Headlamps in one form or another have been around at least 100 years or so if you go back to the old carbide miner’s lamps. As modern technology has made them smaller and lighter, they’ve transitioned from industrial and specialty use to pretty common pieces of kit for today’s outdoorsmen. Despite that, I’ve somehow managed to keep from trying one out until recently! I’m something of a flashlight nut, and have more than my fair share of lights, but I’ve resisted the headlamp urge until now.
I’ve been roundly ridiculed by my buddies on camping trips for not getting with the program, but I just wasn’t ready to make the jump. I was never a fan of the button cell lamps, and I thought the AA models looked too cumbersome. So, when I was given the opportunity to test the iTP H01 Cree LED Headlamp, and saw that it ran off of a single AAA battery, I decided to finally give one a try.
More and more I’ve been switching to AAA batteries for my outdoors gear. For years I was using CR123 batteries because that was pretty much my only option to get the light output and cold weather capabilities that I wanted. As technology progressed I found that I could get AA lights that rivaled or surpassed the CR123 model’s I’d been using. With the use of Lithium AA’s I didn’t lose anything in the way of performance either. The added advantage was that I could find standard AA cells just about anywhere, so I know had a set of lights that I could feed pretty much wherever I traveled and didn’t have to worry about paying $8 a battery like I would if I could even find a CR123 at a gas station or tourist shop. Fast forward to the past year or so and I’ve found that I’ve been able to take a step down in size even more and move to AAA lights. Once again, progress marches onward and I’ve found some great lights that use the AAA cell. It’s pretty amazing to see the type of output you can now get from such a tiny light. The AAA gives pretty much the same advantages as the common AA in that they’re easy to find and you can get Lithium varieties if you so choose. Plus they’re smaller and lighter, which is a nice bonus for EDC and for backpacking and hiking. It’s pretty much a win-win as far as I’m concerned. Good output, common economical batteries (unlike some of the button cells and CR123’s), and a more compact package. The AAA was enough to win me over and get me into my first headlamp!
The lamp I had the chance to check out is the iTP H01 CREE LED that was provided to Woods Monkey by Going Gear. Going Gear has a great variety of lights, as well as many other camping and outdoors items. They’re well worth checking out if you’re in the market for some new gear. As the name implies, the H01 uses a Cree XP-E Q5 LED and features a low, medium and high mode. Output is 1.5 lumens for 50 hours in low, 18 lumens for 4 hours in medium, and 80 lumens for 55 minutes in high. Not too shabby. That should be more than enough to get you through most trips, and even on a longer trip, a spare AAA or two packs pretty small and light. The light itself is housed in an HA Type III hard anodized aluminum body, uses an orange peel reflector and is protected by an anti-shattering, ultra clear lens. The light body is 2.07” L x 0.64” D x 1.43″ W , and it weighs 0.8 ounces without a battery. A standard alkaline AAA battery bumps the weight up to 1.1 ounces. The lamp and head harness come in at a measly 2.3 ounces all together.
Speaking of head harnesses, the H01 comes with a camouflage sort of patterned elastic harness that is 1 inch wide and features a heavy rubber “socket” which the lamp slides into. Fit of the lamp is very secure but allows for easy removal should you wish to use the light by itself, or need to swap out batteries. The H01 also comes with 2 spare O rings for the battery compartment, a pocket clip, should you choose to use the light separate from the harness, and a simple instruction manual. Overall build quality seems to be quite good with everything having a solid, quality feel to it.
In practice, the H01 is very simple to use. It is operated by turning the head of the light. By turning the head clockwise you turn the H01 on. Once the light is on, loosening and then tightening the head within 1 second will allow you to switch between low, medium, and high modes. Once you pick a specific mode, the headlamp will memorize that level and will default to the level when turn it back on. So if you prefer the light to always come on in the low mode, you can set it for that and you won’t have to cycle through all three modes every time. That’s a nice touch. I’m not a fan of having to scroll through light settings every time I turn a light on so I like the memory mode a lot. To turn the H01 off simply loosen the head. That’s it! Other than a simple on and off, it doesn’t get much simpler than that. Since this is a headlamp, that’s the primary way I used the light during testing. I can see some situations where you may want to just use the light by itself though, especially if its doing double duty as an EDC light when you aren’t in the woods. In that role, it’s pretty small and definitely light enough to carry around relatively unobtrusively. Not as compact as a straight, conventional form factor light would be, but not bad. One thing that the H01 lends itself well to is the way that you can palm it between your fingers. The “T” shape lets you grasp the body of the light with the head protruding between your fingers, almost like you’d grasp a push dagger. This gives you a very secure grip on the light and essentially makes the light point wherever you point your hand. Not too shabby.
Headlamp mode is obviously this lights main purpose and that’s the way I used it the most. Not being a headlamp user, I was a little suspicious of how comfortable the head strap would be. I wasn’t real keen on the idea of having a tight strap around my forehead and that’s part of the reason I had avoided this style light for so long. Now, I’m sure long term headlamp users are snickering over my concern, but hey it is what it is. I really didn’t think they’d be too comfortable. As I found out, with the newer lightweight lamps, that really isn’t much of an issue. The H01’s wide 1 inch strap worked out really well. I didn’t have any issues with comfort at all. I used it around camp, inside my tent, and even in the cabin at night on one trip when the family was sleeping. Even with the light on for over a couple hours I didn’t have any issues with it. I was also pleased to see that it has a pretty good range of adjustment too. It worked as well for my five year old son and seven year old daughter as it did for me. As far as the light itself goes, the modes work out pretty well.
Low is great for most basic stuff you need to do inside your tent or around camp. Its plenty to navigate a trail, or take a trip to the latrine if need be. The low setting worked great for reading at night in the tent and even in the cabin when others were sleeping. If you do need to crank things up a bit Medium seems well suited to general utility use like digging through your pack for a particular object, or early morning or late night camp stove set up and clean up. The 80 lumen high mode really spits out the light and is great if you want to light up a clearing or see what’s down the trail more. When the coyotes are sounding a little closer than you’d prefer, it never hurts to be able to scan deep into the woods before you take that 2:00 AM bathroom stroll! Battery life seems very good. I used the light on a 4 day trip to the mountains, off and on around the house, and on a shorter trip as well. So far I’m still working off of the same alkaline battery. Most of my use has been on low and medium so that definitely helps extend the life of your battery, but I suspect that’s how most folks would use the H01 anyway. Very rarely are you going to sit there with the light blazing on high for an hour at a time.
Did a have any quibbles with the H01? A couple, but they’re pretty minor. I did find that when you rotated the H01 in the rubber headlamp socket that it would sometimes loosen the battery compartment cap and cause the light to flicker on and off. Once I realized what was causing this I flipped the light the other way in the holder and this mostly solved the problem. If you have the “H01” stamp facing up it’s less likely to occur than if you have the “iTP” side up. The only other minor issue was that if you didn’t have the head loosened sufficiently when off the light would turn on when you simply touched the head. Not a big deal but I was concerned that if you had it in a pocket or your pack, and it was pressed up against something, it might remain on and drain your battery. Neither of this issues is a deal breaker for me; they just require some awareness so you can keep an eye on how you have the light set up, and how you store it when not in use.
Overall, I have to say that after using the iTP H01 for the past month or so, I may finally be sold on the idea of a headlamp. Having a hands free light around the campsite, and being able to sit up and read without juggling a flashlight in the tent worked out really well. It also was a lot easier to hike in the dark without having to keep scanning the trail with a handheld light. Thankfully, modern technology has brought that convenience about without the sacrifices I’d seen in older lights, like hard to find or expensive batteries, or heavy and bulky designs. The H01 is a pretty darn nice set up that offers comfort and convenience that belies its modest price. That may be one of the best things about this headlamp. Going Gear is selling them for just $29.95! I actually hadn’t looked up the price until I was pretty much finished with my testing and I was really surprised at how modestly priced they are. I think that in general the iTP H01 is a darn nice headlamp and for that price, it’s an outright steal. If you’re in the market for a new headlamp, especially one that uses an easy to find AAA battery then I’d definitely say to hop over to Going Gears website and check out the H01.