headlamp reviews

Knog Bandicoot 250 ultralight headlamp.

Review: Knog Bandicoot 250 Ultralight Headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
Knog Bandicoot 250
$45, 2.1 oz.
knog.com

When I reviewed this headlamp’s predecessor, the Bandicoot, I thought it was the kind of new product that had the potential to upend an entire category. After using the more powerful and comfortable Knog Bandicoot 250 on a nine-day hike of nearly 130 miles through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, I still think this technology is a game changer.

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The Black Diamond Spot 400.

Review: Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot 400
$50, 2.5 oz.
backcountry.com

How do you choose a headlamp for the backcountry? If you’re looking for a range of modes that’s both basic and versatile, good brightness and dimming capability, and smart features that make it more useful while maintaining a design simplicity that doesn’t require an advanced science degree to operate it, Black Diamond’s Spot 400 is hard to beat. On evenings in camp on a five-day, late-summer hike in the Wind River Range, I found this latest update sustains and improves on the legacy of BD’s popular Spot line as an excellent value in an ultralight headlamp.

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Black Diamond Spot 400-R headlamp.

Review: Black Diamond Spot 400-R Headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot 400-R
$65, 2.6 oz.
backcountry.com

Using Black Diamond’s Spot 400-R on nights in camp on a nine-day hike of nearly 130 miles through the High Sierra in August, mostly on the John Muir Trail, I found this latest update continues the legacy of functionality and versatility that has made BD’s long-popular Spot line arguably the best value in an ultralight headlamp—while also demonstrating the strong value proposition of choosing this rechargeable model over a battery-powered headlamp.

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

The 7 Best Headlamps of 2022

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 (whether intentionally or not). But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Weight? 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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The Petzl IKO Core rechargeable headlamp.

Review: Petzl IKO Core Headlamp

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl IKO Core
$100, 2.8 oz. (men’s medium)
backcountry.com

As we skied back to our backcountry yurt through falling snow on a dark night at the end of a full day of touring in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, my IKO Core brightly illuminated our route through meadows and conifer and aspen forest. But brightness and low weight are just two of the measurable ways in which few ultralight headlamps match Petzl’s rechargeable IKO Core, which has unique design features that would appeal to backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, trail runners, and backcountry skiers.

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