Thanks to the advancements in Li-ion and LED technologies, headlamps can now be both lightweight and bright enough to see with. Moon Sport’s U headlamp is a perfect example of this as it offers a dual lighting solution without any of the bulk of traditional battery powered headlamps. Moon Sport offers three variations of the U headlamp: the $44.99 U Mini, the $59.99 U, and the $74.99 U-Pro. In this review, we’ll be looking at the mid-level U headlamp which shares the same design as the U-Pro but is limited to 350 Lumen output and lacks a red LED mode. The U headlamp has a dual illumination design with a wide and flexible COB LED strip along the front and a higher powered spot beam on the side. Moon Sport has also packed a wide range of features into the compact headlamp from their Variable Lumen System (VLS) that allows you to customize the output of each mode, USB Type-C charging, and a Sound Alarm System that provides an audible low battery alert.
The Moon Sport U headlamp is a lightweight and bright headlamp that offers multiple lighting modes and full customization.
|Measured Weight (in g)||78|
|Likes||+ USB Type-C|
+ Wide COB LED strip ensures you are visible
+ Bright enough for running or hiking use
|Dislikes||– Non-adjustable angle|
– Interface can be difficult to use initially
– Buttons lack tactile feel
|Where to Buy (US)||Moon Sport|
The Moon Sport U headlamp comes in a flat cardboard box with a sleek black and yellow color scheme. A see-through panel on the front of the box allows you to see part of the headlamp through the box. Inside you’ll find:
- U headlamp
- Fabric storage bag
- Elastic nylon strap
- USB Type-C charging cable
There is some minor assembly required before you can first use the headlamp, as the elastic strap needs to be attached to the headlamp. Thankfully, Moon Sport has a simple instruction manual printed on the inside of the box lid to help guide you through the process.
FIT AND FINISH
The “U” in the Moon Sport U headlamp name is short for “unique” as the headlamp combines sleek styling with a dual light element design. Along the front of the headlamp is a flexible COB LED strip that ensures you are highly visible at night and provides a wide flood style beam. An additional Cree LED positioned on the right of the headlamp provides a bright spot beam that enables you to see in the dark. The U headlamp can be run using each light element independently or combined with a simple press of a button. Both lighting elements and the battery are mounted on a wide flexible silicone strap. Moon Sport offers the U headlamp in various premium looking colors from the teal shown here as well as grey, white, and black. All color variations share the same black nylon strap and reflective triangulation pattern above the battery housing.
Even with the Cree spot light and rechargeable battery, the U headlamp is surprisingly light at only 78 grams. Rubber pads behind the battery help distribute the weight and provide a non-slip surface. It’s also easy to adjust the elastic nylon strap on the rear to adjust the fit. While the U headlamp can easily be worn over hard hats or beanies, there is no beam angle adjustment which is a feature we would have liked to see for the spot LED. Otherwise the U headlamp is a good looking headlamp with branding that is limited to a logo on the strap and on the battery housing.
Not only is the U headlamp more powerful than most headlamps on the market, it also has more built in features. Below is a run down of the features and our thoughts on them.
- BOOST MODE: This special high-output mode takes advantage of the full 350 lumens by setting the COB LED strip and Cree LED to maximum output. It’s quite bright and offers a great combination of flood and spot beams to light up the trail or path in front of you. We found it particularly useful for trail running as it can be used to light up dark areas. It’s also easily accessible from any mode or even with the light off which makes it very useful.
- VARIABLE LUMEN SYSTEM (VLS): This feature is common to most Moon Sport lights and allows you to adjust the output of each mode independently. Once activated, the light ramps up from minimum to maximum power for that mode (note it flashes at each extreme to indicate a max/min has been reached) slowly until you select the desired level. The chosen output value overrides the factory defaults allowing for full customization. Although it’s a cool feature to see, we didn’t find it that useful as the factory settings were more than sufficient. However, if you want full control ahd VLS system allows you to customize every mode.
- LOCK OUT MODE: This is often called a “transport mode” and prevents the headlamp from accidentally being turned on. The light is shipped with lock out mode enabled to avoid the battery from being drained during shipping. It’s a useful feature that’s relatively easy to enable and disable. With the mode active, the light simply flashes anytime a button is pressed.
Accessing the features listed above is done through two buttons on the side of the headlamp: a larger “power button” and a smaller “output button”. Although the buttons are well sized and slightly raised,they lack much tactile feel as they share the same silicon coating as the rest of the headlamp which makes it difficult to tell the buttons apart when the headlamp is on your head. Due to the sheer number of options, each button is overloaded with multiple functions that depend on how long you press or the current state. The power button specifically does the following:
- Short Press: turn light on (light off) / switch between output options for current mode (light on).
- Double Press: activates “boost mode”.
- 5 Second Hold (light off): enables/disables lockout mode.
- 8 Second Hold (light off): resets all output modes to factory default settings (resets any VLS settings).
The second output button has a simpler design that only operates with the light on.
- Short Press: cycles through the three different output modes (COB / Cree spot / both)
- Double Press: switches between steady of flash modes
- Long Hold: activates VLS mode and ramps the output from min to max mode slowly
With each button having so much functionality, we suggest reading and saving the user manual for reference. The light also has a built-in speaker that emits an audible alert when the battery is low, locking/unlocking the light, as well as performing a factory reset. We found the audible beeps useful given the number of features the headlamp has.
The menu configuration is also fairly simple once you start to understand how it is set up. Changing modes or intensities are linear operations that cycle through all available output options. The boost mode and flash setting are perpendicular options that are accessible from any mode. That means a double press on the power button or output button jumps you directly to the boost or flash mode and a double pressing again returns you back to the original mode. The U headlamp also has mode memory so the light always returns to the previous mode it was on before being powered off.
Moon Sport has incorporated three primary output modes with the U headlamp: COB LED only, Cree LED only, and hybrid with both COB and Cree spot LED. Switching between the modes is easy as a simple press of the button with each mode being very obviously different. Because of the VLS system, each mode can also be adjusted all the way down to 5 lumen upto 150 lumen for COB and 200 for the spot LED. That also means run times can vary drastically from 1.5 hours (boost mode) to 330 hours (flashing COB) depending on which setting or mode is used. There are a total of 10 pre-programed modes: 2 constant hybrid modes, 2 constant spot LED modes, 2 constant COB modes, 3 COB flash modes and boost mode.
COB only mode provides a wide and even flood beam perfect for ensuring you are visible during the day or night. The two constant COB only modes offer 50 and 150 lumen output with a runtime range of 3.8 to 11 hours respectively. With the COB mode you can also use the three flash modes which consist of a standard flash (on/off), steady flash (low/high), and a SOS mode. We particularly like the steady flash mode for night time use as it draws attention to you without causing disorientation. The full 150 lumen mode is nearly bright enough to use on it’s own as it provides a uniform and wide beam.
For running on dark trails or more when more focused light is needed, the spot LED mode is ideal. The two pre-programed modes offer 70 and 200 lumen output with 3 to 8 hour runtimes. Again, you can use the VLS feature to vary the lumen in either mode between 5-200 lumen to fine tune the output. The compact LED has a flat Fresnel lens (i.e. a saw tooth profile to direct the light downward) that helps focus the light on the ground for a tighter beam. While the spot mode is quite bright, there is no angular adjustment as you see in some other headlamps so you have to adjust the entire headlamp to tweak the angle. The full 250 lumen boost mode takes advantage of the maximum output of the spot and COB LEDs and is ideal for dark stretches of trail or when you need a burst of light.
Overall, we found the Moon Sport U headlamp to be a bright and full featured headlamp. The combination of the spot and COB LEDs provide very flexible output allowing you to “be seen” or “to see” with a simple press of the button. Unique features such as the boost output mode, adjustable VLS output, and audible alerts means the U headlamp stands out from traditional headlamps on the market. Although we think the two button user interface is complicated, the menu is well laid out and easy to use after a short learning curve. The main feature the headlamp lacks is an adjustable spot LED angle as it’s statically mounted onto the headlamp. That means you have to carefully place the headlamp over hats or on your head to optimize the beam angle. That said, the U headlamp is a great option for hands-free illumination for running, hiking, or even working in a dark corner of your garage.
Disclaimer: The product for this review was provided by Moon Sport. The views expressed on this website are solely those of the authors and are here to help people make an informed choice before a purchase. The authors or the blog itself does not get any monetary compensation from the product manufacturer or third-party websites/vendor links that are posted here.