Coast HL8 Headlamp

By Dr. Jim and Mary Clary

Coast HL8 Headlamp
Illustration courtesy of Coast, Inc.

With the advent of LED technology, the variety of headlamps available to the sportsman has literally exploded. They come in all sizes, luminosity and prices. You can find them priced from as low as $20 to over $250, which is a bit extreme in our opinion.

That brings us to the question, which one of the dozens available should you select? We put together the criteria that 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. They are more suitable as toys for your kids than as practical units for use in the field.

2. The unit should use conventional AA or AAA batteries. The reasoning behind this is availability. A lot of units use CR123A, CR2032 or CR2016 batteries that are not only expensive, but difficult to find in a lot of locations.

3. The unit must have a minimum output of 200 lumens and preferably the ability to focus out to 100 yards.

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

5. Finally, it would be nice if the unit has more than a 60 day warranty.

When you look at these criteria, the majority of headlamps are eliminated. While at the 2015 SHOT Show, we had the opportunity to check out the Coast HL8 headlamp. It is one impressive unit. It is an industrial quality headlamp. As such, it is somewhat heavier than the average sportsman's headlamp, but given what you get in the HL8, it is worth the extra weight.

The HL8 utilizes 4 AA batteries and at full luminosity of 390 lumens yields a run time of two hours. The medium setting at 120 lumens provides a run time of 7.5 hours, while the low beam of 25 lumens will run for 83 hours. It can be focused to a distance of over 200 meters. Hence, the HL8 easily meets our first two criteria for a desirable headlamp.

The body and battery compartment of the HL8 is constructed from the same high strength polymer that is used in the frames of many semi-automatic pistols. You are not going to break this headlamp unless you decide to use it as a hammer. Therefore, the HL8 also meets our third criteria.

Last and perhaps most important, the HL8 carries a full Lifetime Warranty. If you ever have a problem send it back for repair or replacement. It does not get any better than that.

Features and Specifications

  • Pure Beam Focusing Optic
  • Twist focus
  • 390 lumen light output with 2 hour runtime
  • 217 meter (711 ft) beam distance @ 390 lumens
  • Batteries: 4 x AA (included)
  • Removable battery pack with 3-foot (91.5 cm) extension cord
  • Z Cord in headband for added durability
  • Adjustable elastic straps
  • Easy to operate side light output control dial
  • Hinged beam adjustment to position light where you need it
  • Meets ANSI/FL1 Standards for Flashlights/Headlamps
  • Weight: 12.8 oz. / 363 g. (including batteries)
  • 2015 MSRP: $99.99

The HL8 costs a bit more than comparable units, but you get so much more for your money that it is worth the price. Coast includes clips for the head straps to attach them to hardhats, should you need the HL8 on the job.

The capability of removing the battery pack from the unit and clipping it to your belt is an extra bonus that significantly reduces the weight on your head. The required three foot extension power cord is included at no extra cost.

As we said in the beginning of this review, the only thing that some folks might not like about the HL8 is the weight when compared to the 6-8 ounce weight of other units. However, when you consider all of the features in the Coast HL8, the lighter units pale in comparison. We will take the Coast HL8 with us on all of our future expeditions into the wilderness with complete confidence that it will not fail to perform.

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Copyright 2015 by Jim Clary and/or All rights reserved.