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How to choose the best headlamp for hiking and camping?

News Trade News2021-10-21 00:45:28

Most manufacturers report three major specifications. They will describe the lamp’s lumens, the distance of the beam in the highlight mode, and the battery life in the highlight mode. They may report other statistics, but these three are the most important.

Lumens are for the bulb.

Almost all headlamps have a lumen specification, but we have ignored this specification. Why? Because lumen is a measure of light energy in any direction. This is a good lamp specification, but it is often misleading when estimating the quality of the focused beam.

The manufacturer's beam distance parameters may be misleading. The beam distance on the package cannot be trusted because:

The beam distance it quotes is a maximum value, which is only suitable for a few minutes in the initial use of a new battery. The beam distance will decay rapidly in a very short time.

If the beam is too narrow, it may shine a long distance, but it has almost no value in actual use. The narrow beam is frustrating in actual use, just like looking at things in a tunnel.

The specifications on the packaging are based on the manufacturer's claims rather than independent laboratory test results. We concluded that most manufacturers overestimated the beam distance, but not too far.


Battery life parameters may be misleading.

The battery operating time under high power is given together with the beam distance specification (for example, high power-100 meters beam distance, 80 hours of operating time). Most consumers logically believe that they can see this beam distance within a specified operating time (for example, "In high power mode, I will be able to illuminate a beam distance of 100 meters for 80 hours"). This is far from the truth because the beam distance drops rapidly as the battery runs out.

Most manufacturers have avoided the battery runtime measurement standard in the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard but let the "battery runtime" clock continue until the light is the same as the dim light of a candle two meters away (0.25 Lux). This has resulted in huge and misleading battery runtime specifications that are far from what most consumers think.

The difference between our experience and the manufacturer's claim on battery runtime in highlight mode is quite striking. On average, the battery runtime claimed by the manufacturer in the highlight mode is four times higher than our actual measurement of the battery runtime in the highlight mode using the ANSI FL-1 standard. This is a huge difference. In one case, the difference reached 38 times. The most famous black diamond and Petzl lamps are about ten times exaggerated compared to our own experience. We think this isn't very pleasant.


Here is an ANSI industry standard:

In 2009, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) formulated an industry-standard specification called FL1 Flashlight Basic Performance Standard. The standard provides measurement standards for light output, beam distance, battery runtime, water resistance, and other requirements. It is jointly developed by about a dozen top flashlight and headlamp manufacturers and major retailers, including REI.

According to the REI report that participated in the ANSI FL1 committee, the manufacturers decided to reject the ANSI standard for battery runtime they just participated in and created another method of calculating battery runtime. We think this is for our own service. It is very deceptive for consumers.


We did the test ourselves.

Dissatisfied with the manufacturer's arrogant claims about battery runtimes, we personally measured battery runtimes using data loggers and ANSI standards as a guide. We believe that based on the ANSI FL1 standard, our measurement results provide a more realistic "highlight mode" running time estimate, which is more in line with consumers' expectations for high output performance.


Bulb type

There was an era not long ago when there were many different types of lamps, many of which used different bulbs to achieve brighter brightness (incandescent lamps, halogen lamps, LEDs). Every lamp we tested uses LED lamps in today's market because of its extraordinary brightness and low energy consumption requirements. Today, the headlamps on the market mainly have these four characteristics.


Spotlight mode- Many products use specific bright LEDs and optics to focus the beam in the most suitable beam for viewing far away. The beam of these spotlights is brighter but narrower. This is the ideal light setting for hikers who are observing distant objects or trying to navigate on blurred trails. Most luminaires with a spotlight mode also include a separate broad mode for close use.


Close-range floodlight mode-wide beams projected by low-intensity floodlights, uniform light, ideal for working around campsites, in tents or in most home environments. Lower brightness means that the battery runtime is greatly extended, and lower brightness means that you will not be blinded by your companions at the campsite every time you see them.


The red light-the red light that star chasers and hunters dream of is the most effective in terms of battery life. Stargazers like the red light because it allows you to see clearly but not damage your night vision. Hunters like red light (or blue light or green light is fine) because the animal's eyes can't see it, so you can keep your disguise. The red light is also very valuable in search and rescue situations because a flashing red strobe light can be seen from a long distance. In terms of battery operating time, it has longer battery life than other modes.


Rechargeable batteries-rechargeable lights are obviously the future trend because batteries are expensive, and the cost of power banks continues to drop. Today, for most of us, the return on investment of rechargeable batteries is questionable (US$1 peralkaline battery) because the initial cost of rechargeable lamps is 20-50 US dollars; that is, you need to buy Only 20-50 replacement batteries can balance expenditures. However, rechargeable lights are a wise investment for those who use their headlamps at least once a week and should pay for themselves within a year or two.


best hiking headlamps

How to choose a headlamp

We use a variety of testing techniques, including field testing and laboratory testing, and use industrial light meters to score each product on six different performance indicators. Below we will summarize each scoring indicator and the best and worst-performing products.



In our wayfinding evaluation, the best lights are (15W maximum power headlamp), (emergency 5 led waterproof headlamp) and (T6 XPE waterproof camping headlamp). Among them, (emergency 5 led waterproof headlamp) is the best; its beam is bright and uniform, with high definition and high brightness. (15W maximum power headlamp) The beam is narrower, but it shines the farthest.


Although the (T6 XPE waterproof camping headlamp) can be used to see incredible distances, some people prefer the (red light elastic head with headlamp) beam to have a wider beam, because when walking on most road sections, ( Red light elastic head with headlamp) has a wider beam. We found that it works very well on mountain roads. When we look into the distance, the light beam will become brighter. When we look at the mountain road a few steps ahead, the light beam will be adjusted to the light level just suitable for hiking.


It is worth noting that these high-performance headlamps also have the problem of poor battery life in high-output mode. According to the ANSI standard, only (15W maximum power headlamp) has a battery life of more than 9 hours, while (emergency 5 led waterproof headlamp) only has 6 hours.


When you consider the battery life and mountain road detection together, then the best performance is slightly inferior to the top mountain street lights. Still, the battery life is significantly improved (15W maximum power headlamps), which can illuminate a uniform beam too far More than 10 hours on the mountain road. In addition, you can recharge and do it again the next night.



We found that the absolute brightest light (emergency 5 led waterproof headlamp) projected a long and narrow beam, more than 22% farther than the strongest light next to it. (Emergency 5 led waterproof headlamp) won our Top Pick award with the brightness that I felt.


Close lighting

For close-range lighting performance, the best lights are (red light flexible head with headlamp), (COB zoom headlamp) and (wide beam head with headlamp). All three of them scored high in this category, providing what we consider to be near-perfect close-up lighting and providing a broad, uniform beam around the campsite.

To further increase the practicality, all three products provide variable brightness, so you can easily set the brightness where you want.

In addition, the light is adjusted according to what the sensor thinks is needed, especially around other users and light sources (such as campfires). The sensor can be confused by other light sources, and the light flickers very annoyingly. Reactive technology can be shut down, but this also creates a rather expensive initial purchase price.


Battery life

For the lighting in the highlight mode, we scored the battery life comprehensively based on the lighting performance, the availability of the lock switch, and the highlight mode's brightness. When all conditions are the same, a brighter lamp burns the battery faster than a darker lamp. Brighter lights usually also have lower modes, so using the maximum brightness of the lights in a lower mode will result in longer use than our test shows. ) If the light turns on accidentally, it will drain all your batteries before you have time to use it.

The battery life of the (15W maximum power headlamp) is also worth mentioning because its battery life is the best among all the lamps we have tested, and the beam distance exceeds 75 meters (about 250 feet). Although there are a few lamps that can illuminate a longer beam, their beam depletes much faster. It can stay strong for many days in its highly respected low-light mode.

In terms of a battery running time, (red light elastic headlamps) are also very expressive, which is not surprising; the brightest headlamps have the longest lighting time, and to be fair, what we need to pay attention to is that (red light) Flexible head with headlamp) dominates our pathfinding test (9 points out of 10) because of its super bright light, wide and uniform beam and near-perfect optical combination. The performance of the battery is very good, let us like it even more.

best hiking headlamps

Ease of use

(Wide beam head with headlamp) is the easiest to use light on our list. It provides a very simple and intuitive one-button opening and closing function. Anyone can figure it out and master it immediately.


Key accessories

Suppose you are worried about the lack of power for multiple days. In that case, you can consider using solar headlamps, such as (professional XPE LED headlamps) or (high-quality aluminum ABS solar headlamps), and use the sun to charge your headlamps. Another option is an external battery.


You can’t realize whether a good headlamp is a good headlamp by just wearing the headlamp on and off in the store. You can refer to the experience of others and add your preferences to choose here:

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