Why pay for a high quality welding machine or plasma cutter and go cheap on the welding helmet? In my experience it’s 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 haven’t been using an auto dark welding helmet, then your missing out. Once you start using one, you’ll 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 I’ll 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, it’s hard to find the best of both worlds. It’s 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 isn’t 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 I’ve 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. It’s 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.
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 W60′s 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 W60′s tighter fit might just work better for some of you because it provides a bit more protection.
Jackson’s headgear is by far the most comfortable that I’ve used. It provides a nice wide band with plenty of cushion and solid ratchet engagement. This alone gets a big thumbs up from me, I’ve always tried rigging up my headgear to make it more comfortable. With the Jackson, there’s no need to, it’s already very comfortable.
Here are some of the specs for the Jackson W60:
- Digital shade adjustment 9-13
- Digital sensitivity and delay controls
- Replaceable battery
- Weld, torch, and grind mode
- under 5 amp detection
- Four independent sensors
- 2 year warranty
While doing some stick welding with fairly low amperage, the lens picked it up the arc no problem. I was glad to see the W60 perform well in this test. Manufacturers can be quick to make claims fast response times, even in low amp welding conditions. Unfortunately, they don’t always live up to the claims made, the Jackson W60 did.
Jackson did a good job with this lens, and it’s really something that has to be seen to appreciate. While the Digital Elite wins in terms of balance and style, the W60 is no slouch in those departments either. I didn’t even notice it all too much unless I was going back and forth between the two. There is a difference though, so that might be something you want to consider. In the end, after getting used to the Trusite Amber lens, I didn’t want to give it up.
It allows me to see more of what I’m welding, and it allows me to see everything more clearly as well. Being able to see the puddle better, allows me to make better welds, and that’s what matters most to me. The W60 doesn’t come cheap though, and at a retail price of over $400.00, some potential buyers may be hesitant. If that’s the case have a look at the new Miller Classic. Another option that you might want to consider, is that you can buy just the W60 Truesight lens, and it will fit perfectly in Jackson’s much cheaper HSL 100 helmet. This is a great option if you happen to already have the HSL 100, or if you can find a good deal on a used one.
If you shop around you should be able to find the W60 for $310-$325.00. That’s still not cheap by any means, but if your the type that only wants the best, then the Jackson W60 helmet should be at the top of your list.