Let There Be Light: Headlamps

Whether you’re camping, hiking, kayaking, or running, enjoying the outdoors involves a little bit of planning and preparation. However, none of us are strangers to the unexpected and there are times when even the most seemingly solid plans go awry. One of the most common examples of this is when injuries, slow travel, or wrong turns shift our schedule and we find ourselves trudging through the woods or trying to pitch a tent in the dark. What about a flashlight? Well, flashlights are a necessity for overnight trips, but anyone who’s been caught in such a situation can tell you that pitching a tent is hard while holding a flashlight. Many outdoorsmen avoid this potentially frustrating ordeal by bringing along a reliable headlamp. I’ve highlighted the benefits of these tools below, as well as provided examples of quality models, so keep reading to learn more.

Equipped with elastic straps that fit snugly around your head, or consisting of a simple lamp that clips to the bill of a baseball cap, headlamps are designed to project light wherever your head is facing, which illuminates where you need to move or whatever task you happen to working on. Headlamps on the market today conventionally utilize LED bulbs to project light and can implement a flood beam, a spot beam, or an adjustable setting that alternates between the two. Some models even include a blinking red strobe that enables you to be more visible to vehicles when you’re hiking or running at night or early in the morning. Some headlamp models are water resistant and even waterproof up to a certain depth.

There are several companies that make great headlamps for a variety of purposes—Black Diamond, Mammut, and Princeton Tec, to name a few. The cost of a given model will depend on its features, how many individual bulbs in includes, and also on the included accessories. Straightforward models, such as Princeton Tec’s Remix, for example, cost only $40, while models from Petzl tend to be more expensive. Some headlamps come with a charging unit for your home or car, or even a battery pack that attaches to your belt. Still, others, like Black Diamond’s Sprinter, a lightweight model designed for running, favor weight reduction and less attachments. Really, the model you go with will depend on your needs.  

Let’s face it; outdoor gear has come a long way since torches and lanterns. When I head out for overnight hikes or camping trips, I always make sure I have at least two flashlights—one main and one backup—as well as spare batteries, but I also appreciate the security and convenience of a good headlamp. Not only will a headlamp allow you the comfort of having both hands free for other purposes, but current models are reliable and long-lasting, which are two qualities any outdoorsmen will look for in their gear. If you consider yourself an avid camper, trust me when I say that it would be a good idea to invest in a nice headlamp. If you ever find yourself pitching a tent after sundown again, you’ll thank me.