Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: One of the lightest headlamps out there, three lighting modes, durable.
Cons: Low spotlight, below average battery life, expensive.
Best Uses: A light to take for any outdoor activity in case you get caught out after dark.
This micro headlamp, the size of a small stack of quarters, is the lightest headlamp we know and by a large margin. It wins our Top Pick award as the best lightweight headlamp and does so by a good margin. The only close contender was the Black Diamond Ion which is about the same weight but has a much less powerful beam, much shorter battery life, and fewer beam modes. It's hard to think of a more useful $30 you can spend on an outdoor product. Why? The e+LITE is so small (about the volume of a ChapStick) it eliminated the question "Should I bring a headlamp?" So it can be seen as either an expensive headlamp considering the light is not that bright or, as we see it, really inexpensive insurance against getting caught out at dark with no light.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The trail finding score of 3 is pretty low until you consider just how small this light is. It scored as well as many headlamps that weigh four times as much. For example, in the beam comparison photo below, it is quite competitive with the Costco LED which weighs more than four times as much.
But there is no way around the fact that this is not a trail finding powerhouse. It will get you out of a jam, but if you plan on hiking long distances at night, get a true trail finding specialist like the Coast HL7.
Passable short distance performance is a big reason we like this headlamp so much. It casts a nice even beam around you and is surprisingly effective for how small it is.
This is where the e+LITE gets is revenge on the Coast and many other headlamps. In this battery life vs. beam distance graph, you can see how the high powered Coast is out after five hours while the e+LITE goes strong for 20. We feel it is essential that an emergency light give you prolonged performance which is a big reason why the e+LITE wins and award. It had much better battery life than its ultralight rival, the Black Diamond Ion.
It takes tiny 3v lithium batteries that are a little hard to find at a gas station or supermarket. However, we ordered 25 online for $6 which is enough battery power for over a year of regular use. These are much less expensive than the 6 volt batteries most other lithium ion headlamps we tested required.
With 24 meter measured max beam distance, this is not the brightest headlamp. By comparison, the similarly priced Coast HL7 shines a beam over 250 meters. That said, it has pretty solid beam distance for its size. It shines a beam 2 meters further than our best buy winner, the Energizer 3 LED which is 3 times the weight (but a third the cost). The e+LITE's brightness for its weight is impressive.
At 26 grams, this is the lightest headlamp in our review. Even more impressive, is the size. Because it uses a retractable string headband, it is in the most compact package imaginable. The string headband is surprisingly sturdy and keeps the light steady even when jogging. However, we don't recommend using it with a helmet as it is more prone to both slippage and improper installation than standard elastic headbands.
Ease of Use
This uses a different light selection button than any other product tested. Instead of a button, it uses a type of lever/dial. This is a little harder to figure out at first and is nearly impossible to use with gloves.
This is the ultimate emergency headlamp. It is so light that you can toss it in your daypack (or even in your running sock) and not notice it. Since it weighs less than 3 AAA or AA batteries, it can serve as an alternative to bringing spare batteries and gives you the option of having two headlamps (for your friends who forget theirs). Because of its micro size, it is also nice to just have around. It takes up almost no space in a glove box or kitchen drawer.
At $30, this is a premium prices light, especially for its brightness. Spend just another $6 and you get the Editors Choice Coast HL7 or the Black Diamond Spot. That said, this light is well worth every penny because of its potential to get you out of an emergency situation.
The Petzl Zipka Plus 2, $45, is compact, durable and has an above average battery life.
The Petzl Tikka XP 2, $55, delivers a great close proximity beam quality in a compact package. It represents a nice progression for the Tikka line, one of the first compact LED headlamps, that has been steadily improving for over a decade.
The Petzl NAO, $180, was the only headlamp to score perfect 10's for both trail finding and close proximity.
The Petzl e+LITE was our highest rated micro headlamp. At less than one ounce, it was the lightest and most compact headlamp we tested. It is durable (we put it through the washing machine by accident) and it scored surprisingly well for beam quality and close proximity, considering how small it is. Even though this headlamp (understandably) scores very poorly for beam distance and trail finding, we were still impressed with it. It comes with three different lighting modes, including a red light mode. It comes with a handy waterproof case that will insure it stays dry. However, the best part of this light is how small it is so we never used the case. It is small enough to put in a sock or keep anywhere.
Its main competitor is the Black Diamond Ion, which is the same weight and size. The Ion had a better spotlight but the E+Lite had much better close proximity light and battery life. Considering the main reason to have this headlamp is for emergency or unintended backup use, the better battery life of the E+Lite makes it the clear winner. That said, at $30 the E+Lite is $10 more expensive than the Ion and puts you in the category of much more capable three-ounce lights like the Petzl Tikkina 2.
Even though its total score was not that high, we still consider this a must- have headlamp for anyone who does serious activity in the back country or away from the car (trail running at dusk, etc). It weighs nothing so there is no reason not to bring it everywhere. If you have an extra $30, there is no reason not to buy it. It could be the most useful light you ever buy. That said, if you are on a budget and don't mind a headlamp that weighs two more ounces, go with the Fuel or the Energizer 3 LED, which cost less, perform much better and is still pretty darn small and light.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 25, 2014
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