Published on March 28th, 2011 | by Greg0
JOBY Gorillatorch Switchback: Transforming Headlamp
As Spring approaches, it’s time to start thinking about heading back outdoors. Here in the Bay Area, it wasn’t so much the cold that kept us indoors as the rain this season. With any luck, it’ll soon be dry, and warm enough for us to get out the camping and hiking gear and hit the trails and parks that line the lovely Northern California coast. When we do, we’ll be adding one more piece of the gear to the must-take list… or rather, crossing off two and replacing them with today’s item, the crossover combo of a camping lantern and a headlamp- the JOBY Gorillatorch Switchback.
We know JOBY best for their line of Gorillapods- those fun, twisty, bendy tripods that come in a variety of sizes and now even have attachments like magnetic feet. But they also make a few other items, including the Gorillatorch line of lighting gear, the first of which was a fairly simple LED lamp added to a Gorillapod. There were plenty of uses- emergency lighting for example- but the update completely changes the formula. The Switchback instead is a set of two things- a fairly light, small, portable camping lantern and a headlamp. Basically, instead of having two separate lighting sources that are rarely used at the same time, and that utilize the same bulb, batteries, and makeup, JOBY combined them. You simply slide the headlamp into the base and transform it into a lantern.
As often happens when you take two single-purpose functions and combine them, there are some compromises. Brightness isn’t one of them though- 5 LEDs put out 130 lumens of power, though two of those are red for use to preserve night vision, and it puts out plenty of light for reading when in the lantern or to cut through the haze while in headlamp mode. Battery life is up to 72 hours using regular AAs. And a cute Gorillapod is included allowing you to mount the lamp in a variety of places. But we found it more than a bit awkward to get the lamp situated properly into the lantern while the headband was attached- and it’s a bit annoying to remove the band. Also, the lack of a case, pouch, or easy way to carry it all meant that we lost the Gorillapod at one point. We loved how light the unit was, and the variable styles and types of lighting, but it did feel a bit flimsy as a camping lantern and heavy for a headlamp.
Overall, if you already have a lamp or lantern you like, you might not need this. But if space is at a premium, or you just want a decent lantern/lamp combination that isn’t quite perfect, then the Gorillatorch Switchback is pretty nifty. $45 or so, available widely online.