Headlamps For Camping

You need a source of light to work in the dark or to make your trek both safe and effortless and headlamps for camping and outdoors do a wonderful job of illuminating the way ahead.

The large variety of headlamps available come with many different features and benefits that you may or may not need, and what you want to use the headlamp for will determine the features and benefits that work best for you.

From working around the house after dark, under the hood of the car, or an outdoor adventure at night you can light up your path with ease while keeping your hands free.

All the bells and whistles that some of these devices have can be used in different situations but a lot are unnecessary. Finding the right headlamp to enjoy the experience of being able to take part in nighttime activities outdoors is a real pleasure. 

Take a look at some of the Best Headlamps on the market today this information will help you make the right choice when buying.

a headlamp face

What is a Headlamp

Headlamps are small portable light systems that sit on top of your head usually attached with an elastic band to hold it firmly in place. They also work well attached to a helmet for climbing, caving and also mine workers and search and rescue teams.

Anyone that has a task to do outdoors at night where no main light is available will find this excepional light souce convenient and helpful in many circumstances. The use of these headlamp allows the wearer to have bright light in his immediate area so his hands are free to carry on with his work or task.

Why you need a Headlamp

The need for a headlamp could be pretty simple, camping and hiking require portable lights and a handsfree headlamp is extremly handy when moving around the campsite after dark.

it’s a unit that you can use to walk the trails after nightfall. But there’s a whole lot more to these units that you people usually overlook since you can use a headlamp in a wide range of instances.

The adventurer who doesn’t like being stopped in their tracks by the setting of the sun knows how important a headlamp can be. What makes a headlamp even better is that besides ensuring you can see the path ahead of you, it also keeps your hands free.

The small design of these units not only makes them perfect for strapping on your head without any discomfort, but it also makes storing and carrying them a breeze, some of them weigh next to nothing.

The other thing that gives a headlamp value is the distance of the beam, in which case a headlamp’s beam reaches farther than that of a flashlight or a lantern.

Who needs a Headlamp

These units are built for just about anyone who ventures out in the dark, whether you are a homeowner who wants to investigate some strange noises in the backyard or an outdoor enthusiast who spends lots of their free time outdoors.

Any worker whos job is at night outside will benefit greatly from being able to see the work area while keeping his hands free to carry out his required tasks with safety and with ease.  

But this doesn’t mean headlamps are a one-size-fits-all unit, it’s best to look for a unit with the features that best match your outdoor activity. Some can be quite heavy and would not be suitable for children so luckily there are many designs to choose from.

If you love running early in the morning before first light or way into the evening, a headlamp will prove to be one of the most important items you should add to your arsenal. And in this case, you’ll need to check the beam’s design and ensure it’s a lightweight unit.

Also, you should ensure that the fit is just right, after all, the last thing you want is a headlamp that bounces on your head as you run or having to do endless adjustments along the way.

Hiking

For hikers, some of the things that you can’t afford to miss include the beam distance since you need to keep an eye on the trail up ahead. On the same note, you’ll also need to be keen on the brightness level, you will need it when traversing dangerous trails.

But there’s an even more important factor to consider, the battery life. This is so crucial since having to deal with a dead headlamp when you’re in the middle of nowhere can not only be frustrating, it could also be every bit as dangerous.

Camping

If camping is your thing, a headlamp that can offer an ideal beam type and brightnes to help you pitch your tent and do other camping activities with ease. Most headlamps have adjustable brightness levels, this is great when you are inside your tent reading a map or book.

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Being able to adjust the light is very convenient, just like with hiking,or maybe exploring unknown woods you have to be very careful with the battery life, since the last thing you want when you are out in the woods is a dead headlamp.

Other different activities where you need to a headlamp, and where it’s essential that you be keen on these factors to include cycling, home use, and fishing among others.

a person stnadin on a hill with a headlamp shining

Types of Headlamp Beams

One thing you have to keep in mind is that these units come with a fair variety of beams that serve a different purpose or come in handy for different types of outdoor activities as we’ve already mentioned.

Flood, wide beam

First off, there’s the wide beam. This beam is fantastic for up-close activities since this beam doesn’t cast light at a long distance. However, you can use it for such activities as when you are reading or doing some repair works in the garage.

But it also does a great job when used for some of the general campsite tasks. Overall this beam works very well for close up activities

Flood, spot

Then there’s the flood beam, which is more concentrated rather than distributed as the wide beam. This beam can be adjusted to cater for different activities, so it’s more of a versatile beam than one designed for any particular activity.

Spot or Focused beam

A spot beam gives off a small, focused light beam used to illuminate a particular object, and it comes in two types; there’s the spot-focused beam and the narrow one. In essence, it does the job if you need a beam that can enable you to view over a long distance at speed such as when running or cycling among others.

Variable beam

This beam type is typical of most modern headlamps. What makes this beam exciting is that it enables you to select the ideal beam by alternating between the spot beam and the flood beam depending on your needs. But the best thing by far is that you can do all this on a single headlamp.

Things you should look for in a headlamp

They might sound like one of the best lighting options you can find out there, and true to their word, they really are. But there’s a catch; if you are not careful enough and you end up with the wrong unit, you could be in for a lot of frustration and waste of money.

Check the unit’s weight

The weight of a headlamp is the first thing that you have to consider before diving in for the purchase. As we’ve already mentioned, a headlamp that is too heavy could feel very uncomfortable when strapped on your head.

But this is virtually inevitable since everything has to be in the unit, including the battery, which means it has to have some weight to it.

The good news is, you can still find some lightweight lamps out there, some like the Petzl Bindi Rechargeable Headlamp weigh only a mere couple of ounces with the battery included. This means you can use the unit without experiencing any significant weight on your head.

a headlamp shining onto a hill

Different light modes

These will vary depending on the unit you are using. One of those modes is strobe, also known as flash. The reason you need to check whether a headlamp comes with this feature is that it might turn out to be all you need in an emergency when you have to signal for help.

The high mode is the other feature that you should be on the lookout for, which is the maximum light that the lamp can produce. Although you might not necessarily use it all the time, it comes in handy in situations where you need more light.

A low setting is a good option that proves to be very helpful, and one that you can use for most activities such as when doing camp chores or trekking easy trails.

A boost or zoom mode is also a great addition that you could ask for in a headlamp,  although this feature is usually only available in a few models out there.

But what makes this feature worthy is that it enables you to project an intense beam on one place, the only downside to this mode is that it sucks a lot of juice from your battery.

Is LED a better option?

Although the type of bulb that the unit is made of should be mostly a matter of choice, LEDs have become the go-to option as far as these lamps go, and they are usually the most commonly used type in modern lamps.

What makes these bulbs a darling for many is their efficiency as far as energy goes, and the ability to last for years. Not forgetting, LED lighting options also give out a remarkably bright light.

Check the brightness level

While still at it, it’s also worth mentioning that the brightness of the unit also counts when it comes to performance, so you need to be keen on that as well. This will vary depending on the unit you go for as well as the mode that you select at any given time.

However, in most cases, you will be able to choose between three brightness levels, which are the high med and low settings. But there is still a fair share of lamps that offer a wide range of levels that you can use for different purposes.

The High setting is the brightest and is useful for walking in the dark, or in cases where you need to see things clearly. On the flip side, however, this setting consumes a lot of energy.

The med setting is not as common as high and low, but in the few models where you can find it, it offers a great balance between the two settings.

Then there’s the Low one, which you can use if you want to minimize the energy use as much as possible.

But that’s not all, you can also find other settings as Red light, which comes in handy as a night vision that enables you to see without necessarily causing your pupils to shrink. This also makes it perfect for use on a busy road where you don’t want to blind other road users.

Lastly, there’s Strobe, a setting that you might hardly ever use, but could mean a world of difference in circumstances where you need to catch the attention of others in an emergency.

a person on a hill with a headlamp on his head

Lumens and beam distance

The beam distance is also a feature you need to consider for the ideal headlamp to take on a camping trip.If you want a light that can show you the way ahead, then you need a unit that packs enough power to ensure you can walk safely even when trekking along risky trails.

Lumens are basically the measure of the total quantity of the light that a lamp emits in all directions. Headlamps capable of producing more lumens enable you to see clearly since the higher lumens means the brighter it gets. However, such a unit consumes energy faster than one with lower lumens.

The beam distance also plays a significant role when it comes to the performance of a headlamp. This is usually measured in meters and it’s often indicated in the unit’s description. If you are looking for a headlamp that you can use for climbing, cycling or morning runs, then a longer distance beam would suit you best.

The run time

This simply means the amount of time your headlamp is capable of lasting from a full charge to a point where you can no longer rely on it for light. 

But this measure has changed from the previously used measure where the run time was considered to be over if the lamp couldn’t usable light at up to 2 meters. In the new standard, if a headlamp can only produce 10 percent of the brightness it produced when fully charged, then its run time is considered over.

Keep in mind that this will differ from one headlamp to the other in terms of hours, so make sure to check the specs to decide which run time would best suit your activity.

Some units come with a feature known as a regulated output. Instead of producing a continuously dimming brightness, these ones deliver a constant level of brightness despite the drain on the battery.

The good thing is, the drop on your battery’s power doesn’t affect your unit’s brightness. But on the downside, the light from the unit could cut out abruptly, which will leave you in the dark struggling to replace the battery pack.

Battery type

When speaking of run time, one thing for sure is that we are talking about how long the battery can keep supplying the juice when the lamp is set at full brightness. 

While this could come down to the amount of time you keep your lamp on this setting, it’s also worth noting that the type of battery that the unit comes with could also be of the essence.

And one more thing; when it comes to batteries, the type you go for could mean a world of difference when it comes to convenience. Mostly, these units come with a one-time use battery or a rechargeable one.

When heading into the wild, miles from civilization, rechargeable batteries would be the most practical option to go for and most importantly if you can swap the battery in the pack with a fully charged one. 

The only problem with these batteries is that they usually lose power if left unused for a long time, so consider charging them often, like after a month or two, even when you are not using them.

Besides toting along with a charged battery that you can use to replace the dead one, you should also consider bringing your battery charger to make use of it at any possible opportunity, so you’ll never get stuck in the dark with a dead headlamp.

Waterproof

The outdoors can be quite unpredictable, and the weather could turn in an instant and soon you find yourself in the middle of a downpour. And if the darkness is closing in fast and your headlamp isn’t waterproof, or at least water-resistant, then the odds could be stacked against you.

Thankfully, most of these units come with a remarkable IPX 4 rating, which means the headlamp will be unaffected by a splash of water for up to 5 minutes. In that case, this is considered water-resistant, since after the five minutes it might develop problems.

Not to worry just yet; there’s still an IPX-7 rating, which means the headlamp can last submerged in water at up to 1 meter deep for as long as 30 minutes. This type of headlamps is considered waterproof and it could be the best pick for you depending on where you are going for your adventure.

a headlamp on a table

Other important features

Despite being small, these units come with a hoard of features, and here are some of the other things that you might also need to be keen on.

On and off switches

The importance of this feature usually boils down to how easy the use of your headlamp can get when turning it on or off as well as when selecting the different light modes. Some units have switches that lock thus preventing the unit from being switched on accidentally when transporting it.

Top Straps

These are used in high-power lamps that feature up to four batteries, which are often positioned at the back of the head to balance the load. However, this can be a bit clunky, so top straps come in handy at adding the much-needed stability to the unit. Moreover, in some cases, these straps are removable so you can decide whether to use them or not. 

 Tilt

Just how easy it is to adjust your headlamp either up or down is also worth checking out. This allows you to set the beam of your headlamp where it suits you best when reading or setting up your tent.

Fit

For ultimate comfort, it is vital that it fits well. Most of these lamps feature an adjustable strap that you can set to fit the size of your head, and some are so convenient that kids and adults alike can use it. So check if the unit can fit you well before going for the purchase.

Conclusion

Shopping for a headlamp does not have to be a difficult undertaking. All it takes is to understand the important factors that could make all the difference. So make sure to get every essential detail right before going for any particular unit.

No one wants a disappointment that comes with losing the usefulness of a headlamp while you are in the middle of your hike or a few miles from the campsite. And this could turn out to be the case if you go for a unit that isn’t built to deliver. Again, do a bit of footwork to see how well a headlamp can take a beating from the outdoors and how long it can last.

This way, you can bet that you will end up with a unit that you’ll not only come to love but one you could be proud of and count on in just about any situation. 

If you have any more questions about this headlamps for camping article, I’d love to hear them and I’ll be more than happy to answer them in the comments section below.

Here is an exceptional headlamp, you may like to read my in-depth review of it, the Slonik 1000 Lumen Rechargeable Headlamp.

Please Remember! Leave it cleaner than you found it, only footprints not rubbish.

Shane.

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