How to choose a headlamp 2020

Headlamps : what is important?

Selecting a headlamp may seem like a small feat. On first sight you may not spot an awful lot of differences between them, aside from Lumens and the price.

The amount of money you are willing to spent on a headlamp is a personal choice. But what does Lumens actually mean? And is this important for you?

Besides Lumens and price, what features should the headlamp come equipped with? We will explain the most important properties of a headlamp in this 3 minute read!

If you’d rather not dive into the hassle of researching the best lamp for you yourself we can also help you out! We have selected what we feel are the 10 best headlamps of 2020!

Lumens

The amount of Lumens is fanatically advertised by companies selling light related products. But, how important is the amount of Lumens really? 

Lumen is an indicator for the quantity of light being emitted by a source in a certain amount of time. In other words: its light output minus the quality of the light beam. Do you think sounds pretty complicated? 

No need to worry: Lumens actually aren’t that important. First off, it is possible to produce a meager beam with higher Lumens. Still, for most activities, 100 Lumens will usually do the trick. If the light source emits 150 Lumens or more its definitely plenty for nearly any activity. Anything higher can be convenient in specific situations. In example, when searching for a wild animal in the bushes. Or for some additional power in dense fog.

Of course, as you can see in the header picture on this page, a strong light also offers fun!

Battery

A headlamp battery life is mostly important when using the headlamp multiple days in a row without having a nearby power source. Headlamps usually offer information on its battery life in both High and Low setting. Keep in mind that Low setting is generally the setting the most utilized by the user.

You can pick between rechargeable batteries or regular batteries.

Rechargeable
Regular batteries

Weight

A lightweight lamp is preferable for reducing weight in your backpack as well as comfort while wearing the lamp. A heavy lamp might be “pulling” towards the front of the head when used.

Still, often a lamp is heavy with a reason. Longer battery life & stronger lamp? Then the headlamp probably weighs more. Better weather resistance? Again: Higher weight. And, of course, the opposite is also true.

We have tested lamps from just over 40 grams and lamps of over 300 grams! It can differ greatly. So its well possible this is an important property to keep eye on when selecting a lamp!

Chassis

The chassis quality largely dictates the durability of the headlamp. It is a good idea to check what material the lamp is made of. If possible, find out whether the lamp is sturdy enough for your liking.

In addition, wonder if weather resistance are important to you. Keep in mind that better weather resistance usually results in a heavier lamp.  The weather resistance is noted as IPxx by the product property listing. In example, the Petzl Actik Core 450 headlamp.

lists “Water resistance IPX4” on the website of REI. This means it can resist splashed.

Click here for wikipedia’s IPxx chart.

Beam distance

Although often noted as an important property, the beam distance isn’t really important in most situations. When hiking, does it really matter whether the light beam reaches 60, 100 or 120 meters? Will you actually be hiking with the lamp in the dark at all? In most other cases 60 meters and up will do fine.

Light modes

You can usually set a headlamp in High or Low mode (And often something in between) But this isn’t all there is to know. Most lamps have both Flood and Spot beam patterns, amongst others.

Flood :The short distance light you will be using most of the time.  Illuminates your direct proximity.

Spot : Spot creates a tight beam to cast light as far away as possible. 

Red light: When using a red lamp you should be able to see without blinding others.

Red strobe: Handy for runners or in emergency situations.

Blue/green: Extra’s, also meant not to blind others.

Keep in mind: more options might make the headlamp controls less user-friendly. Most of the time, blue/green light is not necessary.

Comfort

Besides the nightly toilet visit on a camp site you will often wear a lamp for longer periods of time. It is important that the lamp remains comfortable even then.

Sadly you can only test whether the lamp feels comfortable when you actually use it. Luckily we have tested multiple headlamps for you. You can find out our 10 favorite headlamps here!

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