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Changing headlamp batteries in poor light

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  • Changing headlamp batteries in poor light

    I had an interesting experience yesterday: My primary headlamp was becoming dim due to recent use. No problem, I thought. I'll just get out my backup headlamp I never use. I keep it in the bottom of my pack along with the other 'never use' items.The backup was even dimmer, apparently because the safety switch which does not allow inadvertent activation, did. OK, it's a hassle but I will put new the batteries in my primary headlamp. In the dim light of the backup headlamp,I found it impossible to see the little + and - signs in the battery compartment (embossed in the plastic and the same color). So I changed the batteries one by one to get them oriented correctly. Later, I remembered I could have used the light on my phone but of course it is hard to hold the phone and handle batteries (with cold fingers) at the same time.

    I came up with a solution: Mark the + end of the battery clips with a contrasting-color marker (red in the picture) so that even in poor light it is easy to know the orientation. My backup headlamp has a dark gray housing and red was difficult to see, so I used "Wite-Out" which had great contrast.

  • #2
    Not a bad idea, but to be perfectly honest, I've changed my headlamp batteries in the darkness by touch alone more times than I can remember, and never really found it to be that much of a hassle.
    Last edited by DSettahr; 02-03-2017, 01:39 PM.

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    • #3
      Keep a keychain light on your headlamp strap. Weighs 1/4 oz and costs 50 cents. Problem solved!
      Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

      Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
      Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
      Past President Catskill 3500 Club
      CEO Views And Brews!

      Trail maintainer for the Dry Brook Ridge trail from Mill Brook Road to just past the Lean-to

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      • #4
        I never leave home w/o 2 black diamond spots with fully charged batteries
        ​Solo winter night hike of Allen with night time highs ​ of 0 I was 1/2 way home and light was a bit dim. I had fresh spot in top of pack ready to go less than 1 min pause.
        ​The spots are very hard to open and tough to get batteries in and out.

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        • #5
          I have had that issue though...the on -off buttons activate at times from pack pressure...sometimes I am up to 3 sets, depending on the hike and I do have a small light on my keychain just in case...

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          • #6
            Given my palpatory skills, I can easily read the embossed plus and minus symbols with my finger tips.
            Project Full Deck Blog.
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            • #7
              Good idea!


              Other tips:

              ​I follow TFR 's tip and carry a keychain light but I have it attached to my pocket knife's lanyard. If I misplace my headlamp I can use the keychain light to find it (and vice versa). The knife also serves as a weighted fob to avoid losing the tiny keychain light.

              ​The positive end of the battery has a raised nub. The battery holder has a raised nub at the positive end. Insert the battery so its nub rests against the holder's nub and you'll get correct polarity. If lighting is poor (or non-existent) you can probably find the nubs by feel alone. Obviously, this becomes impractical in winter if your fingertips are numb.

              ​Before removing the expired batteries, make a mental note of the orientation of the first (topmost) battery. If there's enough ambient light, you'll see the polarity markings on the battery and/or the nub at the positive end. If it's too dark, try to detect the topmost battery's positive nub by feel. Once you know the correct orientation for the first battery, the orientation of the remaining batteries (normally) alternates.
              -............+
              +............-
              -............+

              +............-

              ​If you have any 3M Scotchlite reflective tape, stick a tiny piece in the battery compartment at the positive end(s). This is the same idea as Joe's except the Scotchlite will shine brightly when illuminated by even a faint source of light. FWIW, stick a piece of it on anything that you might have trouble spotting in low light. I wrapped some around all my tents poles so I could easily find them when pitching the tent after dark.

              ​Late-model BD Spot headlamps have a lock mode. Press and hold the main button until the blue indicator light flashes. The lamp is now in lock mode. If you press the main button, the light won't illuminate and the blue indicator light will flash to remind you it's in lock mode. Press and hold the main button for several seconds to deactivate lock mode and activate the main lamp.



              ​FWIW, the first BD Spot I bought (about 5 years ago) had the problem MG described namely opening the battery compartment was a frustrating experience under the best conditions let alone in the field. Somewhere after the fourth (?) battery change, I fractured the case while trying to open it. The next-gen BD Spot scrapped the finicky locking mechanism and replaced it with a simpler and more effective design.
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              • Trail Boss
                Trail Boss commented
                Editing a comment
                Search mec.ca for "reflective tape". They sell it by the meter (1" wide, $4.75/m) or in packages, containing wider strips, from McNett and Gear Aid (under $10).

              • Yury
                Yury commented
                Editing a comment
                Glittering Tape at the $ store: $1.25.
                Would it work?

              • Trail Boss
                Trail Boss commented
                Editing a comment
                Only $1.25 to find out!

            • #8
              My headlamp uses a single AAA battery. Problem solved!

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              • Yury
                Yury commented
                Editing a comment
                Natlife, let's assume that you need to hike 4 hours after sunset. How many times do you need to change the batteries?

              • Yury
                Yury commented
                Editing a comment

              • Natlife
                Natlife commented
                Editing a comment
                Twice with aaa lithiums. After 1h30 it's down to 5 lumens. I ran tests using my phone with androsensor to log the lux reading. It's pretty amazing how alkaline are so inferior and taper off significantly even after 15 minutes.

                BTW I paid 15 bucks at walmart.

            • #9
              Haha! Nice. Problem solved!


              FWIW, all headlamps should simply use Li-ion batteries rechargeable via a garden-variety micro-USB 5VDC charger. It would also allow let you recharge the headlamp via external battery pack (or your car).
              Last edited by Trail Boss; 02-06-2017, 12:08 PM.
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              • #10
                Originally posted by Natlife View Post
                My headlamp uses a single AAA battery. Problem solved!

                Yeah similar here, one big advantage I always say about my single AA Zebralight. I can change the battery one-handed and blindfolded (or in the dark) with the headlamp still on my head. And a quarter turn of the tailcap locks out the light from accidental activation in your pocket. For hiking I usually splurge on Energizer ultimate lithium AAs for the power to weight ratio, and a modest 50 lumen medium setting on my Zebralight H52w can go over 10 hours on a single cell iirc. I've never gone through a battery yet on a hike though I always start with fresh cells each time so I know. The partially used cells when I come back go into other devices around the house since I don't know for sure how much charge is left usually.
                35/46 get'n closer
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                ~Tristan

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