The Best Backpacking Headlamps of 2021

Your headlamp might be tiny, but chances are it’s one of the most crucial pieces of gear you own. Whether you’re a consummate night hiker or you just get up to pee a lot in the middle of the night, almost every thru-hiker needs convenient, hands-free lighting from time to time. There are several features to consider when shopping for the best backpacking headlamps, from weight to battery life.

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The Best Headlamps for Backpacking:

NiteCore NU25 | All-Around Best
Black Diamond Spot | Best Dimmable
Petzl Actik Core | Best Rechargeable
Biolite 330 | Most Comfortable
Petzl Tikkina | Most Affordable
Coast FL1R | Best Ultralight Camp Headlamp
Petzl Swift RL | Brightest / Best Battery Life
Princeton Tec SNAP | Most Versatile

Backpacking Headlamp FAQs

How much should a backpacking headlamp weigh?
Rechargeable vs. Alkaline Battery
How bright should my headlamp be?
Should my headlamp have a red light setting?
What is the point of a locking feature on a headlamp?
Are there waterproof backpacking headlamps?

Best Backpacking Headlamps of 2021: FAQs

How much should a backpacking headlamp weigh?

Headlamps weigh anywhere from one ounce to over half a pound. Every ounce counts for thru-hikers traversing thousands of miles. That’s why the best headlamps for thru-hiking weigh three ounces or less. Make sure you’re looking at the weight including batteries to get the most accurate numbers for your base weight spreadsheet. Looking to shave grams wherever you can? Remove the headband and replace it with a length of shock cord to save about an ounce. Swapping out the headband is straightforward on some headlamps, like the NiteCore NU25, and challenging on others, like the Petzl Actik Core.

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Rechargeable vs. Alkaline Headlamp Batteries

Rechargeable headlamps eliminate the need to carry spare batteries. If you have a battery bank in your pack, you’ll virtually never have to worry about running out of juice. You’ll pay a premium for this feature, however. You’ll also swap the weight of extra AAAs for yet another charge cable.

Also worth noting: powering a rechargeable lamp takes time and requires forethought and planning. If you’re the type to run your headlamp to zero accidentally, you’re better off with a AAA-powered headlamp. That way, you can instantly swap out dead batteries and get back on track.

You should also consider battery life when shopping for a headlamp. If you plan to do a lot of night hiking, you’ll need more battery capacity than someone who just needs sporadic light around camp. Eight to 10 hours of moderate (50-100 lumen) output on a single charge is adequate for most people.

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How bright should my headlamp be?

Lumens are a unit of brightness. Most backpackers want a headlamp that offers a range of brightness settings between five and 200 lumens. That way, you can toggle between lumen outputs depending on your needs, conserving battery.

  • 10 lumens and under: enough for camp chores and getting up to pee in the dark
  • 80-150 lumens: enough for night hiking
  • 200-400 lumens: useful if  you want to throw a long beam into the woods (“what was that sound?”) or search the ground for something you dropped
  • Above 400 lumens: probably overkill for backpacking. Drives up weight and price while gobbling battery. The exception is if you want one headlamp that works for adventure sports (trail running, mountain biking, climbing, etc.) in addition to hiking.

You should also pay attention to your headlamp’s beam pattern. A spot pattern is a narrow, focused beam of light that can illuminate things a long way away. Spot lighting is helpful for night hiking. Meanwhile, flood lighting casts a more diffuse beam that’s most useful for up-close tasks, like camp chores.

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Should my headlamp have a red light setting?

Other people’s headlamps are super annoying. Other people’s headlamps are super annoying. Bright white LEDs can blind fellow campers and impair peripheral and night vision (including for the wearer). They create a tunnel vision effect that can persist even after switching the light off.

Many headlamps come with a red light setting for use around camp or on smooth footpaths where you don’t need a lot of illumination to navigate safely. Not only are they gentler on the eyes, but red lights also conserve battery and attract fewer insects.

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What is the point of a locking feature on a headlamp?

There’s nothing more annoying than having your headlamp turn itself on inside your pack, killing the battery long before you reach camp. Power is precious on the trail, which is why the best headlamps for thru-hiking have a locking function to keep this from happening.

Are there waterproof headlamps?

Yes, and they’re worth looking into, but remember that waterproofness is a spectrum. If you spend enough time on the trail, everything you own will have a run-in with moisture at some point, and your headlamp is no exception. That’s why it’s so important to pick one that’s reasonably waterproof or at least water-resistant.

The headlamp’s IP (Ingress Protection) code denotes its waterproofness. Here’s how to interpret it:

  • IPx4: Resists splashing from any direction. Enough to protect from light to moderate rain.
  • IPx5/IPx6: Resists ‘water jets’ and ‘powerful water jets,’ respectively. Enough to protect from heavy rain.
  • IPx7/IPx8: Resists total immersion up to one meter or deeper than one meter, respectively. Only the best headlamps for thru-hiking are this waterproof.

The x in that code represents solid particle ingress protection. An x means there’s no data, while a number between zero and six represents the level of protection. Zero means no ingress protection, and six means it keeps out everything up to and including fine dust particles.

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The Best Backpacking Headlamps of 2021

Nitecore NU25 | All-Around Best Backpacking Headlamp
MSRP: $36.95
Weight with batteries: 1.9 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Nitecore NU25.

“The NU25 has all the features I look for in a headlamp: rechargeable, water-resistant, crazy low weight, a lock-off feature to prevent it from turning on in my pack, and multiple brightness settings including two red light levels and a diffuse CRI LED. The two-button system also makes it super intuitive to use. The headlamp weighs just one ounce, not including the headstrap, which I recommend ditching for a lightweight shock cord.”—Owen Eigenbrot

Details

Light Output / Battery Life:
         Turbo: 360 lumens / 0.5 hours
High: 190 lumens / 5 hours
Mid: 38 lumens / 8 hours
Low: 1 lumen / 160 hours
High CRI: 20 lumens / 6.25 hours
Red light / Strobe / Locking: Yes (0.9 and 13-lumen) / Yes / Yes
Batteries: USB-rechargeable
Beam pattern: Spot and flood
Watertightness: IP66 (dust-tight and should continue to work in heavy rain)

The Nitecore NU25 packs a full suite of valuable features—multiple brightness settings, strobe, red light, locking, rain- and dust-proofness—into a tiny, featherlight package. It weighs a scant 1.9 ounces, including the headband, which can be removed and swapped for a length of shock cord (the headlamp weighs just one ounce without the headband). We like the NU25’s dual battery operation: one button controls the red light settings, and the other controls the white lights.

It has decent battery life, though not the best on this list. According to Nitecore, the battery lasts eight hours at an output of 38 lumens. In contrast, the Petzl Actik Core lasts eight hours at 100 lumens. The battery is rechargeable, though, so if you have a battery bank in your pack, you can juice it up as needed. The headlamp also has indicator lights so you can track your charge level.

The NU25 is the only headlamp on this list to feature a high CRI (color rendering index) LED setting. When you use this setting, you get a warm light that renders colors and details more accurately than standard LEDs.

Pros: High CRI light; ultralight; good price point; rechargeable battery; better-than-average water resistance; multiple red lights.
Cons: Not the best battery life on the list.

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Black Diamond Spot | Best Dimmable Headlamp
MSRP: $39.95
Weight w/ Batteries: 3 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Black Diamond Spot.

“You can’t beat the price on this headlamp, and it works great. Lightweight and it gives you a lot of options as far as lighting for different scenarios with white and red light. Plus, I’m still partial to carrying back up batteries vs. having to charge a headlamp.”—Alex Murphy

Details

The Black Diamond Spot headlamp is dimmable between six and 350 lumens, so you’re not boxed into fixed high, medium, and low settings. We love the ability to fine-tune the brightness. This headlamp has a strong battery that, in our usage, consistently lasts a week or more between charges when used for camp chores and a few hours of night hiking each day. Since AAA batteries power it, you can bring a spare set along with you to quickly re-up the charge and ensure you never run out of juice.

The Spot isn’t the lightest headlamp on our list, but it’s incredibly functional and durable. It’s also the most waterproof headlamp we’ve featured and the only one capable of withstanding total submersion in water.

Red light / Strobe / Locking: Yes / Yes / Yes
Batteries: AAA (3)
Watertightness: IPX8 (no data on solid particle ingress, but should survive total submersion to a depth of 1.1m)
Beam pattern: Spot and flood
Light Output / Battery Life:

  • High: 350 lumens / 4 hours
  • Low: 6 lumens / 200 hours

Pros: Dimmable; strong battery life; excellent water resistance; battery indicator lights.
Cons: No rechargeable battery option; on the heavy side.

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Petzl Actik Core | Best Rechargeable Headlamp
MSRP: $69.95
Weight w/ Batteries: 2.8 ounces w/ CORE rechargeable battery; 3.2 oz w/ AAAs

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Petzl Actik Core.

“I’ve put my Actik Core through a lot over the years, including hiking with it for hours during a literal hurricane. It’s one of the best headlamps for thru-hiking. I love the flexible charge options and that the brightness automatically steps down when the battery gets low. I start hiking at least an hour or two before dawn most days, and although the specs say the battery lasts just eight hours at medium brightness, in my experience, a single charge consistently lasts 10 hours or longer on medium.”—Kelly Floro

Details

Light Output / Battery Life:

  • High: 450 lumens / 2 hours
  • Mid: 100 lumens / 8 hours
  • Low: 6 lumens / 130 hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: Yes / Yes / No
Batteries: USB-rechargeable 1250 mAh CORE (included); also AAA-compatible
Beam pattern: Spot and flood
Watertightness: IPX4 (no data on solid particle ingress but should resist light to moderate rain)

The Actik Core distinguishes itself from most other headlamps on this list because it has flexible charging options. It’s compatible with both rechargeable and AAA batteries, so you can decide which style suits you best. If you’re anxious about running out of power and getting stranded in the dark, this may be the headlamp for you. By carrying a battery bank to recharge the Petzl CORE battery and a set of spare AAAs, you can make it virtually impossible to run out of power.

Also, when the battery gets low, the headlamp will flash a few times and then automatically switch to the lowest brightness setting to conserve the battery. The step-down feature prolongs its life and gives you ample warning that it’s about to die. Incidentally, the rechargeable CORE battery weighs roughly half an ounce less than the three AAAs it would take to power the headlamp otherwise.

The Actik Core isn’t the lightest headlamp on the list, but it’s versatile and has proven extremely durable in our testing. It’s also one of the brightest headlamps on our list, churning out a whopping 450 lumens on the highest setting.

Pros: USB-rechargeable and AAA-compatible; good battery life; super-bright.
Cons: Expensive; no locking feature; only moderate water resistance.

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Biolite 330 | Most Comfortable Backpacking Headlamp
MSRP: $59.95
Weight w/ Batteries: 2.4 oz w/ batteries

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Biolite Headlamp 330.

“I love this headlamp primarily because it’s super comfortable and the battery is long-lasting. The only issues I have with this headlamp are how I’m somehow so confused about the settings. It seems like whenever I press the top button, something unexpected happens. Other than that, I love this headlamp, and it’s my go-to this season.” — Maggie Slepian

Details

Light Output / Battery Life:

  • High: 330 lumens / 3.5 hours
  • Low: 5 lumens / 40 hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: Yes / Yes / Yes
Batteries: USB-rechargeable
Beam pattern: Spot, flood, and combo
Watertightness: IPX4 (no data on solid particle ingress but should resist light to moderate rain)

Unlike most headlamps, Biolite separates the battery pack for their 330 Headlamp and places it at the back of the headband. This results in a balanced, streamlined fit. The headband fits snugly and, once properly adjusted, won’t slip down and require constant adjustment.

We like that this headlamp has the ability to combine the spot and flood beam patterns so you can get wide-angle, diffuse light and a long, focused beam simultaneously for maximum illumination. The battery life on the Biolite 330 isn’t stellar—just 40 hours on the dim setting—but our reviewer said the headlamp had plenty of juice for his needs. “I was able to go for well over a week with intermittent daily usage while training in the winter, and it didn’t require charging during a two-night backpacking trip.”

Read our full review of the Biolite Headlamp 330.

Pros: Battery indicator light; moisture-wicking adjustable headband; lightweight; dimmable.
Cons: Expensive; disappointing battery life (max burn time only 40 hours); single, small control button makes it hard to operate.

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Petzl Tikkina | Most Affordable Headlamp
MSRP: $19.95
Weight w/ Batteries: 3 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Petzl Tikkina.

“I used the Petzel Tikkana on my AT thru-hike. It lasted the whole way with one battery change and is still going strong on my hike of the Vermont Long Trail this year. I did turn the batteries the wrong way on purpose when I wasn’t using it to ensure it wouldn’t turn on in my pack by accident. My only complaint is the single button for every type of light— at times it would take a few presses to get to the kind I wanted.” — Julia Gladstein (“Puma”) AT 2019

Details

Light Output / Battery Life:

  • High: 250 lumens / 2 hours
  • Low: 6 lumens / 120 hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: No / No / No
Batteries: 3 AAA; also compatible w/ USB rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE (not included)
Beam pattern: Flood
Watertightness: IPX4 (no data on solid particle ingress but should resist light to moderate rain)

The Tikkina is a straight-ahead headlamp. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles (no locking feature, red light, or strobe, no spot beam pattern), and it’s on the heavy side. But at just $20, the price is right. It has decent battery life across its three brightness settings. Output ranges between six and 250 lumens, which is more than adequate for most thru-hikers’ purposes.

The Tikkina’s one indulgence is that it does have flexible charging options. You can power it with AAAs or with the Petzl CORE rechargeable battery (sold separately). This makes it more versatile than most headlamps when it comes to the power supply.

Pros: Inexpensive; strong battery life; flexible charging options.
Cons: No red light, strobe, or locking; flood pattern only; on the heavy side.

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Coast FL1R | Best Ultralight Camp Headlamp
MSRP: $39.99
Weight w/ Batteries: 1.1 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Coast FL1R.

Multiple brightness settings, red light, lockability… check, check, check. The Coast FL1R’s battery life and functionality are limited compared to some on this list, but it has a good range of features, weighs very little, and won’t break the bank. It’s a great starter headlamp for new backpackers. It also works well for weight-conscious hikers who only need a headlamp for emergencies and after-dark camp chores. – Editors

Details

Light Output / Battery life:

  • High: 300 lumens / 1.5 hours
  • Low: 120 lumens / 3.75  hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: Yes / No / Yes
Batteries: USB-rechargeable
Beam pattern: Flood
Watertightness: IP54 (almost, but not entirely dust-protected; should resist light to moderate rain)

The Coast FL1R weighs just over one ounce, including the battery and headband. That makes it the lightest headlamp on our list. Despite that, it has most of the features we look for in the backpacking headlamps.  We like that the headband is easily removable and that the lamp comes with a hat clip attachment.

Our biggest beef is that the brightness options are very limiting. There are only two settings: 120 and 300 lumens. One hundred and twenty lumens is damn bright for a “low light” setting. As a result, it’s difficult to conserve the battery or reduce eye strain when using the white LEDs.

The FL1R also only has a wide-angle floodlight with a maximum beam distance of 34m (or 26m on low), which is more appropriate for proximity tasks at camp than for on-trail use. Even so, it’s technically bright enough for night hiking, but you’ll need to be very careful with the battery because Coast reports just three hours and 45 minutes of run time on the lowest setting.

Pros: Ultralight; Detaches from headband; locking; moderate price; hat clip.
Cons: Abysmal battery life; no low light setting; flood lighting only; no strobe.

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Petzl Swift RL | Brightest Headlamp / Best Battery Life
MSRP: $119.95
Weight w/ Batteries: 3.5 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Petzl Swift RL.

The Petzl Swift RL is the brightest light on our list by far, maxing out at a searing 900-lumen output. Most hikers don’t strictly need even half that brightness, but if you fear the dark or have vision limitations, this light is more or less bright enough to turn night into day. This performance headlamp also uses Petzl’s reactive lighting technology to conserve battery, often stretching the run time by nearly an order of magnitude compared to standard lighting. -Editors

Details

Light Output / Battery Life:

  • High reactive: 900 lumens max / 2-30 hours
  • High standard: 550 lumens / 2 hours
  • Medium reactive: 300 lumens max / 5-40 hours
  • Medium standard: 200 lumens / 5 hours
  • Low reactive: 100 lumens max / 10-50 hours
  • Low standard: 10 lumens / 100 hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: No / No / Yes
Batteries: 2350 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable
Beam pattern: Spot and flood
Watertightness: IPX4 (no data on solid particle ingress but should resist light to moderate rain)

Nine hundred lumen max light output is flashy, but Petzl’s reactive lighting technology is the Swift RL’s most enticing feature for thru-hikers. The headlamp has a sensor that adjusts the LEDs’ beam pattern and light output based on reflected ambient light. For instance, if you’re traveling through an open field under a full moon, the headlamp will automatically dim itself since you already have a decent amount of light around you. When you pass into dense forest cover, the light output will increase again on its own.

This optimizes power consumption, extending the battery life dramatically, and makes the headlamp hands-free. The battery is rechargeable, but it’s important to note that it’s not interchangeable with the CORE battery that powers other Petzl headlamps like the Tikkina and Actik Core.

The Swift RL is one of the few Petzl models to come with a locking feature to stop it from turning itself on in your backpack, which is nice. But it lacks a red light or strobe function and, at 3.5 ounces, is among the heaviest lamps on this list.

Pros: Ergonomic, detachable headband; insanely bright; strong battery; locking; reactive lighting; versatile.
Cons: Freaking expensive; no red light or strobe; heavy; rechargeable battery not interchangeable with other Petzl batteries.

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Princeton Tec SNAP Modular Headlamp | Most Versatile Headlamp
MSRP: $44.99
Weight w/ Batteries: 3.5 oz.

Best backpacking headlamps

Best backpacking headlamps: Princeton Tec SNAP.

The SNAP headlamp’s claim to fame is its modular design. It’s really a headlamp kit that comes with accessories for attaching the light to bike handlebars or hang it inside your tent. The light detaches easily from the headband so you can use it as a bike light, lantern, or handheld light as needed. This is one of the best backpacking headlamps for multi-sport enthusiasts who want a headlamp that works equally well for cycling, backpacking, and car camping. It’s also great as a lantern if you plan to spend a lot of time in your tent. -Editors

Details

Light Output / Battery life:

  • High: 300 lumens / 10 hours
  • Low: 10 lumens / 155 hours

Red light / Strobe / Locking: No / Yes / No
Batteries: AAA (3)
Beam pattern: Spot
Watertightness: IPX4 (no data on solid particle ingress but should resist light to moderate rain)

The SNAP modular headlamp comes with mounting brackets, so you can attach the light to a headband (included in purchase) or your bike handlebars or hang it like a lantern. It also comes equipped with a strong magnet that will attach to most metal surfaces. This clever, multifunctional design should appeal to backpackers who want to do more with less gear.

The SNAP headlamp also has one of the longest-lasting batteries on our list for the high setting. Compare the SNAP’s purported 10 hours of battery life at 300 lumens to the Biolite 330’s 3.5 hours at 330 lumens, for instance. Ten hours’ capacity is more than enough for most night-hiking backpackers, and 300 lumens is plenty of output for the task. The headlamp is dimmable, so you can easily adjust the brightness to your needs.

On the other hand, the SNAP is on the heavy side and is light on features (no flood, locking, or red light, though it does have a strobe function for emergencies and high-vis applications). At least this streamlined simplicity makes it easy to use: with relatively few settings, toggling through with the single control button is very intuitive.

Pros: Modular/easily detachable; bright; excellent battery life on high; dimmable.
Cons: No red light or locking; spot pattern only; heavy.

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Related

Why should you trust us?

Because we’re so incredibly intelligent, of course! Attractive, too. (Not to mention extremely humble).

But if that isn’t enough to impress you, there’s also the fact that everyone who contributed to this article is an experienced thru-hiker with thousands of on-trail miles under their belt. We’re gear nerds who love putting our equipment to the test on trails long and short, and we’ve tested dozens of headlamps in pursuit of better illumination in the backcountry.

Moreover, we do our best to stay plugged into the trail community’s gear preferences (we are definitely those obnoxious people on trail who always want to know what everyone else is packing). That means our picks for the best backpacking headlamps aren’t just our opinions: they’re based on years of feedback from the thru-hiking community.

Competence and backpacking proficiency personified.

Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).

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Comments 10

  • Avatar
    Seth "Osprey" Schumacher : Sep 4th

    Ditto to the Nitecore NU25. However, I’d add the Petzl Zipka to this list. While only IPX4 rated, at 66g (2.3oz) it’s a great little lamp. Bright enough with red light options and the ability to use the Petzl CORE rechargeable battery or AAA batteries as needed. It’s similar to the Tikka from Petzl but with the retractable “headband” it can be worn not just on the head, but the wrist, on a backpack strap, etc. which I LOVE.

    Light:
    MAX 300lm for 2h
    MED 100lm for 9h
    MIN 6lm for 120h
    Red 2lm for 60h

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Kelly Floro : Sep 4th

      Thanks for reminding us of a great headlamp! The Zipka was actually the first headlamp I ever owned way back in the day. Another great offering from Petzl.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    FM : Sep 4th

    If you anticipate doing any lengthy night hiking on a trail like the AT, consider the following:

    Parabolic reflector headlamps generate some flood light for close up (at your feet) and throw a spot of concentrated light for distance (usually 10 ft ahead of you) and are prefered for hiking. Flood is best for close up work. LEDs with no reflector cast only even flood light.

    For the average 7mm diameter, dark adapted pupil (DAP), 15 lumens is marginal, 30 lm is practical and 75 lm is plenty.

    The limit of your headlamp burns your battery at an enormous rate, so if you want to use 75 lumens all the time for a long time before reaching battery depletion, make sure your maximum setting is about 5 times higher (in this case 375 lm). Lower settings are more efficient. 375 lm is still great to have to momentarily light up that tree branch that just fell near you that you thought was a carnivorous hiker eating bear.

    Dark adapted pupils diameters can vary from 4-9mm. Your optometrist can measure you, or you can use methods described at various places online to do this yourself.

    If you are the typical kid thru-hiking a trail out of college or high school, 7mm is a good guess. As you become older, DAP diameter decreases. If you have smaller daps than 7mm, you will need more light. How much more depends on a square rule. If you are a retiree and have a 5mm DAP, then you need [(7/5)^2]*Lumens, roughly 2x the light needed for your typical high school graduate–30 lm marginal, 60 lm practical, 150 lm plenty.

    Lithium batteries (primary and ion rechargeable) hold even brightness over most of the battery life, then drop off quickly. Alkaline batteries (unless regulated by the flashlight) decrease gradually over time.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Kelly Floro : Sep 4th

      ^THIS. Thanks for this phenomenally detailed and specific comment FM!

      Reply
      • Avatar
        FM : Sep 4th

        Thanks. Just added a little more info to this thread. Hope you find it just as helpful.

        Reply
    • Avatar
      FM : Sep 4th

      Addendum to above:

      For the AT, blazes in most areas are usually spaced 40-50m apart except in wilderness areas where they are a tenth to a quarter mile apart. To see a typical blaze at 50m with practical light having a youthful 7mm DAP, a flashlight with a max intensity rated at least 950 candela (cd) is required. For an old f*rt 5mm DAP, 1900 cd is required.

      These intensities are available on many headlamps (make sure yours does). But the flood from the headlamp hits nearby objects and causes the pupil to contract somewhat dimming long distant objects (test your headlamp on a dark trail at night before going). Using a miniature handheld flashlight not only backs up a headlamp failure, but if you add a taped sliding chipboard tube to the cowling, you can block the flood component of the light and see farther without affecting the spot component of the light.

      You can find a 10,000 cd intensity handheld thrower at 2.8oz (Astrolux S1 XPL 18350 bat). You can hike with the appropriate setting on your headlamp and momentarily click on your handheld for blaze searches. And seeing that only 10-20% of max setting is required to see that blaze, the battery should last a long time.

      Seeing a 2x6in blaze beyond 175 meters is impractical without a mini-scope. 20-20 vision resolves a 2x6in blaze into a desirable minimum required 3 stacked pixels. 175 meters is about the short end of the blaze separations in designated wilderness areas. To see that far with practical illumination of target, a youthful 7mm DAP needs about 80,000 cd and 5mm DAP needs 160,000cd.

      Flashlights of these intensities can weigh up to 11oz without batteries and cost over $120 (and you know how you feel about that discarded protein bar wrapper in your trash Ziploc). Navigating in wilderness areas with your GPS smartphone and a free app like Guthook (AT map costs $60) is a much more practical option. The additional weight is zero, mapped GPS navigation easily cuts through mountain fog (haha) and you save $60 to boot.

      Reply
      • Avatar
        FM : Sep 4th

        Corrections and clarifications to previous post:

        I should not have said “practical” illumination for the 950cd and 1900cd figures. I normally use “marginal” for my maximum range calculations. Marginal in this case means 1) stop at a blaze 2) scan the 50m range for the next blaze 3) take a few moments to discern the next blaze–it’s right on the border of non-detection. “Practical” illumination means doubling the marginal intensity figure. It means you can easily and readily discern the blaze. In that case, you need 1900cd and 3800cd for youthful and geriatric DAP respectively.

        And unfortunately, my geriatric brain miscalculated the intensity needed for detecting a white blaze at max range for 20-20 acuity. For ‘marginal’ detection of a blaze at 175m, you need 135,000cd and 270,000cd for 7mm and 5mm DAP, respectively. For ‘practical’ (readily seen) detection, you need 270,000cd and 540,000cd respectively. Those figures make the required handheld flashlight virtually weight-wise impractical for most backpackers UNLESS you can find a flashlight tech to modify a zoomie thrower to those specifications. Weights in the range of 6-12oz is not unrealistic but still too high for the tastes of most backpackers.

        Sorry for the confusion. I’m having a ‘slow Joe’ moment, lol.

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Mikeycat : May 15th

    You’ll have to pry my Nitecore NU32 from my cold dead hands. And it’ll retain its original headstrap.

    Reply

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