Headlamps have come a long way. Gone are the days when you were limited to lights with a chunky plastic housing with a hinge that will eventually break, multiple batteries, and anemic outputs. Today’s headlamps boast impressive output, useful beam shapes, great runtimes, durable aluminum housings, and extremely compact sizes thanks to the ability to be powered on a single battery.
I’ve owned multiple Zebralight headlamps for a while now and they are easily the best I have used. However, they can also be a little on the spendy side. So, I went looking for something similar but a bit more affordable for my family to use. After sifting through online reviews, I settled on the ThruNite TH20.
Here are some quick stats on the TH20:
- CREE XP-L V6 LED
- Mode & Runtime (Tested by one Eneloop AA 2450mAh NIMH rechargeable battery):
-Firefly (0.3 lumens, 14 days）
-Infinity Low (1.6 lumens, 21 hours）
-Infinity High (230 lumens, 95 minutes )
-Turbo (250 lumens, 93 minutes)
- Batteries Applicable: 1x AA battery, 1x 14500 battery.
- IPX-8 water resistance
- 2.7 ounces (without the battery)
- Aluminum body with hard anodized finish
Why I Like It
There were a number of things that drew me to this headlamp as a backup to my other headlamps. First, the price was right at $30. Second, it runs on a single AA battery and had documented runtimes/ouputs with Eneloop batteries (I don’t use 14500 batteries). Third, the output was more than sufficient for my needs. Finally, it was available with a neutral white LED for better color rendition and depth perception.
I am not the kind of flashlight nerd that dives deep into lumens, candela, and the latest emitters. I am more the flashlight nerd that is always trying to find lights that are the easier to live with than my last light so the ability to power the TH20 with a single AA battery is very important to me for a number of reasons. It makes the light more compact so it fits unobtrusively in a coat pocket and my kids can use it. It also makes it easy to carry spare batteries. Finally, the light is very economical to keep fed with the primary AA batteries and Eneloops that I already have on hand.
My little corner of the world gets dark very early in the winter so this light sees heavy use. A hard anodized aluminum housing means I don’t have to baby the light. A balanced beam shape means it can handle everything from hiking to swapping a bearing on a 74″ snow blower. I even use it when I am on the tractor, blowing snow after dark. Our open cab tractor has no interior lights so the TH20 helps keep the controls and dashboard visible even while it is absolutely soaked and pummeled with blown snow. The abuse it has weathered in this role is impressive.
The band is comfortable and it surprised me with its great quality (cheap headlamps usually have terrible bands). I haven’t noticed any parasitic drain on the battery – it always seems ready to go. The silicone light holder seems durable and is very comfortable against the wearer’s head. There is a lot to like here but it isn’t perfect.
Why It Isn’t Perfect
The switch is easy to operate, even with gloves but it can be a little too easy to operate. I have twice found the light turned on in my pocket from the switch being accidentally touched. Now, I wrap the head band around the light to cover the switch when I put it in a pocket and that seems to help.
Speaking of the switch, there is just one and the user interface controlled by that single switch has a learning curve. If you click once from off, the light comes on at the last level you used. Then you can also press and hold the switch to ramp up and down through the brightness levels. The light blinks at the upper and lower limits of the brightness scale. You just let go of the switch when you are happy with the light level. Finally, you can double click from on to access turbo mode, double click again for SOS mode, or press and hold from off to access a sufficiently dim firefly mode.
I like having the ability to fine tune the light level but it usually takes me a little fiddling with button to get the light right. I would prefer to just have the ramping feature without all the other click options.
I have found the TH20 to be a great light for the price. It feels more like a tool in its usefulness and construction than most headlamps. It is also very easy to live with thanks to its compact size and common battery.
I have never seen ThruNite lights in a brick and mortar store so I purchased mine on Amazon. I have actually purchased several and given them as gifts.