headlamp reviews

Black Diamond Spot325 headlamp.

Gear Review: Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp

Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot325
$40, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
backcountry.com

From rising before dawn for early starts to beat the heat on a 74-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in May, to predawn mornings and dark evenings in camp on a 94-mile traverse of the CDT in Glacier National Park in September, the Black Diamond Spot325 demonstrated the brightness and versatility that makes it arguably the best value in an ultralight headlamp today. Here’s why.

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Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp.

Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp

Ultralight HeadlampPrinceton Tec Vizz$50, 3.2 oz. (including three AAA batteries)outdoorplay.com Long a favorite headlamp of mine for backpacking or climbs or dayhikes that somehow stretched into the wee hours, the Vizz received an update in 2018 that made it the brightest three-ounce headlamp I’ve reviewed (three ounces being the standard in ultralight headlamps these days). The new Vizz still stands …

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Gear Review: Petzl Bindi Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp

Petzl Bindi ultralight headlamp
Petzl Bindi ultralight headlamp.

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl Bindi
$60, 1.2 oz./35g
moosejaw.com

To get a backcountry headlamp that’s crazy ultralight, you have to ditch all superfluous parts, stripping it down to only what’s essential—the light and housing. With the rechargeable Bindi, Petzl created a super-ultralight headlamp by shrinking the housing and dropping two elements that comprise much of the weight of many three-ounce headlamps on the market today: the batteries and head strap (the latter replaced with an adjustable, stretch cord). The result is an uber minimalist light that weighs barely more than an ounce and fits in a closed fist, but proved very functional on predawn mornings and dark evenings in camp on a six-day backpacking trip in Glacier National Park in September.

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Black Diamond Storm headlamp

Gear Review: Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

Headlamp
Black Diamond Storm
$50, 3.9 oz. (with 4 AAA batteries, included)
backcountry.com

As darkness and light rain both fell on a partner and I for the last couple of miles of a 27-mile dayhike the length of western Maine’s brutally rugged Mahoosuc Range, I slipped the Storm onto my head—which helped prevent my shuffling and occasional staggering from turning into falling. I also used this ultralight headlamp in campsites from Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve and Yosemite National Park to backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop. Through all that field testing, the Storm proved itself one of the best high-performance headlamps on the market today. Here’s why.

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Petzl Actik Core headlamp.

Gear Review: Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Rechargeable Headlamp
Petzl Actik Core
$70, 3 oz. (with Core rechargeable battery)
backcountry.com

If you agree that a rechargeable headlamp is the way to go—as it is for any backpacker, dayhiker, climber, trail runner, backcountry skier or other user willing to foot the added up-front cost, knowing it eventually pays for itself through what you save not buying (and throwing away) batteries—then the question boils down to which rechargeable headlamp is the best for most backcountry recreationists. Numerous backpacking and other trips with Petzl’s compact, rechargeable Actik Core have convinced me that this one ranks among the best.

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