Associate Review: Coast HL7 LED Headlamp Great for Everything from Biking to Barbecuing

To help test out our new line of Coast LED flashlights and headlamps, we asked several of our associates to try them out and write up their thoughts. We’ll be sharing their honest reviews in a series of blog posts to help you decide on your next LED flashlight.

I’ve long preferred LED flashlights over incandescent lights, and headlamps over flashlights, so an LED headlamp was an easy choice for me. Even though you may look a little funny to some while wearing one, it’s hard to argue against the merits of having both of your hands free while you use your light. Aesthetics tend to be the first thing to go out the window when you have to work on a car on the side of the road at night, or during a zombie attack (or both).

I recently picked up one of Coast Products’ highest-powered headlamps, the HL7. I chose this model both for its eye-melting 180+ lumen maximum output, as well as the fact that it features a beam-focusing lens.

First impressions:

The headlamp comes in a hard, reusable cardboard presentation box, secured in a dense foam cutout. It includes 3 AAA Duracell batteries as well as a carrying pouch and removable plastic helmet clips.

Construction:

Overall, construction seems sturdy, and the headlamp is pretty comfortable to wear.

All of the light’s controls are large and easy to operate without looking at them, even with gloves on. The dimmer is operated via a lever on the battery pack behind your head, the beam focus is adjusted via a twist of the lens housing, and the power switch is in the form of a large, rubber-coated push button on top of the lamp.

I also like the battery lid: It’s a large rubber cover that slips over the entire width of the battery compartment; not something you’re likely to lose or break.

I do, however, have two gripes:

The straps will sometimes work their way out of the loops that hold the battery pack to the headband. It’s just an annoyance, but it’s happened a few times while putting it on.

My main concern is the tilt hinge on the light itself. In contrast to the stout construction of the rest of the headlamp, the hinge is pretty small, and its construction and placement look like it could be snapped off if the lamp were caught or hit by something. The pitch adjustment of the light is held by a small piece of plastic that clicks into place against small teeth on this hinge – a setup I can see wearing out and becoming loose later on. However, as I haven’t given this headlamp any real hard use, neither of these things has actually happened yet, so it’s purely speculation.

Performance:

Performance-wise, the HL7 headlamp is awesome.

With the dimmer switch set to the highest setting and the lens set to the tightest focus, this light projects an extremely bright, tightly focused beam over an incredibly long distance.

This is, in fact, too much for most practical applications that I’ve used it for so far. This is where I’ve really come to appreciate the headlamp features such as the focusing lens and dimmer. The bright, narrow spot can quickly be adjusted to a very wide and extremely uniform flood light. I’ve found this, along with about half-power on the dimmer switch, to be ideal for chores in and around the house. This was also the setting I used while barbecuing at night; it provided good area coverage without blinding anyone and left both hands free to flip burgers.

The most serious use I’ve tried this light out for is bicycling at night.

Turned up to full power, with the focus set about halfway, you get a pretty intense beam that’s also wide enough to provide a good field of vision in front of you.

Because of the brightness of the light – and, I’m assuming, its proximity to my eyes – things with reflective painted surfaces, such as road signs, are extremely bright to the point of sometimes having the illusion of being backlit. All in all, you get what you need for a bike, which is great visibility.

That tilt hinge that I mentioned earlier does allow you to get just the right downward angle for use on a bike. The controls are easy to use without looking, and can be operated one-handed, which is definitely a good thing if you need to make adjustments while on the move.

Summary:

With this light’s abundance of power when you need it and the ability to adjust that power down to more appropriate levels when you don’t, you get versatility for a very wide range of applications. I own a few flashlights and a couple of headlamps, but if I could take only one with me, this is the one I’d choose.

~Gabe

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