My first headlamp was clunky, with a big battery pack in the rear and an incandescent bulb in front. It made me feel like I should be headed off to the coal mines. But from the first time I used it, I was sold. Suddenly I had a light that shone where I needed it and left both hands free for work.
Today’s headlamps are smaller and packed with features. One of the latest entries into the market is the Pelican 2720 LED Headlight. I’ve been using one for a couple of months, and I really like it.
The 2720 is powered by three AAA batteries. It’s compact and lightweight, and the adjustable elastic headband holds the lamp firmly in place while you work. Included are two clips that quickly attach the headband to a hard hat, which is the way I normally wear mine. When I’m not using the light, I don’t even notice it up there.
Flexible beams. The lamp produces a powerful beam that you can adjust from 80 lumens to five lumens by holding down the on/off button. Battery runtime ranges from eight hours to 175 hours depending on the output. You can also adjust the beam from spot to flood by moving the magnification control at the top of the LED lens, and the lamp can pivot downward from 0 to 90 degrees.
Two red LEDs below the main lamp allow you to see in low light without losing your night vision. That’s not all that useful on job sites, but it’s great for weekend camping trips. The red lights can also switch to an emergency mode that signals SOS, which you hope you never need.
Motion sensor. What really sets the 2720 apart is its “Gesture Activation Control.” Adjust the light to fit your needs, then press the motion-sensor button, and the light can be turned on and off by passing your hand within a few inches of the lens. This feature can be invaluable. For example, on the job site when it’s cold and I’m wearing gloves and I go into the dark tool trailer, I wave my hand and my lamp comes on; another wave when I come out and it’s off. (This also has its drawbacks: If you’re working in close quarters — say repairing a pipe under a kitchen sink — you can accidentally switch the light off if you move your head too near a pipe.)
The headlamp has an IPX4 rating, which means that water splashes have no harmful effects. Mine has been rained on and still works fine. It lists for $50.95 but can be found online for around $35. It’s a great little light.
Michael Davis owns Framing Square in Conifer, Colo.