Headlamps are now smaller, lighter and brighter than ever before. They’re also mostly rechargeable, taking the hassle out of buying replacement batteries.
Straps should be soft, comfortable, washable and wide enough to support the weight of the headlamp. Most straps use a sliding adjustment that can be tightened or loosened easily on the go.
The torch should be simple to operate with either a button or twist-action to activate the light. Glove-friendly operation is essential for use in winter.
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 900 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 or spotlighting.
Function and mode
One on/off button that can be toggled through the various lighting modes is usual. By holding this button, the light can be dimmed or brightened. Many models have a brightness memory that turns on at the last-used light setting. The headlamp should have a transport lock to prevent the light inadvertently turning on in your pack. Many headlamps have a red light function which preserves night vision – useful for stargazing and spotting nocturnal wildlife.
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 highest and lowest light settings.
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).
Water and dust resistance
Headlamps have an Ingress Protection Rating (IP) that measures water and dust resistance.
IP ratings come with two numbers (e.g. IP67). The first number rates solid protection (i.e. dust) on a scale of 0-6 where 0 offers no protection and 6 is dust-tight. The second number rates water-resistance between 4 and 8, where 4 means they can handle splashing water (10-litre/min) from any angle – that’s most rainy conditions – and 8 is full and continuous immersion up to and within the manufacturer’s specifications. If an X is used instead of the first number, it means the headlamp has not been tested for solid protection.
Ledlenser MH10 $249.99
Rechargeable headlamp, three light functions, two energy modes, Advanced Focus System, tiltable lamp head, battery charge indicator, washable headband, rear red light, transport lock, IPX4, ANSI-rated, 5-year warranty. Output 600-lumens Range 150m Run-time 10-120hr Weight 158g. www.ledlenser.co.nz
Petzl Swift RL $219.90
Rechargeable with a Lithium-Ion 2350 mAh battery, Reactive Lighting automatically adjusts brightness and beam pattern for optimal battery usage, single-button operation, battery charge indicator, two-part headband, transport lock, IPX4, ANSI-rated, transport lock. Output 900 lumens Range 150m Run-time 2-100hr Weight 100g. www.outdoorestore.co.nz
Petzl Actik Core $145
Rechargeable and also compatible with AAA/LR03 batteries, reflective headband, flood or mixed beam, red lighting, single-button operation, transport lock, IPX4, ANSI-rated. Output 450 lumens Range 90m Run-time 2-130hr Weight 75g. www.outdoorestore.co.nz
BioLite 330 $119.99
Proprietary SlimFit construction with a front profile of 9mm, moisture-wicking fabric, 900mAh USB rechargeable battery, four lighting modes, ANSI-rated, battery charge indicator, IPX4, transport lock, available in four colours. Output 330 lumens Range 75m Run-time 3.5-40hr Weight 69g. e.ampro.co.nz
Petzl Bindi $119.90
Rechargeable running headlamp, three lighting modes, red night vision light, two transport locks, can be worn around the neck, tiltable head, IPX4, ANSI-rated. Output 200 lumens Range 36m Run-time 2-50hr Weight 35g.
BioLite 200 $99.99
Minimalist design, 700mAh USB rechargeable battery, four lighting modes, battery charge indicator, transport lock, available in four colours, ANSI-rated. Output 200 lumens Range 50m Run-time 3-40hr Weight 50g. e.ampro.co.nz
Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp $84.99
PowerTap instantly transitions from full to dimmed power, low-profile design uses three AAA batteries (included), brightness memory, multiple light settings, battery power indicator, transport lock, IPX8, ANSI-rated. Output 325 lumens Range 80m Run-time 4-200hr Weight 86g. www.bivouac.co.nz
Ledlenser MH3 $79.99
Two light functions, Advanced Focus System, detachable lamp head, washable headband, rechargeable battery, IP54, ANSI-rated, 5-year warranty. Output 200 lumens Range 130m Run-time 4.5-35hr Weight 92g. www.ledlenser.co.nz