Frankly, we've always been a bit dubious about headlamps with attached battery packs for the simple reason that they bounce incessantly and annoyingly, and they feel somewhat cumbersome. We have to admit, however, we were pleasantly surprised with the Yukon.
Thanks to a two-strap suspension (a headband with an overhead strap) that is easily adjustable and soft to the touch, the 8-ounce Yukon HL is remarkably comfortable to wear for long periods and quite secure even when moving quickly over uneven terrain.
Relying on a 1 watt LED for bright light and three lower power LED bulbs configured in a triangular design for a more diffuse and softer light, the Yukon offers extreme versatility. The single LED is placed in the center of a focusable housing. Our testers found that even in a rainstorm -- typically an environment where LED lights don't function well -- the 1 watt LED cut a sharp beam into the night that clearly illuminated rocks, trees, and surrounding terrain a hundred feet distant. Thanks to a watertight construction only our tester got wet when evaluating performance in the rain.
Powered by three AA batteries, the Yukon HL boasts a 10,000-hour bulb life (which we haven't yet maxed out) and advertised burn times ranging from 44 hours of useful light for the 1 watt LED to 120 hours of useful light from the three lower power LEDs.
Switching between the two lighting options is accomplished by a rubber button on the top of the lamp housing. It is here that we have our only quibbles and find some definite room for improvement. To move from one lighting option to the other, you must depress the switch, which actually turns the headlamp off, therefore leaving you in the darkness until you depress the button again. That can cause a momentary stumble â€“ or worse. Change your mind about which lighting option is best? Then push the button again, find yourself in darkness again, then push it again to get your choice. A better solution would be if you could switch from one option to the other, THEN off.
We have also noted that for female users â€“ or anyone perhaps with smaller fingers -- the switch appears to be either too hard to depress or designed in such a manner requires the use of the tip of a finger or a fingernail to successfully depress the button. While our male testers did not have any challenges, they did notice the button required a rather firm touch â€“ and even that became far more difficult to operate with gloves. One could argue that this button's design prevents the switch from inadvertently being turned on in a pack or bag. But if the switch causes that many issues, some may choose not to use it at all and becomes a place to improve. Now, if you're a user who is just going to turn it on to the option you want and leave it there, it may be just fine.
SNEWS Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $40
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