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How Big is Your Headlamp?

Fenix LD01 Flashlight
Fenix LD01 Flashlight

“If you need a headlamp (in the beginning of June), you’ve messed up your trip planning,” said a very experienced hiker I know. Even so, I still carry one in summer because there are many things that you can’t control on a hike that can prevent you from pitching camp or cooking dinner until after dark.

Still, there’s no need to carry the massive 8 ounce (including batteries)  Black Diamond Icon headlamp I use in winter when we have less than 9 hours of daylight. In summer, I can replace it with a 1 ounce Fenix LD01 (show above) which is just slightly bigger than the AAA battery that powers it, and clips to my hiking hat. With over 15 hours of daylight and even more including the twilight hours, it’s rare for me to use a headlamp during the summer months from May into August.

What do you use for a summer hiking headlamp?



  1. Surefire Outdoorsman E1L – summer or winter.

  2. Whoever said that quote must have some pretty boring trip planning.
    What about hiking to or from a mountain peak to watch a sunset or sunrise?
    I’ve started some well planned weekend trips by hiking into camp late on a friday night due to work constraints during the day.

  3. A late night faceplant while taking a bathroom break would not be fun. I currently use a Fenix HL21.

  4. I don’t mind planning trips that get me home after dark even on the longest day of the year – the day has 24 hours in it so use as many as you can. I use the same light year-round, the Petzl MYO RXP. Weighs about 6 oz with the top strap removed (took it off since it never slips down). While it puts out 140 lumens (can boost more up to 205) which makes finding the next blaze/cairn a little easier, it’s lower diffused settings are perfect for either walking along trails with limited obstacles or moving around camp.

  5. Is love the Black Diamond Storm which has >= 100 lumens (a must for me), a lock-out feature so it doesn’t go dead in your pack, decent battery life, water resistant, a headlamp vs. flashlight so you have your hands free, and available in bright colors like orange (so it is easy to find if lost and keep track of). I think the 2014 version has around 130 lumens. More would be good too, but then you might need more batteries for longer trips. I guess there is a balance here that you need to figure out for yourselves.

  6. I carry my BD Storm year round. I have a lot of other places I can lose weight(my gut) before I’m worried about my headlamp weight. lol

  7. For Years I used a Carbide Gas Lamp, Then the old Aluminum Flashlights, then to that heavy as lead Yellow Plastic flashlight all of which ate batteries for dinner..Then carried the venerable Mini-mag flashlight but found it “wanting” in a number of area’s. True it is nearly undestructable, a might waterproof, and could be stood inside its’ own barrel as a Candle type light. But it’s fully rounded barrel shape was it’s biggest problem. I even wrote the company about it back in about 1988 to please change the barrel shape to no avail. Instead they came out with these Rubber add on’s and a headband which was better but barely solved the problem. So when Petzel come out with the Tikka I bought three (3) right off and have not looked back since. My Tikka’s go everywhere, Hiking, Backpacking, Fishing, Boating, Caving, etc. etc. and it sure came in handy in keeping my Dog calmed down in a Tent since I set it on Low and used it as a “nightlight” and did not have to worry about the batteries burning out, not with that awesome Burn time. Hiking at night was a problem for years but not now. You do know you need a higher power light to hike on a Moon lit night than a dark night.. And the one in the picture, same problem as the Mini-Mag…a rounded barrel, except for that mid section which is almost useless so not much thinking by people who spend a lot of time outdoors in the design in my opinion. I’ll stick with my Tikka..

    • “Yellow plastic flashlight”. Are you speaking of the Durabeam? A classic of the 70’s and 80’s, it wasn’t heavy at all but did eat batteries compared to today’s lights.

  8. Although I think its control button”s not optimal, I agree that the B-D Storm is a great balance of performance and size. I also have the Feenix LD01 – it’s great as well. Still mourning the loss of my B-D Spot a few days ago when I flipped it off my hooded head without realizing it.

  9. Zebralight H51w year-round. Sometimes I will skip it and take my keychain LED, which has a clip.

  10. Daily carry and with duct tape easy to use as a trail walkin’ light: Fenix P2D. It does take the oddball CR123 but each battery lasts forever and being lithium doesn’t wear with age. Lots of light levels and blinky options; on super-high can illuminate the undersides of low-flying aircraft and distant mountain peaks… :)

  11. I use a Petzl e+lite (1 oz). One thing I like about it is that it’s small enough to wear around my neck when I sleep, so if I need a light during the night, there’s no fumbling around for it.

    • I love those too. They’ve got red & blink, the batteries last forever and I’ve run them through the wash without any issues.

      I have found it’s hard to night hike with other people who use brighter headlamps & if you have to find something in the distance (like a shelter in the Smokies for example) they can be a little dim. They’re still all I carry unless I’m caving or going on a SAR though.

  12. I have owned Petzl, PrincetonTec and Black Diamond headlamps. But, this is my current favorite for my family…exactly what I want at a great price, tilts, high high, low low and red for around the camp fire with others.


    I wouldn’t risk my life on this light, but it is great for < $12.

  13. I have used a Petzl Tikka XP 2 for a couple of years and before that an Energizer headlamp. At the time, I was very happy using both. Last year I decided to give the Fennix LD01 a try and have never looked back.

    The light output works great for around camp and in all other situations I have used it around the house. The clip fastens the light very securely to my cap, no fear of it just “falling” off. BTW, I have carried the LD01 everyday with my keys this past year and I continue to use the same battery.

    One downside, the LD01 doesn’t have its own head strap. So the light may fall short for the times when your not wearing a hat and having 2 hand free would be nice – like at night in your tent. For me this is not a big deal but I can see the knock against.

    The light output adjustment, quick twists off/on, take a little getting used to but after a couple of times you’ll get the hang of it.

    When I bought the LD01, I know I was being a weight weenie. After using the LD01, I feel like its the right tool for the job.

  14. While I own several headlamps, my go to headlamp for backpacking remains the Petzl e+lite which provides plenty of light and weighs in at 27 grams (less than an ounce). At maximum power it lasts for 55 hours.

  15. I use an Ozark Trail Headlamp that’s rated at 15 hours, at 50 Lumens. I purchased two that have worked well for me over last six months. They were under $20.00 at Walmart with 3 AAA batteries included. The headlamp weighs in at 2.8 Oz w/ batteries and has a high/low light setting that works well. I especially like the recessed on/off button that so far hasn’t come on in my pack.

  16. Princeton Tec Fuel LED headlamp
    Have not been out with it yet, (This weekend is the first of the season for me) but looks like a keeper.

  17. I use a petzl tikka.

  18. I usually have a Black Diamond Spot with me

  19. The expert is wrong on at least two counts. First, sometimes I plan on needing a headlamp. Second, even perfectly planned trips can run into problems, someone sprains an ankle, or we come across someone in trouble.
    I always carry a headlamp – usually something simple on a summer day hike. If I’m planning to come out in the dark, I carry two.

  20. I have used an “old model” Petzl Tikka XP for many years. I am so convinced that it is a wonderful headlamp that I have bought a couple of spares when I find them. Three levels of output, plus a deployable diffuser, makes it ideal and it only weighs 3oz. And I DO carry it year round. The only thing it is missing is a red led…

  21. Petxl Tikka here as well. It keeps my hands free for what ever I am doing.

  22. Petzl e+lite is only 1 oz., and the coin batteries are also uber-light, so a spare set is no big deal. The tiny strap beats a cap-mounted light, because you can read in bed without your wet hat. Reading in bed, hands free, is a joy of camping and is reason enough to carry a headlamp. If you hike hard enough, a thin, light book lasts a long time.

  23. Nothing beats the Petzl e+lite headlamp – http://www.antigravitygear.com/shop/ultralight-essentials/petzl-elite-headlamp/ – for weight AND function. Very versatile and lots of mounting options. It is lower lumens than most people think they need – but I have actually trail hiked after dark with the thing. I use this winter or summer.

  24. I carry the massive 8 ounce (including batteries) Black Diamond Icon headlamp, year round.

  25. Like one of the other posters I had used mag lights for hiking, but after my first headlamp (Petzl) I have never gone back. I currently have two, an older (2006) Petzl Tactikka (for work) which has been everywhere with me, and a newer BD Spot. I keep the Petzl on me for work at all times because its just so indestructible, but for hiking,camping, canoeing etc I appreciate the features the BD has such as multiple brightness settings.

  26. Another Petzl Tikka here. Reliable and bright enough. I like to do things on the spur of the moment so it’s good to have light just in case.

  27. Like others, I first acquired a headlamp for work, then started taking it on the trail. My first, a Princeton TEK, is now mounted to my 4x Optivisor in the shop. When I was younger, I prided myself in having superior night vision and not needing a light. Fortunately, that idiotic hubris never got me into any serious trouble. Now I carry a Petzl Tikka. I’m considering carrying a second: One to wear on those late-night nature calls, and one to leave at the tent as a homing beacon.

  28. My wife got me a Petzl Tikka RXP for our anniversary. I first read about it here. In the past, I’ve preferred something I can toss lithium batteries into, however, this rechargeable one will last a few days on the trail. I think they are also coming out with an accessory to take AAA batteries for when it dies. I also have a homemade juice pack to charge my smartphone/GPS, which will also top off the Tikka, if needed.

    I also have the Walmart Energizer light that I got for under $15.00 as a spare. When the grandkids are along, I have a few more and one gets hung in the tent on a low setting because the kiddos are still afraid of the dark.

    That one in the tent saved me from a cold night out a couple years ago in late November. We were camped in dense fog on top of a mountain in Arkansas. In the middle of the night, I had to use a lonely tree and after traveling a couple hundred feet to do my business, I couldn’t find my way back to the tent. In the fog, all I could see was trees and rocks in all directions. After a while, I was beginning to think I’d be stuck out there all night and finally saw an extremely faint glow in the mist and followed it back to the tent with sleeping grandkids. I didn’t think of yelling to wake them up, although that option would probably have occurred to me after freezing for a while in the fog.

  29. Somebody (Phillip?) needs to explain to me how or why you go backpacking without a light?? In Colorado, we camp in deep valleys where it gets dark 1-2 hours early, and sunrise comes 1-2 hours late. True, there is a faint glow, but my idea of a good time is not groping and feeling around inside a dark tent in dim light, or stumbling through the woods in the middle of the night to find the latrine! As one poster said, I’ve got lots of other places I could save 3 ounces that are not as mission critical.

    I started with a Petzl, loved it, finally wanted more power. Used the Black Diamond Storm. Liked the power, not the switch, nor the weight on my forehead (I wasn’t concerned about an extra ounce in my pack).

    Went back to the Petzl Tikka XP2 last year. Not quite as bright, but I like the switch function. The two brightness settings are plenty for my needs. And I love the diffuser. It is so low tech and works so well! It casts a very even broad light. The only downside is when the blowing sand and dust in the desert made the diffuser difficult to slide. A good cleaning at home solved that. I could have washed it on the trail if necessary. We’ll see about long term durability.

    I like a light that is strong enough to see something 100 yards away (like things that go bump or growl in the night). The lithium AAA Energizers shave a little weight and last longer.

  30. I use a energizer brand headlamp, three settings including red. Its not too heavy and certainly comes in handy for evening reading and after hours latrine duty, Can’t imagine not having at least a small lamp of some kind.

  31. As as youngster hiking on the Old Indian Trails of UpState New York we did not have the money to buy one of those expensive flashlights back then until I had a Paper route and cut lawns to get the money to buy one.So we went without one. I can tell you from things that go bump in the night (do you know how hard it is to identify a Skunk by Moonlight, my friend Mark knows) to trying to bandage a large cut due to a fall in the dark by fire light is one good reason why you should always bring a light source. Then for those who get that sudden urge to head home at 10 pm it is a must, as well as those who are lost for signaling purposes. It is one of the Standard Ten Essentials created some 30 years ago and should remain so. Now what you do alone, well your responsible for and to each their own, but I think it is rather unsafe myself.

  32. I use a Princeton Tec FRED, which is basically a Fuel but with the added benefit of a RED led. My wife and daughter both use Petzl Tikkinas. I think it’s just plain silly to not have a light source, no matter how much you’re into trip planning.

  33. Black Diamond Spot, love the thing !

  34. I used the same light that you reviewed with excellent results last year. At first I found it to be floppy on the brim of my hat. I solved this by wrapping line around it. I also found that branches tended to hit it at night and I was afraid it would come flying off and get lost. I ran thin stretchy cord to the back of my hat and attached it with a mitten hook. The line I wrapped it with was kelty triptease which is reflective. Shine a light on the black flashlight and it lights up. Total weight with lithium battery is 0.9 with mods. I get about 12 trips out of a lithium battery used mostly on low.

  35. So there I was 0310 a.m. out on the the Lake and two miles from our Camp Site and an unknow number of Bays along the way to choose from. Smartly I always put up a Yellow Reflector at my put in spot just to make it easy to find in the dark. . The fishing had been Ok, I caught six smallmouth Bass, two of which were keepers, 1 Catfish and one Crappie released them two and was dreaming of Fried Potatoes, Bacon and Bass cooked in Aluminium foil with seasonings and onions.The expensive boat Flood light ($199.99) with 3 million lumens died after only the second night I used it. And you know this past weekend there was no Moon. The big problem was the Army Corps of Engineers had decided to raise the water level in the lake by some 10 vertical feet to where the entire lake was at full Pool, this caused all sorts of things to find their way into the water, Tires, Fence Posts, discarded Ice coolers, Shoes, etc. etc. which will mess up a Boat propeller in not time at all. I reached into my Boat bag and pulled out the Petzel Tekka 2 and handed it to my fishing partner who would sit up in the bow of the Boat to watch for debris and to guide us home…Not a problem…Not hiking but again another good use for my Tekka 2..

  36. Black Diamond Spot – has a red light. I use this all the time for night-time landscape/astrophotography and for star-gazing in order to stay dark-adapted (to see the atlas or checklist or notepad – I don’t want to take notes on my phone, too dam’ bright). Winter or summer, camping/hiking or at the astronomy park – I just use this one headlamp. I have bought several of these for family and friends.

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