Spark ST6-NW $99.00 USD (XM-L2 emitter)
This light became the flagship amongst adventure racers in 2012. Like all the lights in our quiver, this model has the Neutral White outdoor tint and uses an XM-L2 T5 LED which lights a larger area than the XM-L T5 LED's often found in competing products. A frosted lens is included. The advantage of the 'T' design is apparent for those that wear a headlamp while using a baseball cap or hood as the stem protrusion helps the beam clear the shroud, and at a mere 50g in weight it is light (150g with battery and headband). It also gets the ability to throw 460 lumens to a range of 150m on Turbo mode for up to 1.4 hours due to the fact it uses an 18650 battery. Another reason adventure racers love it is the fact you can insert the battery in any direction in the dark. To our clients - who work with other sensitive electronics in the field, even more importantly the 7075 anodized Alu body provides EMI/RFI shielding so it does not open the squelch circuit on your VHF radio, or scramble the circuits in your avalanche transceiver, iPod, or smartphone's GPS (this characteristic is true for all the Spark lights). The rubber strap firmly holds the light in position and eliminates the inevitable liability of broken hinges many of the recreational lights suffer from. When the elastomer and plastic components of the headband eventually degrade due to repetitive flex stress, UV, and atmospheric hydrocarbon exposure, replacement is as simple as buying a new headband for less than ten bucks.
Best use scenario...
ST6 compared to SD6:
The ST6 does the ability to attach it to a magnetic surface or to a tripod mount if you purchase optional adapters for the cap. It does not have the ability to swap the spot lens for a flood lens. You would obtain this over the SD6 if you were primarily going to use it only on the trail, for example skiing, biking or trail running, as it has a beam with more 'throw' than the SD6 beam due to the deeper reflector. If you are returning home at the end of the event then having more battery power like the SX5 offers is not a requirement. If you needed the ability to swap between throw beam and spot, and mount the light on a metal surface or tripod while you were camping or staying in a hut during a multi day trip, then the SD6 would be a better choice as it is configured to offer more versatility. Also consider the ergonomics of this unit if your head gear dictates you need the advantage that the extra reach that the stem design on this unit affords. Spark is know to be conservative relative to the other brands with official beam throw distances for spot. They rate this lamp at 150 meters throw at a 104 degree angle, whereas the SD6 is rated at 120 meters at an 80 degree angle using the optional screw in lens.
Batteries: The ST6 will accept the special longer 69.2mm 3400mah Panasonic protected cells, and also will accept all the other standard 67.2 mm protected cells.
Battery Times (based on a 2600mAh Li-Ion cell):