Pelican knows lights, and their new 2780r headlamp has some unique features that set it apart from a very crowded field. The overall design is a conventional three strap with rechargeable battery compartment in the back. The light is just slightly larger and heavier than average, but the third strap and the even weight distribution quickly let you forget you're wearing it.
After the initial impression things begin to get interesting. First of all, there are two lights in the main body: a forward facing light and a "downcast" light that illuminates the ground directly in front of you. Both have three brightness settings at roughly 68/152/333 lumens , with roughly 11/4/3 hour runtimes. Using the front twist knob, you can select front, down, front + down and finally the front facing light can also be set to flash on high. On high you can see over 100 meters ahead, plus where you're about to put your feet. There is a pushbutton set into the twist knob that controls brightness levels, and the entire head pivots for adjustment as well. This being a Pelican product, the whole thing is pretty bombproof and IPX4 rated (splash protection) to boot.
Pelican didn't stop there. A few more dips into the trick bag and they came up with a red taillight on the rear enclosure, which can be set to solid or flashing. This is great for following a line of friends or family down a dark trail. The twist knob on the rear battery enclosure can be set to the locked position, so you won't arrive at your destination with a dead battery due to premature discharge in your baggage. Finally there is a three-light battery status indicator on the back, so you get a rough idea of how long before dark: when you're down to one light, and it's blinking, it's time to pick up the pace.
Need more? Pelican throws in three interchangeable covers for the main lamp: black, white and green glow-in-the-dark. The 2780r (they really need a catchier name for this thing…) takes six hours to charge the lithium ion battery via the included USB cable. In use we found the 2780r to require subjectively less head movement as we hiked, and our neck appreciated it. Our hard-earned paranoia – thank you Uncle Sam and the Ft. Benning School for Boys – always directs us to keep our head up to scan the trail ahead, and this headlamp makes it easy to focus down-trail without stepping awry. All in all, the Pelican 2780r is a very cool light with some major improvements over the non-r version.