I do a lot of winter day hiking in some pretty remote and mountainous locations, but I’ve only ever carried one head lamp, a Black Diamond Spot, which I’ve owned now for several years. That changed over the weekend when I bought a second one, a Black Diamond Icon, to bring along on winter trips.
I got the Icon (100 max lumens) because I wanted a brighter headlamp for winter hiking. I’ve already been on a couple of hikes this winter where we needed to keep hiking after nightfall and it’s not that easy to see at night on a snow covered trail. For example, I had to hike down the steep north face of 4,000 footer Wildcat A in the dark last month (photo taken from the summit of Wildcat A at sunset) and my BD Spot wasn’t bright enough for the job. My older model Spot also chews through Lithium AAA batteries, which retain their charge despite cold temperatures.
But why a second headlamp, instead of just one? What about the extra weight? That is a consideration, but if your first headlamp conks out, you really want a second one readily available that already has batteries in it.
Think about it this way: if you don’t have any light, it is going to be a daunting task to change the batteries if you only have one headlamp. Of course, you could rely on the light from a companion, if they’re around, or you could light a match to open the headlamp to see which way to point the batteries in the battery pack. But that assumes you’re not alone – groups do get separated – and that you’re someplace out of the wind where you can light a match. Both of those are pretty big IFS in my experience.
Buying a second headlamp seemed like a prudent step, especially since I plan on doing longer day hikes this winter that require nighttime hiking. I should probably upgrade my old headlamp as well but it’s still good enough and lightweight enough for three-season use and I’d rather not spend the money.
In addition, I also purchased a rechargeable Lithium battery for the BD Icon, which should save me some money on buying AAA lithium batteries. They are very expensive and I’ve been plowing through them this winter.
I hate adding more weight to my winter pack, but I feel that this is a prudent safety precaution.
Do you carry a backup headlamp for winter hiking?
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