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Pokey2006
01-14-2007, 04:20
I need some help finding the best headlamp. Actually, I'm looking for two different headlamps.

1) I need to know about the lightest headlamps. Price isn't an option here. I want to know what the ultra-light backpackers' favorite is.

2) I need to know about the brightest headlamps. The headlamps with the strongest beam, or maybe a choice of light levels, but not necessarily expensive. We're talking sufficient light to hike comfortably in at night, without breaking the bank. Under $50, perhaps?

To fully disclose my mission, I am writing an article for publication about night hiking. I am only looking for ideas, and have no intention of quoting anything said here.

But I am also interested in doing more night hiking myself, since days are short here in New England during the winter, and I am also a late-starter, which means I tend to stay on the trail later then most, which means I do a lot of hiking in the dark. I'm looking to upgrade from my $10 Wal-Mart headlamp, all article writing aside.

Any advice or experiences you guys can share would be great!

rafe
01-14-2007, 09:38
FWIW, the Princeton Tec Scout weighs 1.7 oz. It uses four CR-2032 cells, has two LEDs. Three "on" settings, plus fast/slow flashing. This is not the lamp I'd use for extended night hiking.

FanaticFringer
01-14-2007, 10:20
I also own a Wally World headlamp. It is not waterproof but I have read that you can use a piece of saran wrap over it.
My other lamp is a Black Diamond Zenix. This is the earlier model. It does not have the battery charge indicator. It shows up on steep and cheap sometimes for less than $30. The top strap can be cut off to save weight. It is not really needed. Lithium batteries also help save weight. This is the new Zenix IQ:
www.backcountry.com/store/BLD0721/Black-Diamond-Zenix-IQ-Headlamp.html
I also enjoy hiking at nite. You are not limited by the daylight.

Johnny Swank
01-14-2007, 10:24
Headlamps are more alike than different in alot of ways. Most anything with 3 AAA batteries and 3-4 leds will be fine for nighthiking on trails. I use a Petzl TikkaPlus, and it's been fine. Never had a real problem with the original Tikka either (other than a funky switch that required bending the contacts - no big deal)

Ridge Rat
01-14-2007, 12:22
I like the petzl zipka plus personally. I am not sure the wieght, something around 2 oz. with the 3 AAA batteries. But it packs up small and I can carry it in a pant pocket or on my wrist so there is no searching for when the sun goes down. I think they are all pretty much the same anymore w/ 3 AAA's and 3-4 LEDs like was said before. It's all personal preference.

Michele
01-14-2007, 12:28
I use the Princeton Tec Aurora. It's 2.8 oz w/with 3 AAA batteries. It has 3 brightness settings and a strobe. Can't say I'd use the strobe, BUT, it is super bright on the bright setting, and the feature I would never night hike without is that you can adjust the light...it's mounted on a bracket that you can tilt, so you can adjust the beam angle for the conditions.

Kerosene
01-14-2007, 12:31
I use the Black Diamond Ion (http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=25254329) (27g or 0.97 oz with its 6-volt battery according to BackpackingLight.com). I also carry a Photon Freedom Micro Light (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/photon_light_micro_led.html) (6g or 0.22 oz) as a backup. In a pinch I could use both to help me stumble a mile or two through the dark, but the newer 4+ LED headlamps do a better job for night hiking.

Left Hand
01-14-2007, 12:59
I agree; the Ion is my favorite. Just bright enough to hike with with, and no extra lights that won't ever be used.

rafe
01-14-2007, 13:12
I use the Black Diamond Ion (http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?memberId=12500226&productId=25254329) (27g or 0.97 oz with its 9-volt battery according to BackpackingLight.com).

According to the Black Diamond site, it weighs 1.0 oz with some kind of six volt battery. According to one review:

The Ion is powered by a single 6-volt battery. A Gold Peak 476 silver oxide battery was included. Lithium or alkaline batteries in size 476, CR2-1/3N, 28A, or 28L will also fit.
In any case, this isn't the standard rectangular 9V "transistor radio" battery but something a bit more exotic.

Johnny Swank
01-14-2007, 13:30
I have an Ion as well and really grew to dislike the expensive battery. I wasn't able to get more than a few nights of real light from it, and not being able to buy the battery at any convenience/grocery store is sort of a pain. I could live with the light output for summer hiking, but I think it'd get old quick during the early spring or late fall on a thru-hike.

I tend to do a fair amount of night hiking though - if all you need it for is a trip to the privy or for reading, it's fine.

Appalachian Tater
01-14-2007, 20:07
Once you decide on a headlamp, get lithium batteries if you are concerned about weight.

troglobil
01-14-2007, 20:30
My vote would go towards either: Petzl Tikka+,Tikka XP, or Princeton Tech Eos. All use AAA batteries, the XP and Eos both use a single 1 watt LED with a focused beam. I often use these while caving (its kinda like night walking) as a primary or back up light. They all have good light output, burn times, light weight. and good durability. Remember, in the cave a failing light means death. I literally trust my life to them.

Big Dawg
01-14-2007, 20:34
I just recently got this..... http://www.rei.com/online/store/ProductDisplay?storeId=8000&catalogId=40000008000&partNumber=749039&cm_mmc=ad_froogle-_-datafeed-_-product-_-na

pretty bright, at less than an ounce.

buckowens
01-14-2007, 21:12
I use the Princeton Tec EOS and really like it. It is very bright (1 watt), and uses regular 3AAA batteries, and has two other dim settings. It also only has one compartment on the strap and that is where the light is. Shows 3.7 ounces in the specs. You can get them for less than $30.00 if you look around. Specs are listed below:


Designed with the user in mind, the EOS is optimal for both localized needs and spotting at a distance. The combination of a Luxeon/1 watt L.E.D. and the Princeton Tec designed optimized lens/collimator maximizes the beam by balancing long throw with flood light. The 3 AAA battery footprint of the EOS is similar to the Aurora providing a self contained battery system that eliminates external wires. Recognizing that different amounts of light are needed for different conditions and situations, the EOS is equipped with (3) brightness levels and a blinking emergency/signaling mode. Each level provides true current regulation ensuring that the EOS will remain at constant brightness as long as the batteries have sufficient voltage. The use of high grade materials ensures durability and strong resistance to water/weather/environment conditions.
SPECIFICATIONS:Lamp: 1 watt Luxeon LEDBurn Time: 6.5 - 60 Hrs.Batteries: 3 AAA AlkalineWeight: 3.7 oz. with Batteries

Socrates
01-14-2007, 21:30
I have the Petzl MYO XP, but I also do caving and sometimes like to blind airline pilots at 30,000 ft. :eek:

bigcranky
01-14-2007, 22:09
Photon Freedom is probably the lightest usable headlamp. Single LED, little hat-brim clip, button cell, with many levels of brightness and flashing and all that. Not something I'd like to use for extended night hiking on difficult terrain, but okay on well-defined trails. Great as an all-around pocket light, and weighs 7 grams.

I like the version that Doug Ritter sells, b/c it's made in bright yellow so I don't use it. The latest versions are twice as bright.

http://www.equipped.com/dr_photon.htm

Pokey2006
01-15-2007, 01:01
This is awesome you guys! I'll check out each of your suggestions...by all means, keep them coming, if you like.

Thanks so much everyone!

hammock engineer
01-15-2007, 01:43
I have the Petzl MYO XP, but I also do caving and sometimes like to blind airline pilots at 30,000 ft. :eek:

I am with you on this one. I have the Petzek MYO 5 (I think). It has 5 LEDs and a xenon bulb. Yes it is very heavy at 8.6 oz with 4 AA's. Yes those are Litiums. Sometimes I just like the heavier options. I'm sure that will change.

My camera takes 4 AA's and I wanted something that taked the same batteries. I also like a lot of light when I want it. I really don't like night hiking right now. The couple times I did use this night hiking, it was very helpful. I was having problems seeing the where the trail went. It was helpful to turn on the xenon and see 20 or 30 yards in front.

A side note on litium batteries. They put out a lower voltage than alkoline batteries. Some of the cheaper headlamps can't account for that and will burn up. You need one that has a voltage regulator.

johnny quest
01-15-2007, 13:48
just curious, what do these lights have that the walmart garrity or rayovac headlight doesnt?

Appalachian Tater
01-15-2007, 15:30
just curious, what do these lights have that the walmart garrity or rayovac headlight doesnt?

Lighter, better quality (brighter) LEDs, more aesthetically pleasing, come in different colors, better lens.

johnny quest
01-15-2007, 15:36
well, i will consider the first two considerations. the other two i dont care much about.
is there somewhere where the brightness and lenses are rated?

rswanson
01-15-2007, 15:44
just curious, what do these lights have that the walmart garrity or rayovac headlight doesnt?
Not break like the cheap plastic it is. And not turn on in my pack or pocket because the switch slides too easily. I sure liked the $12 price tag but I went through two before buying a Tikka Plus. Once you get to the $30-$40 range there isn't a big difference from one to the next.

johnny quest
01-15-2007, 15:47
i have both a garrity led and a couple of the rayovac lights. i have carried both for years and mistreated them. i havent had a problem with them breaking or coming on. im not trying to argue....just curious.

rswanson
01-15-2007, 15:50
well, i will consider the first two considerations. the other two i dont care much about.
is there somewhere where the brightness and lenses are rated?
Backpackinglight.com has some good quantitative anaysis of various headlamp models, but it will require the $20 subscription price to read the article. And then, its only useful if you care about which one weighs a tenth of an ounce less, or which one gets 130 hours of burn time versus 140, or which one puts out 1.21 gigawatts versus 1.22. Buy any Petzl, Black Diamond, or Princeton Tec 4 LED headlamp and you'll be fine. FWIW, the Princeton Tec models are regulated for safer usage with lithium cell batts but I've never had probs using lithium's in an unregulated applicance.

Appalachian Tater
01-15-2007, 16:09
I had a handheld single-led Princeton Tec that I had to return because it was so dim.

Texasgirl
01-16-2007, 01:46
Backpackinglight.com has some good quantitative anaysis of various headlamp models, but it will require the $20 subscription price to read the article. ....

Can also save the $20 and do comparison online at Rei.com if you're really into specs. I got a free Princeton Tec Scout at a trail run. 2 LEDs. Love the light weight and switch cover. For a freebie, it's okay. But for running at night or hiking in pitch black alone, it's not cutting the grade. Too dim and no head strap (I could add a strap, but can't add brightness). Even without those issues, I wondered if it's harder to pick up extra coin-cell lithium batteries during a hike than to grab a pack of AAAs.

rafe
01-16-2007, 08:37
I wondered if it's harder to pick up extra coin-cell lithium batteries during a hike than to grab a pack of AAAs.

I suspect it will be. But three AAAs weigh more than four CR-2032s. By the way, the Tec Scout should come with a headband. The 2032s should be at any decent sized drug store (eg CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens) but not necessarily in a small-town general store.

Johnny Swank
01-16-2007, 08:58
Even without those issues, I wondered if it's harder to pick up extra coin-cell lithium batteries during a hike than to grab a pack of AAAs.

That's one of my main issues with using anything other than AAA or AA batteries. Given the long life you get out of LED lamps these days, it's not a total dealbreaker, but I like knowing that I can pick up batteries at any gas station, grocery store, etc with absolutley no hassle and not have to carry spares around.

Appalachian Tater
01-16-2007, 19:18
Are you sure they would even need replacing? My headlamp used AAAs, three, and they never needed replacing. Of course, I didn't night-hike as a rule, but I did stay up late reading a lot.

refreeman
01-17-2007, 00:16
I use two headlamps.

The Black Diamond Moonlight Headlamp, an older discontinued model, with four LEDs provides 15 meters of usable light for over 70 hours. Weighing just 3.2 ounces, I never leave it behind. You know the scenario - you're packing up for a day hike and not planning to be out past dark. Should you throw in a headlamp or not? My Moonlight has become essential hiking gear; I simply will not go hiking if I don't have it. I tend to push my time in the woods, enjoying the vista of a backcountry summit, talking to long to other hikers or underestimating how long it would take to hike a given section. My Black Diamond Moonlight Headlamp allows me to get home safe and sound. I bought it from Steep and Cheap for $15.72, just when Steep and Cheap was just starting out and their deals were usually 80% off.

This last year I got another headlamp as a backup and for brighter light. A Black Diamond Zenix Headlamp with "HyperBright" LED technology. Yes, it really is impressively bright. I can move quicker and with more confidence in the brighter light of my Black Diamond Zenix Headlamp. And unlike xenon bulbs, the LED's will never need to be replaced. Weighing a mere 3.2 ounces my Zenix Headlamp is easy to remember to put in my pack. However, its burn time is much less 12-15 hr with full strength HyperBright, 140hr with outside SuperBrights, the low beam mode. I would include the weight of 3 AAA backup batteries in real world weight. I bought the Zenix from Steep and Cheap.com too; for $21.88. Now don't let some people confuse you, Steep and Cheap doesn't sell the new version of the Zenix, the Zenix IQ which has upgraded switching controls. It is still possible to buy the Zenix from Steapandcheap.com when they offer it. Iím very happy with mine.

It creeps me out when the headlampís light reveals a pair of glowing retinaís of a cat to dog sized animal watching me walk along the trail in the deep dark forest.

rafe
01-17-2007, 00:27
Heh. I just checked the price of four CR-2032 cells at Radio Shack. The cost of the 4 batteries exactly matches the $20 cost of the Princeton Tec Scout at REI. This is worse than printers and ink cartridges. Guess I'll just toss it when the batteries go... :rolleyes:

Jim Adams
01-17-2007, 00:35
I need some help finding the best headlamp. Actually, I'm looking for two different headlamps.

1) I need to know about the lightest headlamps. Price isn't an option here. I want to know what the ultra-light backpackers' favorite is.

2) I need to know about the brightest headlamps. The headlamps with the strongest beam, or maybe a choice of light levels, but not necessarily expensive. We're talking sufficient light to hike comfortably in at night, without breaking the bank. Under $50, perhaps?

To fully disclose my mission, I am writing an article for publication about night hiking. I am only looking for ideas, and have no intention of quoting anything said here.


:cool: Although not light, a Petzel Zoom can be fitted with a halogen bulb and has a zoom light beam that I have used to spot wildlife at night out to 100 yards. About $40.
geek



But I am also interested in doing more night hiking myself, since days are short here in New England during the winter, and I am also a late-starter, which means I tend to stay on the trail later then most, which means I do a lot of hiking in the dark. I'm looking to upgrade from my $10 Wal-Mart headlamp, all article writing aside.

Any advice or experiences you guys can share would be great!
:cool: Although not light weight, a Petzel Zoom can be fitted with a halogen bulb and has a zoom light beam that I have used to spot wildlife at night out to 100 yards. About $40.
geek

Texasgirl
01-17-2007, 00:38
Heh. I just checked the price of four CR-2032 cells at Radio Shack. The cost of the 4 batteries exactly matches the $20 cost of the Princeton Tec Scout at REI. This is worse than printers and ink cartridges. Guess I'll just toss it when the batteries go... :rolleyes:

Maybe that explains why it was a giveaway for entering a trail run.

Two Speed
01-17-2007, 08:04
Pokey, you may want to check this site (http://ledmuseum.home.att.net/) out if you're still doing background & research. LOTS of good information about durability, battery life, light distribution and intensity, etc.

Pokey2006
01-20-2007, 06:14
Thanks for all this great info. Petzl seems to be a well-regarded headlamp maker; for my own personal use, I ended up going with the Tikka XP.

I thought about the Tikka Plus, but then I took both into a dark closet and compared their brightness levels. Both are great, but for actual night hiking, as opposed to just tooling around camp or reading in bed, the XP seems to really rock! It is super-bright, with some nifty features. And without spending a huge fortune -- about what I had expected (in the $40s).

So thanks everyone for your expertise and input. And I hope all the info in this thread can also help others who are looking for information on headlamps.

LIhikers
01-20-2007, 11:39
My wife and I have both been using the Princeton Tec Aurora headlamp. It's bright enough for around camp and OK to hike in as long as yo ugo slow or on very level terrain. Recently the switch on hers broke and she replaced the light with a Petzl Tikka Plus. We were out last weekend and wound up doing about an hour of hiking in the dark. I couldn't belive how much brighter her new light was than mine. I chalked it up to hers having new batteries and mine batteries about a year old with a good amount of use. The day after we got home I put fresh batteries in my light and then compared it to my wife's Tikka Plus. Her's is still noticebly brighter and by quite a bit. I think I'm going to have to switch!

Omarwannahike
11-05-2007, 16:18
I have an Ion as well and really grew to dislike the expensive battery.
I tend to do a fair amount of night hiking though - if all you need it for is a trip to the privy or for reading, it's fine.

I plan on getting the Ion use to privy-time only. I doon't expect to read or hike at night. As for the battery, thank god for odd shapes, they bring a bit of excitment to standards.

Bootstrap
11-05-2007, 17:57
i have both a garrity led and a couple of the rayovac lights. i have carried both for years and mistreated them. i havent had a problem with them breaking or coming on. im not trying to argue....just curious.

I have two rayovacs, one for my daughter and one for me. I like them.

I don't do much night hiking. When walking around at night, I really like the red setting so that I don't damage my night vision and so that I can still see the stars. The rayovac gives me that for $10.00. Never saw a reason to replace it or pay more.

Jonathan

johnny quest
11-05-2007, 18:02
jonathan, the only problem ive had with my rayovac since my last post here is that the elastic headband is getting old. i tried to buy replacement elastic this weekend and was surprised i couldnt find it at rei, michaels or a sewing store.

JoeHiker
11-05-2007, 18:13
I carry a headlamp but I also carry another lamp I consider indispensible. The Pak Lite 9 volt flashlight.

http://www.9voltlight.com/home

Very bright and I can get 1200 hours off one 9 volt battery!

dloome
11-05-2007, 18:29
Petzl Tikka XP is by far the best headlmap I've ever used, and one of my favorite pieces of gear. I started late in the season on my PCT thru this past Summer and the ability to night hike comfortably really made the desert sections of Southern CA do-able/enjoyable for me. Love that lamp.

I've decided that a headlamp is an area where I'll gladly carry an extra ounce. When you compare an "ultralight" headlamp like the Zippka to say, the Tikka XP, sure, the XP weighs more, but you get a LOT for than extra ounce- The ability to comfortably navigate on faint or little traveled trails, the "boost" mode that got me on the right track at times when if I had a lesser lamp I would have had to stop until daylight. I've also used it a couple times for some AMAZING cross country night hikes in AZ. Worth the extra ounce? Yeah.

bajabackpacker
11-05-2007, 18:59
We had the Petzl rep come into our store last week and I ended up getting a sweet deal on a Tikka XP. This thing is beyond sweet. Very bright, not much heavier than a Tikka Plus, and you can add a lens kit to do different things (red to preserve night vision, green to make blood look black if you have to track a deer you've shot, etc).

take-a-knee
11-05-2007, 19:12
The Princeton Tec Scout gets the nod, but for a thru hiker maybe a light that uses AAA's would be easier to feed. Lithium AAA's are available and are a must have in the cold. Any of the Princeton of Petzl LED lights are good, it just depends on how much light you want and how much weight you want to carry. No wally world lights for me.

EWS
11-06-2007, 01:30
Best on the market right now is the Mammut Lucido TX1: LINK (http://www.mountaingear.com/pages/product/product.asp/imanf/Mammut/idesc/Lucido+TX1/Store/MG/item/208100/N/964)

Description:
For serious alpine use, the Mammut Lucido TX1 is a high-performance headlamp that rates at the very top. Using incredibly precise Reflex Optics with a HiFlux.LED, it will reach out and illuminate your path up to 105 meters, so you always know what's ahead. Additionally, two Definition.LED's flood the area out to 14 meters for spectacular proximity lighting. Features:
Four light settings: Flood-Light High with a range of 14 meters for 155 hours; Flood-Light Low with 7 meters for 180 hours (both using the Definition.LED's); Spot-Light with a range of 105 meters for 145 hours using the HiFlux.LED; Dual-Light using all three LED's with a range of 105 meters for 100 hours
Adjustable headband Specifications:

Weight without batteries: 3.4 ounces
Battery type: 3x AA
Maximum battery life: 180 hours
Maximum light range: 105 meter
I returned my Tikka XP. It is a cheesy design, a one cent plastic "diffuser" on a $50 headlamp :rolleyes:

jlb2012
11-06-2007, 09:07
The Princeton Tec Scout gets the nod, but for a thru hiker maybe a light that uses AAA's would be easier to feed. Lithium AAA's are available and are a must have in the cold. Any of the Princeton of Petzl LED lights are good, it just depends on how much light you want and how much weight you want to carry. No wally world lights for me.

Be very careful using lithium batteries in LED lites - a typical LED lite depends to some extent on the internal resistance of the battery to limit the current through the LED - lithium batteries have a lower internal resistance so the current through the LED is greater than with the alkeline batteries - this greater current can result in the LED burning out or failing in other ways. Regulated LED lites avoid this issue by having an active current regulator circuit - unfortunately however there is greater leakage with the regulated LED lites - enough so that I recommend removing one of the batteries (thus breaking the circuit) or using some other method to break the circuit when the regulated LED lite is not in use - otherwise the batteries in the LED lite will discharge over a relatively short length of time even when not in use.

johnny quest
11-06-2007, 10:43
yeah, petzl has a warning against lithiums on their site.

EWS
11-06-2007, 10:47
Be very careful using lithium batteries in LED lites - a typical LED lite depends to some extent on the internal resistance of the battery to limit the current through the LED - lithium batteries have a lower internal resistance so the current through the LED is greater than with the alkeline batteries - this greater current can result in the LED burning out or failing in other ways. Regulated LED lites avoid this issue by having an active current regulator circuit - unfortunately however there is greater leakage with the regulated LED lites - enough so that I recommend removing one of the batteries (thus breaking the circuit) or using some other method to break the circuit when the regulated LED lite is not in use - otherwise the batteries in the LED lite will discharge over a relatively short length of time even when not in use.

Do you have a schematic of one?

Shouldn't they regulate voltage with a simple amplifier circuit and diode.

jlb2012
11-06-2007, 11:19
sorry I don't have access (or interest) to a schematic of the regulator circuit or any other parts of the LED headlamps - my comments are based on personal experience with the Princeton Tec Aurora (unregulated, damaged LED after using lithiums) and the PT Quad (regulated, can see the LEDs still dimly on when "turned off", eats batteries if I don't remove one when not in use)

EWS
11-06-2007, 11:22
That Quad sounds like a crap design or a component failed. I'd return it.

nifenerd
11-06-2007, 11:58
9voltlight.com

For extened burn time you can't beat these lights!

karo
11-06-2007, 23:15
HOI is right and beat me to it, Petzel does NOT recommend lithium batteries in its headlamps. I also have the Petzel XP and traded in my older
Petzel for it after the battery compartment cracked and would pop open after a few steps. REI exchanged it out with some boot. My XP is the best headlamp I have ever owned and I have a few including the ray o vac from wally world. It is super bright and with the boost mode it can outshine some even more expensive headlamps. At under $50 bucks it still fits your budget.

Tinker
11-08-2007, 01:53
I bought a one ounce headlamp called "Cyclops" at Dick's sporting goods. It uses 2 coin cell batteries which are expensive, but I get them at cost from the bicycle shop where I work. They are lithium cells, CR216, if I remember correctly. I used the light quite a bit last year, and didn't notice any drop in performance, but I put new batteries in it for a fall hike this year. There isn't any info I can get on brightness or battery life, but it's fine around camp and for finding the privy, and extra batteries are very light also. I believe that I paid either $10.00 or $12.00 for it.

JoeHiker
11-08-2007, 14:59
HOI is right and beat me to it, Petzel does NOT recommend lithium batteries in its headlamps. I also have the Petzel XP and traded in my older
Petzel for it after the battery compartment cracked and would pop open after a few steps. REI exchanged it out with some boot. My XP is the best headlamp I have ever owned and I have a few including the ray o vac from wally world. It is super bright and with the boost mode it can outshine some even more expensive headlamps. At under $50 bucks it still fits your budget.


Funny, I've been using lithiums in my Tikka Plus for a while now. Hope it doesn't die on me.

Alkalines truly suck in cold weather.

faarside
11-08-2007, 15:12
I have only had experience with the Princeton TEC Attitude (4AAA, 3-LED) and Princeton TEC Impact II lights, and am pleased with their performance. I use them along with a NiteIze mini-flashlight headband for headlight operation.