$50, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
On dark nights and early mornings from New Hampshire’s Presidential Range to Idaho’s Boise Mountains and New Zealand’s Kepler and Dusky tracks, and other trips, I needed a headlamp that was very light, reliable, versatile, and above all, bright. Vitchelo’s V800 met all of those standards, plus proved itself to be reliable and distinctly simple to use.
I tested the V800 on a three-night, January ski trip to a backcountry yurt in Idaho’s Boise Mountains; on New Zealand’s Kepler Track and Dusky Track in early March, including hiking in the dark in dense, dark forest; and used it a lot on a five-day, family backpacking trip down Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona in late March, without the batteries running low, even though those batteries had already gone through my New Zealand trip. When we hiked the last 90 minutes of a 17-mile dayhike over the four summits of the Northern Presidential Range in New Hampshire in the dark in June, I handed this headlamp to my 14-year-old son, so he’d have a bright light to descend very steep, rocky, slippery trail. He also used it for three nights on a 34-mile backpacking trip the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies in August, and a two-day backpacking trip in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains in September.
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The V800’s white LED bulb has three brightness levels and a blinking light; and the red LED bulb has solid and blinking modes. Vitchelo claims the range of the brightest, 168-lumen white power is 360 feet/110 meters, which would rank it among the brightest ultralight headlamps on the market; the useful range looked to me like well over 200 feet on a dark, winter night in the forest. Best of all about the V800: It has separate buttons for red and white lights—keeping it simple. You just click each to scroll through the lighting levels. The buttons rise only slightly above the headlamp housing, so I never had a problem with the headlamp turning on accidentally in a pack (although there’s no lockout mode to actually prevent that from happening). Unlike with some headlamps, the back of the water-resistant housing opens easily to access the battery compartment, not requiring a tool. The adjustable headband remained comfortable for long periods of hiking.
I give it one demerit: It’s not rechargeable—it runs on three AAA batteries (included). If you’d like a headlamp that’s lightweight, powerful, and doesn’t require an engineering degree to figure out, give the Vitchelo V800 a look.
See also my stories “The Simple Equation of Ultralight Backpacking: Less Weight = More Fun,” “Buying Gear? Read This First,” “5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear,” and “Ask Me: How Do We Begin Lightening Up Our Backpacking Gear?”
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
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