A lightweight headlamp with rechargeable batteries and distance sensor

The long daylight hours of high summer are fading now. In the Highlands nights are dark again. Just a few days before writing this I wandered across the Moine Mhor in the Cairngorms on a really black night. The bright half-moon of dusk disappeared into thick clouds and mists swirled around me. Without a headlamp or torch I’d have been stuck. Luckily I had one to test – the Xplor from GP Batteries, which has just launched its first range of three headlamps.

All three have a sensor that adjusts the brightness according to the view distance, a regulated output to maintain brightness through most of the life of the batteries, up to 160 metres beam length and 69 hours battery life, and IPX6 water resistance. The Xplor is the top of the range  and comes with three rechargeable NiMH AAA batteries that can be recharged via a micro USB port on the side of the headlamp. The Xplor also has spot and flood beams, three brightness modes, flash mode, charging and power indicator light, lock mode, and over charge and discharge protection.

Unlike many headlamps with rechargeable batteries the ones in the Xplor can be removed and it can be run on alkaline batteries. In fact, as with similar headlamps, alkalines are more effective. GP give 3-42 hours battery life for NiMH and 5-69 hours with alkaline. Of course, if you have a power pack you can recharge the NiMH batteries on the hill.

The Xplor has a comfortable adjustable headband with a reflective strip built-in. The lamp housing pivots on a ratchet. There are four positions. It’s a compact little lamp and only weighs 91 grams with the rechargeable batteries.

A single soft button operates all the modes. To prevent this being activated accidentally there is a lock mode that requires a 5-second press when the light is off to turn on and a similar press to turn off. Short presses cycle through the brightness and flash modes. On the brightest setting, which comes on first, a 2-second press activates the distance sensor. If the battery is running low the sensor will turn itself off to extend its life. This is indicated by three flashes.

The Xplor is easy to use and quite efficient for a small headlamp. I like the distance sensor. Being able to look up and have the brightness increase and light up distant terrain is useful. It does use batteries up quickly though, so I wouldn’t use it unless really necessary. For camp use I found the lowest brightness setting fine. Being able to use alkaline batteries is good too.

For general use this is an excellent lightweight headlamp at a reasonable price. If intending to walk all night I wouldn’t choose it – I’d rather have something with longer battery life at a bright setting – but for camp use and as a back-up just in case on day walks or for the first or last hour or so of darkness on a winter walk it’s fine.

£35