Ahhh, the red lens headlamp, the lord and giver of light at Marine Officer Candidates School. Before attending OCS, there are a million different pieces of gear that former Candidates, the message boards and your OSO will tell you that you MUST bring. Well, candidates, the red lens headlamp is one of those crucial pieces of gear that you need.
You’re probably saying to yourself, what the hell do I need a red lens headlamp for? Well, the answer is quite simple. While at Marine OCS, the lights officially go out at 2100 (9:00PM). But as any former candidate can tell you, when the lights go out, the real work gets done. Whether you’re marking your PT gear with stencils, writing a letter home to your family, writing an essay, studying for a test, it’s all done after lights go out. And when I say lights out, it literally means the lights are off in the barracks, aka it’s dark!
Here’s where the red lens headlamp comes into play… Rather than using the standard issue flashlight you receive during in-processing, you simply throw the headlamp on your head and you have hands free lighting. The headlamp will last up to 150 hours on 3 AAA batteries, which can be refilled eventually on liberty if you ever run out of power. Why the red lens? Because the red light doesn’t affect your night vision and isn’t as harsh on your eyes (or the eyes of other candidates around you).
Overall, the red lens headlamp is an absolute time saver at OCS. Don’t be one of the candidates fiddling around with a crappy flashlight after lights out, just whip out your headlamp and you’ll be good to go. It makes writing letters in your rack easier, marking gear easier, studying easier, and basically life overall at OCS easier.
What kind of red lens headlamp should you buy and where can you buy it? Personally, I purchased the Petzl Red Lense Headlamp at a local camping store before I attended OCS. There are other brands you can buy, but I found Petzl to be extremely reliable and always produce great light. As mentioned earlier, many local camping/hunting stores carry the headlamp, but if there is not one in your area or you’d rather order it online, they are available on Amazon.com through any of the above links.
The lamps are actually on sale now for $38 (I bought mine for around $50 two years ago), with free shipping from Amazon, so it turns out to be quite a deal. Trust me on this, purchasing a red lens headlamp will be worth the money.