There are many review blogs and vlogs out there that talk about headlamps, and praise whichever headlamp they have recently used as best. They typically focus on the mainstream brands, use them for a weekend, and talk about how awesome they are. There are even some who make their own modular systems with combinations of flashlight holders and elastic bands so that flashlights can be used as headlamps. Most readers don’t know better, but there is a much better option out of plain view, not available on the shelves of your local outdoor store.
Let me be very clear, Zebralight makes the “Ultimate Headlamp.” When it comes down to it, there is no room to argue. It doesn’t matter what angle you look at it from, Zebralight has continuously created and improved on a package that meets the strict size (2.6″L), weight (1oz), cost ($64), output (up to 750lm), and cell requirements (NiMH & Li-Ion) of real flashaholics worldwide. So unless you are looking for a big, heavy, expensive, low-lumen, alkaline headlamp, Zebralight has the perfect headlamp for you. While there are plenty of good headlamp products available, Zebralight is simply top of the line. Whether you are a professional reviewer or consumer, you should be aware of that simple fact, and the new H502 series is no different.
With the new 502 series, Zebralight has done nothing short of set the bar some considerable distance higher. Although Zebralight is in the middle of releasing the new headlamps, the first out has a max of 260 out-the-front lumens (0.9 hr), and a low of 0.01 lumens (3 months). It weighs 1 ounce, is smaller than its older brother (2.76″), and is still optimized for NiMH chemistry to achieve its advertised performance numbers, which is amazing. This first version is 6300 kelvin CCT (light color), and 65 CRI (color reproduction accuracy), but if you are looking for a warm or 85 CRI version, they will be released in June.
This new headlamp is a floody, so it’s going to be great around the house, camp, and in close to medium range applications. Do not be discouraged by floody lamps. I’ll admit, I once suffered from “Bigger, Faster, Stronger” syndrome, and wanted a headlamp that would just pump out lumens and throw as far as I could see. After you use headlamps and flashlights more (I now use them daily), you learn that certain lamps are much better for certain applications. If you have ever used the LED on the back of your smart phone as a flashlight, you will have an idea of how useful a floody lamp can be. However, that LED on your smart phone is only 3-15% of the output compared to the new Zebralight H502.
One of the 4 new 502 lamps is available for purchase today, at $69. The other 3 (warm, CRI warm, and CRI daylight) are slated for a June 2012 release.