Friday Night Lights: NVG Helmet Illumination

    Just a little over a year ago I wrote about some accessories for helmets. That article focused on safety-oriented accessories. In it, I mentioned helmet illumination but those accessories were for safety and identification. This week on Friday Night Lights we will take a look at three options for a different type of helmet illumination. We will focus on lights that help you see in the dark and attach to your helmet.

    Velcro Mounted Helmet Illumination

    Echo Arms Fast Attach Mount

    Helmet illumination

    My helmet has been rocking Echo Arms Fast Attach mount since they came out with it last year. It is a simple curved piece of plastic with hook velcro underneath it so it can attach to the loop velcro on your helmet. The Fast Attach mount features a raised section in the middle with a single M-LOK slot. You can attach a short Picatinny rail to it or buy their M-LOK light body that is compatible with SureFire Scout Light heads and tail caps.

    Photo by Echo Arms

    Photo by Echo Arms

    I opted for a Reptilia Corp Torch body that is offset. It functions the same as Echo Arms low profile light body. Since the Fast Attach mount is just held on with Velcro, you can pull the light/mount off and reposition it in any direction you want, provided you have velcro to stick it onto.

    Angled upward for ceiling bounce aka Umbrella Lighting while indoors or under cover.

    Angled down to illuminate your path or immediate work area.

    Derek Watral’s Articulating Helmet Mount

    Recently there is a newcomer to the velcro mounted helmet illumination. Derek reached out to me on Facebook and sent me a prototype of his rotating helmet mount. While there are already rotating light mounts on the market, Unity Tactical’s Remora mount comes to mind, those are attached to either the ARC rail or part of an ear pro mounting system.

    At first glance, Derek’s velcro helmet mount looks like the one from Echo Arms. However, instead of an M-LOK slot, he added a rotating Picatinny rail for mounting a SureFire X-series light. The rail can swing up and down about 45°.

    Derek collaborated with Jon “Mochabear Actual” Dufresne to create his velcro helmet illumination mount. The rotating rail has detents so it locks in each position.

    Rail Mounted Helmet Illumination

    By far my favorite helmet illumination is the Princeton Tec Charge. It attaches to Ops-Core ARC rails and is powered by just a single AA. It has a run time of 24 hours but if you want more run time, Princeton Tec makes the Charge Pro which is powered by a CR123.

    The Charge mounts to the right side of your helmet. But for some reason, the Charge Pro attaches to the left side of the helmet. You could have them on opposite sides but then the light would hang below the rail.

    The Charge is a bigger version of their Switch MPLS and it is brighter. The Switch MPLS is only 10 lumens while the Charge MPLS is 55 lumens. They have three color LEDs around the main white LED. Red, Blue, Green or Infrared. Mine is the Red, Blue and IR version.

    The AA battery can be changed without having to remove the light from the helmet.

    The LED array is attached to a goose neck so you can aim the light where you need it. In the middle and just below the battery tube is the black power switch. Click it to activate red, press it again to switch to blue. If you press hold the switch down when you turn it on, the main white LED is activated.

    NVG Shroud Helmet Illumination

    An alternate solution to helmet illumination is the Nitecore HC65M. It is a helmet mountable version of their HC65 headlamp. It has a mount that attaches to the NVG shroud of your helmet.

    The mount is merely a set of rubber rings that hold the cylindrical body of the HC65. This allows the light to be tilted up or down.

    The main white LED is 1000 lumens and is powered by an 18650. You can also use 2x CR123 batteries if you need an immediate replacement. At full brightness, the light will run for 1 hour. The HC65M also has an auxiliary warm white LED and a red LED. These lower modes will have longer run times: 25 hours on aux white and 20 hours on red.

    The HC65M mounts to the NVG shroud of your helmet.

    If you use the Nitecore rechargeable 18650 you do not need to remove the battery to recharge it. Simply unscrew the cover on the button side and a micro USB port is exposed. Plug the light into a USB power supply and you can recharge the battery inside.

    Final Thoughts On Helmet Illumination

    Some people like mounting extremely bright lights to their helmets. Like X300 by SureFire. However, I have not needed such a bright light on my helmet. I do not need to illuminate far distances. My needs are to illuminate my immediate area. Lighting up cardboard targets during a match so I can find the bullet holes and paste them over with tape. Or I need to work on a gun or load my magazines. These types of tasks do not require a lot of light that is why I prefer the Princeton Tec Charge MPLS the most.

    With regards to the Nitecore HC65M, I am not much of a fan of lights mounted to NVG shrouds. I would prefer it if they made the mounting system compatible with Wilcox dovetail system. That way the light would attach to the NVG mount rather than the shroud.

    With the NVG mount folded up, the HC65M could still face forward due to the mount.

    The Princeton Tec Charge retails for around $100. While the Nitecore HC65M retails for just $75.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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