Vitchelo vs. Black Diamond Storm
A headlamp is a great thing to have for those late night potty breaks. There is nothing worse than having to go to the bathroom outside in the dark! You have to check for critters before you pitter. In reality, I did not use my headlamp that much outside of finding my way to a pit toilet or into the woods. I usually was in the tent ready to sleep soon after it was dark. My headlamp batteries lasted forever!
You, however, might be more adventurous and decide to do some night hikes. It is great to get to a peak in the wee hours of the morning to watch the sunrise. Seeing the trail is essential to being safe.
There are a lot of headlamps on the market right now and not all of them are great for thru-hikes. I would suggest at least 100 lumen brightness so you can see down the trail far enough ahead of your trail blazing speed. A waterproof headlamp is essential because you get caught in bad weather when you live outside for 5 months. Other than that, the other functions are pure luxury.
I am going to compare two headlamps. I used an older version of the Black Diamond Storm on my thru-hike. The new version has some added features and is more affordable at $49.95. I was just sent the Vitchelo headlamp to review, which is listed at the same price but is currently on sale for $35.47.
Black Diamond Storm: I really liked that the spotlight and flood light options were both dim-able. You just hold the on/off button until it reaches the desired brightness. An added feature on the new version is that you can tap the side of the headlamp to go back to full brightness in a jiffy in case there is something in the distance you need to see immediately! There is also a red light option so you can keep your night vision (and be courteous in shelters). The Storm is waterproof. You open the battery compartment by using a plastic part of the headband to unscrew the clasp. I wore it in rain and it never failed me. My headlamp is only like 90 lumens but the new version is 160 lumens, super bright! The Storm also has a 3 year warranty.
Vitchelo Headlamp: This headlamp is more affordable when it is on sale but I did not like it that much. The one thing it has over the Black Diamond is that there are 2 buttons. One button controls the spotlight which has 3 settings to dim and 1 blinking setting. The other button controls the red light which is either full on or blinking. It doesn’t have as many dim settings as the other but enough to get by. This headlamp has a lower waterproof rating than the Black Diamond and the seal seems weak/easy to accidentally open. The battery compartment is only secured by a little plastic part you pull on. I feel there is potential for it opening in your pack during storage or if you’re simply trying to pull the angle of the headlamp down, you could grab the wrong part.
The thing that I liked the least about this headlamp is that it only has a spotlight mode, no flood. Also, the spotlight mode is really a spotlight. When it is on, there is a very bright center light which ruins visibility for the rest of the illuminated area. I took it out last night and there was a visible line of light from the ground to my forehead like how you can trace the origin of the Bat Signal back to the rooftop. Instead of just what the light hit in front of you being illuminated, the air in front of your face was too. I tried to take a picture of it but my camera phone didn’t capture it. This headlamp does claim it illuminates further from the source but I couldn’t tell because of the light beam in the middle of my vision. The Vitchelo does offer a lifetime warranty.
You can see the different ways the headlamps illuminate below.
In summary, I would get the Black Diamond or something similar over the Vitchelo for your thru-hike. Even with the savings, I do not think it is worth the purchase unless you are just going car camping simply because hiking with that light beam would be annoying. For an extra $15 you would spend on the Black Diamond, you can get many added features and a solid construction with a quality spotlight function. There is a saying on the trail, “You get what you pay for.” If you buy cheap gear, you’ll regret it later!
Disclosure: the following product was donated for the purposes of review.
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