We’re sneaking this one in as a Father’s Day gift suggestion, because the Coast HL27 headlamp is one of those products that can do double duty. Gear like this comes in handy for household projects as well as hiking and camping.
What makes the HL27 such a multipurpose winner? The step-less zoom and light control give it the flexibility for all sorts of lighting jobs. On its lowest setting, the HL27 puts out a single lumen, which will illuminate objects up to a mere five meters away. That’s barely enough light to read a map, but will help preserve your night vision. Run time at that level is 99 hours and 30 minutes. Crank the power all the way up, and you’ve got 309 lumens of light, good for up to 122 meters. At that output, run time drops substantially, down to three hours, 45 minutes. My experience is that neither end of the spectrum is used a lot, so real world run times can be anywhere from ten to twenty hours. Not bad for a trio of AA batteries, which Coast includes with every light. But output alone isn’t the only measurement that matters. Coast uses a carefully designed lens, called a Pure Beam Focusing Optic. Twist the bezel around the lens counter-clockwise, and you’ll get their Ultra-View Flood Beam, which is an even, wide angle light. Rotating in the other direction changes the pattern to their Bulls-Eye Spot Beam, which is a very tight, bright beam, surrounded by a halo, so you can still see objects outside of the light’s focus point.
Coast designers placed a hinge on the bottom of the lamp unit that allows it to be pointed downwards, great for when you’re hiking at night and need to keep your hands free. The strap is adjustable, and wide enough that it grips well and provides an even amount of pressure. The battery pack mounts directly to the headband, but since the entire unit only weighs 4.4 ounces, it’s not uncomfortably heavy. A nice touch is the wire routing through the headband, which prevents snags. Since this was the first headlamp I’ve tested that includes a detachable strap that goes from front to back, I went out and bought a hard hat to test the mounting system. My 3M lid isn’t quite the same as a proper search and rescue helmet, but worked well for testing purposes (It’s actually the same one Coast uses in the photo on their website). On the hard hat, the extra weight was hardly noticeable.
With my old house, a headlamp is a necessity for certain projects. We’ve got plenty of dark nooks and crannies, including the crawl space in the attic, a narrow closet for the sump pump in the basement, plus a pretty dark room with the furnace, water heater, and my beloved fiber modem. Let’s hope it doesn’t get much use there. What I really appreciate is being able to walk my dogs on local trails without having to carry a flashlight in my hands at all times. Not sure if I’ll get mistaken for “Tim the Toolman” Taylor with my headlamp on, but it’s convenient. And I really like the “one tool for many jobs” concept, since I have neither the budget nor motivation to own a bunch of specialized gear. If there was a way to fit this light to my MTB helmet, that would be even better. And really, I’ll keep the hard hat as part of my zombie apocalypse rig.
There are other lights that are more outdoor-oriented, but they’re mostly a bit pricier, and don’t appear as durable. They also lack Coast’s lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship. If you’re looking for a quality headlamp that can handle more than one task, check out coastportland.com