I love headlamps for a variety of reasons, namely the idea of constantly having light where I’m looking and having the use of both of my hands. While I’m perfectly fine using the cheap Energizer ones at your local hardware store for working under the car or in a poorly lit area of the house or garage, using them in the woods is a different story entirely. My biggest frustration was having light discipline with most headlamps is exceedingly difficult, particularly if you want to use a red light and without cycling through white. Lastly, while I am sure a $200 headlamp is pretty cool, given none of us are in possession of a money tree, the overall value of the product also comes into play.

When I was looking at headlamps to buy, the biggest factor that narrowed down my search was 1) it needed a red light mode and 2) it had to be accessible without cycling through white. Really the choice comes down to two brands. Petzl has a TACTIKKA series and Black Diamond has the Cosmo series of headlamps. Both have a couple different options for lumens, but ultimately the Black Diamond is roughly half the price and it is more water resistant. While the Petzl is IPX4 (weather resistant), the Black Diamond is IPX8 (waterproof) and must operate submerged to 1.1m for at least 30 minutes. Lastly I find the user interface of the light to be more intuitive.

So what exactly does this wunderlight do? Three bulbs supply your light, a large LED and two smaller LED’s stacked next to the larger one. The Cosmo 300 has three settings of white light and one red. The white is rather predictably high, medium and low. The high uses the two white diodes, the medium uses just the large diode and the red uses the lower diode. The medium being more than bright enough to see while walking and the high being bright enough to annoy everyone around you. The red is comparable to the low setting of the white light. What I came to appreciate about the light rather quickly is that every setting is dimmable. I would estimate each setting has 4-5 dimming positions.

The feature that really sets this light apart is the user interface. Looking around the Internet you will see criticism of this, but assuming you are capable of peeling your crayons before you eat them you should be more than up to the task. Rather than one button that does everything, Black Diamond wisely chose a second button to change the between light settings. Meaning that you can set the light to red light and turn it on and off without every worrying about accidentally kicking on the white light or having to cycle through the white light to get to red. Your power button also functions as the dimmer, so there is no risk of white light discharge if you are dimming or brightening the red setting. Lastly, you can keylock the buttons to prevent an accidental discharge in your pocket or pack. The power button is thoughtfully textured and both buttons are nicely recessed. The fit and finish are excellent, the body mating with the lens and the headband is quality elastic.

The one thing I dislike about this light is the adjustment. The light can be adjusted vertically, but the clicking is LOUD. While the light is super secure, using it in an environment that requires strict noise discipline would necessitate you being careful. Lastly, while the AAA batteries are rated to last 200 hours on the lowest setting, the Petzl has a rechargeable battery pack that can be swapped out for regular batteries if needed. Other than those two minor quibbles, I have nothing at all bad to say about the product. I highly encourage you to pick up one or more up while you still can.

Check them out for yourself here:

Black Diamond Cosmo 300

Petzl TACTIKKA 350

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