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Hands-on Gear Review
Zebralight H602 Review
Cons: Heavy, mediocre battery life, and low beam strength
This light is a doomsday prepper's dream. Those equipping for the end-of-times love durable stuff from off-the-radar manufacturers. If it uses special batteries, like the H602 does, all the better. In our view, this is a product uniquely suited to home and shop use, but limited in utility in the great outdoors. At home, you never look too far and can be near replacement batteries. Outdoors, you may want to see further than this Zebralight allows and do not want to have to change batteries as often as we found is required. For better all-around performance with almost the same quality of close proximity beam, check out our Editors' Choice winning Coast HL7.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Zebralight H602 is a rugged, bright light that burns through a non-standard sized battery relatively quickly.
With a score of 8 out of 10, the H602 is tied with six other products in our test, and is surpassed by only three. The strong, even beam of all Zebralight products impressed all of our testers. As you can see in the beam comparison below, the Zebralight H602 throws a long beam with really even light distribution. Compared here to our Top Pick for brightness, the Fenix HP25R, which is one of the few lights to score better for trail finding, you can see that the H602 still holds its own.
Only the other Zebralight and the finicky Nitecore HC50 scored as well in close proximity. For working up close with a headlamp, we look for adjustable brightness and even light distribution. Poor lensing in a flashlight can result in hot spots or dark spots. These, while one's eyes adjust for them, prove fatiguing and distracting. Designing a light with even light distribution is difficult and expensive. Zebralight, as a company, has clearly put a great deal into fine tuning their lights' lenses.
We tested two lights that use the unique oversized 18650 Lithium battery. These are not widely avaialble, but are reported to be an excellent, dense supply of energy. They can be recharged with a dedicated device (not included with the Zebralight). Regardless of claims, neither light we tested on 18650 batteries lasted very long. The Zebralight H602 lasted 3.5 hours in high mode. We bumped the score up as compared to other similar timed lights because of the brightness of the high mode. But we bumped it back down because the switch on the H602 doesn't lock. The Nitecore HC50, the other light using the 18650 battery, shines with a brightness similar to the Zebra, but burns battery much faster. The Nitecore burned its battery in 2 hours. This battery life vs. beam distance chart shows how the two perform.
Interestingly, as compared to its much smaller cousin, the Zebralight H52, the H602 is far less bright. It throws a beam 2/3rds the distance. Over that distance, the light is usable and clean, but it simply doesn't shine as far as the smaller and less expensive alternative. This lesser brightness does help the battery last a little longer, but not long enough to bring the H602 up to average battery performance.
The H602 is the seventh heaviest light in our test. Much of the weight is attributed to the big and beefy battery. If that battery ran the light for more than 3.5 hours or pushed light past 50m, we wouldn't mind the heft. However, given the performance in terms of battery life and brightness, this light seems unnecessarily heavy.
Ease of Use
Like many small electronics in this day and age, Zebralight packs a great number of features into a tiny package. Outside the battery and housing, the entire light, switch, and instrumentation of the H602 could almost fit in a contact lens case. This is remarkable, especially considering how many different modes the light has. The downside is that clicking through the modes with just one button has a distinct learning curve. Like all compact electronics, however, once you are familiar with the ins and outs, navigating the device is easy enough.
With amazing close-proximity lighting and significant durabilty, but limited battery life and brightness, we recommend this light for around shop and garage. In these contexts you'll be working in tight spaces like car hoods and home crawl spaces. Here, the weight is not a big deal, and distance vision is unnecessary. The quality of up close vision, however, will be much appreciated.
This is an expensive light that fills a very small niche. If you spend a lot of time in that niche - close-up tasks that require excellent head-mounted lighting - the H602 may be just what you need. However, for occasional home use, our Best Buy Petzl Tikkina is a far better choice. You get adequate lighting and battery performance for a tiny fraction of the price of the Zebralight. The Tikkina will be more vulnerable to damage, so be careful how you store it. If you are subjecting your head and headlamp to forces that damage a plastic light like the Tikkina, you have perhaps bigger concerns.
The H602 is a heavy, durable light with excellent close-proximity lighting. The beam strength and battery life are below average.
H602 Cool White and H602 Neutral White
— Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier
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