One of the benefits of doing product reviews is that we get to try out some really cool stuff. Once the review is done, if the manufacturer doesn’t require it to be returned, it generally goes into our lending library of bike and camping gear. From there, any of our contributors can then check things out for further testing, and we also loan quite a bit to local Boy Scouts. This gives us an opportunity to get additional exposure for the products, along with continuous feedback. It also gets quality gear into the hands of people that may not be able to afford it. So everyone wins. For that reason alone, we’d like to thank Coast for providing yet another great LED light for our staff to test.
The Coast HL7R differs from their HL7 in that it comes with three rechargeable AAA batteries, and a port for charging from an AC outlet or via USB. What sets it apart from just about every other headlamp on the market is that the battery pack contains an easy to use continuously variable dimmer which allows you to select an output from 150 lumens (180 minute run time) down to 3 lumens (almost 40 hours of run time). In addition, the lamp head itself has a twist-to-zoom feature, going from spot to flood with about a 1/4 turn. But wait! Like a late night infomercial, there’s more. The lamp housing is hinged at the bottom, so you can tilt it downwards. There’s an included pouch for the charger and cable too. Clearly, they have thought of everything.
If you’ve never used a headlamp, go out and buy one, then you’ll wonder why you didn’t already own one. If you have one already, consider some of its limitations, compared to the HL7R. Here are some of the things you can use it for: Zoom out the lamp and set it on high for searching your yard or campsite, without getting eaten by a bear. Set it to low/wide, and use it for hands-free light when working on your car or setting up camp at night. Tilt the light down when hiking a rough part of the Continental Divide, or navigating “land mines” while walking the dog at night in the park. Use the lowest setting for repairs under your kitchen sink, (it’s water resistant) or to read a book in your tent at night. Crank the power up a bit, set the lens about midway, and go for a jog. You get the idea. Between the zoom and the variable output, the HL7R covers most jobs from closeup work to illuminating far away objects. It’s rated for up to 114 meters, which is pretty good for no hands.
So is it the most awesome piece of gear we have tested, or are there some downsides? Well, their HP21 is still the most awesome, but this headlamp is certainly a winner when it comes to versatility. Of course, it’s not perfect. Despite the comfort of the wide, fully adjustable headband, the 4.4 oz weight of the battery pack and zoom lamp may not be for everyone. It’s not a dealbreaker for us, but it’s something to be considered. Then again, if you need a headlamp that packs a lot of power, and weight is not a concern, look no further. And when paired with some of the solar charging options we’ve reviewed in the past, there’s no need to carry an extra set of batteries for longer outings. Like all their products, Coast backs it with a lifetime warranty against defects in materials or workmanship. www.coastportland.com