The Bottom Line: Brendan Leonard recently wrote that you should keep your spare headlamp batteries in another headlamp. Being the weight weenie I am, I went for the lightest I could get, and it's a great choice. Long lasting batteries make it a superb tuck-in-and-forget back-up option. It's easy to use, and while the 50 lumens is underwhelming, it definitely gets the job done for a fraction of the weight.
Let's get the first things out the of way. This headlamp is the definition of ultralight. At 26 grams, you know every part has been considered carefully, and it shows. In terms of features, it's simple enough. A small lever rotates through the various light modes. It sits flush in lock mode and seems to be pretty hard to turn on even when not in it's case. The LED sits on the face, and it has no bulb for direction or concentration, so it casts a wide and indirect light. The elastic headband is tightened by a toggle that doubles as whistle.
When in use, the light is...well, it doesn't live up to the 50 Lumens. With fresh batteries, the 10 meters advertised is just reachable. Not with any clarity, mind you. I bought this thinking of the mountaineers of the 1990s who used halogen lights with 20 lumens and how incredible this little device was. Using it recently for a four-hour hike, I had to strain to make out details at my feet. While the area around me was well illuminated thanks to the very broad beam, details like slippery logs were a little harder to interpret with the 15 lumen beam that I was using to conserve the battery. The 50 lumen setting wasn't a huge improvement, and I decided that more light was better than no light. I was able to descend, though, and the headlamp played a big part in that, so I am thankful. If it hadn't been for this headlamp, I would have only had a set of batteries in my first-aid kit.
Now, I admit this light had seen at least four hours of use prior to this trip, so it wasn't operating on peak performance. Even on max power it isn't as bright as one might expect from 50 lumens. I was imaging the Tikkina 2 with it's 23 lumens, or my venerable BD Cosmo, with 50 lumens that lasted me ages, and it didn't compare to that. Does it make this tool unusable? Absolutely not. This isn't meant to be a primary light source. But I was surprised by how much this light wasn't really an improvement over it's predecessor. Don't get me wrong, I still love and use this little monster regularly, but just don't be fooled by the bold claim of 50 lumens. At this time I am trying to see if I can source a bulb that would direct and harness these 50 lumens for a truly superb device. Stay tuned.