Climbing Holiday Gift Guide: Coast FL75R Headlamp

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The Coast FL75R Headlamp.

The Coast FL75R Headlamp.

Headlamps tend to disappear at our house. Not because we have so many power outages that they end up misplaced after usage, and not because they end up forgotten in, say, an old, unused crag pack. But because our kids are always up to some game, usually involving piling the living room and kitchen furniture into a giant fort, that involves headlamp exploration for “mining” or “excavating.” And then, when the game’s over, of course the headlamps end up who-knows-where, and not replaced in their usual cupboard or in my climbing pack. So it was that I was bummed to have the rechargeable Coast FL75R, which I’ve been testing for half a year, go missing. It’s one of the nicest, brightest, best-made headlamps I’ve owned, and I’m pretty sure my boys did something with it, though nobody can “really remember, dad.” So I borrowed my co-worker’s sample to continue testing and write this review, and have zero intention of giving it back.

To begin, the FL75R has a very sleek, modern look that could almost be described as steam punk meets Robocop. The unit weights 3.2 oz and has a wide (1-inch), soft reflective headband that’s comfy on the head; it fit easily in the brain of my crag pack or in a jacket pocket or bullet pack to bring up on long routes—it’s about the size of three matchboxes stacked together. However, for such a small size, this thing is mega-bright—like, don’t look directly into it when it’s on the high setting (530 lumens) or you’ll be temporarily blinded. I found it to be awesome, then, for navigating rocky, muddy trails coming down late out of the Flatirons above my home in Boulder, Colorado, as well as night scrambling on technical terrain and camping. Moreover, with a simple twist of the lens you can adjust the beam to be a bull’s-eye pinpoint that, as per Coast’s site, illuminates up to 767 feet downrange, or expand it out to a flood beam that’s 11.5 feet in diameter 6 feet away, with of course whatever gradations or variations you need in between. It also flips up and down on a hinge, so that you can vary the angle of effect. All this versatility was amazing, letting me modify the lamp to meet the terrain at hand, and was supremely easy to tweak on the fly by simply twisting the lens. I never felt like I was stumbling about in the dark, wishing I had a brighter or wider-ranging headlamp.

The LED light itself has three settings, from 530 lumens down to 65, and will run for 2.25 hours on the high setting and 11 on the low. You also get two small fixed red LED lights if you want a lower-key light to preserve night vision, or want to mix all the options together. The FL75R either runs on 3 AAA batteries or the included lithium-ion battery, which you can recharge via a USB port directly on the headlamp (cool feature) or by removing the battery itself and plugging directly into that. In an age when we’re becoming more conscious about consumer waste, it’s nice to have a headlamp that doesn’t burn through disposable batteries. The unit has been hard-wearing as well, and is labeled as “weather resistant” though I have yet to test it in full downpour conditions. The only ding I’d note is that, while the push-pad on/off switches atop the unit are nice, I have had them self-activate in the pack a time or two, as they don’t need much pressure to engage. Still, I’ve had other headlamps experience this same issue—perhaps some sort of locking mechanism is in order across the product spectrum.

If you’re looking for a high-end, space-age, versatile, rechargeable headlamp for you or the diehard climber in your life, the FL75R is a killer option. Just keep it away from your kids, because you’ll never get it back.