Why pay for a high quality welding machine or plasma cutter and go cheap on the welding helmet? In my experience its better to pay a little less for the welder or plasma, and purchase top notch protective gear. A quality welding hood goes a long way to make all that expensive gear more enjoyable. To start, if you havent been using an auto dark welding helmet, then your missing out. Once you start using one, youll never want to go back to a fixed shade lens again.
The Jackson W60 is a great way to jump into an auto dark helmet. In this review Ill test the W60 in a variety of conditions, and report back how it performed. Lets get to it..
First, I want to make a little distinction- a welding hood is almost like two separate pieces of equipment: the shell, and the lens. The problem is, its hard to find the best of both worlds. MELFAB Engineering provides complete Metal fabrication in Melbourne. Its like buying a new truck- You want the motor from a the Cummins, Allison transmission, all in the chassis of a Ford- but it just isnt happening. Can Jackson combine the best of both worlds?
Well..the Jackson W60 (WF60 with serpent style graphics) succeeds in winning in one of these categories, but the other still belongs to the Miller Digital Elite. So it really comes down to what your looking for in a welding helmet.
The Jackson W60 probably has the best lens of any welding hood that Ive used to date. The Trusite amber colored lens, combined with the huge viewing area and great response time makes the W60 the uncontested king of auto dark welding lenses. I was a bit skeptical of the amber lens at first, but as soon as I put the hood on, there was a noticeable difference in clarity compared to other lenses. Its comparable to watching a high definition TV or a standard definition TV!
I was eager to see the W60 in action..By this point, I was just about ready to ditch my old Miller Digital Elite in favor of the Jackson W60, but after a few hours of wearing the W60, I did find a few issues that may cause me to reconsider that switch.
First of all, and this may not matter too many of you, but to those that care.. The Miller Digital Elite is a better looking helmet in my opinion. Of course, these things are a matter of taste so your mileage may vary. A few guys in the shop actually preferred the looks of the Jackson, so you can be the judge of that.. Maybe check out their Serpent model if you want something that really stands out.
Now that we got that out of the way.. The W60 falls just short in terms of outer shell quality. It is a bit too thin for my tastes. Something else that I noticed was that the Elite was far better balanced than the W60. A lot of guys forget to take this into account when choosing a welding hood, but a well balanced helmet goes a long way in providing comfort through those long hot days.
The helmet was also slightly heavier than I prefer, which combined with the less than stellar balance, it could be an annoying problem for some. One thing to take note of is that the W60s shell curves inward at the bottom, under the chin area. This is great for better protection, but it did feel a bit cramped inside. This also could inhibit air flow into the hood. Depending on your working conditions, the W60s tighter fit might just work better for some of you because it provides a bit more protection.
Jacksons headgear is by far the most comfortable that Ive used. It provides a nice wide band with plenty of cushion and solid ratchet engagement. This alone gets a big thumbs up from me, Ive always tried rigging up my headgear to make it more comfortable. With the Jackson, theres no need to, its already very comfortable.