When it comes to Search and Rescue, there are few tools that are used as consistantly as flashlights. But, no ONE flashlight is the “All” flashlight.
When you need high power illumination, you generally need a had held light with many hundreds or even thousands of lumens along with long run times using 18650 batteries.
Yet, many times while in a Search and Rescue situation, you need hands free operation WITH the capability of having a high power, and a long run time light with 18650 batteries.
To Learn more about 18650 batteries
Today I will discus just such a light. It’s call the MsForce HL-350. The reason I picked this particular head lamp is because it is a HUGE seller due to it’s price point and very impressive power output. Product specifications and many hundreds of reviews can be found here. You will also find variations of this product with different LED configurations and advertised lumen outputs. But, basically they are the same headlamp.
So why am I writing yet another review?
I’ve read many of those reviews. Most of them are raves. Price was right, so I bought four. Yes, FOUR.
And for the most part. The reviews were fairly accurate. So the question remains….why am I writing another review?
Because, as a Search and Rescuer, I need to eye this product from a different angle. For the typical buyer just looking for a “powerful” headlamp – this one delivers.
Looking for a “economically” priced head lamp – this one delivers.
Want 18650s to power your LEDs? The MsForce HL-350 has it x2.
So, it has a great price, powerful brightness, powered by dual 18650 batteries, Adjustable comfortable-enough-ish head straps. Multiple power modes.
The light housing and angling mechanism were decent enough quality. I doubt it could take a serious drop though. The angling mechanism engaged well and held the light in place. I can’t speak to how it will hold out over time.
All four of mine came with chargers but I have read reviews that some have not. It all sounds so perfect. Now, your wating for the BUT….
Here is the BUT...
Let’s start with the “water Proof” rating of IPX4. I used one out on a search mission one night to test it out. It rained just a little..enough that it would automatically turn my light ON.
I had to whack it a few times to get the water moved away from the switch connection. I wasn’t too concerned since I always carry backup lights. But if I only had one, I would have been concerned.
All my “serious” lights are IPX7 (IP67). As a minimum for Search and Rescue, I’d recommend no less than than IPX6 (IP66). Some may say thats overkill, but most quality lights are IP67 anyway.
And if you ever accidentally take a dunk in the water, the last thing you want to worry about is your light working.
To lean more about IPX ratings:
Build Quality: One out of my four lights had an issue with the POWER button right out of the box. I didn’t bother to return it. I’d rather use the time it would have taken me to drive 20 miles to my nearest UPS and return to write this article instead.
I’m not mad. For that kind of power, for under $32, you have to expect a lemon here and there.
I find that the headband strap itself doesn’t hold it’s elasticity very well. Mine is mounted on a Kask helmet anyway so the comfort and stretch is not too much of an issue for me.
Charger: It takes all night to fully charge the two 18650s. It is not a great quality charger-at all. It does not give any indication of charging status other than going from a RED LED when charging to a GREEN when charged.
I doubt the charging regulating circuit quality in the charger. The charger is paper thin plastic. This is a bare bones charger. I don’t trust it.
Personally, I don’t find this to be an issue. Since I have other lights that use 18650s, I already have quality chargers. So I just remove the batteries from the headlamp and charge them that way.
Should you buy the MsForce HL-350?
Simply, this headlamp is NOT Search and Rescue pedigree. You may be thinking that I regret buying four headlamps. The truth is, NO.
I use these around my property all the time. I keep one in my car as well as my wife’s car. They are cheap enough to have a few around in strategic locations.
There are other options that can be considered more rugged and reliable available for a few extra dollars at your local camping box stores but they typically top out at from 200-250 lumens.
That just can’t touch the power of the MsFORCE. For now, I am using the MsFORCE with the caveat that I carry mutiple backup handhelds-just in case. I can always duct tape one to my helmet.
I am looking into alternatives that ARE Search and Rescue ready. Be ready to pay more. But I am expecting that you will get what you pay for.
I hope to review some soon. For now, get yourself a couple of these MsFORCE headlamps. As long as you keep in mind what you paid for it and what your getting, you’ll be very impressed. I would seriously consider a good 18650 battery charger however.
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section.