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#267529 - 02/19/14 11:23 PM Re: Flashlight for SAR [Re: Arney]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6942
Loc: southern Cal
A lot of the time when hiking at night, SAR situation or not, I prefer to hold the light in my hand, generally at waist level or perhaps below,in order to see the ground relief, whether or not I am looking actively for footprints. I will shift the light to my head or helmet when I need to use my hands - actively climbing, rendering first aid,or whatever.

Occasionally I have walked on a trail with the light on my head, losing all shadow relief and becoming quite disoriented. This happens quite noticeably on wide, smooth trails - like the Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon. I had absolutely no sense of where the ground was. Once I had the light at a lower angle, everything was better.

I did this a lot when using a carbide lamp, and a secondary benefit was nice warm hands. I imagine this might be true also with some of the more powerful LED lamps.

I routinely carried at least two additional lights (old caver's rule - three independent light sources) - and there are certainly times when you want to light up the distance - so usually one was a powerful thrower. I always found it more convenient to just shift my headlamp around from head to hand as circumstances warranted. This may vary,depending upon how you have the headlamp mounted...
Geezer in Chief

#267533 - 02/20/14 12:57 AM Re: Flashlight for SAR [Re: hikermor]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: hikermor
A lot of the time when hiking at night, SAR situation or not, I prefer to hold the light in my hand...I will shift the light to my head or helmet when I need to use my hands...

Ah, gotcha. Handheld is how you mostly use your light, not the headlamp. Now your commment makes sense.

I agree that headlamps can be a bit difficult when on the move. Things flatten out and it's easy to miss changes in terrain without shadows to highlight them. Many headlamps have a small, intense hotspot which tends to promote tunnel vision. It's like playing "follow the bouncing ball."

#267536 - 02/20/14 02:51 AM Re: Flashlight for SAR [Re: Bingley]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6942
Loc: southern Cal
"It is easier to hold a headlamp in the hand than to hold a flashlight on the head" - old proverb (at least ten minutes old)

I have found it easier to track at night because you can change the angle of ambient light that to track during the day, especially at high noon.
Geezer in Chief

#267640 - 02/23/14 06:28 AM Re: Flashlight for SAR [Re: Bingley]
Burncycle Offline

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 529
When I use headlamps it's typically for relatively close work so I have an Petzl E-Lite for minor tasks like that. If you are using a headlamp for your primary light as you indicate I would agree something more capable would be in order.

This may not apply to you, but I switched to 18650 as my standard battery for a variety of reasons. Aside from the initial cost, the idea of "guilt free" lumens made the switch a no brainer -- I use the flashlight like crazy, as opposed to sparingly when I had lights that used CR123 primaries. I don't know how many half empty CR123s I have laying around because I like to go into situations with a full charge so I used to swap more than I needed to.

My current setup is a Zebralight SC600 Mk II for my EDC light, and a Blackshadow Terminator as my "larger" handheld light. Both ran $75-100 with another $20-40 in batteries, but they are amazingly bright. The Terminator isn't designed to throw but at 3,500 lumens it does anyway! The SC600 isn't very tactical, and I miss my forward clicky tactical style lights, but it does have a variety of options from very bright (900+ lumens) to less bright but with great runtime (5+ hours).

It seems silly but I would encourage you to delve further into your inquiry, not just asking here but browsing flashlight oriented forums. There is a lot to learn... and with so much out there, "buy once cry once" is the order of the day, otherwise you wind up with an extensive collection (which might happen anyway!)

Because you are doing search and rescue work I would suggest getting something with a high CRI and neutral or warm white instead of cool for truer color rendition.

#267740 - 02/27/14 04:22 PM Re: Flashlight for SAR [Re: Bingley]
Russ Offline

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5170
I'm not Bingley, but this was a useful topic --thanks to all. I went with the 2013 model Black Diamond Storm thru REI Outlet because it was a good deal and so far I like it. But I was in REI yesterday and saw/played with the Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp -- another nice headlamp.

One of my going in requirements is that a headlamp be waterproof, and both the BD Storm and the PT Vizz are rated IPX7. Unfortunately they take AAA batteries, so I'll need to expand my battery stock somewhat, but it's NBD. AAA lithiums were already in stock and I picked up some AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries -- good to go.

The Vizz is going into my truck's FAK. The BD Storm is going into my County Comm Gaffer's bag which I use as a collection point for stuff that's not EDC but that I want readily available at home.

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