If you are planning your next hiking or backpacking trip, you need to put a headlamp on your packing list. A headlamp is something that most people don’t think about until it’s needed, and then you are stuck with a flashlight in your mouth in the dark while trying to pitch a tent, or worse. I bought my first headlamp when I began to bike and run at night, and it is now a part of my daily gear for these activities.
While biking or running at night, a light on your head is high enough that you can be seen more easily while on the road. Having both of your hands available while setting up your camp can also mean the difference between being able to cook or pitch a tent quickly and easily or trying to do all of your work one-handed. Just ask the guy who is solo camping and trying to make camp for the night or the ultra-marathoner who is pushing for those extra 10 KM after it gets dark if they would prefer a traditional flashlight or a headlamp.
But how do you choose the perfect headlamp? There are so many options out there, and there a few things you need to know about selecting the best lamp to suit your needs. Let’s go over a few things that will help even the newcomer choose the perfect headlamp for themselves.
Let’s start off with beam types. There are three types to consider.
Flood: A flood or wide beam is best for in a campsite or tent, reading maps or other types of general use.
Spot: This is the beam that will cast a robust, tight light farther away. This type of light is better for being on the trail or road at night when you need to see off in the distance.
Flood/Spot: This is a lamp that can do both, and will be perfect for multiple tasks. It may cost a little more, but if you are hiking at night and then setting up a camp, then you will need both.
Beam Distance & Brightness:
Beam distance and Lumens together are the next things to consider. Lumens is a word for brightness at the source of the light, while beam distance is how far the lamp can cast its light. That being said, automatically choosing more Lumens in your bulb is not the best idea as it also depends on the quality of light coming from the lamp and its optical system.
Taking that into consideration, it tends to be better to focus on the beam distance. Think about how far you need that light to see ahead of you. Do you need to understand only in the camp or do you want that spotlight to hit the length of a football field?
As one of those people who has always dropped their phone at the WORST possible time, longevity is a must in my choice of the perfect headlamp. Regardless of the weather or being dropped you will need that headlamp to work, as a working light can sometimes be the difference between safety and disaster.
There are many options, from water resistant (able to resist light rain and snow) to fully waterproof and the higher the IPX rating(ruggedness rating), the more abuse it can take. At the very least, your lamp should be dust-proof and able to survive a rainstorm.
Battery & Battery Life
Every lamp is different for battery and battery life. How long do you need it to last at full output? If you are a cold weather camper/hiker, lithium-ion batteries might be your choice as they perform better in cold weather. On the other hand, Alkaline batteries hold a charge longer and tend not to drain when not in use like a lithium-ion battery does. When you need all night run time at full power, consider taking extra batteries or opt for a device with longer run time. If you are using a non-rechargeable device, get a device that makes the same size batteries as all your other devices. There are now even solar options available, but they are still on the pricey side.
Other things to consider
Once you have looked at the main options, you can start looking at other features such as these:
Tilt: This is a feature that will allow the lamp can change its position. It can be a handy option especially when doing any up-close work.
Bluetooth capability: There are devices now that can show battery life and help you optimize your settings on your phone, so there is no need to take off your headlamp and fuss with it.
Red light: Some lamps include colored beams which are suitable for night vision, and so you don’t disturb others in your tent. A red light can also help reduce battery drain at night.
Many other features come with different lamps, but with these options, it is more a matter of choice and what kind of convenience that you are looking for.
So there you have it, a quick and easy guide to choosing a headlamp. Check out our site to see our great selection of headlamps as we will have the perfect one for you here.
- The Petzl Nao+ Headlamp - You are an individual on the move, and speed matters. Whether you are trail-running or doing other fast-paced nighttime activities, you don’t have the time to slow down and adjust your light settings. Your pace needs to improve, and this is why the PETZL Nao+ Headlamp is your only option for a headlamp. Designed with REACTIVE LIGHTING, this 750 Lumens smart multi-beam lamp sets the standard for being able to adapt to even the most intense activities. It will change according to...
- Petzl – REACTIK+ Headlamp - When you are climbing, running or out in the back trails, you need a headlamp that is lightweight and will last for hours. A light that will last and adapt on the fly to your needs, whether that is a red light to keep your night vision, or REACTIVE lighting while running in a pack of people. Your lamp needs to give you that edge to climb safely and move faster. A headlamp packed with features but is still light...
- Fenix HP25R Rechargeable LED Headlamp - When climbing at night, sometimes the best option is a bright light. One that will dominate the other options available at a still affordable price. Burn time isn’t a factor, you want to see as far as you can for as long as is possible. A climber needs to see the next anchor, and the shadows thrown by a less powerful lamp might cost valuable time in your climb. You will need a rugged, durable light that withstand drops and...
- Fenix HL60R 950 Lumen USB rechargeable CREE XM-L2 T6 LED Headlamp - When you are deep in a cave or fishing at night, you want a bright light that just won’t give up. A powerful lamp that will still work after being dropped on the ground or in the water. A perfect lamp for the darkest, most remote places. The Fenix HL60R is perfect for cavers and night fishermen, providing a super bright light that is a favourite among those who spend their free time in caves exploring deep in the depths....
- Coast HL7 Focusing 285 Lumen LED Headlamp - Sometimes, simplicity is best. You want to work on your car or in small spaces, and your headlamp needs to be a powerful and easy to use. For almost 100 years, Coast has been producing quality and innovation with headlamps like the HL7. The Coast HL7 has the unique Pure Beam Focusing system to change the beam with a simple twist, going from a full flood to a tightly focused beam in one second without any fuss. Up close this...
- Best Caving Headlamps 2018 - Many people like to explore outside at night, and still more like to explore even darker spaces. The subterranean world is more fun to you than climbing a mountain. Today, we are talking about spelunking, which is a fancy word for caving. There is so much to explore in the dark earth, from considerable caverns to underwater rivers. When spelunking, the essential piece of gear you will need is a headlamp as there is never any light underground. What kind...
- Black Diamond Icon Headlamp - The Black Diamond Icon is an excellent, dynamic option for those who live for the outdoors and want a light that will last and light the path. This headlamp boasts an impressive 500 Lumens that lasts up to 50 hours while on the trail. With a uniformly illuminated beam for closeup work and three choices of colors for night vision, the Icon provides excellent high output light when you require it most. This lamp is powerful. It boasts a QuadPower...
- Best Backpacking Headlamp 2018 – Complete Guide - Hiking and backpacking are great to get away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and just enjoy nature. You need nothing more than the pack on your back, and a light to see your surroundings. We love hiking and backpacking. But you still need to look at night, and while a regular flashlight is handy to have, a headlamp is always your best bet. Lanterns can be messy as they need fuel and a torch can drop...
- The Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp - You love the rush of a fast ride or run. Whether you are riding a mountain on a bike, running through a dark forest or even hunting snakes at night, the Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp will provide you with the most potent mixed beam possible to see everything in your path. With four levels of intense white light, you will be able to move at your most demanding pace with your surroundings lit up brighter than the lights of Broadway....