Petzl e+LITE Headlamp

By Adam S. Gubar

Petzl e+LITE
Petzl e+LITE.

The e+LITE is the latest offering from Petzl's line of compact and lightweight headlamp solutions and represents their entrance into the highly portable hands free lighting arena. Although arriving with less fanfare than their Tikka or Myo series lights, the e+LITE promises to be a serious competitor for the ultra-lite and high-altitude set.

Petzl has described the e+LITE as being their first emergency headlamp. The literature accompanying the light touts a wide range of temperatures (-30 C to +60 C), as well as limited water resistance to 1 meter. Aside from the size and weight of the entire unit, the versatility of this light across recreational and professional users seems to be the most mentioned aspect of the e+LITE. According to Petzl, the e+LITE, "can be used in potentially explosive atmospheres," and that it is, "always ready for use: can be stored with batteries for up to 10 years and still be operational." Currently, the e+LITE retails for US $29.99, although the model tested was purchased on sale for $19.99 from Eastern Mountain Sports.

Due to its size and unassuming packaging, the e+LITE is very easily mistaken for a toy when first seen. Weighing in at just 0.9 ounces (25.5g) by itself and 1ounce (28.3g) with the included carry case, the e+LITE appears to be a sleek and well considered light. The plastic carrying case is sealed with a rubber o-ring making it very secure. As well, a small drain hole in the bottom ensures that water does not pool in the carrying case should it be submerged, or if the light is replaced when wet. The light itself smaller than a 9 volt battery, with all its functions immediately identifiable in its face. On the front of the main body are recessed three white and one red LEDs one one side and a rotary selector switch on the other.

Operating on two CR2032 batteries, the e+LITE offers a range of lighting options. In addition to high and low intensity settings, the e+LITE also offers strobe functions, useful for using as a beacon for signaling or in emergencies. Of great importance during night-time and low light situations are the high and low intensity red LED settings. The red light does help prevent a total loss of night vision, though perhaps not to the extent advertised in some catalogs. The rotary switch moves easily through a logical progression from low to high intensity white light, white to red strobe, and high to low intensity red light. The dial has two off positions, one at either end of the progression. The dial locks firmly in place for each option in either direction and is easily found and manipulated without looking.

The light produced by the three small LED's is actually quite impressive. On high intensity, the white light projected a bright cone extending approximately 30 yards and roughly 10 yards wide. The low intensity was about a third of this, but still sufficient for most activities in camp. The red high intensity, while only about as bright as the lower white light option, was very effective at preventing loss of night vision and even seems to go relatively unnoticed by some animals.

The unit is very water resistant, surviving several thunderstorms and even several minutes of submersion. Battery life is excellent. Despite the ravaging effects sub-zero temperatures have on battery life, the e+LITE still managed an impressive 3 hours on high intensity and almost 8 on low intensity white light. Red light in negative temps was even better at over 10 hours of continuous use. The included head strap works well and adjusts easily, but even more useful at times is the attached wire clip on the back of the unit which allows the lite to be clipped firmly and securely onto the visor of a ball cap or a shirt lapel. Additionally, the main unit is connected to the head strap and hat clip by a small ball and socket joint, which allows the light to be angled into almost any direction.

Overall, the size and weight of this small head light are matched only by its versatility. This unit stores and packs easily, deploys easily and quickly and seems to work despite the best attempts at abuse. When worn, the scant 1 ounce light is quickly forgotten. The ball joint and hat clip, combined with the white and red light options, low weight, long battery life and near indestructibility amke this perhaps one of the best small sized lights on the market.

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Copyright 2009 by Adam S. Gubar. All rights reserved.