You light up my life



Do you know what your flashlight tastes like? Yes? Then you need a headlamp. They light the way, leaving both your hands free to construct camp, cook, eat, read, navigate or even to cling while climbing to a summit for sunrise. Here, we review some of the top models and gives you some insight into what you should be looking for.

Brighter is not always better. Purchasing one with 10,000 candlepower (126 lumens) to simply complete chores around camp or read in your tent will result in little other than you blinding yourself and your travel companions. It will also mean you’ll be forced to tote around a hefty pack of batteries strapped to your cranium. However, if you plan on delving into caves or strapping on a red filter and searching for animals on a night-drive, a single LED (light-emitting diode) light won’t offer you much in the way long-distance lighting. Since most of you will want your headlamp for various activities, look for one that offers multiple brightness settings. Also remember that the brighter the light, the shorter the battery life.

Lighting mechanism
Bulbs, either standard or halogen, were the only options in early headlamps. Although bright, neither was very efficient, churning through a set of batteries every few hours in some cases. They were also prone to burning out at the most inconvenient of times. Most options today use LEDs, which produce a very white light that dims slowly over time. Incredibly efficient, they can last a few hundred hours per set of batteries. Their life expectancy is even more impressive, surviving up to 100,000 hours of use.


While you may not notice half a kilogram in your luggage, you’ll certainly notice it strapped to your head. When shopping, the key thing to look for regarding weight is the ‘with batteries’ figure. Although high-powered lamps themselves don’t weigh much more than their less brilliant counterparts, they require significantly more battery power. Some use four D batteries, which will add over 500g to the total weight.

Ease of use

More powerful headlamps place the battery pack at the back of your head to balance the weight of the lens. While this is great while trundling about, it is a pain in the neck when it comes to reading in bed. Most lightweight lamps designed for in and around camp have the batteries and the lens placed on your forehead, which eliminates this problem. The heavier headlamps also typically have a second strap, which runs across the top of your head, to stop the lamp from sliding down over your face. While this is rarely a problem, it can cause you a few moments of mental peril when trying to put it on in the middle of the night for a bathroom break. If one of the reasons you’ll be using your lamp is to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, you may want to find a headlamp that you can operate with gloves on.

Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp
• Brightness settings: 1, plus strobe mode
• Beam distance: 14m
• Burn time: 60 hours
• Lighting mechanism: 2 LEDs
• Weight: 60g  (including 2 AAA batteries)
• Price: £15
Designed for children, it features a special elastic headband that will release under force, saving the wee ones from getting tangled in the trees. It also turns itself off automatically after an hour. The LEDs are bright enough to help them find what they are looking for, while at the same time not blinding their friends and parents. It has a limited waterproofing rating, which means it will survive splashing only.
Although limited in every aspect, you can’t go too wrong for £14.99. And your kids are less likely to lose it than a traditional flashlight, thus saving you even more. They will also love the novelty factor.
: 3/5

Princeton Tec Apex Headlamp
• Brightness settings: 4, plus strobe mode
• Beam distance: 14 to 56m
• Burn time: 9 to 150 hours
• Lighting mechanism: 3-watt Maxbright LED, plus 4 Ultrabright LEDs
• Weight: 279g (including 4 AA batteries)
• Price: £70
It has an easy-to-use dual-switch system that controls both the 3-watt LED and the cluster of four less-powerful LEDs. It also offers a battery power meter. It is impact-resistant and waterproof. The unique wide beam pattern at close range simulates normal daylight conditions, while long-range beams are more focused, making them ideal for night hiking.
While its heavy-duty, impact-resistant and waterproof design makes it ideal for those trekking or heading off on a tough adventure, it doesn’t come cheap. It’s not for reading in bed and it’s definitely overkill if you simply want a headlamp for camp situations.
Rating: 4/5

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp
• Brightness settings: 4, plus strobe mode
• Beam distance: 18 to 35m depending on setting
• Burn time: 60 to 120 hours
• Lighting mechanism: 4 LEDs
• Weight: 95g (including 3 AAA batteries)
• Price: £40
Impressively it has both a wide-angle lens for sharp, proximity lighting, as well as a spot beam that shines for 35m. There is also a boost mode, which quickly illuminates objects up to 50m away for a period of 20 seconds – great while trekking. And to warn you of impending darkness, it possesses a series of battery level lights. It also has a tilt feature, enabling you to direct the light while maintaining head position. It is waterproof up to 1m.
Although more expensive and slightly bulkier than the Petzl Tikka Plus Headlamp, its added features more than make up for it. It’s just as good for bed reading as it is for navigating a tricky climb in the dark.
Rating: 5/5

Petzl e+LITE Headlamp
• Brightness settings: 2, plus red and white strobe mode
• Beam distance: 11 to 19m
• Burn time: 35 to 45 hours
• Lighting mechanism: 3 white LEDs and 1 red LED
• Weight: 27g (incl. single CR2032 lithium battery )
• Price: £20
Perfect for emergency use, this headlamp’s coin cell lithium battery lasts up to ten years. It’s also waterproof to 1m and is resistant to extreme temperatures (-30 to 60 degrees Celsius). Extremely light, you can pack this away in your bag and forget about it until the lights go off in the hotel. Can be worn on the head, around the wrist or neck or attached to thin-edged objects with its integrated clip. The switch is designed to prevent accidental discharge. It also comes with a protective case. Lastly, the light source rotates 360 degrees on a ball joint.
It’s perfect for what it is designed for – emergencies. A great idea for those who only find themselves in the dark by accident.
Rating: 4/5

Petzl Tikka Plus Headlamp
• Brightness settings: 3, plus strobe mode
• Beam distance: 15 to 32m
• Burn time: 100 to 150 hours depending on setting
• Lighting mechanism: 4 LEDs
• Weight: 78g (including 3 AAA batteries)
• Price: £30
The low-profile lighting and battery housing sit on your forehead, so it’s comfy for reading in bed. There is also a tilt feature, enabling you to direct the light while maintaining head position. The push-button, which is recessed to prevent accidental discharge, is also glove-operable. It is rainproof and dunk-proof, though it is wise to rinse after saltwater exposure.
Lightweight, practical, easy to use and reasonably priced – a great all-rounder.
Rating: 5/5