I was sent two Dorcy LED headlight flashlights–I prefer to call them headlamps– the 41-2096 and 41-2097 a few weeks back to review and, to be frank, I’m glad I got them. They’re quite nice for the cost (at less than $20 each) and may likely supplant my current favorite headlamp, the Energizer Pro 7.
Ever since I purchased my first headlamp years ago I’ve never looked back. Gone are the days of holding a flashlight between my legs, wedged in my armpit or, dare I say… my teeth. Headlamps are wonderful inventions to say the least. If you don’t own one or several you’re missing out.
What I’ve Learned About Headlamps
Now, if you haven’t noticed there are dozens–if not hundreds–of options out there and I’ve tried a few of them over the years. Since then I’ve learned a few things including:
- Always ensure it has an adjustable strap (I had one in the past that didn’t), these do. Most all should these days.
- Best are headlamps that use common batteries and not funny watch style batteries (they’re not rechargeable), these use AAA batteries and the better headlamps do. Plus AAA batteries provide more light output.
- Weight does matter and these are relatively lightweight at about 8 ounces, especially for headlamps that use AAA batteries. Compared to my previous favorite that’s about the same weight if I remember right.
- Comfort REALLY matters! And, while I still prefer the feel of the Energizer headlamp because it has a nice foam backing, that backing has worn down a bit and will eventually give way. These Dorcy headlamps simply use the softness of the insides of the strap which is fine in most cases and should last for years to come.
- Ensure the headlamp has a swivel (or tilt) so you can adjust the headlamp downward toward your hands rather than bending your neck. It’s save a sore neck the next day, that’s for sure. These headlamps adjust 50 degrees, perfect for this task.
Minor Differences in Dorcy Headlamps Make for a HUGE Difference in Feel
If you missed it, I received two headlamps: the 41-2096 and 41-2097. Suffice it to say that for the most part these headlamps are almost identical. They’re identical in shape, size, weight, straps, swivel function, batteries used, etc. Their one and only difference–besides the color of the light bezel–is that the 2096 has a frosted lens and the 2097 does not.
Why does this matter?
Well, it seems that it makes ALL the difference in how the light is disseminated. Whereas the 2097 has a spot beam light which is typical of most headlamps (at least all that I’ve owned) the 2096 distributes light much more evenly and, let’s call it, in a softer fashion. You can see the difference in the “soft” area lighting of the 2096 on the left versus the 2097 on the right:
And, while I had gravitated to the direct beam of the 2097 initially, I found myself being ever-drawn to the soft and welcoming glow of the 2096. Yes, it really did make a difference to me. In fact, I much prefer that style of headlamp for most any use I can think of. Whether you purchase these headlamps or not, I suggest you look for one with a frosted lens like the 2096.
Comparing these Dorcy Headlamps to the Energizer 7
One of my complaints of the Energizer 7 (links to my original review) when I reviewed it quite a while back was that the button was obnoxiously difficult to push and that is readily apparently when compared to the ease with which the buttons can be pushed on these Dorcy headlamps; there really is a big difference in the two. Honestly, I have no idea why Energizer allowed such tolerances.
Moreover, perhaps the biggest complaint I had was that I had to cycle through four different light modes (at least one of which was not necessary) with the Energizer 7 whereas these Dorcy headlamps have three light modes. Personally, I prefer fewer modes and since the button is so stiff on the Energizer, I often found myself counting button pushes until I could turn it off. Yes, it’s that annoying but I guess I got used to it over time. Comparing to these Dorcy headlamps brought this back to the forefront.
One thing Energizer did right, however, is that they incorporated a red light as the first mode when turned on which helps to preserve night vision. These Dorcy headlamps do not have that option. Instead they’ve included a flashing third mode (in addition to high and low like most all headlamps do). If you’re a bicyclist or somebody who wants to warn others you’re there then this is a useful option. For me, I’d much prefer the red light instead. That said, the flashing mode may come in handy in some survival situations such as if you’re stranded and want to alert others to your presence. A blinking light is far more attractive than not.
About the only other mention-able difference is that the Dorcy battery compartment covers were a bit difficult to remove at first but after a few times taking them on and off they became easier to manage. I should note that the Energizer 7 headlamp’s battery cover is a much better design in that it has two latches that secure the cover in place which is nice.
Other than one or two relatively minor annoyances (the battery cover and lack of foam cushion) as well as one preference (the inclusion of a flashing/blinking mode rather than the red light) which could actually be useful in an emergency, these headlamps are truly a very good option for whatever you choose, be it hiking, camping, bug out bags, or just everyday use.
These headlamps do everything I would expect, swivel as needed, are relatively lightweight, and run on AAA batteries which is a must. Their light output is very comparable (if not better) than most any other headlamp I’ve owned, including the Energizer 7. In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with either the 41-2096 (the one with the frosted lens for a softer light) or the 41-2097 (more like most headlamps). Personally, I prefer the 41-2096 after having used them for a while.
Do yourself a favor: purchase a headlamp for each of your bug out bags and try them out either around the house or on your next camping trip… you’ll be glad you did.