Mountaineer’s Take on Headlamps

We’re excited about our headlamp selection for 2011! Here are our thoughts on each model we currently stock—hopefully this can be of use when deciding which headlamp is right for you. As always please feel free to comment or email us if you have any questions.

Black Diamond Gizmo

It’s all about the price with the Gizmo—you get a lot for your $20, including plenty of power for any close-range task with just enough light to hike by, and excellent battery life in a small, lightweight unit. It’s an ideal headlamp for an emergency light that’s always stowed in your pack; we also love it for kids. However, if you expect to actually be hiking with your headlamp we’d recommend upgrading to the next level.

 

Petzl Tikka 2

The Tikka 2 does it all: you won’t find a better lamp for $30. It’s bright enough to follow a trail easily, and it seems like batteries truly last forever. Its durability is top-notch. In our opinion it is well worth upgrading to the Tikka from a $20 option if you think there’s a good chance the headlamp will ever get used, and there’s no need to get a better headlamp unless you plan to be out recreating at night.

Bottom line: The Tikka 2 is perfect for the majority of outdoor users, who use a headlamp around camp or for the hour or two around dawn and dusk when they might be starting or ending their day. Get the Tikka 2 unless you want a cheap emergency only light or a better light for dedicated night-hiking, running, skiing, climbing, etc.

 

Petzl Tikka Plus 2

The Tikka Plus 2 is a slightly brighter version of the Tikka 2, but the real reason to spring for the Plus is the focused beam. For activities like running, skiing or climbing it can be nice to see a little further ahead in order to spot a trail marker, obstacle or handhold.

Think of the Tikka Plus as a more functional version of the Tikka 2 for those who prefer a spotlight to a more diffuse lighting pattern.

 

Black Diamond Spot

The Spot was the first lamp from BD that really blew us away, and it did so by offering new technology at an amazing price. It delivers an excellent spot-pattern LED that can be dimmed from an incredibly bright 75 lumens down to any level appropriate for the task at hand for only $40. Other features include two standard LEDs for regular flood-pattern task lighting, a lock to ensure that the lamp doesn’t turn on accidentally in your pack, a battery-life indicator, and two red LEDs for preserving night vision.

The only reason we can think of to skip the Spot is the introduction of the more powerful Storm—for $10 more the Storm offers 100 lumens and full waterproofing in only a slightly heavier unit. If you plan to do a lot of night hiking/climbing/etc it’s worth the upgrade to the Storm; otherwise you’ll appreciate the smaller and lighter Spot.

 

Black Diamond Storm

When we first heard about this light in Fall 2010 we thought it sounded too good to be true: 100 Lumens, not much larger than a Tikka, waterproof, all for $50? Well, it’s here now and it’s a great deal.

We will be recommending this to all our customers who want to play at night. It’s more than bright enough for any normal mountain activity, whether it’s hiking, running, skiing, climbing, or even some biking at slow speeds. The many features like red lights, lock mode, IPX 7 waterproofing and battery life indicator are all nice additions even if they are only used once in a blue moon.

 

Black Diamond Sprinter

The Sprinter is the perfect headlamp for the morning or after-work runner. With its built-in rechargeable battery and easy to use charger it’s always powered up and ready to go, and the flashing red lights on the back of the headlamp dramatically increase the safety of running on the roads in the dark. The lamp is very nicely balanced on the head, eliminating bouncing and making for a comfortable feel while running, and the light pattern is broad and diffuse so you can see everything on the ground equally well without feeling like you’re staring at a spotlight.

 

Mammut Lucido TX1 Belt

The Lucido TX1 is our favorite belted headlamp. The TX1 Belt uses 3 C batteries to extend the battery life to 450 hours! The TX1 offers four brightness settings including the highest setting, which allows both the Hi-Flux and the Definition LEDs to be lit at the same time (this is the only headlamp we know of that can do this, and you still get 250 hours of battery life on this setting).

The TX1 Belt is perfect for winter use when you want to keep the batteries warm in your jacket, or for those times when you want the weight on your head to be as little as possible (trail running, climbing, biking etc). The spot beam projects light up to 105 meters, and the definition LEDs create a nice close-range flood pattern. Hiking with both beams on at once is a real pleasure.

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