I have had all sorts of headlamps over the years, but none have impressed me as much as the Mantus Headlamp from Mantus Marine. It’s built around a rugged, watertight, aluminum-alloy case that houses a rechargeable and replaceable battery. The included 2600 mAh, 3.7-volt lithium-ion battery takes a full charge in about 3 hours. The single LED light, mounted in the middle of the housing, has a high output of 770 lumens, a low output of 150 lumens, an SOS beacon light, and a red light setting for preserving night vision.
To test the manufacturer’s claims, I ran the battery at the high-beam setting at a full charge to see how much juice it had. The light started to get slightly dimmer after about 5.5 hours, but did not go off. If I plan to use the headlamp for periods longer than the battery can hold a charge, additional batteries are available online and at electronics outlets.
The light is seated in a soft, curved rubber fixture, and the easily adjusted head straps are comfortable. The head straps can be removed and the light can be mounted on an included wrist strap. With the shorter strap, the light can also be mounted on a PFD as an emergency light. To adjust the angle of the beam, the whole light rotates inside the soft rubber mount. There’s no rigid, breakable pivot mechanism to worry about.
Mantus built the headlamp with SCUBA diving in mind, and carries an IPX8 standard that indicates that you can trust the light to work down to depths of 10 meters (33′). The manufacturer has tested it to a depth of 100′ and didn’t see any water intrusion. The deepest water my light has been in so far was some dinghy bilge-wash after it fell out of my bag as I was loading the boat. I have also been able to test its performance in some wet and windy weather conditions.
The single large button switch is easy to operate, even with gloved hands. It has an advantage over my former favorite head lamp, which has two separate buttons for red and white lights, both small and hard to press separately one from another. When the button on the Mantus headlamp is pressed, the light cycles through all of the various modes in order: first red, then white low, high, and SOS. It’s the way the red light works that makes it a gem. When navigating at night, you’ll want a red light to preserve your night vision while reading charts, so the red light is always the first to turn on. After the red light has been on for more than 4 seconds, pushing the button again will turn the red light off, instead of cycle through the white lights spoiling your night vision with bursts of white light. When you turn it on again, you get the red light again
At 6.4 oz, the Mantus Headlamp is heavy, more than twice the weight of other headlamps I’ve used, but its durability and features make it worthwhile for me to get used to the weight. I like the ability to recharge—sparing the expense and waste of single-use batteries and the easy operation when I’m wearing gloves during the bitterly cold Maine winter. I feel like I’ve finally moved up to a headlamp that I can count on when I need it most.
Anne Bryant is the associate editor of WoodenBoat.
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