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Avalanche 6 Headlamp


Avalanche 6 Headlamp, retail $TBA (http://www.tek-tite.com)
Manufactured by TEKTITE
BUY IT AT THELEDLIGHT.COM
Last updated: 11-27-01


LED Light


The Avalanche 6 is a 6-LED headlight with a 3-point elastic strap. Housed in a rough & tumble plastic case, the light is designed to be affixed to the head using the straps, and it has an adjustable power head to put the light right where you need it with the flick of the wrist.



The headlamp is powered by 3 "AA" cells, which were pre-installed in the test unit.
There are two straps used to affix the light to your head: a long loop that fits all around the head from front to back, and a shorter piece that goes over the top of your head to keep the light from falling down and ending up around your neck.

Hold the larger strap with both hands so the power head hangs straight down, and put it on your head like a hat. You can easily adjust both straps to get a good fit for both your head diameter and for how high or low you wish it to rest on your head.

Turning the cylindrical part of the head clockwise turns the Avalanche on, and turning it the other way shuts it off. The head turns fairly easily, and as such it can be turned on & off even with cold or wet hands. To adjust the aim, just tilt the head up or down until the light is shining where you need it.




To install batteries in the Avalanche, locate the small tab on one corner of the battery box and lift away the soft rubber door. Install three "AA" cells in the compartment, following the polarity markings embossed inside. Press the battery door back in place and seal it around the flange on the battery box like you might the lid on a Tupperware container. The door is flexible rubber, and works just like Tupperware.

A spare bulb is hidden in a small compartment on the pylon that attaches the light to the head strap system. This will be discussed a bit later on.

Battery life for either lamp is not published, so this will have to be determined.



The Avalanche has some good points and some bad ones.
Let's get some of the bad points out of the way first.

First and foremost, the light feels really heavy and doesn't feel like it's on you really well, even with the straps tightened to their smallest size or when worn with a hat. It always feels like it could fall off at any moment, and it always feels like it's on too tight.

Secondly, the switching mechanism seems a bit cheap and functions erratically. When you turn the bezel to switch it on, it never goes on at the exact same point twice.


Check this out. This used to be an incandescent light (see below for a picture that will shock you!) but the manufacturer just hacked up the bulb leads and twisted them up so they will make contact with the flat LED board. This definitely has "homemade" written all over it.

The light claims to be waterproof (it says so in two places on the package, and on the light itself), but the seals don't look very good to me. There's an O-ring on the head, but it is not engaged at all when the Avalanche is turned off, and even when on, the ring doesn't seem to offer any resistance when turning the head.

SPLASH!! And there it goes, blub blub blub right to the bottom of the fishtank...

There are already telltale bubbles emerging from the seam between the lens & bezel... that can't be good. And I screwed the head all the way down so the O-ring is engaged as deep in the bezel as it will get, just to be sure I gave the Avalanche a fighting chance.
15 minutes later...it's FULL!!! There was only a small bubble of air left inside the unit; the remaining space was full of water!
The battery compartment was FULL, and so was the flashlight head with the LEDs. And there goes a perfectly good catalyst pellet... flush!! Once these pellets get wet, you must have them replaced. But this light doesn't have a good enough seal to trap very much hydrogen, so it will be perfectly happy without it. I also say that because look where the pellet is. It's in the head sealed up with the LEDs, not in the battery compartment where it really belongs. I've never known an LED to vent any measureable amount of hydrogen - it's the batteries that do that. No matter though; there's no real seal between head & battery pack anyway, so the pellet will still kind of work until the day the Avalance falls in the toilet or goes overboard. :-O


What's this?!?
It's a spare incandescent flashlight bulb! Yup, just an ordinary PR flange base lamp. But there's no place to put it, because all of the guts were ripped out to make way for the LED board!! This bulb is located in a compartment on the light's mounting bracket; a small piece of foam cut to fit the opening holds it in place.
Ouch!



LED Light
Bright beam is more consistent than the original 2-LED Avalanche.

Now let's get to some of the light's better points:
The light is very easy to turn on and off, and can be done with cold, wet, or gloved hands. The large sized head turns easily.
Cheap and common batteries that can be changed without tools - that's another +.
And finally, it is quite bright. If there's any reason why you shouldn't throw this light straight in the toilet bowl the moment you receive it, this is it. This is the Avalanche 6's saving grace.


LED Light
The unexpectedly front-heavy and too-tight light being "field tested".
All I need now is a coal miner's daughter.




TEST NOTES:

To be able to properly assess fitting problems, I will have to obtain a mountaineer's or caver's helmet, and try affixing the Avalanche to it.

Light is actually perfectly fine for light-duty use or to give the kids their very own head lamp (it's actually surprisingly bright and would be quite useful for those family camping trips); but this is not for you professionals. It just isn't made well enough. Tektite should be ashamed of themselves for putting their name on this product when everything else they make & sell is so much more durable and better-made.


Update 11-27-01: Dropping the Avalanche onto floor 3 times resulted in the following damage:
1st drop (3.5 feet free fall): Star-shaped fracture in the clear lens.
2nd drop (same parameters): Another star-shaped fracture in the lens, LEDs slightly deflected
3rd drop (a harder throw): Spare lamp & foam retainer for it popped out and rattled across the floor, all LEDs extinguished.

At this point, removing the back showed one of the batteries had become dislodged and had two dents in it.
Batteries no longer fit quite as snugly in the case as they did before, but they aren't totally loose either. Replacing dislodged battery(ies) in this case will immediately restore operation.

Unit also began to emit an odour like that of a plastic spoon dropped into a "Little Chief" upright salmon smoker, but there is no visible damage or malfunction that would cause it. Source of odour was later found to be the rubber battery door, which seems to become "stinkier" when handled & flexed. This odour is not objectionable; it is simply unusual. It was there all along, but was not quite as noticeable before, and it will probably fade back away once I quit torturing the poor Avalanche.

Although the degree of misalignment to the LEDs caused by the drop tests is minor, they can easily be straightened by you without tools. Just remove the bezel, tip out the reflector & LED board, and gently straighten the lamps. Then reassemble.


Any updates related to this review will be posted as they happen.




PROS:
*Reasonably* durable construction.
Uses cheap & common batteries.
Easy aim head.
Easy turn switch.
Surprisingly bright.

CONS:
Seems topheavy or frontheavy.
Always feels like it's about to fall off; feels tight & constricting when adjusted so it stays on.
Switch grinds and never turns on or off in the same place twice.
Goes blub blub blub in the fishtank (1 foot depth) and fills with water quite rapidly. The labelling lied about this.
Protruding lens vulnerable to damage in a fall.
Comes with a spare bulb but there's no place to install it. So you end up wasting it. (Fits any 3-cell PR-bulb flashlight you might have lying around)



      MANUFACTURER: Rondy
      PRODUCT TYPE: Head or helmet mounted torch
      LAMP TYPE: LED, White, 5mm
      No. OF LAMPS: 6
      BEAM TYPE: Central hot spot with soft fall-off
      SWITCH TYPE: Twist type bezel
      BEZEL: Plastic lens & faceted reflector ring
      BATTERY: 3 AA cells
      CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Not yet measured (estimated at 500mA)
      WATER RESISTANT: Light weather resistance only
      SUBMERSIBLE: No!
      ACCESSORIES: Duracell batteries
      WARRANTY: None shown on package
      SIZE: 2" diameter head, 2.5" depth (not including bracket)
      WEIGHT:4.98 oz. empty, 7.0 oz. full




      PRODUCT RATING:




Avalanche 6 * WWW.TEK-TITE.COM



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