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Before I started my journey, Scandinavian Outdoor sent me the Ledlenser MH10 headlamp to sponsor my project (I contacted them to ask for it). The first two months I cycled under the midnight sun, so I only used it when I encountered tunnels in Norway. Due to this the initial charge lasted from May 'til August! Now that southern latitudes and autumn have brought darkness upon me, I have more experience with the lamp. Here’s my review.
A light source is pretty important to have when you’re doing any kind of camping. For someone like me who doesn’t exactly follow a regular sleeping pattern, it’s absolutely essential. When photographing the auroras or stars in unfamiliar locations, I’d be completely lost if my light failed on a moonless night. Even more demandingly, I’m often cycling well into the night and need to see where I’m going even in total darkness.
As a result, I need a headlamp that's powerful and reliable.
The MH10 has three settings. A low setting for close range lighting, a medium setting that I use while cycling, plus a high power mode which I rarely need. Brightness is measured in lumens - the higher the number, the brighter the lamp. And of course the less battery time you get:
- 600 lumens - 150 meters visiblity - 10 hours
- 250 lumens - 100 meters visibility - 15 hours
- 10 lumens - 20 meters visibility - 120 hours
Such a bright lamp needs a good power source. The MH10 comes with a 3400mAh USB rechargeable battery, which is solid even if (for some reason) you’re using the headlamp at the highest setting all night without rest. For me, the maximum I need to recharge is every two days, and that’s when I cycle all night until morning. When I stop for breaks or photography, I switch to a low setting or turn off the light altogether.
However, normally I am not on the road all night, so can easily get by recharging only once a week or two. With my hefty power bank, recharging is a breeze. Only once so far has the battery gone down to a dangerously low level. What happens is that the lamp blinks three times to warn you that there isn’t much charge left. I switched from 250lm to 10lm and used it for about 40 minutes while setting up camp. (I’m not sure how much longer it would’ve worked after this, because I just plugged it in to the power bank before going to sleep.)
The MH10 is waterproof to IPX4 level, which means it can withstand splashes from any direction. I’ve worn it while cycling through downpours without issues. Just don’t go swimming with it.
It takes 3 hours to recharge to 80% and 6 hours to 100%.
You can adjust the angle of the beam between wide and focused by twisting the ring.
The lamp has an impressive 5-year warranty (excluding the battery), which is something I value these days. Too many companies sell - and too many people buy - the cheapest possible garbage that ends up being waste after a year. It’s incredible how much of our limited resources are squandered because we produce and consume the worst crap available just to throw it away as useless soon after. /end rant
With this kind of battery life and power, there is inevitably some bulkiness. After all, battery capacity is always directly proportional to the physical battery size. The power source can be moved from the back to either side, but it can be uncomfortable when wearing a hat. I can just about fit a bicycle helmet on top of it, but often I just wrap the strap around my helmet instead for a little added comfort. I can also put it on my handlebar bag, which I often do when cycling through tunnels, so my breath doesn’t fog up my view.
High and medium modes seem pretty close to each other in practice - I can rarely tell which one I’m on without cycling through the settings. I could live without the 600lm option entirely, but I’m sure some people have a use for it.
You can’t recharge and use the light at the same time. This would be a convenient feature in some circumstances. Due to this being impossible you’re better off topping up frequently, so the battery doesn't run out and leave you recharging in the dark.
There is no inbuilt red light mode. You do get coloured filters (red and green - I don't know what the latter is used for), but that required physically adding or removing them between the rubber ring in front of the lamp. If you need to switch from red to white a lot, this could be annoying. Red light is useful because it preserves your night vision - that’s why cars have red lights in the rear. For me this is not a problem. Even when shooting auroras with my old lamp I preferred to use white at a low setting, because it’s just too hard to see anything in red light. As long as I didn’t aim it at my (or anyone else’s) eyes, I could see fine in the dark.
Ledlenser makes find headlamps and while not perfect, this one has served me well so far. It’s good for all of my activities: cycling, camping and photography. The 5-year warranty obviously fits my bike trip perfectly. I’m going to use this light practically every day, so we’ll see how it fares in the long run and in some extreme conditions.
If you need a single-button red light mode, or a low-power and smaller headlamp for only light use, the MH10 may not be for you. Otherwise, I recommend it.