Xtar comes in to save the day, showing once again that headlamps are a little slice of heaven when they are truly needed. The trick is making sure you have them on hand when that time comes.
Meat and Potatoes
The Xtar H3 Warboy is, for the most part, just a standard 90 Degree torch with a headband attachment. When it comes to useful light however, what more do you really need? Hands free lighting, when available, is one of the most useful options for portable illumination. Not worrying about taking up one of your only two integrated tool manipulators just to provide the light necessary to function dramatically improves your effectiveness during evening hours.
The H3, with its Cree XM-L2 LED, does an excellent job providing all the illumination one could possibly need for close-at-hand tasks. In fact, its 4 mode operation with mode memory is actually very adept at providing exactly the right light level for whatever job requires your concentration There’s even a hidden, super-low, moon mode that does whatever possible to preserve your dark adapted vision, short of deferring to strictly red wavelength light. The H3’s large diode LED and small bezel size should combine to create an extremely floody beam, perfect for area illumination. I was surprised however to find more of a traditional mid-range focus instead of a true floodlamp. Thankfully, the stippled reflector smooths out any imperfections and creates a very useful, artifact free, beam.
In all, the Warboy is one of the most compact 18650 powered lights I’ve run across. With a short throw, electronic switch sitting on the end of the right-angle head, there are very few torches that can compete in overall size. Without the headband mount, it is actually quite pocketable. This is a useful light to carry around as long as you have somewhere to stash the headband. The simple ability to install it in a headlamp does remain one of its greatest potential accomplishments. It does come with a tension-fit pocket clip, however I wouldn’t recommend using that for any real amount of retention, since those historically only allow one more options to lose their light.
There are really only two points of criticism I can offer for the Warboy. First off, while the 1000 lumen top end may be incredibly useful for bright-as-day area illumination, it comes at a price. With current technology there isn’t a method to produce that much light from a single LED without a substantial amount of energy being converted to waste heat. The H3 does an adequate job dumping that heat into the atmosphere instead of retaining it where it could damage the electronic components. The problem is, with your head in such close proximity to the light, much of that heat also transfers to the wearer. I used this light for a few very extended duration testing runs during a recent camping trip and every time I used it I found myself sweating profusely after just a short period. Often times I wasn’t even using it in the top mode either, even the lower options can still get fairly warm.
Secondly, there is the matter of the mounting connector on the head strap. After half an hour of wearing the thing, I found myself constantly readjusting it because the rubber mounting “bracket” was digging into my forehead painfully. I’m not sure how best to redesign this piece, but I know that having the outside of the headband attachment loops bent inward and under pressure wasn’t the best idea.
The H3 Warboy isn’t revolutionary, but it is nice. It’s actually one of the nicest headlamps I’ve used. It doesn’t jump out at you as being something special, however its perpetual usefulness makes itself know the longer you use it. Like always though, make sure you have it with you, or it’s completely useless.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Xtar.