When it comes to lasting light and reliability, is a headlamp a safety asset or a liability? Here are a few to consider as you search for the best headlamps for playing outdoors whether ski touring, hunting, fishing, and backpacking. My criteria are simple: Price, brightness, battery life, and weight.
A couple of things that immediately stood out to me was the Reactive lighting technology that Petzl has created, as well as how burly this headlamp is. The reactive lighting technology is a sensor on the front of the lamp that reacts to light being reflected back into the sensor. Or to make things simple, when you have the lamp on and say, you go from looking at the trail 30 feet in front of you, to pulling a map out in front of your face.
The sensor will actually dim down the light that way you are not reflecting 575 lumens off the paper and back into your eyes. It dims it down, and once you have finished looking at your map, and continue on the trail, it will automatically light back up. This is a great application in the field when you need your hands free for rope work, or for trekking poles on a long skin in. It is a very great idea but had me worrying about battery life.
As I said before I have used this about 2-3 hours a day for 2 weeks and have yet to need to recharge the battery. Completely smashing my other headlamp that usually can last about 8-10 hours on a fresh set of batteries. They make charging very simple as well, having USB ports that you can plug into any USB port, allowing for charging virtually anywhere.
With relatively long battery life, 320 lumens, and even waterproof up to 1 meter, the Black Diamond Icon Headlamp is a solid competitor. For slightly less money BS offers the (Black Diamond Revolt) it’s the smaller, not-as-bright(130 lumens) version, it also has the longest battery life of all the options, is rechargeable, and splash-proof. Making this one of the best headlamps for fishing.
Because sometimes you get lost or hunt in the latter part of the day or better yet you just like to go for long walks in the dark. If any of these things sound familiar you’ll want to make sure you have a trusty headlamp tucked away in your pocket for an emergency. For its size, and 220 lumens output, the Petzl Reactik Headlamp packs a powerful punch in a small package. This is the best headlamp for hunting and other tougher outdoor pursuits.
The one hiccup with this headlamp is it is charged via USB, which means an extra pair of batteries won’t do you much good. However, most folks carry charging banks with them on longer excursions into the mountains and you can always use the USB to charge the headlamp on the way to a trailhead.
I personally believe that if a headlamp has an over-the-top strap, it’s probably over-the-top weight for my morning commute. At 282 grams or over .5 lbs, the Fenix Hp25 is for multi-day mountaineering expeditions to accommodate a better battery life and more distance/power.
With 196 lumens and 128 grams the Coast HL7 Headlamp is on the lower echelon of battery life, but still not the lowest. This light is missing a couple other relatively standard features in this group; no red light option, no on/off switch lock, and only water-resistant, however at a retail price of $59, it’s not passed over easily.
Headlamp Price Comparison
- Petzl Nao Headlamp – ($199.95)
- Black Diamond Icon Headlamp – ($99.95)
- Petzl Reactik Headlamp – ($119.95)
- Fenix HP25 Headlamp – ($79.95)
- Coast HL7 Headlamp – ($59.99)