Prior to every walk I always review my kit and decide if I need to make any modifications to it.
Having reviewed it, I concluded that I was pretty much happy with most of it. That is, most of it except the head lamp.
Last year on my first Black Mountains walk I got caught out and ended up having to do a night walk. The illumination I had with me was in the form of an Energizer 6 Head Lamp of 2000 vintage.
I had never bought this lamp for hiking, it was bought for astronomy as it has both red and white lighting. For setting up telescopes and kit it was perfect, but on the trail, its relative lack of illumination meant I couldn’t see very far at all. In fact I was limited to only a few metres of illumination.
The other issue I had with the Energizer is that it takes 3 AAA batteries. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but given that my GPS takes 2 AA batteries, it meant that I had to effectively carry two sets of spare batteries with me. One set being AA the other set being AAA.
Ensuring that all of one’s kit uses the same batteries, saves weight in terms of spares and reduces the overall cost in terms of the number of batteries one has to buy. As an added bonus, it also introduces additional flexibility as to where the batteries can be deployed as they will effectively be interchangeable between all the kit carried.
Given that we have left the longest day way behind us, the days can only get shorter and the nights longer. So as a result I decided that my head lamp would be upgraded.
After a fair bit of research I decided to go for the Petzl MYO RXP.
The MYO RXP is a purpose built hiking lamp and will deliver enough illumination to enable me to see up to 60 mtrs in the dark when regulated or 84 mtrs when unregulated. There is also a boost button which will enable full power for 20 seconds that will produce a beam that will allow one to see up to 90 mtrs!
Even at its very lowest power setting it will provide illumination up to 27 metres – far further than the Enegizer 6 lamp. I can only put this down to its higher lumens output and the fact that the LED lamp is surrounded by a parabolic reflector.
At its highest setting the MYO RXP will output 205 lumens, although I will be using it primarily at 64 lumens. This compares with the Energizer’s rather low 24 lumens output.
The MYO RXP also features an SOS emergency mode where it will continuously flash SOS messages in Morse Code. On the downside there is no red lighting to protect night vision, a feature that the Energizer 6 has. It remains to be seen whether I will miss this feature.
Normally the MYO RXP is used in beam mode to allow one to see where the trail is at night. However, it also comes with a hinged flip-up diffuser which does a very good job of dispersing the light evenly in all directions. I suspect this mode will come in very handy around camp.
I initially looked at many head lamps before deciding on the MYO RXP. However, the choice of suitable head lamps was constrained by my need to have a lamp that worked on AA batteries only. I was also further constrained by the fact that it had to have a battery life of over 40 hours. With these constraints in place the competition narrowed considerably and it didn’t take long to settle on the MYO RXP.
Battery life on the MYO RXP is rated at 86 hours at low power and 56 hours for the setting I will be using, more than enough for my needs. It is also rated with a weather-proof rating of IPX4 so is relatively weather proof unlike the Energizer 6, which is not weather proofed at all.
The battery compartment is also very easy to get into, which is in direct contrast to the Energizer 6. In fact the latter requires a flat bladed screw driver or knife to wedge the back open, not too good for field use!
Another feature I like about the MYO RXP is the over-the-head-strap. This means that the side strap doesn’t need to be super-tight as the top strap is also taking some of the load. This should prevent head sores when wearing the lamp for a long time – something that I experienced with the Energizer 6.
On the downside it is relatively heavy – 175 gms vs the 91 gms of the Energizer 6 and it lacks the red lighting mode of the Energizer 6. It is also a lot more expensive than the Energizer 6 – some four times the cost – but I feel that these downsides are more than made up for by its other capabilities.
It has to be said that the Energizer model I have was bought a long time ago, sometime back in 2000. I believe the latest versions of this lamp are better specified, but alas, they still rely on AAA batteries, so were not considered.
Once I get to use the MYO RXP in the field I’ll put up a review of it. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing how it performs!