OK, bear with me as I recommend this obscenely expensive headlamp for herping, but I have to do it. I doubt there is anyone else in the world using this headlamp to find snakes, reptiles, amphibians, etc… but, you know what?
The Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp is the BEST Headlamp for Herping
How much is it? Don’t ask. You can’t afford it. I afford it because I reviewed it for my Headlamps101.com site, and then I’ve been using it for the past month, and it has absolutely blown me away. I have found more snakes and other wildlife than I would have found with other lights – by far. It’s not just the brightness, it’s bright. It’s a combination of factors reviewed below.
It’s really the best headlamp for herping that I’ve seen, and I’ve used dozens of LED flashlights and eight top of the line headlamps over the years. I have never found any headlamp even close to this one.
What Qualities Are Important in a Herping Headlamp?
It’s not just lumens. If it was, I’d go out and buy six of the 1,500 lumens lights for $70 each, and be done with it. It has little to do with lumens. I mean, you need a good number of lumens – say 400 lm to be bright enough for most of your herping needs. Four hundred does it for me for ground herping. It’s just about right. With the Ultra Rush headlamp, I get 420 lm for 5 hours straight. I can’t remember the last time I herped for 5 hours in a night, but yeah, it’s available if you need it that long. If you need it for longer than that, you can get 300 lumens for 7 hour out of it. That’s plenty long enough for even the most intrepid herpers. Three hundred lumens is still very usable for closer distances – say 3-4 meters in front of you, though it isn’t all that great for herping high in the trees.
With four hundred and twenty lumens, you will be able to light up the ground to about 10-15 meters and trees – at every distance you could need to – because you sure aren’t climbing a 15 meter tree to get a snake down. You don’t need more lumens for most uses. That said, for road cruising – it is nice to have more so you can see 50 meters or so down the road and spot a snake. The Ultra Rush headlamp GIVES YOU THAT with 760 max lumens on demand. Switch on the super-bright 760 lumens occasionally as you need to see extra-far or need something you’re unsure about, lit up like Times Square. Or, you can just crank it up from the start to 760 lumens and it will go straight for 2 hours. Note – if you do it this way, it’s actually over 900 lumens for the first 15-20 minutes!
When I am riding my motorbike with the high-beams on and then turn on this headlamp at full power – the headlamp is easily 6 times as bright as my high-beams on the motorbike. That’s bright.
Keep in mind that the next factor – Beam Shape – greatly affects the measurement of lumens put out by the light. You can have 420 lumens spread out over 1 meter diameter at 4 meters, or at .5 meters, it is giving only half the light. The Ultra Rush gives you a large beam size – matching the capabilities of your eyes. Most beams are too tight or far too wide to give you what you need. For example, a headlamp with a 420 lumen rating that is spread out across 150 degrees of angle – will be so dim – you’d be lucky to be able to read a book by it. Lumens is a measure of total light leaving the headlamp. How it spreads out – substantially affects the brightness of the light. This leads us to the next factor…
For herping, you need a beam that matches exactly what your eyes are capable of. Your eyes are only capable of seeing snakes and other wildlife in a small range of area as you scan the ground or trees. At three meters from you, you’d be lucky to see a full meter in diameter. At four meters you could see a meter or so. The Ultra Rush was designed to match your vision.
Most headlamps have an overly-bright center spotlight beam which is too tight, too small, and too bright. At four meters distance, it is around a half-meter in size. That is too small and will contribute to eye-fatigue.
Another typical feature of headlamps and flashlights is that they try to do two things at once. They try to have a bright center beam (spot) and a wide beam going at the same time. The result is a too-bright center spotlight and a very weak flood light. Neither of these helps you find snakes. What you need is a circular beam that covers enough diameter so you can see what the light makes visible. The Ultra Rush is just perfect for this. There are 6 LED lights that blend perfectly to give you a round beam that is evenly lit and a big enough diameter to help you see everything that is there in front of you.
BEAM LIGHT BALANCE
Something I didn’t understand until recently is that, you want a WARM COLORED BEAM for your headlamp. Previous to the Ultra Rush, I was using the Nao 2 Headlamp – which I thought was awesome for 2016 – it’s dependable and I found hundreds of snakes using it. Guess what? It has a either a blue-tinted (cold) beam, or maybe it’s neutral – I cannot tell. But, when I compare the two beams – Nao 2 against the Ultra Rush – the Nao 2 beam has a bluish tint in comparison.
At first I didn’t know how that affected herping. Today I know, the slightly warm tint of the Ultra Rush is PERFECT for finding wildlife in the rainforest. For whatever reason, the warm light accents the differences between snakes and plants, snakes and the surroundings, lizards and plants, insects and plants or the ground. It’s really quite amazing to see the difference, but I’ve found so much more wildlife with this new Ultra Rush headlamp, than I ever found with my other headlamps with blue tints and tighter or looser beams.
The Petzl company has been around since the late 1970’s! No kidding. They were making headlamps for cavers and climbers for 40+ years now. They are definitely the best company for headlamps, and I’d not use anything else. I’ve used four of their top headlamps and all of them were durable, dependable, and gave a great quality of light. I’d certainly not switch to any other brand at this point. Go with what WORKS I’ve always been told.
When you’re in the deep rainforest and you need to depend on a headlamp to get you back out of the forest – and find you the most snakes and other wildlife – I strongly suggest you get this Ultra Rush headlamp. It’s expensive as hell. I encourage you to compare it to other lights – especially beam patterns. One-thousand lumens doesn’t mean much if the beam is super tight and laser-like. At least order this headlamp and try it out for yourself. I think you won’t be able to send it back. Like me. You’ll keep it and make excuses why you couldn’t possibly send it back. You’ll love it from the day it arrives.