Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Rechargeable, good spot light capability, above average in almost every category, works with regular AAA too
Cons: Medium length distance beam
Best Uses: General use, camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing
The ReVolt wins our Top Pick award as the best rechargeable headlamp. Get this if your top priority is to avoid the waste and time of constantly replacing batteries. It's also a great option for extended trips where you don't want to carry extra batteries as the ReVolt can charge off just about anything with a USB adapter: solar panel, car cigarette lighter, a laptop, external battery, or a 110 wall outlet with a usb adapter (not included). You can charge it every night and start each activity with a full charge and piece of mind of how much battery life you have. With most non-rechargeable headlamps, there is no way to tell how close you are to running out of juice. This an ideal feature for heavy headlamp users.
The ReVolt has many power options. In the box, it comes with both NiMH AAA Rechargeable Batteries, standard alkaline batterie, and a USB charging cable. You can switch between standard and rechargeable battery at any time: something few other models let you do. It did not score in the top against non-rechargable headlamps because it has a relatively short battery life and not the best long distance beam. If those are you top priorities, we would go with the Coast HL7. You can see the beam comparison of the two here which is pretty stark. See our complete Headlamp Review to see what provides the best light for your needs.
The main competition is the Petzl Tikka RXP. The RXP is a great light and scored higher in all beam power and quality scores. However, the RXP has a shorter battery life, is harder to use and nearly double the price. If you love the RXP's reactive lighting and don't mind spending $90, the RXP might be the way to go. Otherwise, we would get the ReVolt and save $40 or spend the savings on the Coast HL7 which beats the RXP on beam performance and is $36.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The revolt was a solid but not exceptional performer with a 7 of 10 score. It has a nice even beam for seeing what's directly in front of you but does not excel once looking out more than 50 feet like the Petzl Tikka RXP does which scored 8 of 10. The beam distance photo below shows how the Spot, which scored 8 of 10 has a brighter light to the ReVolts more diffused beam.
This is where the ReVolt did its best, scoring an 8 of 10. It casts a very even beam with very few bright hotspots. This makes it ideal for finding things in your car, hanging around the campfire, reading, and general use. The even light means your head does less twitching around to find things and makes it generally easier on your eyes.
Compared to the other headlamps with a fresh set of batteries, the ReVolt did not last that long with its rechargable batteries. However, if you put in the non-rechargable batteries, it will last awhile and probably would have a 6 or 7 score. But what it lacks in long battery life it makes up for in option. Because you can recharge at anytime, you always have a good idea of how much juice is left. A battery life indicator on the side of the headlamp indicated if you have 1, 2 or 3 bars left. You can also grab a charge easily in the field. For example, if you are on a road trip, you can just plug the ReVolt into you cars cigarette adapter and recharge rather than having to pull over and purchase batteries. So while we give the revolt a low battery score in the interest of side-by-side comparison, depending on how you use it, it may actually have a great battery life.
This does not have a very long beam distance - 53 meters in our tests. Some top-scoring models shined two to three times that like the Coast with 128 m. This is not the ideal powerhouse headlight. It is more a see clearly what is immediately around you light.
This headlamp is not heavy, but it is much weightier than the ultra-light models. It scored right in the middle for both size and weight and is just a little heavier than the Spot.
Ease of Use
The buttons are simple to use and the light tells you if it is charging or not and how much charge you have left. At first it's not clear how many times to hit the button for each mode, but after a few minutes you figure it out.
A solid but not exceptional glove performer. The one button is relatively easy to find and operate with ski, bike or fleece gloves.
Ever annoyed that a pack of AAA batteries at the convenience store can cost more than a diner breakfast? This is the ideal headlamp for the person who is annoyed by constantly replacing batteries or just wants to be able to use it every day and know how much battery life they have left. It is also an ideal emergency light to keep in the car (along with a charging cable and usb source) because it can be recharged by many different power sources.
While this light is not cheap, it becomes a great long-term value because you don't have to buy batteries as often. Eventually you will need to replace the re-chargable batteries, but that will be much less often than replacing nonrechargeable batteries.
THe Black Diamond Spot, $40, wins our Editors' Choice award because it had the best beam performance and battery life for a compact headlamp that only costs $40. Many headlamps that cost more than $80 couldn't match its brightness and close proximity scores. No headlamp tested had a better trail finding score while still delivering a long battery life and weighing less than 100 grams.
The Black Diamond Icon, $80, is the highest scoring headlamp in our tests and our Top Pick for trail finding due to its unique combination of a 80 meter beam distance and excellent battery life.
The Black Diamond Sprinter, $70, is our Top Pick award for runners, showing the future of what all headlamps will bring: lighter, brighter, and more robust. While designed for urban use for running or biking, and by our own standard offers too short a battery life to be ideal for backcountry use, we love this headlamp (even if it is a bit pricey).
If you're looking for a second set of rechargeable batteries for your Revolt, check out the AAA Rechargeable 4 Pk for $13.
This is a Top Pick award winner because it is our top scoring re-chargable model. It largely eliminates that constant dance of hunting through the house drawers for fresh batteries or having to pay too much money for AAA's at the nearby convenience store. Best of all, you always know that you are starting with a full charge. To have that luxury with nonrechargeable headlamps requires the costly and wasteful ritual of buying bulk battery supplies and constantly tossing them out when the beam intensity starts to dim.
If re-chargable batteries are not a priority, we recommend you check out the Black Diamond Spot which scored higher across all beam performance metrics, has a longer battery life, and costs about $20 less. Here is a beam comparison of the two that shows the improved brigthness of the Spot.
— Chris McNamara and Randy Spurrier
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 14, 2014
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