Headlamps have never been my forte. I don’t know if it’s a convoluted sense of style, or something more pragmatic, but I haven’t ever been a huge fan. That being said, in terms of sheer usefulness, their capabilities are inarguable.
Meat and Potatoes
The Xtar H1 is a rugged, bichromatic, headlamp designed around the common AA cell. There are some serious advantages in designing a headlamp around this power source, most notably their near ubiquitous nature. For a light that is very well suited to emergency use, the ability to run using a single half-depleted cell scavenged from any number of household appliances or devices is a real-world benefit.
Using a Cree XP-G to emit white light, in tandem with a dedicated color 5mm LED in a separate reflector for night-vision preserving red light, the H1 is undeniably useful. Small and light, with enough brightness options, the H1 will provide all the hands-free illumination that you need for the majority of tasks. It is capable of 120 lumens on high. Not incredibly bright, but still somewhat impressive out of a single 1.5V power source. If more power is really needed, Xtar has graciously provided the opportunity to use a 14500 li-ion rechargeable cell to crank the output up to 330 lumens.
User interface is straight forward and simple to understand. Clicking the electronic switch will turn the H1 on in low mode each time. There is no mode memory to confuse the issue. Clicking it again will advance the mode through the three available white light options (4 with a 14500 rechargeable cell). Pressing and holding the button for a second and a half will turn it back off again. Double clicking at any point will bring up the red light instead. There is a further hidden red SOS mode that is a second double click away, but is sufficiently well hidden that I don’t see any chance of accidental activation.
Fit and finish is excellent on the H1. It really feels solid in your hand. Its not a matter of weight, thankfully, because that would defeat much of the purpose of a headlamp. No it’s fairly light still. The entire length though is covered with copious heat dissipation fins that add to its perceived bulk and durability without compromising heft. The light is also designed so that it can be used as a standalone torch, without the headband and attachment. Right angle lights are still few and far between, so finding something like this that can serve a dual purpose in a pinch is an interesting compromise.
Between the decidedly decent UI, and the apparent constant current regulation, I am honestly having some trouble coming up with legitimate suggestions to put into this category. The shallow, stippled reflector does a good job smoothing out any artifacts in the beam. I would still have to say that I find the focus to be a little too tight for my desires in a headlamp, but I tend to even opt for using the diffuser any time one is available for this application. I am quite a fan of flood lights to begin with, but as a headlamp, a completely undefined hotspot seems like the best idea. I’d love to see a durable diffuser built in, or at least included with this light. Barring that, a broader focus seems like a valid suggestion.
The H1 is by no means a groundbreaking light, but it is quite a polished variant in this well-established subset. It’s not particularly bright or efficient, however it does boast the separate LED for red output, which most lights don’t bother with lately. This could be of specific use to hunters heading out to deer blinds early in the morning, or fishermen angling for nocturnal fare. If headlamps are your thing, I’d consider this one worth a second look.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Xtar.
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