“ Brand: Mountainlife / Type: Headlamp „
Yep it is a fine gizmo, free of batteries, has life-long bulbs, and it works.A big thanks to Zoe for her words: "The torch is really sturdy but as I tugged and tugged at it to get to the winding handle, I did worry I would damage it. The key is to slide it off rather than lift it up. The torch and strap separate, and you can then wind the torch up." Accessing the wind-up handle is not immediately obvious, and the lack of any fitting instructions means that one has to be confident that you have worked out the fitting from the pole fitting attachement. A quick study of it reveals how the lamp fits onto the headclip. But without Zoe's description it would have taken much longer, and I might have broken it by trying to push/slide at the wrong angle. Luckily all is well.
I foolishly didn't think about why, specifically, a head torch was on my packing list for Africa, and just took some normal hand held ones instead. Big mistake. So, when I subsequently saw this one in the January sales in Preston, I snapped it up, thinking it would be a good investment for the future, and it's already proving its money's worth.
I always thought head torches were for miners or electricians. Why would normal, ordinary people ever need one? I soon found out when I was fiddling trying to fit a key in the door holding my regular torch in one hand, and when I was trying to read at night with said regular torch between my teeth as I turned the pages. Sometimes, you just need to have both hands free, and in those instances, a head torch can be massively useful.
I must confess I didn't shop around for these. I saw this one in the shop, and it was marked down to £7.99 (a saving of 50%) so I snapped it up. I didn't realise until later how good a one I'd ended up with, or how online I could have ended up spending a lot more for a lesser model.
This torch has elastic straps that you slip over your head to fix it in place. As well as being stretchy, they are also adjustable through a couple of buckles which makes it suitable for a wide range of head sizes, but also customizable for a snug fit . The elastic is springy, not tight, so even if you wear this for a long time it won't leave you with a headache or an annoying imprint around your scalp. The straps are comparatively thick which also helps with comfort and fit: some I saw friends sporting seemed thinner and more painful as they cut into their heads.
It's easy to slip on as it goes above your ears so you don't have to fiddle around with them. You just pull it over and round and it pings (painlessly) into place. My only complaint is that it does tend to leave me with helmet-hair because of the way it sits, pulling up a little from where you position it. This doesn't matter at night before bed, but it's annoying during the day and means I'm reluctant to wear it out of the house (head torches, of course, are super cool, it's just the resulting hair mess that's an eyesore).
I expected this to be a simple torch, but it has multiple functions that are fun if not all that useful (for me). The button on the top switches it on to regular, 1LED beam. If you press it again, it goes up to a bright, 3 LED full beam, and pressing it once more and you get a flashing, pulsing light. You have to press it one more time to turn it off, so it goes through each setting each time but that's no drama. Unlike other lighting equipment I've had recently, this is very well made and reliable and I have had no trouble with the button. It is sensitive but not overly so, and it's virtually impossible to switch it on accidentally, or to knock it onto a different setting.
Even on the lower, regular beam, this torch emits a decent light and I can easily read by it or use it to light the way of a fair few meters. I don't tend to read by torchlight at home, since that's what bedside lights are for, but there's all sorts of times you might have to, from staying in a hotel to bedding down where there's no electricity, to sleeping under a mossie net where it's important to tuck yourself in tightly before you go to sleep, which you need light to do properly
This is a Dynamo torch whose 3 bulbs will never need replacing as they are manually rechargable. To charge it up you wind the handle, and they claim 1 minute of winding will give it 30 minutes of light. When I first got it it was already charged, straight from the packet, which was handy as I had no clue which bit to wind. If you're using this somewhere more critical (e.g. for hiking or potholing) I would suggest figuring it out first so you're not stranded out there trying to work out which bit to pull at. The advantage of these torches over normal ones if that you never need to replace the batteries, but that doesn't mean they don't lose power and they do still need recharging. It can be fiddly to do this in a hurry if you're not used to it, and chances are you won't have another good light source close by to help you see what you're doing.
The torch is really sturdy but as I tugged and tugged at it to get to the winding handle, I did worry I would damage it. The key is to slide it off rather than lift it up. The torch and strap separate, and you can then wind the torch up. There is a handy catch that allows you to clip the torch onto clothes or a bag, but personally I am not sure I would be happy to do so as it doesn't seem 100% secure because the torch part is quite heavy and tugs at the material I've tried it on.
While I've never used any other head torches, I would say this model is very comfortable to wear because the light bit has a padded mount that is soft against your head. It's also so light you barely realise you're wearing it, and the angle of the light can be adjusted by clicking it up or down. (NB it feels light because your head is heavy, and in comparison this feels like nothing to your neck. As I said above, it is still a bit heavy for things that aren't as strong, such as flimsy material).
I sometimes use this as a regular torch, especially in the middle of the night if I'm getting up for something. I wrap the strap around my wrist, or simply hold it in my hand, and get the same illumination as if it were on my head. If I'm reading and don't want to mess up my hair, I sometimes prop it on my chest and the angle works just as well.
One final thing to note is that it makes a loud clicking noise as you adjust the angle. This isn't too bad if you're alone, but if you're using this as an alternative to switching on a bedside or overhead light, you could still disturb your partner. Like most Dynamos, this also makes a loud, shrill noise when you wind it, so is also not something that you can do subtly without drawing attention to yourself.
Overall I am very impressed with this torch. It is much more useful than I thought it would be, and having subsequently looked at others online (a very bad habit since it's too late to change my mind) I feel like I got a good quality product that is excellent value for money. It is easy to use, convenient to wear, stays in place without any trouble and emits more than enough light for most tasks. Recommended.
This torch is currently available online, where it is £14.99 but is on buy one get one free, so the same deal I got (though I didn't have to get two)