Armytek has a number of headlamp offerings - I've personally reviewed both the smaller Tiara Pro, and the less premium Elf C2. This is the first with a high CRI Nichia LED, and was made at the suggestion of Zak, one of the moderators of r/flashlight.
SpoilerI tend to like all the lights I try from Armytek, and this one is no exception. All their lights have deep stainless steel bezels, double o-rings, and chunky construction that looks and feels like I could throw it off a cliff and it would still work. I haven't tried that yet, but I also haven't had any of them break with normal use.
The lights also tend to have easy to use and sensible interfaces, good beam profiles, and come with a whole ton of accessories and ways to use them that are well thought out. Again, this light fits that bill, even including that strange arm band thing.
This light further sets itself apart with a gorgeous high CRI beam. This is the only 18650 headlamp I'm aware of with both a high CRI option and built in recharging.
The lack of LVP is a shame, and means that I can't recommend using it with the included cell. This issue is reportedly fixed on newer versions. Even with that flaw, my sample still ends up in my pocket half the time for EDC and is one of my favorite headlamps.
Physical DimensionsThe light measures 110.7 mm long, 27 mm thick at the widest part of the head and 20.3 mm along the body. The light weighs 69 g without a cell, 118 g with a protected cell, and has a 'trail weight' of 168 g with both the cell and headband.Lumintop FW1A, on the left. To the right are a collection of headlamps - Armytek Elf C2, Skilhunt H03, YLP Panda 2M CRI, and Armytek Tiara C1 Pro. Armytek's headlamps are relatively compact, but not as smal as the H03 (one of the smallest on the market), or the YLP which places the LEDs along the cell tube instead of at the end of it.
BuildThis light has the usual chalky textured anodizing Armytek is known for. Some people won't be a fan, but I am - it's grippy, and seems to stand up well to wear. It does tend to collect dust and look scratched, but those are actually just marks and rub right off.
- Unprotected flat top 18650
- Friction fit pocket clip
- 2 spare o-rings
Ergonomics and RetentionErgonomics of this light are great. It fits fine in a pocket, but the hard changes in thickness on the cell tube compared to the head and tail can make it difficult to pull out in a hurry. This switch is easy to locate.
One of the major benefits to this light is the combination of the right angle form factor with the magnetic tail. The magnet is strong enough to hold the light in any orientation I tried it in, and the shape means it can easily be rotated to point in the desired direction. I always find this handy for working on any sort of appliance, or doing DIY repairs around the house. The magnet on this model is not removable.
If you're using the light for EDC, you can also use the included pocket clip. The clip carries fairly deep, and can be attached anywhere along the body for head down or head up carry, though it makes the most sense attached close to the head. As shown in the pictures above, I keep the clip mounted tail-up in a location that doesn't interfere with the use of the headband, so I never have to pull it off.
This light doesn't include a lanyard or an obvious way to attach one.
As a final attachment method, Armytek includes a hand band. This is a simple velcro strap that uses the same clip as the headband - only one of these clips is included. I'm not quite sure what the use case is for this strap, but it seems to do its job just fine. If you know what exactly this is for, I'd love to know!
Modes and InterfaceThe user interface on this light is a bit complex, but very powerful once you get used to it. The levels are split into 4 "sections", and each of these has a number of modes. The firefly section has 3 levels at a claimed 0.1, 1.2, and 5 lumens. Main has three modes at 27, 140, and 335 lumens, and turbo has an additional 2 at 770 and 1400 lumens. The fourth section has three different strobe modes.
- From off, press and hold to go to Firefly 1
- From off, press once to turn on to the last used mode
- From off or on, double click to turn on the last used Main mode
- From off or on, triple click to turn on the last used Turbo mode
- From off or on, 4 clicks to turn on the last used strobe mode
- From on, press and hold to cycle through the modes in the current section
- From the Main section, double click to switch to the last used Firefly mode
The indicating switch blinks when you turn the light on to indicate the charge level - either green, yellow, or red. This is a welcome feature, but it's bright enough that it can be a bit jarring if you're using one of the lower modes. The indicating LED will also flash yellow or red if the light is getting warm or hot.
As a final feature, there are two configurable options described in the manual. A tactical mode, where the light acts as momentary only while the switch is held, can be activated by loosening the tailcap and tightening while holding the button. You can configure the switch LED to blink even when the light is off, as a locator beacon, by loosening the tailcap, holding down the switch, tightening and loosening the tailcap again, and releasing the switch.
Light Quality and BeamThis light uses a high CRI Nichia 144A LED. It's neutral to my eye, but marketed as warm. As far as I know, this is the only light in production using that emitter.
There's no visible tint shift whatsoever and the light gives off a smooth, wide beam. This is an excellent choice for a headlamp (which explains why it was requested as a special edition by an avid enthusiast). It's a fantastic beam, and it makes me hope Armytek continues to make high CRI special editions.
Power and RuntimeThis light is powered from a single 18650 cell. It comes with a flat top, unprotected 18650 that was used for testing. The light will accept protected or unprotected button or flat tops without issue.
ChargingCharging the light is done just by loosening the tailcap a quarter turn and attaching the included magnetic cable.
- Complete kit - comes with the light, a cell, and a way to charge it
- High CRI
- Floody, even beam is great for a headlamp
- Headlamp bracket is easy to pop the light in to and out of when switching
- Magnetic tail, pocket clip, and handband give many great carry options
- Light feels well built and like it would withstand some abuse
- Deep stainless steel bezel to protect the glass from drops and scratches
- Double o-rings to keep water out
- Good temperature regulation
- Good UI with shortcuts to various modes and sections
- Switch backlight is bright, and I wish it would stay off in the lower modes
- Some people won't love the finish
- LVP doesn't work (reportedly resolved on production models)
Notes and LinksThis product was provided free of charge by the manufacturer. I was not paid to write this review, and have tried to be as unbiased as possible.
For more reading, check out the excellent reviews of this light by Zak, who is responsible for its existence, and Zeroair.
Manufacturer's product page
Product listing on Amazon (affiliate link)
Manufacturer's product page
Product listing on Amazon (affiliate link)
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