T-Peak, T-Trail, T-Base headlamp arrangement

The MAMMUT® T-Line – Review

Today we’re starting our first headlamp review: The MAMMUT T-Line, which ranges in the mid price segment of headlamps. The T-Line is a line-up of three very similar products with different performance. MAMMUT named them T-Base, T-Trail and T-Peak.

All three T-Line models share an identical main housing and battery compartment. Only difference are the front lenses and a varying number of LEDs. So each T-Line product produces it’s own characteristic light output. Plus, each product has it’s own price point and intended application.

All models use AAA batteries, have about the same weight of  72 grams (2.54 oz), including batteries. They come in different color combinations, and are rated IP x6 watertight.

PRICING

T-Base  EUR 20.00 / US$ 24.95, (claimed: 30 Lumen, 20 meter reach, 80 hours runtime)
T-Trail  EUR 35.00 / US$ 34.95, (claimed: 60 Lumen, 30 meter reach, 80 hours runtime)
T-Peak  EUR 55.00 / US$ 49.95, (claimed: 90 Lumen, 60 meter reach, 100 hours runtime)

(as of mid 2015)

T-line headlamps aligned

From left to right: T-Peak, T-Trail, T-Base

Prices in stores range from EUR 20.00 to EUR 55.00. That’s quite a range within a product line, we think. Especially when we’re looking at almost identical products without any special features in the higher priced models. (Only exception is a small battery indicator light) So, the higher prices must(!) be rectified by a better light output, or battery performance. Well, there must be a huge difference then. However, we’ll have a look at this later.

APPEARANCE

The over all appearance of the T-line is a quite nice. The design is a bit nicer and sharper as many other models from manufacturers like PETZL® or BLACK DIAMOND®. (Not even talking about the ugly designs of low cost headlamps from countless No-Name manufacturers)

Printed T-Line headband stretched

Most apparent point of criticism for us is the headband. MAMMUT uses a printed headband instead of an all woven headband. It looks very pretty when you take it out of the box. But as soon as you stretch it, you can see the white elastics below the print. Whenever stretched, it loses it’s initial brilliance and looks worn and dull. Same thing when you’re wearing it on your head, or even worse, stretched around a helmet.

PACKAGING

The packaging of the T- Line is nice and simple. It has a very clean look and feel. And it seems all MAMMUT headlamp packagings are having the same size and style. Which is ok within a certain price range. But we need to say, the packs look like packagings for products not more than 39.00 Euro’s.

Mammut T-Trail headlamp in packaging

What we want to say is this: You may spent EUR 55.00 for a T-Peak as a gift for your loved one, but unfortunately it’ll look like a much cheaper gift when he or she is unwrapping the present.

HANDLING

The T-Line headlamps feel very good in our hands. Size and weight are in good balance. Adjusting the lighting angle feels firm and produces a distinct ratcheting noise of good quality. We like that. The adjustment angle for the light is approximately 45 degree. That’s plenty for almost everything you normally use a headlamp for.

Loading the batteries is quick. The head band pulls back easily, so you have access to open up the battery compartment. When opened, it’s instantly clear how to insert the batteries – even when it’s dark. Thanks to the traditional contact springs they used. They also work much better than many other solutions with contact plates only.

T-Trail headlamp AAA battery compartment

The lid of the battery compartment is secured with two thin strips of plastic film. So you can’t lose it. Like dropping it into the snow and never finding it again, or losing it in the dark. Great idea, but unfortunately the film strips brake off easily. We experienced that in two of our models already. After 3 or 4 battery changes only.

THE PUSH BUTTON

The on-off switch has a firm press which feels nice. Typical for all MAMMUT headlamps, you need to push the on-off switch twice (with one second) in order to turn on the light. That’s a special feature which prevents the light from being turned on by accident. Like when it’s squeezed in your backpack or so.

Quite a good feature, although it’s hardly self explanatory. Plus, you may easily get frustrated with it. Or even think it’s broken. Most likely when you didn’t read the manual.

Pressing T-Line headlamp button with glove

In our glove test we tested the product with very different types of gloves. We found, that the switch works well as long as the gloves don’t get too thick. Regular winter gloves still work fine. Using even thicker gloves, it’s hard to feel and locate the switch in order to actuate it.

Quite frankly now, this is nothing we should blame the switch for. The products we’re talking about are small headlamps and it’s more or less normal that there are certain limitations with chunky gloves.

BATTERY TEST

The T-Line comes with a nice feature to indicate the battery levels. When turned on, there’s a tiny indicator light behind the lens, which turns on for app. 5 seconds. It either shines green or red, depending on the batterie’s level of charge. The light also comes on when turning the headlamp off.

Unfortunately the T-Base doesn’t have that feature. Only the T-Trail and T-Peak have it.

Battery status light of T-Peak headlamp

THE CURSE OF THE DAY

Trying to open the battery compartment for the first time, I over-bent my finger nail, which is pretty painful. Why? The plastic lid of the battery compartment is snapped in so tight, that it’s very hard to open for the first time. To not hurt yourself, you should be extremely careful or use a screwdriver to open it up. One or two openings later the plastic edges were “broken in” and the snap-in worked fine.

(MAMMUT, you should fix this, because it’s a very unpleasant first impression a product may make)

Over-bent finger nail

THE APPLICATIONS  (…or what can I use them for?)

Ok, we’re trying to make this short (if you don’t have time, please jump to the next paragraph). Each of the T-Line products comes with two lists of activities it’s recommended for. One list of strong recommendations and a second list of activities it can be used for …without being explicitly recommended. Wow!

We’re talking about activities like: Hiking, Trail Running, Base Camping, Nordic Blading, Hiking, Travel, Ice Climbing, Rescue, Caving, and so on …. basically everything you may need a simple headlamp for…

Our tip to customers: Check MAMMUT’s lists of recommendation, so you get a rough feeling what these light are good for. But do yourself a favor and don’t get too much into detail. Plus, let your wallet decide too.

Alpine map illuminated by headlamp

Such things simply tell us we’re doing the right thing here by showing you readers how the products actually perform. So that you can decide on your own which product is right for you.

SPECIALITY

All three T-Line model come with an extra flashing mode. In that mode, the T-Peak and the T-Trail blink 6 times per minute. Which is called an Alpine Emergency Signal. The flashing mode of the T-Base is a continuous blinking, maybe twice per second.

Again quite frankly: Why does the T-Base blink differently than the others? To us this seems like a very typical marketing hoax! (… sorry, no alpine signal for low cost products!)

The Performance

It’s about time to write about the actual performance of the T-Line products. As most headlamps on the market (from various well known manufacturers) there’s a huge gap between what’s promised on the packagings and what you really get.

In some of our Blog entries we’re already (and in future) writing about how we’re measuring the performance of headlamps and why most manufacturers are massively cheating with their promises. If you’re interested in learning about this dirty game, please check these posts.

Fact is, we certainly want to show you how the T-Line products performed in our tests:

1) The T-Peak (EUR 55.00/US$ 49.95)

The T-Peak has a special lens with 2 flood LEDs on the side and a high-beam LED in the middle. Depending on the mode, the T-Peak uses either the flood LEDs or the beam LED – or both of them in a dual mode. The dual mode produces a strong beam accompanied with a flood light around it. Which makes a quite bright impression of light, but also uses a lot of battery power (see diagram).

Front view T-Peak headlamp

Manufacturer promises:

Flood Light Low: 10 meter reach, 100 hours runtime (we measured: 9.2m, ? hours!)
Flood Light High: 20 meter reach, 50 hours runtime (we measured: 15.5m, 8 hours!)
Dual Light: 40 meter reach, 30 hours runtime (we measured: 27.5m, 3:20 hours!)
Spot Light: 55 meter reach, 20 hours runtime (we measured: 33.5m, 6 hours!)

Boost Light: 60meter reach for 20 seconds (we measured: 43m, for 20 seconds)

Below the actual performance in diagrams:

Performance graph of T-Peak headlamp

The “end of light output” is reached, when 10% of the initial brightness are left. This rule is defined in the worldwide “FL1 Standard” for flashlights and headlamps.

(We did not measure the Low Floodlight until the end. It’s unrealistic that this mode will continuously be used until the end of battery life. However, it seems very likely that it won’t reach the promised 100 hours.)

You may not yet be aware of it. But headlamp beams shrink over time. A lamp with full batteries produces a full length beam. But the beam shortens as the batteries drain. So, the beams do not only get dimmer but also shorter over time.

Beam length of T-Peak headlamp

In the diagram above,  we calculated the length of the beams over time. For that calculation we used the standard formula of the worldwide “ANSI FL1 Standard”. According to that standard, the end of light output is reached when 10% of the initial brightness are left. Most manufacturers usually use their own rules for calculation, simply to make you believe their light would run much longer.

2) The T-Trail (EUR 35.00/US$ 34.95)

The T-Trail uses 4 flood LEDs in a row, no real beam LED. Depending on the mode you’re using, the LEDs are illuminated in three different levels of brightness The impression of light is very good and we’re not really missing any beam.

Front view T-Trail headlamp

Manufacturer promises:

Flood Light Low: 10 meter reach, 80 hours runtime (we measured: 8.5m, ? hours)
Flood Light Mid: 20 meter reach, 40 hours runtime (we measured 17.5m, 8:30 hours)
Flood Light High: 30 meter reach, 20 hours runtime (we measured 22.6m, 4:10 hours)

Below the actual performance in diagrams:

Performance graph of T-Trail headlamp

The “end of light output” is reached, when 10% of the initial brightness are left. This rule is defined in the worldwide “FL1 Standard” for flashlights and headlamps.

(We did not measure the Low Floodlight until the end. It’s unrealistic that this mode will continuously be used until the end of battery life. However, it seems very likely that it won’t reach the promised 80 hours.)

You may not yet be aware of it. But headlamp beams shrink over time. A lamp with full batteries produces a full length beam. But the beam shortens as the batteries drain. So, the beams do not only get dimmer but also shorter over time.

Beam length of T-Trail headlamp

In the diagram above, we calculated the length of the beams over time. For that calculation we used the standard formula of the worldwide “ANSI FL1 Standard”. According to that standard, the end of light output is reached when 10% of the initial brightness are left. Most manufacturers usually use their own rules for calculation, simply to make you believe their light would run much longer.

3) The T-Base (EUR 20.00/US$ 24.95)

The T-Base is a very basic but good headlamp. It uses 2 flood LEDs which can be run in two different levels of brightness. The impression of light is quite good and it’s producing a very useful light.

Front view T-Base headlamp

Manufacturer promises:

Flood Light Low: 12 meter reach, 80 hours runtime (we measured: 7m, ? hours)
Flood Light High: 20 meter reach, 40 hours runtime (we measured: 14.5m, 12:10 hours)

Below the actual performance in diagrams:

Performance graph of T-Base headlamp

The “end of light output” is reached, when 10% of the initial brightness are left. This rule is defined in the worldwide “FL1 Standard” for flashlights and headlamps.

(We did not measure the Low Floodlight until the end. It’s unrealistic that this mode will continuously be used until the end of battery life. However, it seems very likely that it won’t reach the promised 80 hours.)

You may not yet be aware of it. But headlamp beams shrink over time. A lamp with full batteries produces a full length beam. But the beam shortens as the batteries drain. So, the beams do not only get dimmer but also shorter over time.

Beam length of T-Base headlamp

In the diagram above, we calculated the length of the beams over time. For that calculation we used the standard formula of the worldwide “ANSI FL1 Standard”. According to that standard, the end of light output is reached when 10% of the initial brightness are left. Most manufacturers usually use their own rules for calculation, simply to make you believe their light would run much longer.

OUR OPINION

So, what’s our bottom line? Can we recommend the T-Line products? Yes, definitely! What makes them so interesting is their small size, the high quality light and their versatility. Unlike many larger headlamps with extra battery packs, the T-Line products don’t want to be anything more than simple and useful headlamps. No matter if you use them for checking fuses in your basement or take them to actual alpine adventures…The T-Line will always make a good impression.

We think it’s only natural that there are a few points of criticism. Most critical probably, the misleading specs of the manufacturer. Specifically regarding the battery runtimes. But we can tell you: Almost all manufacturers are playing the same game here. So, as long as you don’t believe any of the claimed specs and rather check the actual performances above, you’ll be happy with your new T-Line product. Because it’s hard to beat these lamps.

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