surefire saint headlamp

Continuing the SureFire relationship, I led a team of designers and engineers at frog to help develop a new product category: head-worn illumination. This was a great design challenge, because it encompasses so many aspects of human-centered design, from ergonomics, to materials, to user environments, to usability.

Called “the Saint”, SureFire wanted this product to make all other headlamps look like a cheap toy. After tales of competitive products simply falling apart on extreme mountaineering expeditions, we vowed to make a headlamp unlike any other, and worthy of the SureFire brand.

Unlike plastic injection molded housings which can easily break, The Saint would use machined aluminum for the main lamp assembly, and glass-filled plastic for the rear battery case for high strength-to-weight ratio. The cable (one of the most frequently broken parts of a headlamp), was sourced from the highest grade mil-spec material.

Ergonomics were a crucial consideration. We eliminated any on-skin hardpoints by using thin lay-flat fasteners and soft but breathable fabric. One critical observation: most people have a small bump on the back of their heads (the Occipital Protuberance), which all competitive units aggravated over extended use. Our battery pack featured a special indentation that cradled this bump in the skull, and allowed for much greater comfort during long expeditions.

Demanding environments are usually in exotic locales, which typically don’t stock the standard lithium CR123-type battery. So a special battery pack was developed that could also accommodate the much more available AA-style battery, all within the same compartment. We even took inspiration from the MOLLE system worn by combat troops to help manage the cord placement.

The Saint debuted to high acclaim in 2009, and quickly raised the bar in the headlamp category. Their core users found it to be exactly what they were looking for: incredibly bright light in a product that was exceedingly comfortable, and able to stand up to the rigors of the most demanding environments.

Team: Andy Logan, Adam Leonards, Joe Hebenstreit