When I think of headlamps, I get visions of miners and spelunkers – people
who are working in the dark that need to have the full use of their hands.
People like my uncle Tom Meador, when he was helping to map the Carlsbad
Photo is courtesy of the book Carlsbad Cavern The Early
Years – A Photographic History of the Cave and Its People by Robert Nymeyer
and William Halliday
Modern headlights have come a long way from the time when a carbide gas
solution was used to create a flame that would last for several hours. The use
of headlights has also expanded, and nowadays it isn’t just people that are
working underground that recognize the benefits of having a hands-free light. I
can immediately think of some examples of when a headlight would be preferable
such as when one is hiking, camping, fishing, or working on something that needs
a veritable flood of light – so that every possible angle is exposed.
For years, people have been able to buy battery powered headlights that use
traditional bulbs and batteries, however these lighting systems were not without
their caveats. Even with the addition of larger battery packs the headlights
might only burn brightly for a couple of hours, and using a brighter bulb than a
traditional incandescent would make the batteries drain even faster. Whoever
first thought to add the brighter burning, longer lasting, and energy efficient
LED bulbs to a headlamp did a service to everyone that uses this type lighting.
Today there are quite a few different brands, styles and configurations
of LED headlights available for a variety of price points. In this review, I
will be taking a look at the Photon Light
company’s offering, the
Freedom Fusion Flashlight / Headlight.
The Photon Freedom Fusion is available with beams in white, blue, red,
infrared and ultraviolet. I was sent the white version, but I found out that
this was almost like getting two colors in one, as I will soon explain.
Opening the box, I discovered that not only was the headlight and elastic
securing system included, but there was also a nylon storage bag and an
additional clip. I was also pleased to find that the necessary three AA
batteries were included, and instead of some no-name brand, Photon had included
Energizer, which is the brand I prefer.
The Freedom Fusion’s casing is made of black Xenoy® by GE,
measuring approximately 3.5" long x 2.5" wide x 1.5" thick and weighing 4.9
ounces with batteries , but without the strap. Inside the shroud are eight LEDs,
the larger six of which are a bright white and the smaller two are red.
To protect the LED shroud from such bumps and shocks, there is
a thick rubber gasket around its rim
On the top of the shroud is a large white rubber button which operates the
light, and at the shrouds base is a ratcheting swivel clip which allows the
light to hold eight different positions. Each position clicks as it is selected
and the position will be securely held unless the headlamp is bumped into
something hard. According to the Photon website, "Professional quality
stainless steel index plates with ball bearings for stable directional lighting"
Batteries are inserted by opening the compartment which makes up
the base of the light…
…battery positions are plainly printed on the compartment’s
door. According to the packaging, the batteries should provide 12+ hours of burn
time on high. According to the Photon website, "Instead of dimming as the
batteries lose their strength, the advanced circuitry built into the Fusion
keeps the light at full brightness until the batteries are almost completely
dead. The Fusion won’t leave you in the dark, though. When the batteries start
to near the end of their life, the smaller secondary beam color LEDs will start
to blink, indicating that the batteries are getting low. When the batteries have
finally reached the point where they can no longer support the current level of
brightness, the light will finally start to dim slightly and the secondary beam
color LEDs will come on continuously indicating the reduced power. At any point
while the secondary bulbs are indicating low battery power, you may manually
reduce the brightness which will turn off the low power indication until the
batteries again reach the point where they cannot support the current level of
brightness." Rechargeable batteries may also be used in the Freedom
The Photon Freedom Fusion is water resistant, but not
water-proof. Therefore it should be all right to use in the rain, but obviously
not when diving underwater. All of the Freedom Fusion’s contacts are
gold-plated, as you can see in the first picture of the dismantled headlight.
Let’s talk about what makes this light different than any other LED
As I mentioned before, the LEDs are turned on by pressing the white
rubberized button. One quick press and release will run the six white LEDs on
their brightest setting.
Once the light has been turned on, if a dimmer setting is
desired, then the white button can be held and the LEDs will automatically begin
to dim – until the button is released. There is a certain point however, once
the LEDs have reached their dimmest, where they will blink once and the light
will now reveal its safety features. If the user holds down past that first
blink, then the slow beacon will begin, when all of the LEDs will blink
approximately once every three seconds. Holding the button a little longer will
activate the medium beacon, which flashed only the white LEDs approximately once
a second. Once again holding the button for a second or so will activate the
fast beacon, which makes the white LED’s flash rapidly several times a second.
The last setting is reached by once again holding down the button. This time,
there will be three short white LED blasts followed by three long blasts,
followed by three short – in other words the light will send out the universally
recognized Morse Code symbol for "SOS".
At any time, these safety features can be exited by one quick
press of the button, which will turn the headlight off. A quick press will once
again turn it back on to the full brightness setting.
The light can also operate in a similar manner with the two red
LEDs. Turning those two lights on exclusively is done by pressing and holding
the button for approximately one second. The red LEDs will come on in a very dim
setting, but holding the button will bring them up to their fullest power, which
is quite bright.
Almost the exact same safety features present in the white LED
operation are available when using just the red. Holding the button until the
two red LEDs are at their brightest will cause them to blink once, signaling
that safety mode can now be entered. Pressing once and holding will cause a slow
beacon, pressing and holding again will activate the medium, then the fast, and
once again the SOS Morse code signal.
The six white LEDs were bright enough to cast a flood of light
on the white door at the end of my hallway. This should be more than enough
light for anyone trying to move around in the dark, even in treacherous terrain.
Included with the light is the elastic strapping system which allows it to
become a headlight.
A sturdy clip is attached to the adjustable straps which will allow the lamp
to be held securely on the users head or on a hat, as Steve was kind enough to model…
Removing the Freedom Fusion from the strap allows it to be used as a hand-held
In hand, it is comfortable and easy to grasp. The user has the choice of
keeping it in its headlamp configuration or unscrewing the shroud from the base
and reattaching it to the second power receptacle on the base’s end. I should
mention that anytime the shroud portion of the lamp is reattached to the
battery-powered base, the parts are screwed together and proper contact has been
made, the red LEDs will blink once.
Included in the box is a clip system which can be attached to whichever power
receptacle is vacant.
Here you can see that the top receptacle is vacant…
And now the clip is attached allowing the user to mount the light in whatever
manner is most convenient.
There is even a separate bicycle mount which can be ordered for an additional
$4. Using this mount on the front of a bike will provide a bright headlight,
whereas using it on the back will provide a very bright red tail-light.
The same receptacle can also be used for mounting the lamp on a camera
tripod, should the user need a way to hold the light steady without actually
holding the light itself.
Freedom Fusion Flashlight / Headlight is an extremely versatile LED light
that can be adapted to meet just about any use that an owner might need. Whether
it is used as a headlight on its strap, as a handheld flashlight, or as a
stationary light on its clip or on top of a tripod, the light is versatile, long
lasting and bright. Should the owner be the type of person that actually takes
it in the wilderness, then the signaling features may actually be a life saver.
The added storage pouch makes it easy to keep the light in the glovebox of the
owner’s car, so that it is always handy should a need arise.
Versatile, can be used in several different configurations
Available in several different LED colors to suit different user’s needs
LEDs offer bright light with lower power consumption
Light has built-in safety features
3 AA Batteries