Princeton Tec Byte
$20, 2 oz. (with two AAA batteries)
Max burn time: 146 hours at maximum brightness
If weight is your top priority when choosing gear and you need a headlamp that’s bright enough for most backpacking situations, the Byte is your pick. I used this tiny, water-resistant light on several backcountry adventures, including family trips in the Everglades and Tetons and a backpacking trip in Idaho’s Sawtooths. With its Maxbright LED on high, the beam’s useful range is about 30 feet, definitely bright enough to hike in the dark, as long as it’s not foggy or raining hard. The red Ultrabright LED throws enough illumination to let you find things in the tent or move around camp while maintaining your night vision. The battery compartment is accessed by an easy-to-open cover—no screws or difficult buttons to manipulate. The Byte’s faults are minor, considering the price, low weight, and overall functionality: the wide beam is not very focused, and the dim setting is a little bright for reading in a tent.