Sep 12 2013

Review: Energizer Ultimate headlamp


Energizer's Ultimate. 100 lumens for $40? You can't go wrong.

Energizer’s Ultimate. 100 lumens for $40? You can’t go wrong.

There is no question that Energizer’s new Ultimate headlamp does an excellent job of illuminating what’s in front of you. Backcountry snobs might turn up their nose at the spot style, circular pattern. Most headlamps have very diffuse edges to their pattern, so Energizer’s circular pattern calls attention to itself, reminding one of classic flashlights that can focus from a big circle to a smaller one.

The Energizer Ultimate acts the same way, although the focus ring takes a bit more effort than you might want on a headlamp, but is adjustable nonetheless. Already you’re thinking this is just a cheesy headlamp from a big corporation until you actually use it a bit.

That’s when you notice how smooth and consistent the light is inside of the circle. Even with a good fresnel lens the center is brighter than the edges. With the Ultimate, the pattern is flat, or isotropic which happens to be a nice way to shine a light on things, especially good for reading, or camp cooking.

Ultimate is powered by 3x AA batteries - Lithium, NiCad, or Alkaline.

Ultimate is powered by 3x AA batteries – Lithium, NiCad, or Alkaline.

A less obvious benefit to this focused beam is how little light that spills out to the sides. Where this helps is for those standing nearby who will appreciate the absence of light glare. While the majority of light is projected forward with most LED headlamps, even the small amount that spills to the side is piercing enough to bother you if you’re standing to the side. With Energizer’s focused beam, there is almost nothing that can be seen from the side except the beam out front.

As headlamps go this isn’t the lightest on the block, with a hefty battery pack at the back of the headband, holding three AA’s. However, with lithium batteries you can expect up to 9 hours on high, which makes this a great weekender.

There are four modes, a red LED night light, then a High, Medium, Low modes with a single, focusable beam, and lastly, a blinking emergency beacon, plus a short burst mode that kicks the output up from 100 lumens to 130. Each mode is reached by toggling the switch sequentially. To turn it off, simply wait a few extra seconds, toggle the switch once, and the lights go out.

The green "here I am" light blinks after being on, unless you slide the battery pack up the track to disconnect it.

The green “here I am” light blinks after being on, unless you slide the battery pack up the track to disconnect it.

The most annoying feature is the blinking green light atop the power pack. It certainly makes it easy to find when you set it down in the dark. However, it is bright enough that it can keep you awake and I surely don’t like walking the dog at night knowing that stupid light is shouting out, “I’m here!” Makes me feel like a target in a police state.

It’s easy enough to turn off. The battery pack slides on to a connection plate so you can slide it up about half an inch so it no longer makes contact, but stays attached. Personally I’d rather eliminate it, or replace it with a low intensity glow light.

Overall, the price is very competitive. If you use rechargeable lithium ion batteries this is a smart, cost effective headlamp that won’t win any awards for light weight, but will for a clean beam of light.

MSRP: $40
Weight: 7 oz. (200 g)
Power: 3x AA batteries

© 2013