Monday, April 5, 2010

Product Review: Gerber Axle 2x3 Headlamp
Having available light in the woods is a must, especially if you hunt early morning or late into the evening. Enter the new Gerber Axle 2x3 headlamp.

The Gerber Axle is new to the market this year. I was very excited about field testing this new light for many reasons. The first was that it was able to be used in three ways: headlamp, in your pocket or on your belt. The second reason was that it had a red and a white L.E.D. Thirdly, it kicked out 40 lumens. Lastly, the lamp head swiveled 90 degrees to ease neck strain.

From Gerber: Three lights in one: Cap, Pocket-Clip or Headlamp. Can switch between two colors: Bright white for maximum visibility or red to preserve night vision, with no additional parts. Headlamp bracket developed with a 30 degree angle to reduce user neck fatigue. Lightweight, compact design that used commonly available AAA batteries.

Here are the specs from the Gerber website:
  • Overall Length: 2.375" (with the head bent)
  • Weight: 3 oz
  • Batteries: AAA (3)
  • Run Time: White- 7 hrs, Red- 10 hrs
  • Lumens: White- 40, Red- 6.5
  • Body Construction: Polycarbonate/ ABS Construction
  • Setting: Steady On
I was able to test this headlamp out during a variety of conditions. The first time I used the Axle I was coming back from my evening hunt in the pouring rain. I decided to clip it to my brim and that was a mistake. Ever drive through a blinding snowstorm in the dead of night? That's what it looked like. I switched to the red L.E.D. and that didn't help at all. So, I pulled it off the brim, attached it to the head strap and put in on over my cap. That helped, but I still had a hard time seeing, even with the head angled fully. I think having it on the brim gave me the best light, but impeded my line of sight. The rain didn't help either, so I knew to test it after the rain stopped.

Back in camp I tried it out on my pocket. That was pretty cool. It was nice being hands free, flipping a switch (which I will get to later) and having a strong beam of light. Without the rain I could see well enough to get around. It seemed like I was able to see a wider area instead of a focused area in front of me. That would be good in some ways, like looking for a large object out in front of you, such as downed game. I also think this lamp would be great when you are field dressing an animal. The clip is strong and would hold fast to your hat or the angle bracket on the head strap.

The headlamp is not bulky and packs well because it is a flatter headlamp. This was a plus for me as I am always trying to reduce clutter in my pack. It is also lighter than most headlamps. I did like the way the head swiveled silently and easily. I was able to use it for a variety of up close tasks where the Axle was a major benefit. My older headlamp is a much bulkier.

One of the things I truly disliked about the Axle is the on/off switch. It can flip on or off way too easily. At one point on the second night, I looked over at my pack and I saw a red light glowing from inside. Inside, the Axle was bright as can be. I have another headlamp where you have to press a button to get it to turn on. I have never had it come on by itself in my pack. You can see the on/off switch well in this photo. The next day I had to get something out of my pack and when I looked inside, the light was on again.

At $37.50 I think this headlamp is a bit overpriced until the on/off switch design can be fixed to where it won't come on so easily. I think I will be sticking to my original headlamp that has features like a push on/off button, adjustable angled head, and the different types of light: flashing, half the L.E.D.'s on and full L.E.D. lamp. Sure, there are cool features on the Axle like the angled head and red L.E.D., but the headlamp I got for less-than half that price at Target in my pack works better for me. I will just have to forgo the red and green L.E.D.s for now. The headlamp I am using has a brighter light and I have the peace of mind knowing that if I am camping for a couple of days the batteries won't burn out from the light turning on when I don't want it to. I would like to have a light like the Axle 2x3 that is brighter and has a tougher on/off switch. That is a headlamp I would buy.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for a helpful review! I'm still looking for the "perfect" headlamp... the one I have now seems to run out of battery much too fast, and it isn't because the switch accidentally turns on as you've mentioned on the Axel...I'm really not sure why the battery seems to drain quickly... but it's not a good thing!I liked the idea of being able to use the headlamp on the pocket. I don't like to wear my hat in camp... and wearing the headlamp all the time is uncomfortable. I would be handy to have it available on the pocket in camp.

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  2. Suzee, this headlamp actually feels very comfortable when wearing it around camp. I was surprised by that. It's light enough that you don't pay much attention to it. The battery life was pretty good in the Axle. I just wish the light was a bit brighter and that the switch didn't turn on so easily. If you find any headlamp that you really like, let me know. I'd love to try out another and compare.

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  3. Good info, Albert! I looked at this at SHOT, but it wasn't quite bright enough for what I'm trying to do. Good point about using the headlamp in a downpour also... it's like hitting the brights on a foggy highway. When it's bad, I usually end up holding my light in my hand, instead of on my head. Keep it aimed at the ground and use a low setting...

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