Kathmandu Phantom 180 Head Torch
Walking Accessories and Gift Ideas
Product Review / Walking Gear Test
Phantom 180 Head Torch
Walking Accessories and Gift Ideas
Sizes: Head Torch 95mm L x 66mm W x 78mm D
Weight: 345gms (inc batteries)
Features to Note:
- Four lighting modes - high, medium, low, SOS signalling, flashing
- Four x 1.5V AA alkaline batteries (included)
- Beam distance 140metres, light intensity up to 180 lumens
- Battery life 7 hours (claimed) - at High/180 lumens setting
- Focus control
- Thermal control
- Regulated battery control
- Rear safety light
- Tilting head
- Water resistance
- Separate battery pack
- Removable vertical strap
- Made in China
Short days and often poor visibility at this time of year (ie UK winter), mean that a good light source is even more important. So the arrival in the post of this Kathmandu Phantom 180 Head Torch was quite timely.
The head torch itself weighs 150gms; with the battery pack it's 345gms which I found quite heavy so it's tempting to wear it with the battery pack separate and under clothing which anyway helps in preserving battery life in colder conditions.
There are two main controls for the lamp; a round control on the side which controls the brightness of the beam and/or the switch to SOS signalling plus a slide focus control which allows you to change between flood light and spot light. Both of these were very easy to use even wearing gloves. The quality of the light produced was very good; when focussed it's easily good enough for close work and it does extend over a good distance - manufacturer claims 140 metres. The head torch will also tilt.
It comes with 4 x 1.5v AA alkaline batteries. I've been using it with the equivalent NiMH rechargeables. The manufacturer suggests that the burn time is 7 hours; this is presumably an average figure. On my test on the lowest level of brightness, the light lasted 12 hours and then began to fade, completely expiring after about 14 hours. There is no gauge to show the battery state on the pack. As far as we can determine, it won't work with Lithium batteries. (Lithimum batteries are said to offer benefits to battery life at lower temperatures.) In any case, it's reasonably easy to open the battery case and to insert the batteries and this was manageable with gloved hands.
As well as wearing it on my head, I also found it worked well held in my hand or even worn around my neck to light the ground immediately in front of me.
I've not worn it in rain! but it is supposed to be water-resistant (as opposed to water-proof) but otherwise does appear to be pretty robust.
Kathmandu's Phantom 180 is a good mid-priced head torch with main features needed for bursts of night walking - the red warning light on the back of the battery pack is certainly very useful on roads. The SOS mode on the main torch is a great safety feature too. It'll also work really well when camping - cooking, reading, locating essential items in the dark. It uses the same batteries that fit (my) gps and/or many cameras - which is handy. The main downside is its weight so if weight (or lack thereof) is crucial then there are better options. Definitely make sure you have (working) spare batteries with you. If you need guaranteed operation in very cold conditions then also look at products that will use Lithium batteries.
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