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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Headlamp

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need a headlamp? 

Around camp and possibly on the trail, you’ll need light to see. A headlamp or flashlight lets you see where you’re going. With a headlamp your hands can be free to make dinner or put up your tent. 

Headlamps are part of the 10 Essentials safety equipment. If you find yourself lost, even on a day hike, you could be out after dark trying to find your way. Headlamps are good signalling devices for trying to get rescued as well. 

Phones have lights on them as well but if you run the light down on your phone, you can’t call for help if you need to. 

Lightweight and comfortable is important

Most headlamps have a wide comfortable band so you can wear them on your head for hours at a time. Make sure yours is comfortable and doesn’t dig in anywhere. Try them on in the store if you can. Lighter weight headlamps usually are more comfortable. They don’t have as much weight hanging off your head. 

Some headlamps are extremely lightweight though and only have wire for a band which isn’t as comfortable. 

Bright is good 

Very small or inexpensive headlamps aren’t very bright. While it might be ok around camp for work right in front of your face, you won’t be able to see down the trail very far if you have to hike. A good headlamp will be 300 lumens or more. 

Headlamps over 300 lumens can be heavier and use more batteries so make sure you need that size before getting anything bigger. 

Look for good battery life

Running out of batteries on your headlamp can be dangerous so make sure you get something with a good long battery life on it. You won’t have to worry about running out. 

Bring extra batteries or battery pack

Since headlamps and having light is so important for safety and just comfort, make sure to bring extra batteries. Some headlamps can recharge with USB so a small, fully charged battery pack can charge your headlamp and other things on the trail. 

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