Don't get caught in the dark on the trails.
By Trent Jonas
Don't let the shorter days and fewer daylight hours of autumn deter you from getting outside for a hike. Packing a headlamp not only keeps you safe as the sunlight begins to fade, but it opens up a world of opportunity for some late-day trekking. Whether you get caught outside later than expected or you decide to take an after-work hike as the sun starts to set, something as simple as a headlamp will make life on the trails a lot easier. Here are five of our favorite headlamps.
If you prefer a headlamp that easily slips into a pocket or a bag, then Petzl’s Bindi is the one for you. Barely bigger than a thumb drive, the ultra-compact Bindi weighs in at only 35 grams but still manages to light the way with a respectable 200 lumens of power. This makes the Bindi ideal for urban or suburban hikes where you don’t need to illumination over long distances or wide areas. The Bindi has three settings: maximum white light, a lower setting, and a red setting for those occasions when you want to preserve your night vision. It’s also rechargeable with an included micro-USB cable, so you never have to worry about chasing down batteries.
Black Diamond’s 4.2-ounce (with four AAA batteries) Storm 400 packs a lot of headlamp into a compact design. On its maximum setting, the headlamp emits 400 trail-lighting lumens of power. Full strength is also available in the Storm 400’s proximity mode, so you won’t struggle to see what’s in your pack. Additional settings include dimming, strobe, and three modes of night vision: red, green, and blue. The ruggedized housing is dustproof and waterproof to one meter for up to 30 minutes.
Those looking to illuminate a maximum amount of area with a minimum amount of headlamp should check out the Fenix HP25R. While it weighs more than the competition (about 6.5 ounces), with a maximum output of 1000 lumens in Turbo Spotlight mode, the Fenix HP25R can certainly outshine them. The HP25R is rechargeable and ships with a lithium-ion battery and micro USB cable. This headlamp has two white light modes and a red-light mode. Each of the white light modes, in turn, can be adjusted to one of four brightness settings. The HP25R is impact resistant and waterproof, and the three-way strap is designed to keep the lamp on your head in the most rugged of conditions.
BioLite’s mid-range Headlamp 330 is perfect for hikers seeking ergonomics and comfort. The ultra-slim 330 weighs only 69 grams and is integrated into its own strap, so in profile, the headlamp does not protrude from your forehead, which helps to eliminate a bouncing light beam or slippage. BioLite managed to pull this off by locating the micro-USB rechargeable battery pack at the back of the wearer’s head, which creates a better-balanced experience. The water-resistant 330 has four lighting modes: flood and spot (which can both be dimmed), as well as white strobe and red night vision.
The Spot Lite 200 is Black Diamond’s extremely well-reviewed entry in the ultracompact headlamp category. With two AAA batteries installed, the Spot Lite 200 weighs in at just 54 grams, but still emits up to 200 lumens of lighting power. Its modes include proximity and distance, which are both dimmable, along with a white strobe, red night vision, and a lock mode. The headlamp is waterproof and small enough to fit into a pocket or compact bag.