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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Underwater Kinetics Vizion > Test Report by Peter Spiller

Underwater Kinetics Vizion 3AAA Headlamp

A Test Series by: Peter Spiller

Intial Report:  Tester Information
Field Report  Product Information
Long Term Report 



Tester Information:

Name: Peter Spiller Backpacking Background: I have been camping and hiking avidly since childhood.  In the last several years my passion for backpacking and kayaking has grown.  I am a Chapter Outing Leader for the Sierra Club, I have trained in Wilderness First Aid, and am a staff member for a Wilderness-Basics course.  I enjoy solo backpacking and group trips.  I have an adaptable style that is fueled by my interest in backpacking gear.  I pack as light as possible when the situation dictates, but I am not against hauling creature comforts. I average 1-hike a week, and 1-backpack a month year-round.
Age: 38
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83m)
Weight: 190 lb (86 kg)
Email address: phspiller@cox.net
City, State, Country: La Mesa, CA U.S.
Personal Website: www.outsidesd.com


Product Information:


Manufacturer: Underwater Kinetics
Vizion headlamp in package
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.uwkinetics.com/
Model: Vizion 3AAA eLED Headlamp
Color: Olive Drab
Weight (manufacturer's):  3.8 oz (108 g)
Weight (as delivered): 4.5 oz (128 g)
Illumination: Brightness: 29 lumen
Projection: 138 ft (42 m)
Burn Time: 120 hr
Model Year: 2008
MSRP: $31.95
Manufacturer's Description: From Website: Waterproof All weather LED Headlight



Initial Report:

July 19, 2008

Product Description

Vizion Headlight re dlightThe Underwater Kinetics Vizion 3AAA eLED Headlamp (also known as the headlamp) is a light emitting diode (LED) headlamp powered by 3 AAA sized batteries and a single LED lamp.  The LED is contained in a plastic cylindrical shell with soft rubber knurled caps on the each end.  There is an oval shaped opening in the center of the cylinder that allows an inner sleeve of transparent plastic to show, and the LED unit contained inside this sleeve shines through the transparent plastic.   Opposite the oval opening is a molded plastic clip that holds the elastic headband and positions the lighting unit on my forehead.  The light is turned on and off by pushing the end of the soft rubber cap on my left side. The light alternates between high, off and low with each push of the button. Rotating this same cap rotates the inner transparent plastic sleeve changing the lighting from a spot beam to a diffused beam to a red diffused beam.  Rotating my right soft rubber cap adjusts the angle of the light vertically.

Accessing the lighting unit and the batteries is accomplished by pulling the rubber cap on my right side until the seal on the two plastic sleeves is broken, and the light and battery unit slides out.  The unit is designed with a unique feature in which sliding out the transparent inner sleeve and sliding the unit back together minus the outer sleeve and headband allow it to function as a camp lantern.  The ends of the rubber caps are flat, so the unit can sit upright.

exploded viewThe headlamp I chose is the Olive Drab color.  The plastic shell is green; the rubber end caps are black, and the elastic headband is a green and tan camouflage pattern with the UK logo embroidered on the headband near the light.  The light is also available in several other different colors.

Initial Impressions

The headlamp that was shipped to me is the same as appears on the website, and is just a little larger than I expected from viewing it online.  The methods for adjusting the angle of the light and changing the lens are labeled on the unit and intuitive to use.  While the method of turning the unit on and off is not labeled, it only took me a few moments to figure it out.  What is not apparent is the procedure for changing the light from high to low, and it was not until I read the included directions did I learn how it functioned.

The diameter of the headband is adjusted by a plastic slide near the back of the band, and moved easily to accommodate my head.  The back and the headlamp felt very comfortable, and stays in place very well during my limited first use.  The controls on the headlamp are easy to access while on my head, and are easy to use and adjust.  

Quality Assessment

battery compartmentThe Vizion 3AAA eLED headlamp appears to be well constructed and well designed.  The rubber caps seem to seal the internal components from the elements and I plan to subject the headlamp to wet environments to test this feature.  In the event that the internal components get wet, the instructions indicate that I should remove the batteries, rinse the components in clear water, and let them dry before operating the light again.   

The headlamp appears to be constructed ruggedly.  The compact design sheaths all of the sensitive components inside two layers of plastic, and does not seem to have parts that can be broken off easily.  



Lantern ConfigurationTest Plan

The Vizion headlamp will be my primary source of illumination during my outdoor adventures for the four-month testing period.  The unit will get extensive use during backpacking, car-camping, hiking and kayaking.  This extensive use will test the ruggedness of the unit as well as the battery life.

Underwater Kinetics touts the headlamp as being waterproof up to 33 ft (10 M).  The design looks to support this claim.  While I probably will not take the headlamp to these depths,  I look forward to testing the waterproof features while launching my kayak through the Pacific Ocean surf in the dark.











Field Report

September 24, 2008

Test locations and conditions 

I have used the Underwater Kinetics Vizion 3AAA headlamp for 3 days and nights while camping. The headlamp has also accompanied me during two day-outings on my Kayak.

Three Sisters Falls- San Diego County, California
I used the headlamp while hiking and setting up camp during an overnight backpacking trip to Three Sisters Falls.  The weather was warm and dry during the day, cooling slightly in the evening.  We awoke to a warm fog bank in the morning, bringing a lot of moisture in the air.

Julian Starfest, Julian, California
I have used the headlamp on two evenings while camping in Julian California as part of the annual starfest.  The weather was mild with clear skies and no precipitation.

La Jolla, California 2 day paddles on a Kayak
I have carried the headlamp in my life preserver on two separate day-paddles out of La Jolla, California.  I have not as of yet needed to use the headlamp while paddling.  Both the trips were on clear days with a mild on-shore breeze, picking up in the afternoon, making the water slightly choppy.

The Headlamp has been a constant companion in the center console of my pickup truck.  It has been used on at least a dozen different occasions, from climbing under a trailer in the evening,  to an evening-long power outage.

Field Performance

My first opportunity to try out the Underwater Kinetics Vizion AAA Headlamp was not in the field, but in my own home.  We experienced an 8-hour long power outage the first week after the headlamp was delivered.  I was able to use the light all evening from brushing my teeth, to reading in bed.  I kept it on my head, and was comfortable turning it on and off via the large button.  It provided more than enough light to do anything needed at close range.  It was nice to be able to adjust the intensity of the beam using the high/low setting built into the power button.  It is a mildly inconvenient to have to cycle through the high setting to get to the low setting. I had this headlamp on my head for about four hours, and I found that it was very comfortable.  I was concerned as the headlamp housing was a little larger than I initially expected, but the wide soft headband secured this lamp to my head well.

My first backcountry experience with the headlamp was hiking into the Three Sisters Falls area east of San Diego.  We left the trailhead as the sun was beginning to set behind the mountains, and we were only about 3/4 of the way to our planned campsite before we needed to drop our packs to don our headlamps.  The headlamp generated adequate light for hiking the relatively flat trail to our proposed campsite.  It was only when we tried to venture beyond this area, that the trail began to get very treacherous.  As no one had a headlamp that could illuminate the trail safely, we made the call to retreat back to the original proposed campsite..

I used the headlamp to set up camp and it provided more than enough light to assemble my bivy shelter and sleeping system in the dark.  I used the diffused lens while setting up, and noticed that if I adjusted the angle of the light, it caused the lens selector to also move, partially exposing the red lens setting.  In order to keep this from happening, I needed to hold the rubber cap that changed the lenses while adjusting the angle of light by twisting the cap opposite to keep this from happening.  This only happened when using the diffused lens setting. 

I then removed the inner shell from the outer shell, and used the lantern configuration to cook dinner.  I was impressed with how the lantern module stood up, and provided a welcome respite from having to have the headlamp strapped to my head at all times. At one point I reassembled the lantern to help light the way while attending to nature's call.  When I returned, instead of disassembling the unit to create the lantern configuration, I simply set it on its side with the outer shell and headband attached, and it still worked adequately as a camp lantern.

Vizion light with seams bleeding white light My second trip with the headlamp was to the Julian Starfest, in which several hundred star enthusiast, (including rank amateurs such as myself) gathered together to look up and appreciate the stars that grace our night sky.  There was a moratorium on using white lights during the evenings.  Fortunately I had the Vizion AAA headlamp with a red lens. One of the nicest features of this headlamp is that the different lenses are built into the headlamp itself, and there is no need to keep track of separate lens pieces.  While the red lens does cut down on the amount of light emanating from the headlamp, it has adequate light for close work.  I did notice that white light does shine through the edges of the lens and seams where the rubber caps meet the plastic lamp housing. The opening where the light shines through is an oval shape, and the red lens in square,  leaving gaps in the oval edges where the red lens does not cover.

As of this time, I have not had the opportunity to really test the headlamp in really wet conditions, nor have I submersed it, but I have carried the unit in my PDF while paddling my kayak in the Pacific Ocean.  It has not left my pocket, but it has come back damp with salt water.  I have treated the headlamp just as I do with all of my equipment and rinsed it off with a light spray of fresh water, and let it air dry.  This has not affected the unit, and I have not found any moisture inside after these uses.

I estimate I have had the lamp burning for somewhere between 8-10 hours.  I usually use the low setting, but have used the high setting for at least a couple of hours.  At this point I still am using the original set of batteries that came with the unit and they appear to still be going strong.  I pulled the headlamp out of my vehicle to photograph it after writing the previous statement,  and I noticed that it was on.  I had previously used the headlamp 48-hours before,  and am not sure if that is when it was left on.The good part is the batteries are still functioning but noticeably dimmer. The bad is I do not know how it was turned on. I will keep a close eye to see if this occurs again and report during long-term testing.

Quality

This headlamp has been used in the field for several days and nights, and has been carried in the center console of my vehicle and used regularly during all of the 2-month testing period.  The headlamp as of this point still appears, and functions as well as it did the first day it arrived.  There has been no degradation of the unit.  Other than the few minor problems I have had since the beginning (described above) this headlamp has functioned admirably.  It has been impervious to the small amount of moisture it has been subject to, and has handled the dusty trails with ease.

Further Testing

During long term testing, I will be exposing the headlamp to wetter conditions than those I have experienced during the late summer.  I will be using the headlamp to guide me through a couple of pre-dawn kayak launches through the surf and precipitation will begin to fall with more regularity in San Diego County.  I will continue to use the Vizion AAA headlamp as my primary illumination for all of my outdoor activities.

Summary

Two months of testing have proven this headlamp to be well-made and reliable.  The brightness and battery life have been adequate and I have not had any major malfunctions with the unit. It is one of the more comfortable headlamps I have owned and it is easy to operate. While the lamp is not bright enough to use on difficult trails in the dark, I have found it to be fine for the majority of situations I have encountered. I have been very happy with the Underwater Kinetics Vizion AAA headlamp and look forward to testing it through the long-term testing period.



Long Term Report

December 3, 2008

The Underwater Kinetics Vizion Headlamp has been my primary headlamp for an additional two overnight camping trips, a pre-dawn kayak launch through the surf, numerous day hikes, and countless domestic uses around the house and while traveling in the car. In total I have used UK Vizion headlamp for a total of 5 days of camping during the test period.

Field Locations:

Indian Hill- Anza-Borrego Desert, California –Overnight  October 2008

Elevation: 2000 ft (610 m)
High Temperature: 73 C (23 C)
Low Temperature: 50 F (10 C)

Precipitation: (while no precipitation was recorded the strong winds were blowing moisture onto us from the storms in the mountains.  We were hiking in full sunlight, while being lightly rained upon.
.
La Jolla Cove- La Jolla, California – Day Paddle October 2008

Elevation:0 ft (0 m)
High Temperature: 96 F (36 C)
Low Temperature: 50 F (10 C)

Arroyo Tapiado- Anza Borrego Desert, California- Overnight November 2008

Elevation: 900 ft (274 m)
High Temperature: 72 C (22 C)
Low Temperature: 44 F (6 C)

Field Performance:

Headlamp in a caveI managed to sneak in a kayak-fishing trip in early October in which I needed to launch through the gentle waves on the shores of La Jolla California in the pre-dawn darkness.  The first thing I reached for was my Vizion headlamp, trusting that the waterproof shell would not let me down. I used the headlamp to light my way through the waves, and to signal other boaters that I was on the water until daylight encroached on the darkness.  While the headlamp was not submerged, it did see significant moisture, from the sea and the air, and did not once fail.  A light spray of fresh water when I returned home rinsed off all of the salt residue and it looked as good as new after drying.

The first camping trip where I used the Vizion headlamp during the long-term testing period, was a short overnight trip to the Anza Borrego Desert. While it was not actually raining in the desert, there was a major storm dropping precipitation in San Diego, and the winds were blowing residual moisture over the mountains and onto us as we camped and hiked.  The Vizion headlamp shrugged off this moisture without a blip.

The second overnight to Arroyo Tapiado tested the headlamp in a unique way.  This dry wash located in the Southern Anza-Borrego is dotted with mud caves, and the Vizion headlamp served as my primary illumination while I was spelunking.  Some of these caves are quite long and quite dark, and any failure of lighting could have disastrous consequences. I did carry a backup headlamp, as anyone in these caves should, but I did not need it as the Vizion Headlamp worked perfectly.  The angle adjustment and the slider that changes the lenses were both making a mild grinding noise after this trip.  I took apart the headlamp, and cleaned out the fine grit embedded in the case of the headlamp from banging my head on the walls of dark caves.  Upon reassembly, the headlamp adjusted smoothly and quietly.

My children often reach for the headlamp over the others I own, because it fits them comfortably despite it being bulkier than some other models.  The wide headband, and the easy adjustments make this a favorite.Headlamp in another cave

I have come to the conclusion during the long-term test phase that the angle of adjustment on this headlamp is too short.  I cannot adjust it down far enough to effectively light my hands while doing close work.  I have to adjust it down and then crane my neck to get the light to shine on my hands.

I needed to replace the batteries during field-testing, and have not needed to during long-term testing.  The primary reason I believe is due to the headlamp inadvertently being turned on when it was in the center console of my truck. I have not experienced the headlamp turning on without my pushing the button and I can safely assume it was either a freak occurrence, or my ineptitude in turning it off before stowing it away.  The light appears as bright as when I first put in fresh batteries and I have used the headlamp at least as much as I did during field-testing.

Summary

The Underwater Kinetics Vizion AAA Headlamp has continued to perform exceptionally during the 2-month long term testing period.   I have had the headlamp in a variety of challenging situations, including a pre-dawn kayak launch through the surf and a day of spelunking.  The headlamp has provided adequate lighting for most situations while maintaining a comfortable fit on my head whether I am wearing additional headwear or not.  The headlamp does not appear to have any damage or wear, and I speculate that it will continue functioning for a long time to come.  I will continue to use the Vizion Headlamp as my primary headlamp, as it works well for me.

Pros
  • Comfortable while wearing on my head
  • Easy to operate
  • The headlamp configures as a self standing lantern
  • The different lens setting are built into the unit, and not separate pieces

Cons 
  • The edges and seams are not light tight, and bleed white light while using the red lens
  • The rotating adjustment gets caught on the lens adjuster, and changes the lens to partially red inadvertently
  • The angle of adjustment is too short,  making it hard to use the lamp while working with your hands.

This ends my report on the Vizion 3AAA eLED Headlamp. Thank You Underwater Kinetics and BackPackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this fine headlamp.



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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Underwater Kinetics Vizion > Test Report by Peter Spiller



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