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We had a chance to road test the new 2021 Explore 4 400 Lumen head lamp from the new range of Silva Lighting. I used this as my primary lamp on a 7-day field activity in the Australian Outback. The conditions at night were cold ( around 5°C ) and at times there was heavy rain with mud… so much mud. The field test was performed over 7 days using one set of 3 standard AAA Alkaline Energizer Industrial batteries.
Quick Down and Dirty:
This is a great lamp, I will be retiring my 10 year old Petzl TacTikka XP and this new guy will be living in my range bag from now on. The colour selection on the Explore 4 is not the most tactical choice with a grey headband and some blue highlights, but it is being used after dark so it is not a deal-breaker in my opinion. One set of batteries lasted all week, the battery change indicator was showing red for the last 3 days, but I did not change them and there was NIL performance impact. The orange light output option is a great feature, it allows you to see Red Map Markings and provides improved colour rendering on maps while maintaining tactical profile after dark. Large power button was easy to use with gloves and in the rain and the light can be turned on in the red mode without cycling through any other option.
When using white light, the standard option when turning on is High power. Personally, I think this is a minor flaw and the lamp should activate in low-power mode as the default white light function. A great feature is the MOLLE compatible clip that comes in the kit, this clip can be attached to any horizontal 25mm webbing. This is a quality lamp that I will be using personally and would be happy to recommend to colleagues and friends.
On the last night out in the weeds, one of the G-Wagons became bogged in some swampy ground. The kind of stuff nightmares are made of; almost midnight with heavy rain and the vehicle sitting on its belly. We were well and truly stuck with limited recovery gear. The crew were tired after a 17 hour day and a 2-hour long drive trying to keep up with tracked vehicles on muddy treacherous roads. The Silva Explore 4 really paid off in these conditions where there was potential to see damage to equipment or human injury due to fatigue and challenging conditions. 400 lumens was more than enough to adequately light up the work area not already lit by headlamps. With heavy rain and working in >40cm of thick mud, the non-slip head band kept my lamp where it needed to be without having to adjust it or fetch it out of the swamp! Vehicle safely recovered without damage or injury.
Like all things Silva, this immediately feels like a quality item you can rely on. The design and functionality is excellent and lacks any gimmicks found on other lamps. The head band is nice and wide and features a non-slip grippy silicone substance on the inner side to keep it in place when you are sweating or working in wet conditions.
IPX7 water proof rating means you can comfortably work in wet conditions without having to worry about water (or dust) getting inside your lamp. The battery compartment has a nice access cover that is fitted with an o-ring seal and a tether to stop you dropping or losing the cover when changing out the batteries. The battery compartment can be accessed without having to remove your gloves and is a simple 1/8th turn to unlock or lock the cover.
The head of the lamp pivots up or down allowing you to direct the beam of the light to your work area without having to bend your neck. Pivoting the head down to point at the ground while walking allows you to keep your head and eyes up and maintaining situational awareness.
Another great feature is the mounting clip; This clip can be attached to your pack or MOLLE platform and left in place. When you want to change the way you use the lamp, simply remove the headband and snap the head unit into the mounting clip.
There are three white light modes: High, Medium and Low as well as Red light and Orange light modes.
High Power produces 400lm
Medium power produces 200lm
Low power produces 10lm
Orange and Red modes produce ≈ 10lm
Built in to the lamp is a simple battery indicator function. When you turn the light off, a tiny LED will glow green, orange or red for around 6 seconds. Green means your batteries are good-to-go. Orange indicates your batteries are approx. 50% and red means your batteries are under 25%.
The Explore 4 model uses 3x AAA batteries, while we tested the unit with standard Alkaline batteries, you could use rechargeable type for lower environmental impact or Lithium type for longer burn time and increased performance in cold conditions. A rechargeable model is also available but we have not road-tested that model (yet).
The power switch is a large button on the left side of the lamp and is partially recessed below a ridge. The ridge and recessed location help to prevent accidental activation but it would be nice to have a lock-out function built-in to prevent accidentally turning the lamp on in your pocket or pack. The switch is a simple affair and feels reliable and sturdy in operation. Press and hold for 2 seconds to activate the red light mode without having to cycle through white modes. Quick press activates the white light modes. I carried the lamp in a variety of ways depending on the situation. If it was not on my head or around my neck, it was often stowed in a jacket pocket, trouser pocket, in a pouch on my range bag or in the glovebox of my truck. At no time over the 7 day trial did the light accidentally activate, but it still would be nice to have a lock-out function in my opinion.
Press and hold the power button for around 6 seconds activates an emergency strobe function. The light will flash the internationally recognised S.O.S. morse code ( …--… )
IPX7 water and dust protection
Red and Orange options without cycling through white modes
Low power should be the default option when turning on
All-black colour scheme should be standard on all Explore models, not just the Explore 4RC
No lock-out function on the main switch to prevent accidental activation
Not made in Sweden like all our other trusty Silva Products.
Would I recommend this lamp for customers working outdoors in harsh conditions? Yes.