Sunday, 2 May 2010

Gear Review: Zebralight H30

I’ve not bought anything new for a while (at least not for backpacking!) and before I knew what was happening I was looking quite extensively for a better lighting solution for the hill.

My current lighting options are my Alpkit Gamma and the Black Diamond Ion which have done the job fairly well to date but with room for improvement. The Gamma is nothing short of a pocket disco but I now find it a bit cumbersome with the separate battery compartment and its not the lightest around at 118g with batteries. The Ion is better in terms of simplicity and weight at 30g all in, but the brightness drops off quickly and the batteries are a pain to get hold of locally and  never seem to last very long.

The solution I wanted then needed to be light, bright, efficient and easy to use – oh, and not a Petzl of any kind! The criteria got a bit more specific from here too as I wanted a light that was great in the confined space of the tent, good for pottering around the camp and suitable for a bit of night walking should the need arise or the mood take me.

After a bit of internet searching it was not looking good and I even started to consider scrapping some of the criteria and getting an e-lite! The offerings weren’t bad but they were either too heavy, had an unsuitable beam pattern, bad battery life or had Petzl plastered all over them. Fortunately I stumbled across a forum which led me on a merry dance looking at mini led torches and whilst this wasn’t immediately fruitful it led me to the seedy underworld of task lighting….

The initial problem was that whilst generally very bright with efficient LEDs these task lights generally work in a wide flood mode to illuminate a wide area and weren’t always configured to wear as a head torch - so wouldn’t be overly suitable for use on the move or for night walking. More searching revealed some tests with various torches showing their flood beam and throw distance and here’s where I found Zebralight H30.

The majority of their torches have 3 simple modes, are incredibly bright and efficient and are fairly light but suffered from a wide flood beam of around 110-120°. The H30 however comes with an 80° beam and so I was interested enough to contact a UK seller with queries……


In brief the specs are as follows:

  • 80° flood beam
  • Q5 LED
  • 4-80 lumen range
  • 3.7 days runtime on low (4 lumens), 21 hours on medium (20 lumens and 2.5 hours on high (80 lumens)
  • 40g with battery

It comes with a few accessories like a headband, a silicon sleeve with clip and a glow in the dark holder so you can find it easily.


I know that it doesn’t immediately appear to be the most obvious choice but its quirky and meets all of the criteria. It takes CR123 camera batteries which are easy to get hold of and keep the weight and size of the torch to a minimum.

Construction is high quality anodised aluminium and comes with o-rings galore to make it waterproof – which is handy. I’ve already replaced the standard black rubber pushbutton with the supplied glow in the dark one and it works just enough so you can find in pitch darkness.

The lighting modes are easily accessible with 1 button press for on and holding it down toggles between all three lighting modes. Low is great for reading or just messing about in the tent not least because of the wider flood pattern compared to standard head torches. As there is no reflector I wasn’t expecting medium or high modes to be anywhere near as bright as they are and am pleasantly surprised with just how much light it throws out. The highest mode (at 80 lumens) gives off a wide flood that reaches just far enough for those night walks in to camp – probably reaching out to 15m or so.

What I find most useful is the lack of hotspot given off from the Cree LED which delivers a very useable and friendly light in all modes. Battery life remains to be tested but the quoted figures are respectable in my opinion.


I got mine from a UK supplier called Flashaholics, who were nothing but helpful and even tested the throw distance to make sure it would be suitable. The torch arrived the next day and on tearing open the envelope I was greeted with a free Photon Microlight, which really was a nice touch. Not everyday I get service like that and so I thoroughly recommend them.

It won’t be to everybody’s tastes as 80° is still quite a wide flood but its very usable with the both the headband and lapel clip and its surprising how much better it is having a bit more peripheral light to a standard reflector torch. It not the lightest yet I think it justifies its weight in the pack and adds value to my kit to boot.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Back Where It All Began – Day 3

DAY 3 Sunday 7 March 2010

Once again, I woke at various points throughout the night feeling cold. There was a light but persistent breeze and with the fly so high off the ground it was finding its way in and swirling around inside the tent. Perhaps this is one of the downfalls of the Scarp and hopefully Henry will soon have a replacement fly for the Scarp 2 as he has already with the Scarp 1. Not to let it get the better of me I just donned the down vest, had a Double Decker and went back to sleep!

I woke again just before 7 and decided I’d make a brew before getting out of the sleeping bag. There were considerable amounts of ice both inside and out on the flysheet but the instant gratification experienced when looking at the view from my bed distracted from the cold.

View_from_tent Sunrise on Mellbreak from the tent

Once again pre-heating the fuel made lighting the stove easier and 10 minutes later we were dozing with hot cups of tea and some breakfast bars. Looking east the sun was just about to make an appearance over Great Round How and we eagerly awaited the soothing warmth that would soon engulf the cold, damp tent.

sunrise_pitch The sun just touching the tent as we sat above the tarn soaking up the rays.

Though we wanted to de-pitch early (we were close to the path) it was hard not to want to just take it all in. We wondered around the tarn and sat on the tall rocky outcrop trying to capture some of the suns warming rays as early as possible! sunrise_blackbeck Sunrise creeps up on Blackbeck Tarn

The sky was clear and the tops were bathed in the early morning glow – It was going to be another stunning day.

catalogue_pose Paul and his catalogue pose – he is available for photoshoots all over the UK and abroad, just tel: 07……..

Finally realising that we’d left it long enough, we headed back down pack away the tent. By the now the sun had made it to the frozen surface of the tarn and deep cracking sounds began to echo around the natural basin of rock.

snow_formation In no time at all the tent was down, our bags were packed and we were saying goodbye to another great pitch. Picking up the path Paul spoke of his ‘need’ for an inversion but Buttermere wasn’t playing host today. At the slate bothy we decided we would pick up the dismantled tramway directly over to the Honister Slate Mine as opposed to venturing up onto Fleetwith Pike as was the original plan. The track was buried in snow and as it rises to the crest, looking back we could see an inversion just licking over the edge of Looking Steed – Paul was well and truly gutted!

missed_inversion An inversion teases Paul as we move west to the Honister Slate Mine.

The views all around were incredible and it was a shame to be leaving on such a perfect day. The old tramway is a very direct route across the fell and this was all happening a bit too quickly. The track is well trodden and the snow compacted and icy with the sun bouncing off it to burn my retinas. Up ahead, Paul’s pace slowed until he just stopped and looked bag with maniacal grin on his face. At first I just put this down to wind but as I approached it was clear what was going on.

disused_tramway Paul slows up ahead, seemingly frozen as I approached along the dismantled tramway……

The view opened out and whilst Borrowdale wasn’t full with  a swirling, milky inversion, the likes of Thirlmere and Grasmere were and we just stood there taking it all in as the sun beamed down on our wind-burnt skin. The Gods were playing with Paul but he didn’t care – it was close enough for him and I got a real sense he was going home all the happier for it.

helvellyn_inversion2 The stunning winter landscape ahead at the peak of the tramway.

We could see for miles, with Helvellyn prominent on the horizon, and seemed to show the inversion just who was boss.

helvellyn_inversion Hellvellyn above the inversion as it dominates Thirlmere.

The trip was drawing to a close as we dropped steeply down to the slate mine just as groups of people began to approach from the opposite direction. We’d timed it perfectly to claim the morning in the mountains to ourselves and there was nothing left to do but, save for Paul to tame an obligatory stone lion of course…..

animal_cruelty Paul shows his true modelling prowess – now available to work with animals!