Monday, 27 January 2014

Micro Head Torch Shoot-Out: Petzl E+Lite Vs Fenix HL10

 The Stats

Petzl E+Lite
Fenix HL10
Max Output
26 Lumens
70 Lumens
Max Runtime: High
50 mins
Max Runtime: Mid
2h 45mins
Max Runtime: Low
Max Distance
Impact Resistance
Water Resistance
-1m IP67
-2m IPX-8
L40mm x W32mm x H23mm
L69.5mm x W29.2mm x H28.2mm
2 x CR2032 (included)
1 x AAA (included)
10 Year Guarantee
24 months free repair, limited lifetime warranty
Degree Tilt
360 degrees
100 degrees
4 x LEDs (3 White +1 Red)
1 x Cree XP-E LED
Number of Modes

First Impressions:

My first impression of the Petzl E+Lite which was purchased from was “is this some kind of toy!” It’s absolutely tiny only a little bigger than my thumb, at only 26g and almost entirely made of plastic it doesn’t feel in anyway substantial. 

Just a smidge bigger than my thumb!

Being as small at it is has some pluses and some minuses for me. On the plus side I always like to pack light but try to cover as many eventualities as possible so the e+lite is great in that respect. On the minus side being that small means I will undoubted at some point in the torches life lose it, probably somewhere at the bottom of my bag but if it drop on to the forest floor even a small leaf could hide it from my sight forever more. The other thing I noticed is that is doesn’t appear to have the usual headband you expect with most head torches, this has been replaced with a retractable reel of what looks basically like cheese wire,  but on closer inspection seems pretty strong  and not uncomfortable to wear,  when you consider this torch is designed to be mainly used as an emergency head lamp its fine. All the 5 functions are easy to see immediately on the front of the torch, it has a low, high and strobing white beam and a solid and strobing red beam too. As well as the off setting it also has
a lock setting to ensure it doesn’t turn on whilst sitting lost at the bottom of your rucksack. The tilt function on it is the best I’ve seem with a little ball joint at the bottom giving the torch the possibility of pointing it in any angle or direction needed.

On to the Fenix HL10 which I got from, first impressions are this is a much meatier torch and although still pretty tiny it weighs in at twice that of the e+lite. It has a “normal” style elastic headband that is as comfortable as you’d expect and is easily adjusted by a toggle at the back.  The torch itself sits in a plastic case attached to the headband, this case pops open and allows you to remove the lamp section and use it as a stand-alone normal flashlight which is pretty smart. 

The Fenix out of is casing

The flashlight section is made of adonsied aluminium and feels very rugged despite its diminutive size. It can also stand up on it end on a flat surface which I’m sure I’ll find a use for, just not sure what yet! Once clipped back in to the plastic case it is able to rotate 100 degrees up and down, which is all you would really hope for in a head torch. The button set up on the Fenix isn’t as immediately as obvious as the Petzl, it has one rubber button on the top of the lamp which you need to hold down for two to three seconds before the torch will turn on after that tapping the button with cycle through it’s low, medium and high settings. Holding the button for a further few seconds will turn it off.

The Field Test

For this test I worked two consecutive days at the Hunter Gather Cook School, both days run in almost exactly the same format  (stag dos) and both days will require me to work for around 3 hours in our off grid kitchen in the dark. Rather than using the Oil Lamps I usually work by I just used one of the head torches each day.

Standard start to the day at HGC

The first torch up was the Petzel which fared pretty well, the red light setting is great to switch to if you are having a conversation with someone you don’t want to blind, the main and even the economy settings worked well for the sort of jobs I was getting up to in the kitchen but were perhaps a little lacking when it came to foraging for ingredients out in the woods. Comfort wise my initial scepticism about the cheese cutter style head band were unfounded and once on the torch was so light and comfortable I found myself forgetting it was even there! Also the retractable style of the band meant that it could be warn on the wrist, which adds some extra versatility. Towards the end of the day there was a noticeable drain on the battery with there being little difference to the eco and standard modes. I’d say overall it performed excellently and for most people who will only be requiring a little time and light to set up camp until their fires are going it will be perfect. Considering that this head torch is designed to be an emergency back up, it actually out performs what it says it can do on the tin.

Getting down to some serious Fallow Carpaccio

The second day was a chance for the Fenix HL10 to shine and it really did! The initial 70 Lumens were just what I needed to badger away in the kitchen and woods to my hearts content. The lamp has an auto dim function when on high power and dims after a few minutes on full power.  I think if it had been left on full for the whole period perhaps the batteries might not have made it all the way through the day. Like the Petzl it did dim as the day came to a close but this is a fairly long test for a micro head torch so to be expected. The dimmest setting was fine to switch to when talking to our guests but I found the way the button set up worked to be a little less simple that the petzl although perfectly usable.  Overall it performed excellently which leaves me with a pretty close call as to which one I would choose as the winner……

Manning the kettles

The Results

And the winner is…...The Petzl E+Lite. The Petzl just scrapes the win due to it’s tiny size and massive versatility. It’s a great little all rounder and as I said previously it out performs expectations of just an emergency back up. This would be great for anyone who expects light weight and medium to light use. Only thing I will say for both of these torch is that carrying a spare set of batteries would be a good idea should you have to use them for an extended period.