I thought my trusty headlamp was comfortable. The elastic strap was snug, adjustable slider adjusted , it was kicked around, dropped in puddles and it still turned on. I also thought sleeping on my foam pad and synthetic bag was optimal as well. Then a great friend of mine donated a mattress to my cause. Thus changing the way I slept indoors. I’m not saying that the addition of this headlamp will aid in getting your life together, but it will open your eyes to a level of comfortable overlooked in many headlamps. The designers at Utility, Comfort, and Originality (UCO) know a thing or two about comfort; It’s their middle name—Seriously.
Based out of Redmond, WA and with over 40-years of experience in products such as storm-proof matches and candle lanterns; UCO is well versed in keeping adventurers out of the dark.
The X-ACT series headlamps uses a two piece design built to allow custom-like fitting right out of the box. Their “X-ACT Fit” system uses a conforming “X-flex” neoprene strap and adjustable strap snaps on each side; setting the fitting ranges between 19-26”. The back of the headlamp incorporates a micro-adjustment wheel, similar to bike helmets, allowing smooth fine-tuning for the perfect fit. In testing, I was able to put the headlamp on and find my perfect fit quite quickly. My only issue was when I was wearing headgear. While my head isn’t big enough to have received playground bullying in elementary school, I was using the last adjustment snaps on the sides. Pushing the headlamp to the max in order to fit it over my wool buff. However, even with the extra bulk, I was able to snug the lamp perfectly with the micro-adjustment wheel.
Piercing the night with 120 lumens and a high quality Cree XP-E LED. Plenty to shed light on the rope puzzle that those rain-fly tie outs turned into. Keeping the torch simple, the designers went with a wheel dial to control the light up front. Turning the wheel to the right engages red light mode; while left turns on flood and spot modes. The dial infinitely adjusts to increase and decrease brightness.
The light sits on an infinitely adjustable hinge, allowing for fluid changes in the angle of the beam. While sturdy when hiking it can become a problem when used for trail running or after small jumps. The hinge will allow the light housing angle over 90 degrees. This means if you jolt, jump, or skip with enough force, it will flop down. Turning the light on to yourself and searing your retinas like tuna steaks. This was not an issue when hiking but when trail running the light housing would make its way down slowly.
The manufacturer claims up to 160 hours of battery life with 3 AAA batteries. UCO has the available option for a rechargeable version of the X-120. This includes a micro USB charged battery with the charge port located directly on the battery itself. This was a welcome design as it allows the user to insert AAA batteries, powering the headlamp, then being able to use a power cell to charge the dead battery in your pack.
The lamp comes with a semi-hard shell carrying case to keep it well organized in your pack. The case has a bit of extra room for spare batteries, charge cable, and possibly a small power cell. The carrying case is a nice addition and keeps everything cozy, however it is bulky and a bit hefty for what its is intended. Some seasoned adventurers might re-purpose the case for a home use rather than an ultralight pack-list. The zipper is not YKK for you spec junkies.
The X-120R exceeded my comfort expectations for a headlamp claiming to be “headache free.” Thoughtfully designed for comfort as well as having multiple battery power options. Running out of adjustment snaps when wearing headgear is something to be aware of. Cheaper elastic strap headlamps have the advantage of being able to adjust to become necklaces; While on the X-ACT, if you run out of adjustment snaps, you run out. The infinitely adjustable light housing is another area I would change. Locking grooves would be a more secure way to angle the light, allowing the headlamp to be used in more dynamic roles. Besides minor preference changes, UCO nailed what this headlamp set out to do. To bring exceptional comfort to a vital piece of gear.