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Gear Review.Customised Petzl Duo head light: by Estelle Sandford

This is probably the cheapest way to end up with a good bright light, ideal for most general caving and expeditions!

One thing I noticed on my return to regular caving was how much lighting had changed and improved. LED technology has made it possible to have bright lights that last for a long time and there seems to be almost an ongoing ‘willy waggling’ competition for who has the brightest lights! I still had my trusty Speleo Technics 14 LED light and that is fine for digging, but not really bright enough for general caving, (although I really am not sure I want to see the bottom of a big pitch; it seems much safer seeing very little!) so as I had 3 working Speleo batteries, I chose initially to upgrade to the Speleo Technics Nova+ headlight. That light was perfectly satisfactory until I went on a caving expedition to India and didn’t think about the magnetic switch in the Nova, until it screwed up a set of compass readings which ended up having to be redone! Quite a lot of the modern lights do have magnetic switches on the light, so its well worth considering the location of that switch if you have the need to survey caves. I started getting light-envy again and on my return from India, started looking again at what newer replacements were out there…

I kept watching the lighting market and much as I dreamed of owning a Sten, Viper, Scurion or similar, in my head I just could not justify that sort of money for something I really didn’t need for most of my caving, as I am mainly a digger, so in the end I decided that for under £50, I could upgrade my existing Petzl Duo to take much brighter modules. I wandered over to see John ‘Biff’ Biffin at Cheddar and purchased a spot module and a flood side module (flood does 3 brightness settings) and am really happy with the result. I’ve got a light that lasts for about 3-4 trips on 4x rechargeable AAAs either on the spot or mid level flood and it will be ideal for expedition use, as no magnetic switches involved, and also the convenience of using AAAs which are widely available anywhere. Petzl Duos are supposed to be waterproof and, certainly with making the effort to use silicon grease on the seals when I’ve taken it apart, it does seem to be pretty waterproof. If you need to purchase a new duo, they seem to start from about £50-60 upwards for the 5 LED one. Mine had a 5 LED cluster, so I chose to replace both sides of my Duo with Biff’s conversion, but if you’ve got the 14 LED cluster, you would probably only need to replace the other side with the spot.

For the sellers info please visit:

http://customduo.co.uk/customduo.aspx    images below from Biff's web site