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Flashlight vs. Headlamp for hiking


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  • #1265132
    BPLwiia
    BPL Member

    @bplwiia

    I've read through many threads about flashlights and headlamps but my question is a tad different.

    I am looking at getting a new flashlight or headlamp. It would be for use in a survival situation only. I no longer backpack; rather, my adventures are all day hikes. So, this would not be used for typical backpacking activities such reading in a tent, sitting around a campfire or the like.

    My main concern is if I were injured and had to survive alone. It would also be used if I were delayed on the trails and had to hike out in the dark.

    For certain, whatever I get, I would want it to be able to illuminate the trail enough for me to walk in the dark.

    I'm leaning toward a flashlight rather than a headlamp. By the way, I already have my main flashlight, an HDS T120. The new one would be my backup lighting source in the event the main one hit the skids, broke or didn't work. It would have to do all the things my HDS is asked to do.

    Finally, because it would be carried while I hike, I would not consider anything that is more than 5-6 oz.

    So, which makes more sense, a flashlight or a headlamp?

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    #1661005
    K. S.
    Member

    @bwalt822

    Since this will be a backup I would just get one of these…

    http://www.rei.com/product/632461

    Or if you have certain internet phones and you carry it with you, you can just download an app which will let you turn the screen to full brightness or engage the flash on the camera to act as a flashlight.

    #1661006
    Andy Schill
    Member

    @aschill

    I would go with a headlamp, for some simple reasons:

    – Its always better to be hands free
    – You can hold the headlamp in your hands if it makes you feel better
    – You can buy headlamps with really high outputs that equal what regular flashlights can do
    – In a "survival" situation you might not be able to use your hands to hold a flashlight.
    – For 5-6 oz you can get a pretty nice headlamp
    – Its also very easy to strap your headlamp to other objects.

    #1661009
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    I would go with a flashlight. It can be rigged easily to your hip belt which will give you a better throw down the trail if required. With a flashlight, you can spot things better without being constrained by head movement. A flashlight can be used as an upright lantern. Finally, you can, if hiking with another, actually turn to speak to them without blinding them.

    Oh, and there are strap attachments for your flashlight to your head, making it more versatile than just a headlamp.

    I like the new Surefire G2X with 15 and 200 lumens. The throw is much nicer and more concentrated than anything Fenix has to offer. The casing is much more durable and the warranty is guaranteed.

    http://www.surefire.com/G2X-B-BK

    #1661021
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    its totally hands free even if yr incapacitated … i consider the light where you look to be an advantage then

    and you wont drop it once its on yr head …

    #1661030
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    Yup, a headlamp is good if you are incapacitated. Hopefuly you have it on strobe.

    Hilarious.

    #1661034
    BPLwiia
    BPL Member

    @bplwiia

    Where I hike, in the east, I am almost always under the canopy of trees. I've hiked out west were I was often above treeline or in the open. The forests where I typically are wet, thickly vegetated and covered above so a strobe, or sos, mode is of less importance.

    #1661043
    Rick Dreher
    BPL Member

    @halfturbo

    Locale: Northernish California

    I'd perhaps revisit why you're interested in a second light to begin with. If you're fearful your current light will fail, and if spare batteries aren't sufficient insurance, then I'd look at replacing it with a more dependable light. Since switching to LED lights a decade ago, the only "failure" I've experienced is misplacing my light (my fault, not its). LED lights from established makers rank with the most dependable backpacking gear available, and even failing batteries give plenty of warning before they wink out completely.

    Backup flashlights tend to be minimal ones that are very lightweight and can be kept handy (such as on a keychain). A button cell light or single AAA light generally fills the bill, so that's what I'll recommend for peace of mind at less than one ounce.

    Cheers,

    Rick

    #1661045
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    I simply cannot have a light fail on me on the mountain, and i simply cant drop one … which is why i carry a petzl e-lite as well as my main … 1 oz including bats … and my main is a petzl as well ;)

    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?t=251039

    #1661052
    Stephen Adams
    BPL Member

    @stevemkedcom

    Locale: Northwest

    Photon

    I use a photon freedom clipped to a head band. At first I was very skeptical of using this for night hiking but I have been caught out several times hiking in the pitch dark with it and did just fine on a regular trail. I would not want to bush whack with it however. Since I carry my 17 oz down sleeping bag and a poncho/tent even on day hikes I figure if I got lost in the dark I would not try to grope around some mountain in the dark and would just set up a shelter and go to sleep and wait until morning. Before others blast me for suggesting such a tiny flash light just remember the original post did say for emergency only on day hikes not climbing mount Everest.

    #1661059
    Frank Deland
    Member

    @rambler

    Locale: On the AT in VA

    Here is a light from Sears that uses 6 AAA batteries and specs at 66O lumens.

    http://www.sears.com:80/shc/s/p_10153_12605_03493685000P?blockNo=1&blockType=G1&prdNo=1&i_cntr=1288895084447

    Head lamps can be found at 100 lumens.

    The light factories!

    http://goinggear.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=14

    #1661077
    . .
    BPL Member

    @biointegra

    Locale: Puget Sound

    I just use el cheapo button cell LED lights, like the Photons, as zipper pulls on my backpack and/or jacket for backups. The Freedom's clip is nice, but I have had 2 of those lights fail on me. The cheap sub-$1 / sub 1oz. generics have always done well.

    You can always use a headlamp as a flashlight, but not always the other way around.

    You can always clip the Freedom to your backpack or nostril.

    #1661120
    John G
    BPL Member

    @johng10

    Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY

    For hiking-only, I prefer a flashlight since it's easier to flick back and forth while looking at each tree to find the next blaze. It is also easier to flick back and forth to see the section of trail 2-4 steps away, and then to see where you are putting your feet. A handheld headlamp isn't quite as easy to hold (wrong shape), and generally has a wider beam (harder for route finding).

    A headlamp will work better if you plan to make dinner and pitch your emergency tarp – and wait until morning to find your way out.

    ps: If both your hands were incapacitated (fell off a cliff?), I bet you'd be too hurt to hike out, and would just be sitting there trying to stay warm and blowing your whistle…

    #1661134
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "ps: If both your hands were incapacitated (fell off a cliff?), I bet you'd be too hurt to hike out, and would just be sitting there trying to stay warm and blowing your whistle…"

    If both hands were incapacitated, how are you going to get the whistle to your lips?

    –B.G.–

    #1661152
    Tohru Ohnuki
    Member

    @erdferkel

    Locale: S. California

    I find that walking in the dark with a headlamp on is problematic because the direct light hides variations in terrain. I end up taking the headlamp off and holding it in my hand at waist level while walking in the dark. I also tend to like to use the red LED if I can see with it well enough as it doesn't mess up my night vision.

    I would still carry a headlamp instead of a flashlight because you can carry it either way and having it on your head is very useful when doing things like looking at maps and doing first aid.

    #1661158
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    Attach your flashlight to your hip belt, cap, etc.

    http://www.fenixlight.com/viewproduct.asp?id=133

    #1661172
    Mary D
    BPL Member

    @hikinggranny

    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    For what it's worth, I carry a headlamp, not a flashlight, in my car for emergency use. If I have to change a tire after dark, I want both hands free and to be able to direct the light where I need it! The same is true for home repairs or for finding things if the power goes out.

    I also use my headlamp every time I clip my dog's claws. It's far easier to see what I'm doing, and I need both hands plus my body to keep the dog still!

    I still have a flashlight around the house, but I haven't used it in years. I finally took the batteries out.

    #1661176
    drowning in spam
    Member

    @leaftye

    Locale: SoCal

    Since it's a backup light I'd get nothing more than a coin light.

    #1661184
    Dan Durston
    BPL Member

    @dandydan

    Locale: Canadian Rockies

    If I understand this correctly, you only day hike and you are already carrying a serious flashlight for the unlikely event that you get caught out in the dark. Now you want to add a second light in case you get caught out in the dark and your contingency flashlight fails?

    If I was only dayhiking I would carry at most a lightweight backup light like a Petzl e+Lite or a Photon II. You've already got a flashlight, so I wouldn't add a second light. If you really do want to add something I would make it extremely light & cheap since most likely it'll never be used. With regards to your question of headlamp or flashlight, I would say go with a headlamp since you are already carrying a flashlight. This way you use whatever suits your needs better should this survival situation occur.

    Another option is to buy a light that can work as both a headlamp and as a flashlight. ZebraLights come to mind. They can do both, but IMO the price ($50-$65) and weight (~3oz) are too high to carry as a second backup light. One of these would be great as your only light. The H51 is probably brighter than your current flashlight.

    #1661185
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    The problem in comparing lightweight headlamps to lightweight flashlights is that the flashlight technology with respect to power output, durability, and features is quite a bit ahead.

    Having a back-up light that has little output makes zero sense. Considering that the cheap ones are guaranteed to crap out at the most inopportune times.

    #1661186
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    my e-lite hasnt crapped out yet

    saved my @ss when i did banana peel too late in the day and descended through the night … well not my @ss, but my dignity of bivying on the apron … lol

    #1661197
    David Ure
    Member

    @familyguy

    #1661201
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    david … every flash light has switch failure ….

    including fenrix, zebralight, etc …

    maybe ill put my elite in a shake and bake and test it out =P

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sitesearch=candlepowerforums.com&pwst=1&&sa=X&ei=1UnTTKTKH4fCsAOLl7nWCg&ved=0CBIQvwUoAQ&q=switch+failure&spell=1

    #1661204
    Bob Gross
    BPL Member

    @b-g-2-2

    Locale: Silicon Valley

    "every flash light has switch failure"

    I have a flashlight that can't have any switch failure, because it has no switch. To turn it on, I tighten/twist the bezel to make the circuit.

    –B.G.–

    #1661205
    James holden
    BPL Member

    @bearbreeder-2

    bob … the contacts on the twist wont corrode or get dirty?

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