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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Ledlenser MH10 Headlamp > Test Report by Richard Lyon
LEDLENSER MH10 HEADLAMPInitial Report March 7, 2018
Test Series by Richard Lyon
Field Report May 25, 2018
Long Term Report July 10, 2018
PERSONAL DETAILS and BACKPACKING BACKGROUND
Male, 71 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 210 lb (93 kg)
Email address: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com
Home: Outside Bozeman, Montana USA, in the Bridger Mountains
I've been backpacking for nearly half a century, most often in the Rockies. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500 - 3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Though always looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, I still tend to include my favorite camp conveniences. I always sleep in a floored tent and like hot meals. Winter trekking often focuses on downhill skiing or ski touring.
INITIAL REPORT- March 7, 2018
Manufacturer: Ledlenser GmbH & Co. KG, Soligen, Germany
Weight, listed, 9.31 oz /264 g
Weight, measured: Everything, 8.0 oz [227 g]; headlamp and battery only, 7.0 oz [198 g]
MSRP: $80 US
Lumens: 600 max
Includes: 18650 Lithium-ion battery, USB cable for charging, red and green filters and a lens cap for them, storage pouch.
Warranty: five years; seven years if product is registered.
OUT OF THE BOX
The MH10 has the look and feel of what I've always called a two-piece headlamp - the lamp in front and the battery pack in the back. It becomes a headlamp by means of a flexible headband that can be adjusted by means of a slider clip. Both lamp and battery pack may be laterally adjusted by similar though larger clips. Except for the on/off button (green); manufacturer's name and logo on the lamp casing, headband, and battery pack (white); and marking on the latch for the battery pack (also white), all is black.
The product comes with three paper inserts. The aforementioned warranty insert has what the manufacturer calls its "product guarantee," in six languages: five or seven years on the lamp; two years on the battery; accessories excluded. The customer may register the product by scanning a bar code pasted on to the warranty insert. A safety brochure, which to my eye appears to have been written by an ultracareful American lawyer [e.g., "Do not swallow small parts"], is provided in twenty-five [yes, 25] languages. The English version recommends use between -20 to 40 C [-4 to 104 F] and avoiding exposure to direct sunlight, high humidity, moisture, and solvents. The final insert is described as a quick-start guide, in English only though very few words; it's mostly pictures. Easier, I guess, than twenty-four translations.
Set up is simple and intuitive, which is a good thing because the quick start guide is difficult to follow. I opened the battery casing by turning the end piece slightly counterclockwise, as indicated on the casing, to unscrew it. While when open it's not affixed to the casing, the cord that carries juice to the lamp is attached, so I can't drop and lose the cap. In goes the battery, which came charged, back on goes the cap, and when I press the on/off button [located on the top of the lamp casing] there is light. The battery can be charged without removing it from the casing. The port for the USB cord is covered by a flexible rubber strip. I'll need an adapter for the other end but the one I use for my iPhone works. According to Ledlenser's website a full charge takes six hours.
I can add a filter by placing it in the accessory cap and popping the accessory cap over the lens cap. The lamp may be pointed down or straight ahead or any direction in between, about sixty degrees' range. The beam may be focused by rotating [counterclockwise] the focus ring that encircles the bulb housing. Ledlenser calls this latter feature Advanced Focus System and says that its technology is patented. The photo at right shows the focus fully open.
I tried the headlamp out last night. It has two user modes. By holding the on/off button down for ten seconds I get Mode 1 - the full 600 lumens. Then a click reduces the output to the intermediate setting, 250 lumens. Another click and it's the low, 10-lumen, light. Mode 2 requires a longer hold and is the obverse - start at low, with additional clicks turning up the lumens. The Advanced Focus took some fiddling at first but I expect to get the hang of it. At the higher settings this is a nifty feature, allowing a panorama or focus upon a single object. I'll try to get some comparative photos for my Field Report.
600 lumens is bright, bright enough to earn a warning from the manufacturer not to look directly into the beam. Bright enough to illuminate objects 150 meters [500 feet] away and beyond, justifying its maker's claim. I've always preferred one-piece headlamps for comfort and convenience, but I'm definitely willing to put up with some discomfort for this lamp's capacity. And "discomfort" is too strong a word; it's just something new that I'm sure I'll get used to. The headband is easy to adjust and once adjusted doesn't stretch or slip.
Everything fits into the pouch with a bit of jiggling. I'm somewhat concerned about the safety of the filters, even though I have stashed them inside the accessory cap and the lot in the small plastic bag in which they came. When full the pouch is a compact 4.5 x 4 x 1.5 inches [11 x10 x 4 cm] and easily fits into a trouser pocket or hip belt pocket on a pack. The pouch also has a belt loop.
All in all, the MH10 appears to be a well-designed, highly functional addition to my backpacking kit.
My only suggestion for improvement at this point is a better quick start guide. I used it to verify my own experimentation rather than as a guide. A minor issue.
FIELD REPORT - May 25, 2018
First thing every morning from March 7 through April 20 I donned the Ledlenser for my dog's post-breakfast walk. This ritual serves both biological [for the animal] and health [for animal and human] purposes. Starting at about 5.15 am the Whisper Walk [named after the animal] lasts between ten minutes and an hour, depending upon weather, Whisper's doing his business, and route chosen. In general, the better the weather the longer the walk, as Whisper always wants to hurry up when it's cold and snowing. Temperatures have ranged from 40 to -20 F [4 to -28 C], in conditions from dead calm to almost whiteout blizzard, with just about everything in between.
Use for these bonding sessions did not prevent packing the Ledlenser for day hikes on foot, snowshoes, or skis. Only one such expedition involved an overnight, in a nearby Forest Service cabin, in clear weather, when the low temperature was about 15 F [-10 C]. The lamp was extremely useful when splitting or chopping firewood or visiting the outhouse, and inside in the morning before we lit the oil lamps. On day hikes I stashed the headlamp in my daypack's hip belt pocket for use as needed. Until the switch to daylight savings time dusk comes early in Montana and a headlamp can be handy, as it did once on a ski trek and several times back at the trailhead.
I set the Ledlenser at Mode 1 so that when I turn it on I immediately get the maximum output. As discussed in the following section, I would occasionally adjust the output, the better to suit a particular task. On almost all uses I fit the headlamp atop a wool watch cap.
As noted, almost all of my use was at the top setting, 600 lumens. That makes the Ledlenser a very powerful headlamp. Most of my usage has been in open terrain, and for that I prefer the panorama setting to get a look of as much terrain as possible. On the dog walks especially I want to spot a four-legged distraction - deer, moose, or bear - as quickly as possible, to keep the brat away from them if at all possible. On the limited occasions that I used the headlamp inside a forest I thought the max setting a bit of overkill and ratcheted down to the intermediate setting. The minimum has been quite adequate for reading or any indoor use.
Changing the setting is not quite as easy as my Initial Report made it out to be. My description there is accurate for a first use, setting Mode 1 or Mode 2 and immediately adjusting up or down. But if I am walking and wish to adjust the setting I have to start from scratch - reset in Mode 1 or Mode 2 and then adjust. I consider this an insignificant distraction as it takes less than a minute to do, now that I've got the hang of it. And I am usually starting at the max setting and haven't had an emergency requiring instant reduction. I do think this should be explained in the collateral material that comes with the headlamp.
I have always preferred headlamps that have the battery and lamp in one piece at the front, mostly for comfort. One headlamp with the battery in the rear chafed considerably on the back of my head. I'm pleased to report that I have had no such problems with the Ledlenser. Once on my cap I scarcely notice that it's there. Another longtime prejudice dispensed with!
I charged the Ledlenser immediately after receiving it, and have recharged twice since. I didn't notice any dimming of the lamp; I just thought it was time to power up. I plugged it in with the supplied cord in the morning, walked away, and returned to it at suppertime with the battery fully charged. [A small light on the battery case turns to green from red when a charge is complete.] I didn't keep track but I think I got considerably more than ten hours of use [the manufacturer's specification] at the maximum setting.
The Ledlenser has been exposed to snow many times and to rain once or twice. For rain I've pulled my hood over my cap, but I have only done that in the snow when things got really blustery. I've not experienced any diminished performance from this, nor from one occasion when I accidentally dropped cap and headlamp on a concrete floor.
My only complaint, and it's a minor one, has to do with the tilt of the headlamp. As can be seen in the photo from the manufacturer's website, the lamp tilts slightly down. I would prefer starting exactly at the horizontal rather than a few degrees below.
LONG TERM REPORT - July 10, 2018
With my days now starting in sunlight or at least a rosy dawn, I no longer need the Ledlenser for most dog walks, though I have used it for some pre-bedtime bio walks late in the evening. That hasn't meant relegating the Ledlenser to the shelf, however. I have taken it on many day hikes, most recently on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland but mostly in the mountains and streambeds in Montana and Yellowstone National Park, and on a three-day backpacking trip in Yellowstone. On the backpacking trip I used it on its high setting for morning and evening chores and some nighttime wildlife watching, at temperatures of 45-60 F [7-15 C] in dry conditions. On its low setting it was my reading light while in my sleeping bag.
On almost all day hikes the Ledlenser remained in my pack. Late spring/early summer days are long here in Montana, and a headlamp isn't necessary until 9 pm or later, well past the time I finished my hikes. Sunset in Ireland was even later. The exception has been on fishing days. To accommodate my human companions' day jobs, to avoid hot temperatures, and to match the piscine targets' feeding habits, my early-season fishing often begins at 7 pm or later and can extend to dusk. The Ledlenser came in handy when hiking along rocky or overgrown streamside paths, fly rod in hand.
Performance hasn't changed since my Field Report. The lamp lights each time I push the button and stays alight until I hit the button again to turn it off. Boringly reliable. I'm becoming more adept at switching from Mode 1 or Mode 2 or vice versa. After the reading light use I can report that 10 lumens is entirely adequate for reading and locating small objects inside my tent.
I've also made use of the storage pouch. When I needed the lamp for daily morning walks it was easiest simply to hang the strap on a peg next to the garage door. But for stashing the lamp in my pack I've found that the strap and wires can catch on gear or clothing, and that it's worth taking the time to fold the straps up and place the unit in the pouch. Unlike many other storage bags that can handle their intended product at the factory but make for tight stuffing after the product's been used, the Ledlenser pouch accommodates the headlamp without difficulty.
The Ledlenser's stickout feature remains the 600-lumen lamp on the high setting. Much more powerful than any other headlamp I've ever used, it allows searching or exploring longer distances or wider horizons. Much of my camping terrain around here is wide open - meadows, plains, mountainsides. It's practical and fun occasionally to light it up at night. More than once Ledlenser's aided locating a deer-chasing puppy in the woods or a small item dropped somewhere around the campfire. It's like a hands-free searchlight.
This lamp holds a charge for at least its advertised ten hours, and for me that has meant ten hours of use mostly on the high setting. Recharging is easy and reliable.
What I Like
The 600 lumens. They've spoiled me. I doubt I'll use a wimpy headlamp ever again.
Versatility. Can be used just as effectively for reading in my tent as for long-distance reconnaissance.
Easy to use.
Lengthy usage between charges.
What I'd Change
As noted in my Field Report, starting the tilting range at dead level.
I'm a fan of simplicity, and if I were designing this lamp from scratch I'd probably include only the high and low settings and not bother with the separate modes.
I'll end this Report with the same two sentences I used in my Field Report. The Ledlenser has become my favorite headlamp. It's potent, reliable, comfortable, and easy to use. My thanks to Ledlenser GmbH and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this high-powered headlamp.
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