and remove as required.

I have an alpkit blip on the back strap of an alpkit qark, and the second one on the dogs running harness. Batteries last ages and are easy enough to change.

 Rick Graham 07 Nov 2021
In reply to nThomp:

Maybe not the best design but there is some onus on the user to realise that the switch is pressure sensitive .

Pack your torch in the rucksack lid pocket to afford it the same pressure free environment as your banana and sandwiches?

Whilst on the subject of headtorches , be aware of mixing acid producing batteries with climbing gear. Loose batteries should be kept electically insulated from shorting out on climbing hardware  , best taped together and in a polythene bag. Similarly the head torch is best in a stuff sac or poly bag and in the lid pocket, not mixed with ropes and slings .

 nThomp 07 Nov 2021
In reply to Rick Graham:

> Maybe not the best design but there is some onus on the user to realise that the switch is pressure sensitive .

I went to all kinds of lengths, including packing the thing in its own padded container, in an effort to prevent it from turning on, mostly without success.  It was just incredibly sensitive, and something that would have been easily solved by a second, indented, button or switch required for activation.

In the end, the only reliable option was to install a plastic tab between the battery and its contact, to be pulled out when wanting to use it.

 Rick Graham 07 Nov 2021
In reply to nThomp:

Sounds even worse than your first post implied .

Makes you wonder if these torch designers have ever been on a hill.

 Dave Todd 07 Nov 2021
In reply to nThomp:

Sounds grim!  Rest assured that the current BD Spot Lite 160 needs a long press on two slightly recessed button to lock / unlock.

 kmsands 08 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

The vinegar is last resort after trying spare betteries and rolling with the thumb of course. Torch failure tended to happen when I used a cheapo one from Mountain Warehouse admittedly, but I have had a Petzl go temperamental on me once as well (in the wet) and the vinegar worked when nothing else did. It weighs practically nothing so why not.

 DaveHK 08 Nov 2021
In reply to kmsands:

>  It weighs practically nothing so why not.

There are lots of things that weigh next to nothing but they add up. Also, I was thinking about the times I really need a head torch. It might be different for you but for me it's winter climbing and TBH I'd rather carry a spare torch in that scenario as that's going to fix a whole lot more issues than vinegar.

In reply to 99ster:

> Another vote for Petzl Bindi!

And another - I've been really pleased with mine, and an impressive light output from such a small torch. Battery life is fine what the OP mentions it will be used for too.

 kmsands 08 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

Carrying a spare torch and batteries and having a vinegar sachet as back-up are not mutually exclusive. I was just sharing a tip which I think is little known, you are free to ignore it.

In reply to nThomp:

> I went to all kinds of lengths, including packing the thing in its own padded container, in an effort to prevent it from turning on, mostly without success.  It was just incredibly sensitive, and something that would have been easily solved by a second, indented, button or switch required for activation.

Seems a daft system if it's that sensitive.

I have an LED Lenser H7R with the same locking mechanism, but that requires a very firm push and hold for 3 seconds and that has never managed to tun itself on. The forehead plate that the lamp sits in also extends higher than the switch, which gives it a degree of protection.

 Fellover 08 Nov 2021
In reply to ed34:

I've carried my e-lite for several years and had to use it a few times. It's obviously not that bright, but it's been adequate, including on an offroute, semi-involved, longish ab descent in the dolomites. Other times it's pretty much just been walking in the dark when things took longer than expected. In all the scenarios I've used it a bigger headtorch would definitely have been better and enabled me to faff/ab/walk faster. However, as I carry it everywhere and use it very rarely I have no plans to replace it. It's proved to me that it's been adequate and I have no desire to carry anything heavier.

Post edited at 10:56
 Fellover 08 Nov 2021
In reply to Ridge:

> Seems a daft system if it's that sensitive.

> I have an LED Lenser H7R with the same locking mechanism, but that requires a very firm push and hold for 3 seconds and that has never managed to tun itself on. The forehead plate that the lamp sits in also extends higher than the switch, which gives it a degree of protection.

Same, my Actik Core has a single on/off/lock button and it has never turned on in my bag. Or if it has, it's also turned itself off and locked itself by the time I've come back to it...

 kmsands 08 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

> There are lots of things that weigh next to nothing but they add up.

I'm going to be annoyingly pedantic on this point, sorry.

1 sachet of vinegar + 2 cotton buds = 6g

1 Karabiner = 40g

1 Petzl Tikka head torch = 83g

6 AAA batteries (one main set, 1 spare) = 57.5g

I don't think you can argue against the vinegar on weight grounds, in combination with whatever other backup you choose, of course.

In reply to Tom Ripley:

> I bought a Bindi recently on a bit of a whim. 

>  

> It would be perfect for keeping in a first aid kit or chalk bag, but unfortunately it doesn’t have lock on the on/off button. Risking it turning itself on and running itself flat inside your pack.

The on/off button is protected when the torch lens is rotated into the headband - I've not had any problem with mine accidentally switching on when crammed into backpack.

 DaveHK 08 Nov 2021
In reply to kmsands:

> I'm going to be annoyingly pedantic on this point, sorry.

> 1 sachet of vinegar + 2 cotton buds = 6g

> 1 Karabiner = 40g

> 1 Petzl Tikka head torch = 83g

> 6 AAA batteries (one main set, 1 spare) = 57.5g

> I don't think you can argue against the vinegar on weight grounds, in combination with whatever other backup you choose, of course.

Sure it doesn't weigh much but my point was twofold.

Firstly that if you keep justifying carrying stuff on the basis of it not weighing much that adds up.

The other point was the utility of it. It could be as light as a feather but if it doesn't actually solve a problem then it's a waste of time carrying it. As I've never had an issue that would be solved by vinegar and carrying the vinegar wouldn't solve a myriad of more likely issues* then I'm totaly unconvinced by the utility of it!

If the dulling of contacts is a real issue then far better to deal with it as a routine maintenance task rather than in the field.

*dropping the torch and loose connections being the main ones.

In reply to rj_townsend:

Also, long hold the power button will lock/unlock the light. Two ways to protect the lamp. I think it's a brilliant little thing!

In reply to DaveHK:

Ever since my wife was stung by a Lion’s Mane jellyfish in the sea off Scotland (our walks sometimes include a swim) I’ve carried a couple of sachets of vinegar in my pack. Vinegar is currently recommended as a treatment for the stings. I haven’t been assiduous in removing the vinegar from my pack if we’re certain not to encounter jellyfish on a walk, but in future I shall also carry a head torch with slightly corroded terminals in order to square the weight / utility circle. 

 kmsands 08 Nov 2021
In reply to DaveHK:

I think you must be funded by Big Headtorch to discredit vinegarists.

 DaveHK 08 Nov 2021
In reply to kmsands:

> I think you must be funded by Big Headtorch to discredit vinegarists.

I'm just worried about shortages for my chips if everyone jumps on the vinegar train.

Vinegar train may or may not be a euphemism, I'm off to check the profanisaurus.

In reply to salad fingers:

> Also, long hold the power button will lock/unlock the light. Two ways to protect the lamp. I think it's a brilliant little thing!

Well, every day is indeed a school day - thanks for this tip! Just tried it on my Bindi and will [try to] remember it next time I'm slinging it in the bag. 


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