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I used to assume headlamps were only for people who liked to poke around dark holes underground. I suppose you would call these people hobbits, or cavers. However, in more recent years I have found myself actually using a headlamp or head torch as they are also known. The need arose when myself and a friend were walking up and mountain in the evening, we were up on the summit for sunset and the light would be fading fast on the way down. It turned out that it was pitch black by the time we reached the car. For that first romp with a head torch I had bought an extremely cheap one for around £10. It was useless, barely casting any light on the ground in front of me, I tripped, stumbled and fell my way down the mountain. My friend on the other hand a Petzl head torch, it was ten times as good as mine, so I decided I would stop being so tight fisted and purchase one for myself.
So a few weeks later I splashed out on one of these, a Petzl Myo XP head torch. Admittedly this was not a cheap piece of equipment but it has been invaluable since buying it. So what do you get when you buy this Petzl head torch? Well first of all the fitting is very good. The elastic headband is very easy to adjust and there is also a strap which keep the lamp in place. Even when jogging along I find this head torch stays where you want it to, the light doesn't drop down it shines in a straight line where you aim it. My old head torch would droop, any heavy movement on my part and I would constantly have to readjust the line of the light shining from my forehead.
The lamp itself is one single powerful LED. There are three different lighting modes and also a very impressive boost mode. The three settings give you the option of not having the light as bright, thus saving you some battery juice. The boost mode casts the light out to a remarkable 97meters! This can only be used for 20 second bursts as it drains the batteries very quickly. There is also a strobe setting where the light will flash, this can be handy in an emergency as it can draw attention to your position.
The battery life is quite impressive. Apparently if you switch to economy mode, the lowest setting, the batteries will last 180 hours! I very rarely use this mode as I like it to be fairly bright. I have never had the batteries die on me though, I do however always keep some spare ones with me just in case. There can be little worse than finding yourself all alone in the dark miles from anywhere!
In a practical sense this torch has been very impressive. I used it last year to go walking up a mountain at 3am, the idea was to get the sunrise from the summit. For two hours we walked in pitch black, but with this head torch I had no problems seeing where I was going. The only thing that didn't enjoy my head torch were a few startled sheep we walked past. The head band was comfortable, after a few minutes I pretty much forgot it was there. The head torch performed very well and I was very happy with it.
I have also found a few other practical uses for this one. I now take it camping with me. There is nothing worse than stumbling back to your tend and then having to find your torch, then juggle it about as you get undressed, find the zip, get a drink, find your sleeping bag and then get in it. However, keep this in my pocket while I'm sat round the fire, then when I head for bed, I strap it on and life is suddenly easy. I have two hands free for all those tricky tasks. As you can imagine, it also makes going to the toilet in the dark far easier! Another thing I now keep it handy for is a visit to the dreaded attic! We all know the bogey man lives up there and it is awful dark, so having a torch strapped to your forehead makes life so much easier. The bogey man has not troubled me since!
This Petzl head torch takes 3 AA batteries. Unusually they are actually included when you buy the head torch, a very nice little inclusion. This is also water resistant up to a point, so if it rains while you are using it you should have no problems. However, I'm not sure I would take this swimming with me! I don't think it is water resistant enough for that sort of use. The batteries are easy to get in and out, no problems there. The on switch is also designed in a way that will stop it being turned on accidentally, this is handy as it means you won't get it out your bag and find the batteries have died. The torch is very light weight, it's small and easy to fit into a rucksack if you are going out walking.
The only slight downside to this head torch is the price. For one of these it will cost you around the £50 mark. Not cheap for what is basically a torch, but don't forget it does include batteries. I think when I got mine it was on offer and I paid around £40, but to be honest due to the quality I think it's still reasonable value. I have had no problems with the head torch and I don't see any reasons why it won't last me for many years.
Overall then I would have to say this really is a nifty piece of kit. Yes it is at the upper end of the price range, but for range of features, reliability and ease of use, there are few better than this Petzl head torch. If you are into caving, walking, camping are a hobbit or anything else that involves the dark, then this head torch comes highly recommended. I will no doubt be using this one for many more years and I look forward to doing so.
One piece of kit I always check that I have and that it is in tip top working condition is my head torch and this little beauty is my second head torch made by Petzl, the first is now relegated to a back up one and this is now my primary source of light when trekking, camping or just plain old night hiking. Head torches are not just for camping they are useful for any activity where you need a light source which also gives you use of both hands, unlike a conventional torch and where there is no other alternative source of light. So for all you car booters and doggers (sorry that should read dog walkers) it can be a useful device.
The reason I upgraded from my old torch to this one is primarily this one has a much more powerful beam and a longer burn time, this is in part due to the fact that rather than AAA batteries that are stored in the body of the torch this head torch takes 3 AA batteries (a set of which comes supplied with the torch ready for use) which are housed in a separate compartment which then sits on the back of your head. The rear compartment is a soft rubbery outer with a hard plastic back that is curved to allow it to fit the contour of your head and the strap slides through it. In addition to the added advantage of more power from three AA batteries I have also found two other advantages with this design, it is a lot easier to change the batteries when they need changing and if you are forced to change them in the open in wet weather then you are not opening the back of your torch to do it, secondly it reduces the weight on the front of your head and distributes it more evenly which I find makes the device a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
I have found that the burn time when using this torch is very impressive, with three levels of beam the most efficient will give your 150 hours of burn time and you get 80 hours from the maximum beam, most of the time unless I'm in my tent I find myself using the optimum (middle) beam and then you get 100 hours, only when inside my tent or a shelter do I have it on economic. The torch also has a simple traffic light system on the top of the casing which illuminates to indicate the amount of charge remaining in the batteries depending on what beam setting you currently have the torch running on, I have found this to be useful and also very accurate and when it hits the red you really do need to change your batteries as there is not a lot of time left before you are plunged into darkness.
The three different settings that are easy to toggle through will vary the intensity of the beam and the range that the light is projected forward. There is also a small boost button on the top of the torch which allows an intense beam of light for short periods however this does use up a lot of juice if you use it a lot. It has an excellent range to it with the beam illuminating the ground 30 to 40 metres in advance when on the optimum setting, you should note that the longer the torch is in continual use the range does start to decrease, this is obviously relevant when hiking at night as most of the time in camp it will only be on for relatively short time periods. On maximum it can have a range of up to 72m when initially switched on which blows my old head torch out of the water when it comes to illumination and range.
In terms of design it is a nice piece of kit, a mix of black and grey moulded plastic with bright green control buttons on the top, one that operates the boost and the second that operates the various settings and switches it on and off, to toggle through the various beam settings you simply double click to move to the setting you need and this is very easy after a couple of goes, the buttons are a different size so it is easy through touch to be able to locate them and distinguish between the two. It uses a single led bulb which is deeply recessed to protect it behind hard clear plastic and there is a reflective strip at the bottom of the torch to help cast the beam out further and wider.
Another nice feature is the fact that not only does the head torch pivot easily to allow you to alter the range of the beam but when it is fully pushed back then there is a small plastic moulding that fits over the on/off button to stop it switching on while in transit, this is very useful as on my old head torch this feature does not exist and I have to remove the batteries when in transit.
It has a wide strap (bearing the Petzl lettering) which makes this an incredibly comfortable head torch to wear and the battery pack is connected to the torch body by a plastic wire which is coiled at one end and runs through a retaining slot on the strap so that it does not get in the way, to ensure that the head torch stays in place there is also a strap that runs over the top of your head as well, this is detached when it arrives and it is optional whether you fit it however it does make it more secure and is good when walking at night to give you extra stability.
I have been mightily impressed with this great bit of kit. I cannot find anything that I would change on it, the intensity of the beam, burn time; robust manufacture and comfort are excellent. There is one downside I guess and that is the fact that this does not come cheap, I have a 20% discount with Cotswold and it still cost me £52 at their slightly inflated normal prices (my opinion I'm sure not theirs), on Amazon you can get it for £58 which is a good price in my opinion for a product that has so many uses and is a nice piece of safety kit.
Thanks for reading and rating my review and if you have any questions leave me a message.
Whenever you are camping or doing any activity where you need a light source but need to keep your hands free then a head torch is an essential bit of kit and Petzl are one of the best head torches that I have had due to their innovative design, robustness and ease of use.
This Myo XP is my current head torch and it is a powerful little piece of kit, it is supposed to have a visibility range of just under 100m however I have never bothered to test that, or needed to, however it does provide a bright and consistent beam which is so necessary especially when putting up tents in the dark. In all it has three light settings which are opereated by way of a luminous green button on the torch, this means when you do not need a bright light, like when in your tent you can use the economy setting however the full beam setting is ideal for night walking across uneven ground and there is a further boost setting to really illuminate the ground if you want to check out the terrain.
It also has a wide angle lens so you can change the focus of your light to either a wide view or a focused one, again useful depending on the job in hand, it has a single led bulb that is really powerful and the torch itself is robust and well designed. One of the things I really like about this torch is that teh power source is a seperate plastic case. Many head torches store the batteries in the torch casing and can be fiddly to change batteries and if for any reason the securing clips break your torch is redundant, however the seperate battery compartment sits at the back of your head and the cable from if to the torch has a concertenered bit to allow it to be easily detached and the cable threads alongside the head band so there are no loose wires.
The torch takes 3AA batteries, it is hard to say how long they last because it depends on usage length and beam used but I have found the torch to be pretty easy going on battery use.
The other thing I like about this torch is that due to the wide adjustable head band it is very comfortable to wear and light so it is easy to forget it is there however it is also really stable on your head and mine has never come off or even slipped while walking or tent erecting.
This is a great, well designed head torch that retails for around the £50 to £60 mark so it will not break the bank and is a reliable piece of equipment from a manufacturer I trust.