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Owner Review: Black Diamond Polar Star headlamp

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  • splitchard
    Owner Review: Black Diamond Polar Star Headlamp Review date: April 18, 2005 Personal biographical information Name: Richard Christiana Age: 24 Gender:
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 18, 2005
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      Owner Review: Black Diamond Polar Star Headlamp

      Review date: April 18, 2005


      Personal biographical information

      Name: Richard Christiana
      Age: 24
      Gender: Male
      Height: 5' 11" (180 cm)
      Weight: 165 lbs (74.8 kg)
      Email address: splitchard@...
      City, state, country: New Paltz, New York, USA
      Backpacking background: My first experiences were short weekend
      trips with a heavy pack over 40 lbs (18 kg) in the Adirondack
      Mountains of New York (NY). Since then I have had the opportunity to
      embark on longer backpacking excursions lasting up to two weeks, and
      I have become a subscriber to the remarkable benefits of ultra
      lightweight backpacking. I bring only essentials such as an
      oversized daypack with a tarp and a sleeping bag inside. My usual
      pack weight is about 20-25 lbs (9-11 kg) during the summer and 30-35
      lbs (14-16 kg) during the winter. I have worked as an outdoor guide
      where I lead backpacking, canoeing, and rock climbing trips. I also
      have experience winter mountaineering and ice climbing on Mt
      Washington in New Hampshire, Mt Hood in Oregon, and the Catskill
      Mountains in NY.


      Product information

      Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
      Year of manufacture: 2003
      Manufacturer web site: http://bdel.com
      Listed weight: 5 oz (150 g) without batteries
      8 oz (219 g) with batteries
      Weight as delivered: 5 oz (150 g) without batteries
      9 oz (255 g) with batteries
      Power source: 3 AA batteries (included)
      Burn time: 2 ½ hours with the bright xenon bulb
      500 hours with the LED
      MSRP: $45 US
      Features:
      - Hybrid headlamp including a bright xenon bulb housed in the
      middle of a reflector and one LED positioned to the side of the xenon
      bulb, both enclosed in a plastic lens
      - Plastic lamp housing can be tilted up or down in order to shine
      the beam of light where you need it
      - Includes one extra bright xenon bulb that is stored inside of the
      lamp housing
      - Lamp turns on with a push button on bottom of plastic lamp
      housing that can be used with gloves
      - Fully adjustable two strap headband construction with one
      wrapping around the circumference of the head and the other over the
      top of the head
      - Includes 3 AA batteries
      - Batteries are located in a separate pack from the headband and
      can be attached to a separate strap that can be placed around the
      waist or around the neck
      - Battery pack is wired to the lamp through a 3 ft (91 cm) long
      insulated electrical wire that wraps around from the back of the head
      to the lamp, connected to the headband by plastic clips
      - Bright xenon bulb shines a beam of light 430 ft (130 m)


      Field information

      Locations used: I have had this headlamp for two years and have used
      it for cooking, map reading, and route finding on winter
      mountaineering and peak bagging trips on Mount Washington in New
      Hampshire and the Adirondack Mountains of New York as well as for
      long day snowshoeing hikes. I have also used this headlamp on ice
      climbs in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.
      Description of location: Rough trails, mountainous terrain, steep
      cliff face, with altitudes from 1,000 ft to 6,500 ft (300 m to 1,980
      m).
      Weather conditions: A lot of different conditions from rain, sleet,
      and snow. Temperatures of use range from –40 F to 35 F (-40 C to 2
      C).
      Comments: I have owned this headlamp for two years now and have used
      it mostly on extended (1 week or more) winter mountaineering trips.
      I have found the weight of the headlamp to be too heavy for use
      during the spring, summer, and fall. It is also a little too bulky
      and the detachable battery pack is too awkward for use during these
      seasons or for short winter overnight trips when battery power
      consumption due to cold weather is not an issue. I prefer to use a
      smaller, lighter headlamp with the battery pack located either in the
      lamp housing or on the back of the head. The headlamp has a push
      button on the bottom of the lamp housing that turns it on and also
      switches from the xenon bulb to the LED. I have found that I can
      press this button even with gloves on, although it requires firm
      pressure. I also have had no problems with the headlamp turning on
      accidentally inside of my pack.

      This headlamp does a great job of conserving battery power during
      cold weather use. This is where the Polar Star really shines. I
      have had a problem with other headlamps that I have used with
      batteries dying very quickly due to cold temperatures (below
      freezing). Since I can place the battery pack of the Polar Star
      around my waist or neck, close to the body for heat, I have found
      that the life of the batteries is extended considerably. I have used
      this headlamp on a two week trip, starting out with fresh batteries,
      and I didn't need to change them for the entire time. It is possible
      that battery life in cold conditions could be extended with the use
      of lithium batteries, effectively negating the need to keep the
      battery pack close to the body for warmth, but I have not tried
      this. I have only used alkaline batteries.

      The bright xenon bulb is said to have a lifespan of about eight
      hours. While it is hard to estimate, since I am continuously
      switching from the xenon to the LED, I would say that I have used the
      xenon bulb for a total of nine to ten hours and I have not had to
      replace the bulb. I have found the xenon bulb to be too overkill for
      most activities such as setting up camp, cooking, map reading, and
      hiking on well marked trails. For these activities I always use the
      LED, which shines just enough light. The xenon bulb puts out a
      focused beam of light for about 430 ft (130 m). I switch to the
      xenon bulb when I am going to be bushwhacking or hiking on a hard to
      find trail. Black Diamond says that the Polar Star's LED will shine
      for 100 hours once the battery power has diminished enough so that
      they cannot power the xenon bulb. I cannot attest to this since I
      have not had to replace the batteries during any trip.

      I have also used this headlamp while ice climbing at night. The
      headlamp fit perfectly around my helmet and the battery pack was
      around my waist, away from the swinging of sharp ice axes. The
      headlamp did not obstruct my movements at all and the LED was all the
      light that I needed to see where I was swinging my ice axes and
      placing my ice screws.

      This headband is very comfortable, even when used for many hours.
      The elastic straps do not irritate my skin at all. Once fitted
      properly, the headlamp does not move or bounce at all during
      activities such as hiking, jogging, and ice climbing. The light
      stays right where you want it.

      I have really put this headlamp through some heavy use, and it has
      held up very well. It is made incredibly strong and the electrical
      wiring and connections are all still in perfect condition.


      Summary: All in all, this headlamp works great for longer winter
      mountaineering trips where battery conservation is important.

      Pros:
      o Has a detachable battery pack that can be worn close to the
      body to keep them warm
      o LED can be used for most activities and does not require much
      battery power
      o Very comfortable to wear on head
      Cons:
      o Very specialized for extended cold weather use and therefore it
      is not versatile
      o Heavier and bulkier than most hybrid headlamps
      o Can be awkward to put on and use because the battery pack is
      separate from the headlamp
    • chcoa
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 3 , Apr 19, 2005
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        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

        Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner
        Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. Do not
        worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our Editors
        are volunteers and your report will be subject to an official edit
        within fourteen days. If you have not had a response from an Edit
        Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this timeframe, please let
        me know directly at jdeben@....

        To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask
        that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our
        experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
        yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved and
        uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews. This
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        Edit Administration Officer
      • colonelcorn76
        Hi Richard, Nice job. I ve made some edits to your review. Once you ve made the appropriate changes please repost it to the group with REPOST in the subject
        Message 3 of 3 , May 1, 2005
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          Hi Richard,

          Nice job. I've made some edits to your review. Once you've made the
          appropriate changes please repost it to the group with REPOST in the
          subject line. I'll grab it for another look before approving it for a
          test upload to the test/owner review folder on BGT. After that checks
          out (quick look to make sure hyperlinks work, formatting isn't too
          wild, etc.) I'll setup a place for you to upload it to its final
          resting place.

          Thanks again for the nice work.

          Jim
          Edit Moderator

          --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "splitchard"
          <splitchard@y...> wrote:
          >
          > City, state, country: New Paltz, New York, USA

          ### Welcome to the fray. Nice to see another east-coaster ;-)

          > Burn time: 2 ½ hours with the bright xenon bulb

          ### Their website lists 3.5 hrs for the bright xenon and 2.5 hours for
          the super bright xenon. Please clarify.

          > 500 hours with the LED
          > MSRP: $45 US

          #### Their website lists $49.95 as the MSRP

          > - Plastic lamp housing can be tilted up or down in order to shine
          > the beam of light where you need it

          ### Unless this is a direct quote (in which case it should be noted
          that this, or this paragraph, are copied from BD) eliminate the use of
          "you" to avoid projecting...for instance I often need a light behind
          me but I don't think this is going to tilt that far.

          > - Lamp turns on with a push button on bottom of plastic lamp

          ### "pushbutton"

          > - Batteries are located in a separate pack from the headband and

          ### I think you mean separate from the headlamp. It can attach to the
          headband.

          > to the lamp, connected to the headband by plastic clips
          > - Bright xenon bulb shines a beam of light 430 ft (130 m)

          ### Their specs list 140 m for the effective distance of the super
          bright xenon bulb. Please clarify.

          > The bright xenon bulb is said to have a lifespan of about eight

          ### Who said this? BD? If so, note that.

          > hiking on well marked trails. For these activities I always use the
          > LED, which shines just enough light. The xenon bulb puts out a
          > focused beam of light for about 430 ft (130 m). I switch to the

          ### The super bright xenon is listed as 140 m with the standard xenon
          listed at 100 m. Please clarify. Also, when referring to the xenon
          bulb please make sure you note whether it's the super bright or the
          standard bright xenon (or the long life one if you use that one at all).

          > they cannot power the xenon bulb. I cannot attest to this since I
          > have not had to replace the batteries during any trip.

          ### Do you replace them between trips?

          > headlamp did not obstruct my movements at all and the LED was all the
          > light that I needed to see where I was swinging my ice axes and
          > placing my ice screws.

          ### Does the wire running up your side from your waist to the headband
          cause any issues?

          > properly, the headlamp does not move or bounce at all during
          > activities such as hiking, jogging, and ice climbing. The light
          > stays right where you want it.

          ### "where I want"...also, how easy is it to tilt the headlamp since
          it doesn't move when jogging (which could be expected to jar it up &
          down)?

          >
          > I have really put this headlamp through some heavy use, and it has
          > held up very well. It is made incredibly strong and the electrical
          > wiring and connections are all still in perfect condition.

          ### Any idea how thick the wiring is? Have you ever gotten it caught
          and pulled the lamp or battery pack off? I assume if you did that it
          survived without incident in which case you might want to note that.
          Do you know if it's water resistant? Any exposure to water that caused
          a problem or did rain, etc. not have an effect?

          > Cons:
          > o Very specialized for extended cold weather use and therefore it
          > is not versatile

          ### What do you mean "specialized for extended cold weather use"? I
          didn't see anything mentioned about any cold weather specific design
          features (except being able to push the button with gloves).

          > o Heavier and bulkier than most hybrid headlamps

          ### "than most hybrid headlamps I have seen" unless you've got an
          exhaustive list of hybrid headlamps with weights and sizes so we can
          compare to make sure this isn't just an observation based on the
          number of lights you've examined.
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