headlamp reviews

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.

Read on

Gear Review: Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp

Black Diamond ReVolt
Black Diamond ReVolt

Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond ReVolt
$60, 3.5 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
moosejaw.com

Updated in 2017, Black Diamond’s ReVolt rechargeable headlamp quickly became the one I grabbed from a drawer full of headlamps, for trips ranging from backpacking 40 miles in May through Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness, to backcountry skiing for four days in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and camping in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley. Beyond the convenience of running on either its USB-rechargeable NiMH batteries or standard AAA alkaline batteries, it offers a variety of modes and features not found in other headlamps—including BD’s PowerTap technology to instantly cycle between brightness settings, plus being waterproof—at a competitive price.

Read on

Gear Review: Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

Black Diamond Iota headlamp
Black Diamond Iota headlamp

Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Black Diamond Iota
$40, 2 oz.
backcountry.com

Even as backcountry headlamps continually shrink without compromising brightness—indeed, today’s ultralight models keep getting more powerful—my first impression of Black Diamond’s Iota is how darn tiny it is. Smaller than a golf ball, it’s nearly unnoticeable on your head: After turning it off, you could forget you’re wearing it. This two-ounce beacon also represents a leap forward in the affordability of rechargeable headlamps. While the Iota’s relatively short burn time on a full charge limits its versatility, it will appeal to people who want an affordable, ultralight, rechargeable headlamp for outings of up to two or three hours.

Read on

Gear Review: Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo Headlamps

Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.
Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo headlamps.

Ultralight Headlamps
Black Diamond Spot
$40, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
Black Diamond Cosmo
$30, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
moosejaw.com

A headlamp doesn’t have to take a big bite out of your gear budget—in fact, as these two models demonstrate, you can score a multi-featured backcountry lamp for as little as 30 bucks, and a high-performance model for less than you’ll probably spend on food and gas for a weekend trip. From backpacking trips in Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains in October, Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon in late March, and the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park in May, to a four-day climb of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney in mid-April and dayhiking the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in August, I put the Cosmo and Spot through many hours of use. Both shined at the usual tasks, like lighting the way when pitching a tent or hiking off-trail in the dark, but my testing also spotlighted their differences.

Read on

Gear Review: Vitchelo V800 Headlamp

Vitchelo V800 headlamp
Vitchelo V800 headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Vitchelo V800
$50, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)
store.vitchelo.com

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.

Read on