Sunday, March 5, 2017

Snow Peak Snowminer Headlamp - Review

Snowminer in headlamp mode 
I'm always looking to find backpacking gear that does double duty - fulfilling multiple needs, so that I can further limit the amount of stuff that I need to pack.  This headlamp definitely fits that bill.

I have had, and still own, a good number of headlamps.  Like everyone, I will use them around camp to get chores done after dark, and I will night hike quite a bit.  My preference is for a headlamp that gives a decent view-distance for hiking in the dark and getting chores done, without being a blinding laser that lights up the whole forest.  I like ambience with my light.  Also, I have never become accustomed to using red or green lighting options of other lights; but, I always use a dimming function (for both ambience and to preserve battery life).

Until the Snowminer, I would almost always carry a separate lantern for camp, typically to use in my tent at night for reading.  It always bugged me to carry a separate lighting device; but my headlamps just didn't give the diffuse light needed for area lighting.  Well, now that has changed.

Hanging in lantern mode
The Snowminer, is a slightly odd-looking headlamp, similar to a old miner's lamp (hence the name), with a round, silicon, light shade.  The lighting features are fairly basic, but just what I need: the light operates in high, low, variable, and strobe modes; and the lamp tilts down to help aim the light as desired.  There is also a battery warning light that will flash when the batteries (3 AAA) are low.  There is a single button for operation, which pressing will alternate between off, high beam, low beam, and strobe light (for emergency signaling); and holding the button will cycle dimming of the light between the high and low settings to get just the right light for the job.

The unique thing about the lamp is that silicon shade.  During normal headlamp use, you push the shade inward where it creates a concave/dish shape that is held in place with small magnets - which gives it that miner-light look, and provides a beam of light.  However, with a little twist of the shade, the magnets detach and the shade becomes a globe, or dome, that gives off a fantastic diffuse glow for area lighting.  There is also a plastic hook on the headband to allow the lamp to be hung in your tent, or from a branch.  In this lantern mode, the Snowminer almost looks like the Snow Peak mini Hozuki lanterns (which I have always admired, but figured that they only did single duty).

Nice diffuse light in lantern mode
Now I have simplified my gear, and eliminated the weight (8 oz) and bulk of my Black Diamond Apollo lantern.  The Snowminer is 2.9 oz, and has a max of 120 Lumens; the batteries last 55 hrs on high, and 140 hours on low.  At a cost of about $50, it is comparably priced to other quality headlamps, and gives you the benefit of also being an excellent lantern.

If you don't rely on red or green LED lighting with your headlamp, and don't need a SWAT team spotlight strapped to your head, then this lamp might be right up your alley.  I swear by mine.

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