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Cabela's Alaskan Guide headlamps - a field-test report  at Cabela's

Cabela's Alaskan Guide headlamps - a field-test report

Author: Frank Ross

When you venture out into the wild, sooner or later it will get dark. If your expedition goes beyond the norm, you'll need a very dependable, high-quality light that has real staying power. After using all three of Cabela's new Alaskan Guide headlamps, I found them to be rugged, dependable and very versatile.

Alaskan Guide headlamps are handy for any lighting task, year-round.
Cabela's reserves the Alaskan Guide designation for only the highest quality gear, and these lights meet that requirement in spades. Let's face it; gear takes a lot of abuse, even when we're trying to take care of it. Things get stuffed in bags where they bang against other gear in transport, get dropped accidentally or dipped into a stream, sometimes while still attached to your body. That's when the wheat is separated from the chaff. While I didn't take a nosedive with these lights, I put them through some pretty strenuous use, under a variety of conditions and they performed well in all situations. And well they should.

The body of Alaskan Guide Series headlamps is constructed of Zenoy, a super-tough composite. The lenses are made of Lexan, which is nearly indestructible. For a sure gripping surface in the dark or dampness, the bezel is made of Kraton, a styrenic block copolymer known for high strength, sure grip and resilience.

With three different illumination options, you can choose which one meets your individual activities, but with their inexpensive cost, you might want to get all three so you can cover all the bases. Choice is a wonderful thing.

The excellent illumination characteristics of these headlamps are due in part to their main bulb, a high-pressure Xenon lamp, gas pressurized to several atmospheres. They're made of thicker glass and typically half the size of standard xenon bulbs. Both are filled with metal salts and a mixture of noble (non-reactive) gases including xenon, which produce a clear, white arc of light between two electrodes in the gas-filled tube. On average they last about 5,000 hours. HP Xenon is also a very efficient light source, when compared to halogen, producing twice the light while consuming half the power.

The XL White model with three 5mm white LEDs surrounding a high-pressure white Xenon lamp with identical run times of the XL Green.
The X model features a high-pressure white Xenon lamp with a run time of five hours at 32 lumens on three AA batteries.

The XL Green has three game-safe 5mm green LEDs surrounding a high-pressure white Xenon lamp with a five-hour run time at 32 lumens and 120 hours while using the LED option of 6 lumens. Three AA batteries power this light.

The XL White model has three 5mm white LEDs surrounding a high-pressure white Xenon lamp with identical run times of the XL Green.

While the X model is a fine unit, I like the option of having two alternatives for light so that I can reduce battery consumption when a really bright light isn't necessary, and the green option is ideal for hunting or situations when you don't want to wipe out your night vision, like reading maps at night when traveling or hiking after dark.

These headlamps are all about hunting, camping and the outdoors, but don't forget about them in the off-season. Anytime you need some light, you'll be happier with a headlamp. I've all but stopped using a handheld light since I started using headlamps. It's just a lot easier to do anything with your hands free. Recently, during a tile-grouting job in our mudroom, a bulb burnt out in the overhead lamp. It certainly wasn't possible to change it at the time, so I grabbed the Alaskan Guide XL White headlamp and never missed a stroke. With grout, it's important to get the glaze off the surface before it dries, and without proper light you just can't tell if you've got it all or not.

Cabela's Alaskan Guide headlamp
I've used Alaskan Guide headlamps for working on my truck at night, crawling under a cottage to fix a broken water pipe and fishing for walleye at night. They're just an all-round handy source of illumination.

Another great feature about this series of lights is that you don't have to baby them when the weather turns foul. All three models are totally waterproof and will shed rain, sleet or snow without a flicker. Since a lot of my uses for a headlamp are around water and my outdoor expeditions attract rain like a lightening rod, this is a high priority for me. The engineering tolerances for openings are very tight and all seals snuggly inserted.

Unlike some of the heavier rechargeable models, I didn't mind the weight of the battery pack, even though it's a little weightier than lights with less capacity. The straps are fully adjustable, and I found the light to be more comfortable with the straps a little looser. For me, the minimal weight of the battery pack is a fair trade off in exchange for not having to fumble with changing batteries every few hours, and a lot more lumens to boot.

Alaskan Guide headlamps are an excellent choice for multiple-use situations when you need a reliable, rugged light source that is durable enough to perform well - cold, wet or dry. That's why they have the Alaskan Guide designation.

Click here to buy Alaskan Guide Series Headlamps.