Gadling gear review: Icon Irix II headlamp

As we’ve mentioned before, a good headlamp is one of the most useful travel accessories that you can take with you on the road. Whether you’re navigating a dark trail at night or simply reading a book in your tent after sunset, you’ll find a multitude of uses for a headlamp. Despite the fact that the concept of strapping a light to your head seems like a simple and obvious one however, not all headlamps are created equal. Sure, there are a number of companies who release serviceable lights that will do in a pinch, but some are actually designing lights that are unique and innovative, delivering options that make them even more useful beyond providing simple illumination.

Take for example Icon Lights, who offer a whole line of rugged and well built flashlights and headlamps that incorporate design elements not found in similar products. Icon works from the philosophy that technology and design should come together to deliver a great product to the consumer or that product doesn’t go out the door. This approach is more than evident in the Irix II headlamp, which includes several very welcome features that I haven’t seen in similar products.

Featuring five very bright LED lights, the Irix II has no problems providing plenty of illumination no matter where you need it. But it isn’t unusual for a headlamp to incorporate multiple lights, although most change their level of brightness based on how many of those lights are turned on at any given time. Not so with the Irix, which uses all five LED’s at all times, but incorporates a knob that directly controls the level of brightness in each light as needed. As a result, the user can dial up the exact level of illumination necessary in a quick and simple fashion. The feature is so handy, you’ll wonder why it hasn’t been used in other lights before.

The unique design elements of the Irix II extends to the included headband as well, or rather the plastic housing that holds the lamp in place. That specially designed bracket makes it simple to adjust the angle of the light, as you would expect, but it also allows you to completely detach the headlamp itself. This feature not only makes it simple to change the battery, but adds a level of versatility to the use of the light that isn’t found in other headlamps. The detachable light makes it very easy to illuminate hard to reach places.

The Irix II is powered by a single AA battery, which has a run time of up to 100 hours, depending on the brightness levels used. That’s excellent battery life out of any headlamp, and because it uses such a common battery type, you’ll never have to worry about finding spares while traveling on extended trips. Even better, the battery housing is easy to open, even while wearing gloves, making it a snap to replace a dead cell in cold or inclement weather. When closed, that housing is also tightly sealed with an O-ring, which helps to keep moisture out, protecting the Irix from rain or accidental immersion in water.

Somehow Icon managed to blend all of these options and design elements into one great package and still deliver it at an affordable price. The Irix II sells for just $29.95, which makes it far more affordable than the last headlamp we reviewed, and a great option for travelers. It is a sturdy, lightweight, and comfortable headlamp that will see you through a multitude of adventures and prove useful in a variety of situations.