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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Essential Gear eQ2 Headlamp > Test Report by Andrea Murland

Essential Gear eQ2 Headlamp
Test Series by Andrea Murland

Initial Report - January 19, 2010
Field Report - March 29, 2010
Long Term Report - June 1, 2010

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 24
Location: Rossland, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.


Initial Report – January 19, 2010

Product Information

eQ2 packaged
Manufacturer: Essential Gear, Inc.
Manufacturer's URL: www.essentialgear.com
Year of Manufacture: 2009
MSRP: US $11.95
Listed Weight: 26 g (0.9 oz) including batteries
Measured Weight: 34 g (1.2 oz) including batteries
Listed Size: 1.2 in x 1.2 in x 1.9 in (3.1 cm x 3.1 cm x 4.8 cm)
Measured Size: 1.3 in x 1.3 in x 1.7 in (3.3 cm x 3.3 cm x 4.3 cm)
Battery Type: 2 x CR2032 3V Lithium Coin Cell Batteries

Other information provided by the manufacturer:
Burn Time: 25 hours (steady on) or 50 hours (flashing)
Output: 10 lumens
Water-resistant

Initial Impressions

eQ2 close-up The eQ2 arrived on my doorstep in plastic & cardboard packaging. The packaging highlights the features of the headlamp on the front and has more detailed specifications and the instructions for changing the batteries and operating the headlamp on the back.

The eQ2 headlamp is described by the manufacturer as a dual-function headlamp with steady on and flashing modes. It comes with an orange elastic strap attached which is 1.3 cm (0.5 in) wide, and also has a spring clip for attaching the light to hat brims or some other object. The length of the strap is adjustable, and long enough to comfortably fit around my climbing helmet. The light rotates through 9 positions on a ratchet to adjust the angle up to 90 degrees. The back of the clip, where the lamp sits against my head, has a small pad for comfort.

The headlamp came with batteries installed, and it worked! Wow...a perfect circle of light. It was bright enough to manoeuvre around my house with no problems. So far, so good!

Reading the Instructions

Naturally, the first thing I did was turn the light on. The instructions say “Rotate light head for ON>OFF>FLASH>OFF” and show which direction to rotate for on and off – the picture shows counter-clockwise for on and clockwise for off (while looking into the light). It seems that I have to rotate the opposite direction to the picture to turn it on. Once I had that figured out, I tried to get it into flashing mode. For some reason, I thought I had to turn it to “on” and then keep turning it in the same direction to get it to go off and then into flashing mode. Nope. It’s exactly what it says: turn it to steady on, turn it the other way to go back off, and then turn it back to the on position for a flashing light.

The other set of instructions are for replacing the batteries. I followed the instructions for unscrewing and removing the light and putting it back together with no problems, and the pictures and instructions for how to orient the batteries are easy to understand. There’s also a little picture inside the light once it’s unscrewed to show how the batteries go in.

Trying it Out

Skiing with the eQ2 I took the eQ2 out cross country skiing one evening to try it out. I found that it was bright enough right in front of me, but my field of view was limited because the edges of the spotlight are so sharp. Directing the light farther in front of my skis gave me a dimmer light but wider view, and I found this much better for going down hills or when I was watching for a junction. I did find that I was going slower than usual when going downhill, especially on parts of the track with switchbacks. I usually use a headlamp with a diffuser, so I’m going to have to get used to the small, bright circle, but I didn’t have any major issues.

The headband was comfortable, and the light weighs almost nothing once it’s on my head – I couldn’t even feel it. I found that I couldn’t switch between flashing and steady modes with one hand; I needed one hand to turn the front of the light and the other to hold on to the base, or the whole thing would twist together on the elastic strap.

Summary

The Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp is a lightweight headlamp with steady on and flashing modes. It produces a perfect, bright circle of light, and seems to be bright enough to ski with. I’m looking forward to spending my evenings with this headlamp over the next few months.

Pros:
Lightweight
Can be used with elastic strap or spring clip
Headband is comfortable

Cons:
Need two hands to change modes or turn on/off.


Field Report – March 29, 2010

In a cabin

Field Conditions

Over the past two months, I have used the Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp 6 times while cross-country skiing, once for snowshoeing, once for snowshoeing while geocaching, and I took it to Nevada with me on a rock climbing vacation. In Nevada, I used it around camp while cooking, eating, washing dishes, reading in the tent, wandering to the toilet, and anything else after dark had fallen. I also carried it with me in my pack during the day, where it came in handy one afternoon when I started a climb a bit late, and had to scramble back to the trail and to the car in the dusk and dark.

For skiing and snowshoeing, the temperature was around -5 C (23 F). In Nevada, the temperature was between freezing and 20 C (68 F). It was snowing on one of the nights that I was skiing.

On all occasions, I used the eQ2 in the steady on mode, not the flashing mode. I haven’t needed to change the batteries yet, after approximately 10 hours of use.

Observations

It has become progressively easier to use the eQ2 while skiing. Although I still get comments like “wow, that’s a spotlight” from my fellow skiers, I’m not having trouble with my field of view anymore. I attribute this to two things. First of all, as the season progresses I remember where the corners, hills, and turnoffs on the trails are, so I’m not looking so hard for them. Secondly, adjustment to the light. It’s a bit like the first few times I went scuba diving at night and had to get used to looking where my light was instead of in every other direction – same thing here. Once I started paying attention to my little circle of light and ignoring the trees whizzing past me, I found it much easier to pick up speed without worrying about limited vision. Having said that, I think I still prefer my usual diffused light for skiing.

Found it!For snowshoeing, the light from the eQ2 was certainly adequate. Both times that I had the eQ2 out snowshoeing, I was headed up to some local cabins, so I was (mostly) following other tracks. When I did get off-trail and was picking my way through the forest, I had to make a point of stopping or slowing, putting my head up, and looking where I was going instead of counting on peripheral vision, since there wasn’t a light source in my peripheral vision.

I have similar feelings about using the eQ2 while geocaching. I was counting on seeing the caches exactly where I was looking rather than picking out something strange-looking in my peripheral vision.

In camp, the eQ2 is great. It gives off enough light to accomplish any task without being blinding to the other people in camp, and it doesn’t light up the whole campsite like a lantern. Unfortunately, it’s bright enough to see when I’m doing a lousy job of washing dishes, so skillet washing becomes a rather long affair. I suppose that’s the fault of the washer... I used the eQ2 for reading in the tent a few times, and it worked well. The light is more than bright enough to read comfortably, without throwing light all over the place. Since I was sharing a tent with three other people and some of them were trying to sleep, that was pretty important.

The one time that I hiked (scrambled, really) with the eQ2 I was thrilled to have it. Jumping between rocks is fine during the day, but in the dark it’s definitely not my strong point. Having this light in my pack made the descent back to the car much faster and I needed much less hand holding from my climbing buddies. I was also lighting up the trail for them, so they weren’t complaining that I’d been carrying around the extra few grams either.

The eQ2 is very comfortable to wear. The headband is soft and stretchy, and the headlamp is so light that it’s easy to forget I’m wearing it. A few times when I’ve pulled the eQ2 out of my pack to put it on, one side of the strap has slid out of the slot on the clip for it. The strap is easy to put back on though, so it’s a delay of only a few seconds.

I still need two hands to turn on the eQ2, which can be a bit of a pain when I grab it quickly to glance at something when I’m in the tent or in camp, since I need to free up both hands to use it. Most of the time I turn the light head the right way on the first try, but sometimes I still go backwards. I’ll figure it out eventually.

Other than being a bit dusty from the desert, the eQ2 still looks pristine.

Summary

The Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp is a comfortable, lightweight headlamp. It’s great around camp, pretty good for slow activities (hiking or snowshoeing), and I’m getting used to using it for higher speed activities (skiing). I’m looking forward to using the eQ2 more for hiking and in camp as spring arrives and skiing and snowshoeing draw to a close.

Pros:
Lightweight
Great for reading
Excellent for camp tasks
Good for hiking

Cons:
Need two hands to change modes or turn on/off.
Strap comes off of clip spontaneously
No peripheral vision

Long Term Report – June 1, 2010

Further Field Use

Over the last two months of this test, I have used the Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp on 3 weekend camping trips (for a total of 8 nights) as well as carried it on 3 day-hikes. I have also used it for 2 rope rescue training exercises. The additional burn time during the long term test period was roughly 16 hours, for a total of about 26 hours of burn time.

The temperature was between freezing and 15 C (59 F) any time that I was using the eQ2. It was raining during one of the search & rescue exercises.

On all occasions, I used the eQ2 in the steady on mode, not the flashing mode.

Observations

I continue to enjoy using the eQ2 in camp. The light is bright enough to lay a fire, cook dinner, eat, clean up, wander to the toilet, play cards, make the campsite bear-aware, change, and read. I like using it once it’s dark enough to be on full-time, or if I’m doing tasks where I need it on for a while. If I’m turning it on and off frequently (while sitting by the fire, for example), needing to use two hands is a bit of a pain.

During rope rescue practices, the eQ2 stayed in position on my helmet perfectly. It was sufficient light to focus on my task, but lack of peripheral light meant that I couldn’t see what anyone else was doing without looking up. The lack of peripheral vision also made packing up the gear more difficult; similar to when geocaching, I had to be looking directly at an item to see it. As well, there are occasions when freeing two hands to turn on my light isn’t possible. I think a more diffuse light with one-handed functionality will have to be my primary light for search & rescue.

The rain had no noticeable impact on the eQ2, which was great.

The headlamp is very comfortable and lightweight. A few times I’ve noticed one of the adjustment sliders and end of the strap digging into my temples a bit, but a quick re-adjustment fixed the problem.

The ratchet adjustment works perfectly, and the headlamp looks like new, except for a couple of dirty marks on the strap. I noticed on my last camping trip that the light was starting to look a bit dim. I’ve changed the batteries, and the light is back to its bright self. Since the advertised burn time was 25 hours in steady on mode, the battery life met my expectations. It’s nice that the light dims instead of just suddenly winking out.
dim light from the eQ2 (that's a tent)
dimming light

Final Summary

The Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp is an excellent headlamp for low-speed activities or around camp. It’s going to be the headlamp that I grab for camping, and this lightweight lamp will also be part of the “essentials” kit that I always carry day-hiking.

Pros:
Lightweight
Focused beam in camp
Advertised burn time accurate
Water resistant

Cons:
Need two hands to change modes or turn on/off.
No peripheral vision

Thanks to Essential Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the eQ2 Headlamp.

Read more reviews of Essential Gear gear
Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Essential Gear eQ2 Headlamp > Test Report by Andrea Murland



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