Coast FL85 Dual-Color Focusing Headlamp

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Coast FL85 Headlamp
Illustration courtesy of Coast, Inc.

With the advances in LED technology, the variety of headlamps available to the sportsman has exploded. They come in all sizes, luminosity and prices. You can find them priced from as low as $20 to over $200. Which one of the dozens available should you select?

We put together the criteria we feel are essential for a headlamp that is suitable for hunters, campers and hikers:

1. Eliminate from consideration the cheapies that you find at the checkout lines of the big box sporting goods stores. These inexpensive units ($15 - $30) look good in the store, but are constructed from kids-grade plastic that will crack out over time, even if you are careful with them.

2. The unit must use commonly available AA or AAA batteries. (A lot of headlamps use CR123A, CR2032, or CR2016 batteries that are not only expensive, but difficult to find in some locations.

3. The unit must have a minimum output of 200 lumens and should be able to focus out to 100 yards.

4. The unit must be tough enough to survive the impact of a fall, carried in the bottom of a backpack, or dropped into the back of a truck.

5. Finally, the unit should have at least a one year warranty.

When you look at these criteria, the majority of headlamps drop out. However, the FL85 meets all five points.

The primary control button on the front turns on the unit and controls the high/medium/low lumen output. A twist of the bezel gives you the ability to switch from a wide floodlight beam to a long distance spot beam. The FL85's rugged construction ensures you are not going to break this unit unless you decide to use it as a hammer.

The second control button switches the unit to a fixed red LED light, which is very useful in a bind, when you do not want to destroy your night vision, but still need some illumination. This makes the unit appealing to amateur astronomers, as well as outdoorsmen.


High Light Output:

  • 540 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 564 ft (172 m)
  • Runtime: 2 hours

Medium Light Output:

  • 320 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 141 ft. (129 m)
  • Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes

Low Light Output:

  • 75 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 206 ft (63 m)
  • Runtime: 17 hours


  • Weight: 4.5 oz (127.57 g)
  • Batteries: 3x AAA
  • ANSI/FL1 Rated
  • IPX4 Weatherproof Rating
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 2016 MSRP: $71.99

The FL85 is the most powerful, front loaded headlamp on the market. It meets or exceeds all of our requirements. We have several brands of headlamps around the farm that we have accumulated over the years. When it comes to going out at night to check on the critters, Mary always reaches for the FL85. However, I am going to requisition it in the Fall for deer hunting, no matter what!

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Copyright 2016 by Jim and Mary Clary and/or All rights reserved.