Hope R4 headlamp – £225 (at time of press)
Pro’s: Very versatile with multiple light levels. Great flood light in larger caverns Good battery life at lower light settings
Cons: Needs second battery for extended trips underground. Overpowered for day to day surveying.
Hope R4 headtorch
As part of the East Lancashire Bat Group project “Bats Underground” we’ve been undertaking swarming and hibernation surveys of Rossendale flagstone quarry tunnels where I found the light of my Petzl Spelios a bit underpowered in the larger caverns. This is where the Hope R4 headtorch came in.
The 4 x Cree XPG head unit
The Hope R4 is designed primarily as a bike light but comes as standard with a headtorch adaptor to allow it’s use as a “multisport” light. With 4 Cree XPG LED’s sequenced through the top mounted button to offer 6 levels of light including a maximum of 1000 lumens this is a serious bit of kit. In truth it’s probably too much even at it’s lowest level for day to day bat surveying, but for large systems it’s superb. The 2600mah li-ion battery offers burn times ranging from 1.15hours on high to 8.00 hours on low, I’ve alsways found the medium light setting to give plenty of light to navigate quarry tunnels while still offering circa 4 hours of light. A larger 5200mah battery option is available.
- Light Source: 4 x Cree XPG, R5 Bin
- Light Output: 1000 measured lumens, 1446 generated lumens
- Beam: Diffused uniform beam (+/- 12.5°)
- Distance: 105m
- Battery: 7.4v Li-Ion, 2600mAh
- Charge time: 3 Hours
- Weight: 235g (std), 338g (epic), 367g (endurance)
- Power levels: 6 (two sequences of three), including flash
- Burn time: 1:15 hrs – 8:00 hrs
Petzl Spelios Helmet/Headlamp
Pro’s: Great lighting in confined spaces, uses common AA battery, good burn time on LED
Cons: Feels underpowered in larger caverns and tunnels.
The Petzl Spelios is the industry standard for caving helmet/headlight combo’s and for good reason. If you’re considering venturing underground to carry out hibernation surveys or carry out cave research then this is the helmet you need to consider as a starting point.
Spelios showing Duo 14
The lighting element of the Spelios is delivered via an integral Duo 14 LED headtorch which features a switched halogen / LED light. In confined spaces such as small caves and roofspaces the 14 LED array should deliver as much light as is needed but the flood style spread will suffer in larger systems. The Halogen can be focused to an extent but it’s rare that I find a use for it and it obviously has an impact on battery life compared to the LEDS.
Spelios battery pack
The rear mounted battery pack balances the helmet nicely in use and houses 4 AA batteries. A rechargeable unit is available as an extra purchase but I find it’s just as easy to carry spare rechargeable batteries with you.
The helmet is available in two sizes covering head circumferences of 48-56 cm and 53-61 cm.
- Beam pattern : wide or focused
- Max. light quantity : 67 lumens
- Max. lighting distance : 100 m
- Max. battery life : 183 h
- Constant lighting : yes
- Operates on four AA / LR6 batteries or ACCU DUO (not included)
- Battery compatibility: alcalines, lithium, rechargeables ni-mh, rechargeables ni-cd
- Watertightness : IP X8 (waterproof down to -5 meters)
- Spare halogen bulb included
- Certification(s) : CE EN 12492, UIAA
- Weight : 505 g
Alpkit Gamma Headtorch – £15 (at time of press)
Pro’s: Cheap, great varied light options.
Cons: Sells out quick.
I’m a big fan of Petzl headtorches and have been for years but the Alpkit Gamma is a fantastic bit of kit, suitable for every bat worker and you can get three for the price of one Petzl. A bargain.
Gamma close up
The main XPC Cree LED throws enough light for navigating to survey sites, and has two switchable levels should you need to extend battery life. Once on site and for areas where you want minimum light spillage/disturbance a long hold down of the top button switches to cycle through the three smaller 5mm leds which offer white, green or red light. All three settings should offer enough light for tuning detectors, etc.
Battery life is good, it runs on three AAA batteries and even comes supplied with Duracell as standard. If you’re working on dimly lit road transects the rear battery case has a seperately switched flashing/constant red light which aids visibility.
A great addition to any survey kit bag and well worth getting as a back up for underground too.
- 1 x XPC Cree LED (up to 88 lumens)
- 3 x 5mm LED’s Red, White, Green (1.8 lumens)
- Weight: 118g with batteries
- Batteries: 3 x 1.5V AAA alkaline (included)
- Water resistant: tested to IPX4