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 really 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 canalso 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 choosing 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 strong 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 AND 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 lamp 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 see 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, durability 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 AND 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 a longer run time. If you are using a non-rechargeable device, get a device that takes 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 coloured beams which are good for night vision, and so you don’t disturb others in your tent. A red light can also help reduce battery drain at night.
There are many other features that 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.