Transcend 1500 headlamp
(This review originally featured in Wild #188, Winter 2023)
By James McCormack.
Way, way back in the olden days (yes, it was the 1990s), I got my first ever headlamp. It was a Petzl Zoom, and it was wondrous. I no longer had to walk around holding a torch in my mouth when I needed both hands free to do stuff around camp, and I could even wear it (on my head, that is) if I was caught out backcountry skiing and had to make my way home in the darkness. The thing was, though, it was—so I’ve been told—about 25 lumens; wouldn’t it be awesome, I thought at the time, if it was just a bit brighter?
I’ve since owned headlamps that were 80 lumens, 100 lumens, 200 lumens, 350 lumens and 400 lumens, and every time, I’ve rejoiced in the increased brightness. But I’ve also every time still had that exact same thought: Wouldn’t it be awesome if it was just a bit brighter?
Recently, however, I got myself a Nebo Transcend 1500 headlamp. For the first time, I’m not asking that question. Wow, how bright is 1,500 lumens! It’s like walking around with car headlights attached to your forehead. Honestly, I quickly realised I won’t often need 1,500 lumens. Perhaps that’s just as well, because to avoid overheating, the Transcend (in what Nebo calls Turbo mode) offers 1,500 lumens only in short bursts of 30 seconds before it reverts to just—just!—750 lumens. But 750 still feels incredibly bright, and it still turns, pardon the cliché, day into night. I’d honestly be excited to go backcountry skiing after dark if only for the sheer joy of experiencing the Transcend 1500’s output on snow.
Of course, you don’t always need 750 lumens, either. A quick rotation of the mode selector (which, incidentally, is super easy to operate), lets you dial it down to either 300 lumens or to 30, the latter being perfect for around camp.
With its housing made of aircraft-grade aluminium, the Transcend 1500 feels incredibly solidly built. Yes, that does increase the weight, to the extent that it won’t be perfect for everyone, nor for fast and light trips where you’re counting every gram. I wouldn’t take it trail running, either; it’d bob around too much. But it’s still light enough that I’ve worn it for hours at a stretch and simply forgotten I was wearing it.
A few other things about the Transcend 1500: It’s waterproof (IPX7); the battery is not only rechargeable, but replaceable, meaning you can carry spares if you need longer burn time on a trip; and with the headlamp strap being easily removable, plus with its magnetised base, it doubles as a mini work lamp. Honestly, it’s really handy in this respect.
So will headlamps get any brighter from here? Knowing the outdoor industry, they likely will. But if so, it’ll be a progression that’s likely unnecessary.
NEED TO KNOW
WEIGHT (as tested):
156g (including battery)
Rechargeable 18650, 3.7V, 3200mAh
BURN TIMES (CLAIMED):
Turbo (1,500L): 30sec High (750L): 4hrs Med (300L): 5hrs30min Low (30L): 28hrs Strobe (1,500L): 4hrs
DISTANCE IN METRES (CLAIMED):
Turbo (1,500L): 129m High (750L): 91m Med (300L): 58m Low (30L): 18m Strobe (1,500L): 91m