Review the review: OGL on Headlamps

I may have given them some shit recently, but a few weeks ago Outdoor Gear Lab atoned for any past sins and then some, with an outstanding headlamp review.


I can’t think of anything they left unexamined.  Breadth (37 lamps) and depth (beam patterns, real world run times) are present.  Basic theory (why have a headlamp) and advanced issues (why lumens is a deceptive measure) are both covered.  They don’t hesitate to contradict industry claims, both on headlamp specs and on the general way in which lamps are measured (the accompanying “Why Headlamp Claims are Deceptive” is outstanding).  In short, the article took a huge amount of time to put together, and is absolutely worth some of yours to read.  Well done OGL.

8 responses to “Review the review: OGL on Headlamps”

  1. Aren’t all manufacturer’s claims deceptive? That’s marketing, after all. Look at all the stupid claims hysterically repeated by a bunch of well-meaning bloggers right after the big trade shows every year. I was just going to do an article about it myself, but I sort of already decided that I’m not a consumer babysitter and if they want to believe hype instead of using their brains, they can just go for it. If people won’t apply critical thinking there’s really nothing you can do for them. The OGL article was pretty insanely detailed (and, as such, didn’t hold my interest, it’s just a headlamp ya know, does it work or not, that’s all I care about) but if you’re buying headlamps based on what it says on the packaging you’ve already lost.Turn the tester on in the store, and then you see how well it works and can make your decision based on that. We don’t need to prove manufacturers lie and exaggerate, we already know that.

    I’m cranky today BTW.

    1. Crankiness is supported around here, but so is insane detail. An antidote for the 300 word “in-depth” reviews of the world.

    2. I’ll have to agree with Jill on the marketing but very much disagree on the importance of the specs. They do matter, true or marketing (false). I’m guessing that for example most buyers are interested to know how long do the batteries last. One option is to spend a day or to in the store with the test headlamp on and estimate from there but I’m guessing most peple would just ask from a clerk or read it from the package. And if the information available is bullshit it’s hard to make a right judgement without previous experience or tests like the OGL’s. I enjoyed the review a lot, though didn’t read all of it.

      And if people won’t apply critical thinking, you can always sell them kit. Seems to work well for the industry. ;)

      And as a site note: I’ve been liking the look of the Petzl Pixa headlamps ( good knob to use with mittens on, IP67, AA batteries, etc. But the specs have always looked very moderate and thikggn that the specs are usually very optimistic I’ve thought the Pixas are not for me. But it seems they are actually tested acording to the standard and comparing the specs to the test figures of the OGL they are not that bad and even more so, probably honest. Might be my next choise for allaround headlamp… Be it heavy, I prefer gear that works.

  2. The absence of Zebralight, Spark and even Silva (not talking about Lupine, Hope and so on) headlamps makes the review worthless for me. But may be i have to read it because of your recommendation.

    1. The second article explaining standards and debunking manufacturer claims is much more useful than the review IMO.

  3. I had the same thought as Roman. I have been through a lot of lamps, and the Zebra at the very least needed to be mentioned.

  4. I found the review interesting, along with the rating system. I don’t have many head lamps, in fact I have two of the 3 led energizer and love them. Also had a “cars” lamp that used the cr 2032 battery. That was super light and worked quite well on hunting trips getting to the stand or out after dark, plenty of light. The energizers I use a lot around the house, the batteries seem to last for many, many hours upwards of 20 I would guess. It is great for working with your hands or seeing things in a dark room, or out in the garden at night. Other than seeing at a really far distance I can’t think of anything it doesn’t do well. Other than doubling or tripling the battery life I can’t think of what a $30 lamp does that my $13 can’t? I don’t think reviews give enough priority to cost. Some of those are over $150, does it cook you dinner? Same with jackets. The stinking patagonia down parka is $350 and the uniqlo is $69.99 that patagonia have better be super special to justify that much money. Any review that doesn’t take cost into account is kind of worthless.

    1. found one problem with the energizer today. The slide button is super easy to operate however when putting in pocket or such it can turn on by accident. This could be a problem if placed in a pack and not noticed.

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