As with many experienced outdoors aficionados, I’ve done away with disposable battery-based headlamps, or even lights in general, for my overall outdoor use.
For camping or winter backpacking, I find that Luci Lights with headlamps fit my needs well enough. I can see in the tent, the campsite, and a warm light adds a soothing glow that replaces a campfire for our purposes.
And I no longer use headlamps with disposable batteries. I don’t want to worry about them losing juice, batteries leaking, or getting old. USB headlamps fit my needs in many ways, be it backpacking, camping, or day hiking. I can charge them up at home for shorter hikes, in town on longer walks, or the field with an Anker box if needed.
The major exception is an older battery headlamp and a simple battery flashlight I keep by the door for emergency use or even quick around home “stuff.” “Stuff” such as grabbing or moving items in the shed. Or even a friend who stayed with us and walked her dog at night. ( In an emergency, battery headlamps not depending on the power grid for recharging make for a useful item. Naturally, we have lithium batteries on hand, too. ) I also have a Fenix LD02 in the car ashtray for emergency use.
I now (as of September 2019) have a modified Nitcore NU-25 as it is very bright with 360 Lumens, exceedingly light when changed from its factory setup, many features such as memory mode for lights, red light modes, waterproofness, etc. etc.
Though it is not overly expensive at just under $40, the only reason I purchased it is that, frankly, I wanted a USB headlamp always in my daypack. So I bought the Nitecore and swapped in an older, less feature-rich, but less expensive and still capable headlamp for most uses.
This headlamp? The STCT USB Rechargeable Headlight.At $17 and 145 Lumens with many features of more expensive headlamps, and an excellent budget pick. And something I’ve used for over a year.
EDIT FEB 2020: That exact model no longer available. A similar, no doubt made in the same factory, one available for even fewer dollars.
The STCT headlamp at a glance
- 145 Lumens; more than bright enough for general use IMO
- USB Rechargeable
- IPX6 rated waterproofness (In non-tech speak that means extremely water-resistant)
- Multiple modes; the typical high, medium, low, flashing, and red light mode
- Memory mode; the battery will save the last mode you used
- Articulated for the adjustment and placement of the beam
- Does not have a real locking button but a button less likely to turn on accidentally vs. similarly priced budget headlamps
- A claimed battery life of up to 45 hours of use
- The weights are all over the map on the Amazon listing. My scales show just under 2.25 oz standard. Again, modify it cheaply and easily for ~1 oz total of weight.
What these specs indicate is an impressive headlamp spec wise for cheap.
The STCT headlamp in the real world
But specs are one thing; how does it work?
Well, it is a reasonably bright headlamp at 145 Lumens. Perfect for emergency use when day hiking or a primary headlamp for general use or even non-technical night hiking. I love the redlight mode for all my headlamps since I do enjoy seeing at night without ruining my night vision. Typically for such things as stargazing or just needing a little bit of minimal light.
It is a $17 headlamp, so the beam intensity and focus, or cd, will not be as high as more expensive headlamps nor the distance of the beam as far as more expensive options. What are the actual numbers? Don’t know. Budget headlamps rarely list these specs, but I noticed the Nitecore (which does list these specs) seems to have a higher beam intensity and distance.
But, as with Lumens, I think we get too caught up on numbers and buzzwords without any context.
Sure, Lumens, cd, beam distance, etc. make for significant numbers for particular contexts. If you are performing technical climbing at night , SAR, night runs on a rocky trail, etc. you need to know these numbers and pay attention. If you are generally making up a pot of water for hot chocolate? Not as much.
 Though I did the approach and descent of Grand Teton in the dark with a basic Energizer headlamp. The “trail” to the usual basecamp makes for a rougher approach.
Having said all that, I found that getting the STCT headlamp into a solid red light mode, instead of flashing red light mode, to be non-intuitive. However, once I became used to the quirk, easy enough.
And though the design means the headlamp does not accidentally turn on easily, there is no real locking mode as with other headlamps; be aware. I have not found it to be a problem personally.
For $17, the STCT USB Headlight is an excellent budget item boasting of many features (waterproofness, red light, and multiple brightness options, memory mode) of more expensive models.
If not as bright or focused of a beam as other headlamps, it is under $20. For most users, the 145 Lumens and overall feature list make an excellent all-purpose headlamp that can handle camp chores, illumination when you need to grab something, and non-technical night use. And at $17, you’ll have money left over to buy some camp beer or backpacking whiskey, too.
Disclosure: I purchased the STCT headlamp with my funds.