Your lamp is without any doubt the
singular most important piece of kit that you will acquire for venturing
underground. The problem is that there are probably more different caving
and mining caplamps available than ever, someone commented a short while
ago that they went underground in a party of about 20 people and everyone
had a different lamp.
The purpose of this page is to
help a prospective buyer in their choice, and what is said here applies
whether or not you decide to purchase one of my lamps, or one from
These constitute by far the greatest number of
caplamps being sold worldwide and include such lamps as the Oldham DL16,
the Raptor Pro, Gokang, Halo, TJL etc. By mining lamps I mean lamps
designed specifically for use by working miners and to conform with the
safety standards pertinent to this.
One thing that they all have in
common is that they produce a very tight narrow beam of light.
The output in lumens is usually quite low, about 75
lumens, but due to the concentration of the light and narrowness of the
beam they have a very high lux to lumen ratio. In practical terms this
means that they are capable of quite good distance vision but only for a
small area. This effect would be most noticeable in say large slate
chambers and similar surroundings.
Also, these lamps are designed to conform to safety
standards in particular use in coal mines, issues that do not affect
recreational exploring or caving but are often reflected in the cost.
Regardless of this, many people use these for
recreational mine exploration and caving and consider them suitable for
By this I mean lamps designed for recreational
activities which include the recreational exploration of abandoned mine
These include of course my lamps together with the
Stenlight, Scurion, Petzl Duo, Little Monkey, Pulsar, El Spelio, and
probably a few more, together with Oldham conversion kits such as the
Retro 2, Bisun, and CustomDUO.
The Scurion is a very well designed lamp,
and was basically the first of a series of lamps which all reflect the
basic Scurion design of one beam emitter plues one bare or 'wide angle'.
The Scurion and most of its clones have the ability to power both emitters
at the same time, so quoted maximum outputs reflect this.
My high power lamps are
somewhat unique in that they have arrays of two or three emitters wired in
series and as such are to the best of my knowledge the most powerful lamps
On the face of it these are
extremely good value as they can be quite powerful and be purchased of
eBay for as little as £15 without the batteries. Some people buy them and
fit home made helmet brackets. Unfortunately, there are a number of
Poor efficiency, usually
reflected in short burn times.
No carefully set 'walk mode'
being optimum for general underground use balanced against battery draw.
Lack of good waterproof
Unwanted strobes and flashes
Poor general construction,
unsuited to the underground environment.
Unsuitable Lithium Ion power packs, roof contact and water can produce disastrous results.
Poor beam patterns due to cheap
Regardless of all this they
seem to be appearing in increasing numbers.
Some people are buying
good quality headtorches such as the Fenix, these probably represent good
value while being rugged and waterproof.
This can be narrowed down easily to lamp type and
There are two schools of thought on lamp type, the
‘beam man’ and the ‘area light’ man for want of a better description. Many
people prefer the throw or distance vision of a well defined beam
providing peripheral illumination is adequate. Others, mainly the caving
fraternity take the opposite view. This is quite understandable. Imagine
thrutching about it a tight wet system with plenty of calcite formations
to throw the light back at you with a lamp that produces a tight beam of
intense light. The Scurion addresses this problem neatly by the fact that
their lamps all have 2 emitters, one as a bare emitter, and the other
behind a reflector with the ability of the user to vary the degree of each
according to personal taste.
In considering this we have to return to the argument
concerning lux and lumens. This can best be illustrated by example.
Suppose a lamp has a very tight narrow beam that
enables good vision up to say 50 metres, and yet the lamp only produces 75
If the beam is too tight for a user and they want a
broader beam then in order to maintain the distance vision we would need
to double the output to say 150 lumens. This is not rocket science.
Battery choice is very much as personal thing with
some preferring the helmet mount type that balances nicely the weight of
the caplamp and has no trailing wires to get caught on anything. Those
that prefer the belt mount type generally express fear of their helmet
dropping down a winze or sump and loosing their light. The current demand
for belt mount batteries is negligible