If your hiking trip involves nontechnical trail navigation at night or hitting the trails either in the early morning or at night, a headlamp is a useful tool. Even if you don’t intend on those types of situations, it is always good to have in case you get lost or end up hiking longer than intended. Key features to consider when selecting a headlamp include...

Power

Many hiking light brands offer headlamps that provide enough power for doing chores around the campsite at night, as well as for hiking in low-light conditions. As an energy-saving measure, many of the Black Diamond models have PowerTap™ technology, which allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power. They also use LED lights which is many times more efficient than the conventional incandescent lightbulbs.

Design

Some headlamps come with the option of a top strap, which can help stabilize and redistribute weight. Some headlamps also come with a tilt option, which can allow you to vary the angle of your light. This is especially useful when you need that extra little bit of light on your hands when tieing something at the campsite.

Durability

Different headlamps have different special features. Some of the Black Diamond headlamps have the highest IPX (water-resistant) rating of 8, which can handle continuous immersion in water. Many designs also feature rubber housings to help absorb shock in case it gets dropped.

Power Source

Depending on your needs, you can either buy a headlamp with a rechargeable battery or a headlamp with replaceable batteries. For mountaineering, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are better at holding a charge in extremely cold temperatures. While Rechargeable batteries also provide a constant and reactive stream of light, they are known to burn out faster. On the other hand, replaceable batteries provide a light stream that gradually decreases as they deplete but are known to last longer. If you want both options, The Petzl Tikkina headlamp is a hybrid with three AAA included and the CORE rechargeable battery is available as a separate accessory.

Lumens and Watts

You will notice that all headlamp brightness specs are described in lumens. Lumens is a technical term to describe how much light is being output (brightness). Watts describes the amount of energy needed to power a light source. Lower lumens are good for campsites or in group settings. High lumens are more appropriate for solitary trips and mountaineering.

External Battery Pack

Some headlamps have an external battery pack located at the rear end of the strap. This can reduce the amount of weight on your forehead, but also make the headlamp a bit more cumbersome overall.

Now that you have an idea of the features of a headlamp, you can head out and choose the right one for you. Headlamps are versatile tools and can be used in many situations outside hiking or camping. It may be good to keep one in an emergency kit for inclement weather. Or, keep one in your vehicle in case you need to take a look under the hood at night. If you need more info on a headlamp or want to see some options on the market, visit us online or in-store at your local Sun & Ski Sports.