headlamp reviews

Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Headlamps of 2021

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness. But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp

Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3.2 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)
outdoorplay.com

As headlamps for the backcountry have continuously improved in terms of brightness, versatility, and low weight, some have acquired a level of complexity that demands spending a little time learning how to use it. Not so with the latest version of this longtime top-performer. Still among the brightest ultralight headlamps, Princeton Tec’s Vizz 420 stands out for many reasons that others do—plus simplicity: You don’t need a degree in electrical engineering to operate it—almost anyone who’s ever used a headlamp will intuitively understand how to use it. But many will most appreciate not having to study a user manual.

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Black Diamond Spot350 headlamp

Review: Black Diamond Spot350 Headlamp

Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot350
$40, 3 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)
backcountry.com

BD’s latest update to its Spot line of headlamps, while incremental, maintains this light’s high functionality for backpackers, climbers, trail runners, backcountry skiers, and other users. The Spot350 illuminated moonless nights for me on a six-day rafting and kayaking trip down the Green River through Desolation and Gray canyons, demonstrating the reliability and versatility that its lineage has on many past adventures, such as rising before dawn to beat the heat on a 74-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in May and predawn mornings and dark evenings on a 94-mile traverse of the CDT in Glacier National Park in September.

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A backpacker on the Fisher Creek Trail in North Cascades National Park.

Review: 24 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2021

By Michael Lanza Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. A quarter-century of field-testing gear—as the lead gear reviewer …

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BioLite Headlamp 330

Review: The BioLite Headlamp 330

Rechargeable Headlamp BioLite Headlamp 330 $60, 2.4 oz. backcountry.com Few headlamps combine the attributes of being super ultralight, rechargeable, very bright, and having a long enough burn time (or charge duration) for a multi-day backcountry trip, but that’s exactly what you get with the BioLite Headlamp 330. For multiple backpacking trips this summer—including four days on Nevada’s Ruby Crest Trail, …

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