Light is a crucial aspect to all of my journeys whether provided by the sun or artificially by lights. I try to get out on the water before the sun has risen and sometimes even stay out on the water after the sun has set. Without adequate lighting, you will be faced with a dangerous and frustrating situation. I have found that one of the most important lights any kayak angler can have is a good quality headlamp. Headlamps allow a user to have light shining wherever they are looking and also eliminate the need for you or someone else to be holding a flashlight. I have owned quite a few headlamps in my life, and it is easy for me to say that not all headlamps are created equal. There are many different factors that contribute to a good headlamp, but after careful consideration of different models I came to one headlamp that set itself apart from the others - the Coast FL75R.
Before we get into the review of the Coast FL75R Headlamp, take a look at the general specifications below:
High Output: 530 Lumens
Low Output: 65 Lumens
Max Beam Distance: 511 Ft
Max Runtime: 2 H 15 Min
Weight: 3.2 oz.
Battery: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable LI-ION Pack
As you can see above, the Coast FL75R has quite a bit to offer. Lets go ahead and dive into each individual feature.
There are a few design aspects to truly appreciate with the FL75R. The first that I want to focus on is the size. At 3.2 oz. this is hardly anything to tote around with you. I have had some headlamps that tend to be a burden more than something to help you out simply because of the size and weight. Of course, there are some headlamps that are extremely light, but most of these probably won't be outputting as many lumens as the FL75R. The design of having a traditional style headband vs a 3-strap headband is something I really like. 3-strap headbands can be necessary if the light is too heavy and needs the extra support, but I have found that the headband on the FL75R does the job just fine and I have never had a problem with it falling down - whether I am hiking down to the waters edge, out on the water or even doing some mountain bike riding. The headband is also adjustable and can be configured so that it is pretty comfortable for long periods of time. The strap also has a reflective design that allows for others to see you better in the case of a light being present from someone other than you. The actual headlamp is extremely small. Overall a very concise package that can fit into pretty small locations.
There are actual two different types of lights on the FL75R - one large white LED and two small red LEDs. The red lights are helpful if you are in a tent or anytime you do not want to "ruin" your night vision. Although I wouldn't recommend buying the FL75R just because of the red LED lights, they are something to appreciate and come in handy every once and a while. The main light is operated by a right button on top of the headlamp body whereas the red lights are operated by a left button on top of the headlamp body. There are three different lighting modes for the main beam - high, medium and low, and simply an on/off for the red lights.
The overall construction is extremely good and high quality. When you pick up the FL75R you can tell that it is capable of some abuse. It is pretty good for impact resistance as well as handling some water splash, as I have encountered zero problems as far as ruggedness goes.
Outside of actual light performance, the power system is one of the most important aspects to this light. The FL75R has the capability to accept both 3 x AAA batteries (included in purchase) as well as an included LI-ION battery pack. Coast calls this the Flex Charge Dual Power system. This is such a convenient feature to have in a headlamp as it gives the light versatility. I like to use the rechargeable battery pack as it will give you the highest lumen output. However if you do not have a way of charging the LI-ION pack or do not have time to charge the pack, you can simply throw in 3 triple A's. I cannot stress how important this feature is, as you can always have the LI-ION battery charged and ready to go, but if you burn through the LI-ION pack, you can carry around some AAA's and you are good to go. If I haven't stressed it enough, this feature is a huge reason why I believe the FL75R is a great headlamp. You should be aware of the differences in performance when using AAA's vs. the LI-ION pack. We will discuss this a little later though.
Another great feature of the FL75R is the adjustable focusing system, or Pure Beam Focusing system according to Coast. I have never been a big fan on focusing lights until I got my hands on the FL75R and some of the other lights Coast has to offer. When you have the beam set to a "flood" configuration you have an unbelievable field of view. What is really appreciated is the even dispersion of light as well. Some flashlights with a focus system cannot seem to perform in such a way to have even light dispersion in a flood mode, but the FL75R certainly does an outstanding job at this - not to mention that the outline of the light is ridiculously defined. When you tighten up the pattern by turning the focus knob, your beam distance drastically increases and you can see really far - 511 ft to be exact. This focusing system allows a user to really dial into what they will be doing, whether doing some steady kayak fishing and utilizing the wide beam or scouting out a path to launch your kayak with the beam tightly focused. Once again, as I mentioned earlier, I have used the FL75R for some mountain biking as well and the capability to tighten the beam pattern when you pick up some speed is great so you can see what is coming up further down the road.
When it comes down to it, performance in a headlamp is extremely important. As I mentioned earlier, the FL75R varies in performance depending on if you are using standard AAA batteries or the LI-ION pack. Below is the performance of the FL75R in either configuration:
Output (High, Medium, Low): 530, 260, 65 (Lumens)
Beam Distance (High, Medium, Low): 156, 107, 54 (meters)
Runtime (High, Medium, Low): 2 H 15 Min, 5 H 15 Min, 11 H
Output (High, Medium, Low): 480, 245, 65 (Lumens)
Beam Distance (High, Medium, Low): 145, 106, 54 (meters)
Runtime (High, Medium, Low): 3 H 15 Min, 7 H 30 Min, 23 H
As you can see there is some significant differences in what type of power you will be using. If you are looking at maximum output, or Lumens, the rechargeable LI-ION pack is the way to go but if you are wanting runtime, the AAA setup is slightly better.
In consideration of the maximum output, 530 lumens, I will say this a lot of light to be outputting on your head. It is a really nice feature to have. I tend to operate in the medium or low setting when I am using the FL75R though. Why is this? Well, some people might wonder why you would buy a light with 530 lumens and use it in a 260 lumen setting. The reason is simple - I typically only need 260 or even 65 lumens and the lower the output I am using the more runtime I will get. It is also important to remember that 530 lumens comes in handy every once and a while and it never hurts to have this much output, as more output lets you see further and more clearly as well as typically giving you more runtime in lower output modes. I operate with the Rechargeable LI-ION configuration and have not run into any problems as far as needing more light or longer runtimes, but I always bring three AAA's with me just in case. You shouldn't have to worry about either runtime or light output as the FL75R is pretty elite in both of these categories.
The focusing system works great. I mentioned most of the detail about the focusing system earlier, but to reiterate, the focusing system is outstanding. If the FL75R simply had 530 lumens and no focusing system, I might operate in the High mode more often, but because of the focusing system I can operate in Medium mode and dial in my light while at the same time conserving battery power. I really appreciate the flood beam on the FL75R, it is extremely defined and has a very evenly distributed pattern. The focusing system really adds a lot of versatility to the FL75R.
It would be hard to go wrong with the FL75R Headlamp from Coast. It has a lot of output as well as a really applicable runtime. When you consider the Flex Charge Dual Power system in conjunction with the Pure Beam Focusing System it is hard to imagine a light that has as much versatility in such a simple package. The dual red LED's come in handy for particular situations where low light and preserving night vision is important and the overall construction of the FL75R is flawless. Throw in your choice of 5 different colors and you are looking at what I would recommend to you as the best overall headlamp you can find. I highly recommend investing in a FL75R Headlamp from Coast and have no doubt in the performance and quality you will experience if you do. If you would like to find out more on the FL75R, please go to Coast's website by clicking here.