I was an instant fan of Coast products the day I turned on a Coast HP314 LED flashlight and held the smooth, hotspot-free beam on the wall—all 1130 lumens of it. Then I experienced the run-time and the generally solid build quality. I appreciate companies that do a few things well, and Coast doesn’t complicate things by trying to diversify too far out of its comfort zone. The company often ignores our requests for specific tools (a bit annoying, but honestly we’re a bit too busy to get terribly upset), but this week the new Coast FL60 LED headlamp landed on our doorstep (literally, the FedEx guy accidentally dropped the box). This is a much more economical solution than the Coast HL8 headlamp which sports a higher power LED system and separate power supply.
Coast FL60 LED Headlamp Features
The Coast FL60 LED Headlamp offers a wide angle beam that’s just as smooth and hotspot-free as we’ve come to expect from a company that’s almost perfected LED beam technology. The difference is that this 300 lumen output headlamp is perfect for the camper or outdoor enthusiast who wants more light than you find in those “disposable” tri-LED headlamps, and desires a nice even cast of illumination when on the trail or setting up camp. You can get more output, but when I’ve shown up at campsites with a super-high lumen torch on my forehead I’m often met with shouts and aggressive requests along the lines of “Turn that thing down, I can’t see!” The Coast FL60 LED headlamp is the right amount of output that will let you see what’s ahead of you without bringing everyone in close proximity.
Three LED Beam Levels
One feature that is necessary on any LED headlamp is variable output. Most LED headlamps we’ve used have two modes, but the Coast FL60 LED headlamp has three. In Low mode you can use the headlamp in camp and not blind those around you. Medium is good when you need a bit more output for longer distances, and High is excellent for when you need to do some spotting, but in a headlamp I find myself spending most of the time in the first two modes. Runtime is excellent, with the Low mode giving you over 20 hours of continued use. Bring a few extra batteries along, and the Coast FL60 will function very well suspended as a “room” light to illuminate your tent in the evenings during a camping trip—and then serve double duty for night hikes or when worn during late night food preparation.
The Coast FL60 LED headlamp is IPX4-rated, meaning it can withstand rain or splashing water. The IPX4 rating is a test designation that tests 10 liters/minute of water splashing against the enclosure at 50–150 kPa (7.25–21.75 lbs/sq. in.) from multiple directions for 5 minutes. A passing rating means this had no harmful effects on the device. It’s very safe to say that the Coast FL60 is good for use in the rain—even a heavy rain…just don’t go swimming with it.
Coast FL60 Headlamp Features
- Output in lumens (High/Med/Low): 300/175/39
- Beam distance (H/M/L): 160 ft (49 m)/125 ft (38 m)/59 ft (18 m)
- Run time (H/M/L): 2.75 hours/3.5 hours/22 hours
- Power supply: 3 x AAA batteries (included)
Since the FL60 LED headlamp runs on three AAA batteries, it’s perfect for remote locations where recharging a Li-ion battery pack might be troublesome. I actually prefer battery powered headlamps for camping as they’re far easier to keep running for long periods. Packing a few more AAA batteries for backup isn’t all that difficult. It’s a matter of preference as to whether you like a remote power pack on the back of your head as opposed to the front, but it’s hard to argue against the simplicity of this design. It lacks any additional tethered power cables or the separate pack that sits on the back of your head. About the only compromise with an all-in-one is that you need enough tension on the head strap to keep the front-heavy FL60 in place while you walk or work. Given the light weight of the headlamp, that’s not terribly difficult to accomplish.
Using the Coast FL60 LED Headlamp
First off, the Coast FL60 LED headlamp isn’t just for camping. It’s got included plastic clips for affixing it to a hard hat, and the durability means you don’t have to baby it on the jobsite. While it’s not rated for dust intrusion, the IPX4 rating makes me think it will be fine on even the dirtiest, wettest job sites—unless you happen to be an underwater driller, or you swim with killer whales for a living.
Because the beam of the Coast FL60 is so smooth, it really worked well for lighting up lumber while we cut it in our steel building that hadn’t yet had its lighting installed (We had just finished running electrical conduit). When dusk hits, getting lumber prepped for a reciprocating saw shootout or other comparative testing event is a bit more difficult. The fact that the beam is wide angle, meaning it doesn’t stay to a narrow area but washes a broader space, makes it perfect for illuminating not only what you’re focused on, but also letting you have some much-needed peripheral lighting for maintaining a sense of space where you’re working.
We used the light in both twilight and post-sunset applications, and found that it lasts a lot longer when you can benefit from the Low setting (well after the sun sets). If you still have some residual light, then you may need to bump it up to Medium or High to get the lighting advantages you want. Still, when it got dark, setting the Coast FL60 into Low mode allowed me to walk around and complete tasks even though we hadn’t the advantage of an installed overhead lighting system.
The Coast FL60 LED headlamp is an easy purchase. It’s inexpensive (under $50), puts out plenty of light when you need it, and gives you almost three shifts worth of light should you need it. Its wide angle of illumination is perfect for a headlamp—all too often they tend to be “spotty”, and the lack of a central hot spot means you don’t suffer from “flare out”—even when you’re working with reflective metal. We can easily recommend this headlamp for these reasons, and the ergonomics mentioned previously. If you can nab one before Christmas you should—it would make a great gift for just about anybody.