Headlamps allow hands-free lighting so you can concentrate on the trail, cooking dinner or setting up camp.
Soft neoprene material is common. Straps should be wide enough to support the weight of the headlamp and allow easy adjustment so the headlamp doesn’t bounce around or slide down while you’re moving about. A top strap is common on models with a heavier, rear-mounted battery pack. Straps should be removeable for washing.
Function and mode
Single-switch operation is the norm, with one on/off button used to toggle through the various lighting modes. A twistable face will adjust the light from spot to floodlight (some models are turned on this way). A transport lock is useful to prevent the headlamp being inadvertently turned on in your pack. Many headlamps have a red light function to preserve night vision – useful for reading and stargazing.
The torch should be simple to operate with either a button or twist-action to activate the light. Glove-friendly operation is beneficial, especially with button-operated headlamps. Dimmer switches adjust the light level and may be found on the rear-mounted battery packs of heavier models.
Output and range
Measured in lumens, light output can be adjusted for the conditions from a low 10 or 25 lumens for reading, up to 600 lumens for finding your way on the trail. Output also dictates range. Low-output models are useful work lights around the campsite or hut, while high-output headlamps are better for night tramping.
Battery life is related to output; the more powerful the torch, the more power-hungry it is. Run-times shown in this feature are for the lowest and highest light settings (where only one time is shown, this is for the headlamp’s lowest light setting).
Headlamps have an IPX rating indicating their water-resistance:
IPX-4 Can handle splashing water (10-litre/min) from any angle – that’s most rainy conditions.
IPX-6 Protected against splashed and pressurised water from any angle from a 12.5mm nozzle at 100-litre/min.
IPX-7 Full immersion in one metre of water for up to 30min. The perfect head torch in extreme conditions.
IPX-8 Full and continuous immersion, up to and within the manufacturer’s specifications.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) FL-1 flashlight standard measures the following features in laboratory conditions:
Output – Total light output measured in lumens after the light has been on for 30 to 120 seconds
Run-time – The time until the light output drops to 10 per cent of its original value
Range – The distance in metres at which the headlamp produces a light intensity of 0.25 lux (about the same brightness as a full moon).
Now you know what to look for, it’s time to choose a model…
Ledlenser MH10 $249
|Ledlenser SEO 7R $179.99
ANSI-rated, rechargeable plus runs on AAA batteries, two energy modes and four light functions including dimming and signal, OPTIsense adjusts light to surrounding environment, floodlight, spotlight, red or white LED, transport lock, IPX6, 7-year extended warranty. Output 220 lumens Range 130m Run-time 5-20hr Weight 93g. www.tightlines.co.nz
Black Diamond Icon Headlamp $169.99
Ledlenser MH6 $139
|Black Diamond Spot Headlamp $84.99
Low-profile design, tap to transition between full and dimmed power, Brightness Memory turns on at preset brightness, two white LEDs, one red LED, three AAA batteries, three-level power meter, proximity and distance modes, strobe, IPX8 rated. (Available August). Output 300 lumens Range 80m Run-time 25-180hr Weight 90g. www.southernapproach.co.nz
|Ledlenser SEO 5 $119.99
ANSI-rated, three light functions including dimming and signal, floodlight, spotlight, tilting head, red or white LED, transport lock, IPX6, washable anti-allergenic headband, 7-year extended warranty. Output 180 lumens Range 120m Run-time 7-25hr Weight 105g. www.tightlines.co.nz
UCO A-120 $84.99
|Ledlenser SEO 3 $79.99
ANSI-rated, three light functions including signal, floodlight, spotlight, red or white LED, transport lock, IPX6, tilting head, washable anti-allergenic headband, 7-year extended warranty. Output 100 lumens Range 100m Run-time 10-40hr Weight 105g. www.tightlines.co.nz
Macpac Flame $69.99
Petzl Tikka $64.90
|Petzl e+Lite $59.90
Compact emergency headlamp, 10-year battery life, carry case, white, red and strobe LED, integrated whistle in elastic headband, IPX7. Output 50 lumens Run-time 45hr Range N/A Weight 28g. www.spelean.co.nz