ESSENTIAL GEAR EQ2 HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
INITIAL REPORT - January 04, 2010
FIELD REPORT - March 30, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - June 01, 2010
bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
Salida, Colorado, USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
19.5 in (50 cm)
36 in (91 cm)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Essential Gear, Inc.
|Essential Gear eQ2 Headlamp|
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.essentialgear.com
MSRP: US $11.95
Listed Weight with batteries: 0.9 oz (26 g)
Measured Weight with batteries: 1.2 oz (34 g)
Listed Size: 1.2 x1.2 x1.9 in (3.1 x 3.1 x 4.8 cm)
Measured Size: 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.9 in (3.2 x 3.2 x 4.8 cm)
Other details provided by manufacturer:
- Batteries: 2 CR 2032
- Burn Time (Hours)
- Steady On: 25
- Flashing: 50
- Brightness: 10 Lumens
- Water Resistant
- Focused Beam
"New dual function eQ with steady on & flashing modes plus 10 lumens brightness. Weighing less than an ounce and featuring a versatile clip mount that provides 9 light positions. Magnifier lens provides focused beam."
|Photo courtesy of Essential Gear|
The Essential Gear eQ2 Headlamp, hereafter referred to as the "eQ2," is a small, lightweight functional LED headlamp. It comes packaged in a lightweight plastic shell encased in cardboard packaging. There are simple instructions printed on the back of the packaging as well.
Quite simply, this is a small and bright headlamp! The eQ2 conveniently comes with an orange elastic headband that is minimalist in design. The elastic band is just 0.5 in (1.3 cm) wide and is stretchy enough to fit my head. The "head" of the headlamp can rotate 90 degrees to face straight down if desired and has a built in clip feature. This allows me to clip it to my baseball cap or elsewhere.
The model I received weighed slightly more than advertised; it weighed 1.2 oz (34 g) with the batteries, while the packaging claims 0.9 oz (26 g) with batteries. If I had to guess this is due to variances in the elastic band, since without the strap it is clearly under the listed weight. Regardless, the weight is very minimal, especially for the light.
The beam shines in a circular pattern. Oh, and by circular I mean a very near perfect circle with clean edges! I was pretty captivated by how perfect the beam was actually. I found it bright enough to get around the house in the dark and outside. I could see a pretty fair distance but I did not have a chance to make notes on precisely how far yet.
The beam has two settings; a steady-on mode and a blinking mode. I haven't gotten myself used to blinking lights, although I own other headlamps with this feature. I suppose I now have some incentive to try! To change settings I just twist the lens on and off again. The light switches back and forth that simply.
The manufacturer claims that the LED bulbs are unbreakable and that they never need to be replaced. Cool, huh? I will certainly report on any problems for the next four months!
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions included on the back are for both the operation of the headlamp and the replacement of the batteries. Both instructions were clear to me and I find it easy to access the battery compartment and operate the eQ2.
TRYING IT OUT
I actually had the opportunity to take the eQ2 on an overnight prior to submitting this report. This trip was along a section of the Rainbow Trail in the San Isabel National Forest. For this trip I hiked about 6 mi (9.6 km) in to a suitable camping spot. The weather was fantastic with temperatures near 40 F (4 C) and mostly sunny skies. Overnight low was about 20 F (-7 C). The trail was in great shape considering the amount of snow the area has seen recently and snowshoes were only needed in particular areas. Elevation range was approximately 8,500 to 9,800 ft (2,590 to 2,990 m).
While lurking around my campsite that evening, I found the light more than adequate for camp use. I could easily navigate around the area, but I have not used it yet for on trail night hiking. In the tent, the light stays nice and focused and was easy to read with. I almost always bring along a small paperback to read at night.
Aside from the weight discrepancy, the eQ2 lives up to the manufacturer's claims so far. I have a multi-day trip coming up in a few weeks and am excited to put this headlamp to the test. Being winter, I should have plenty of opportunities given the limited number of daylight hours! I like that it is lightweight and easy to use. I have no concerns so far.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the folks at Essential Gear as well as the volunteers at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series. Please check back in approximately two months to see how the eQ2 is performing!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Since my initial report, I have used the eQ2 on an additional three backpacking trips for a total of four nights and seven days. The first trip was a three day trip into the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area to the Harvard Lakes region, elevation 10,300 ft (3,139 m). My partner and I hiked approximately 4 to 5 mi (6 to 8 km) each day. Except for the hike to the lakes, we cut our own trail trails through snow that was 12 to 24 in (30 to 60 cm) deep. The weather was fair; mostly cloudy with periods of clear skies and very little wind. Temperatures ranged from 10 to 40 F (-12 to 4 C).
My next trip was an overnight along the Colorado Trail, just below Mt Yale where I camped for the night at 10,500 ft (3,200 m). My dog and I hiked about 5 mi (8 km) along snow packed trails in mountainous terrain. The weather on this trip was cloudy with a high near 35 F (2 C). My thermometer read just below 20 F (-7 C) when I turned in for the night.
My final trip was in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado to Ptarmigan Lake, at an elevation of 12,147 ft (3,702 m). The trail to the lake was fairly moderate and snow packed. Like any mountain terrain, some sections were steeper than others! Temperatures were between 10 and 35 F (-12 and 2 C) and while the weather was fair during the day, it turned into snow from dinner until I arrived back at my car.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have primarily used the eQ2 to conduct after dusk and pre-dawn chores in camp as well as the occasional midnight nature call. I did some exploring at night occasionally, but no long approaches in the dark on my peak bagging quests. After two months of use, I am happy to report that the light seems to shine as bright as the day I first turned it on.
I am especially impressed with how light the headlamp is. When I am wearing it I have a hard time feeling the weight of it. One minor inconvenience I noticed over the course of the testing period was some minor irritation on my head at the points where the elastic band is held by the buckles. As I was wearing a merino wool winter cap, it was hard for me to determine whether the wool caused the irritation or the strap. I first noticed this on my three day trip and adjusted the buckles to see if it would feel more comfortable in a different position. I didn't notice much difference the rest of that trip, but on my next trip I noticed no discomfort. I have not had the same response to the band since and am hopeful the issue will not occur again. Now that the temperatures are warming, I'll likely wear the headlamp on the brim of my cap or without a wool hat as well.
The functionality of this headlamp is simple and straightforward. Turning on the lamp is a bit of a chore with one hand, but it can be done. I find it much easier to twist the housing with one hand while holding the base with the other. I do find that performing this task with heavily gloved hands is much more difficult. It is so small that it can be hard to grip it the way I need to; however this hasn't been much of an issue.
The amount of light put out is perfect for camp chores, but this light is not useful as a spotlight! One night I heard an animal out in the woods while on a midnight nature call. I could see the reflection of the eyes (I think it was a dog actually) but had a hard time making out the shape. I would estimate the animal was a good 50 ft (15 M) away, perhaps even farther. That late at night, I didn't want to stick around to find out too much! I did find the light perfectly adequate for walking around the camp and on trails. Again, with the temperatures warming and an upcoming trip to warmer locales I expect to do a bit more hiking at night.
The weather hasn't seemed to affect the headlamp at all. Even in temperatures as low as 10 F (-12 C) I did not notice a difference. Likewise, while camping at Ptarmigan Lake the snow did not affect the performance at all. It was great fun seeing the snowflakes up close, however!
So far I am happy with the Essential Gear eQ2 headlamp. For just over 1 oz (28 g), this light packs a lot of punch. While it can be a little cumbersome to turn on and off and the light dissipates noticeably a farther distances, this headlamp seems a perfect balance of weight and function. Come back in two months to see how the eQ2 performs after more testing and hopefully a few summits!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Essential Gear and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the past two months, I have used the eQ2 on two additional overnights as well as some early morning summit attempts. My first trip was an unsuccessful winter ascent of Mount Shavano in the San Isabel National Forest of Colorado. The trail was almost completely snow packed; well for much of the hike it was really just a snow-covered jeep road. I camped at just over 11,000 ft (3,350 m) with mild temperatures dipping to 20 F (-7 C). For most of the trip I was in snowshoes due to soft snow conditions. The overall distance hike was only 8 mi (13 km)
My second trip was also in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado in the vicinity of Brown's Creek. The temperatures were mild from between 30 and 50 F (-1 and 10 C) with sunny skies and breezy conditions. My campsite was at approximately 10,500 ft (3,200 m) in subalpine forest conditions. There was a small amount of snow about the area, but the trails were mostly clear.
During the first part of the testing period, I encountered quite a bit of snow and took two snowshoe hikes on local trails. As the weather warmed up I have also taken three other day trips where I encountered variable conditions. One trip was a successful summit of Mt Shavano which I earlier had noted above where I conditions ranged from dry conditions at the trailhead to snow summit conditions requiring crampons and an ice axe.
I have used the headlamp for a total of six nights and eleven days of backpacking with three additional day hikes. I estimate that I have had the light on about 13 hours according to my logs.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The eQ2 has continued to perform nearly flawlessly over the final two months of testing. The light is still burning brightly and the unit is holding up to all the abuse. As the photo below shows, I have used the headlamp clipped to my hat for most of this testing phase. This has been a very practical and convenient manner to use the light.
|Hiking up Antero in the wee hours of the morning|
I have continued to notice how stiff the light is to turn on, which is made only slightly more difficult while wearing on my hat. I believe this is simply a case of leverage as the hat does not provide as solid of a base as my forehead; I have been called hard-headed at times...
I have used the flashing mode a few times, but frankly I am distracted by the on-off nature of the lighting and prefer to have a solid beam. Early on in the testing I thought I would miss having a wide, dispersed light. However I find the more focused light of the eQ2 to be easy to use and especially helpful on well defined albeit rocky trails. I never felt a lack of visibility was the cause of my early morning stumbles, just my own clumsiness.
If I haven't mentioned this before, this is one lightweight light. For the weight, it packs a lot of punch. The brightness has not begun to diminish that I can tell.
Overall this has been a rock-solid headlamp for my hiking.
Things I like:
- Can clip to my hat as needed
- Light is bright
- I really dig the circular, focused beam
Things I would change:
- Headband was a little uncomfortable
- It would be nice if the housing spun a little more freely to turn the unit on/off
Hands down, this is replacing my current headlamp in my backpack. I have a ditty bag of with my 10 essentials that this will remain a part of. Considering the low price tag, I plan to purchase another one to keep as a spare or for when my family comes hiking with me.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank Essential Gear and the folks at BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to be a part of this test series!
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Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin