What’s the sweet spot for a headlamp?
From our experience, the sweet spot for a headlamp includes 3 features: the brightness power, the ability to charge it via a usb cable & a good reliable runtime (these 2 have to come together), and the construction of the headlamp. Because no one likes a heavy headlamp hanging on their heads like a rock.
Let’s get into each of these features!
The brightness is the first that pops wherever you look, and usually the most exciting part. This is more like buying a big house. You probably don’t need that much space, but it looks nice and it makes you feel safe. Let’s face it, for a general use, to search your tent, for campsite at night, and to do some trail-finding at a max setting, between 100 -300 lumens is enough. But who doesn’t like a powerful headlamp that can illuminate an entire forest area ? I know we do!
Depending on what your plans are, whether you want to simply use it for a camping night out with your friends, in which case a good brightness of up to 300 lumens will do the job. You might enjoy a red mode too, if you don’t want to wake your friends up when you’re searching for something in the dark.
Here you have an example: https://www.amazon.co.uk/NITECORE-Torch-Rechargeable-Super-Bright/dp/B078R6B34C?ref_=ast_sto_dp
If you want to go for a night run, you might want a headlamp that has many brightness levels, so you can adjust it to whatever level fits your needs on the moment. It also has to be lightweight, so it won’t wobble on your head while running. This one is perfect if you’re a beginner and you had never worn a headlamp.
If you’re into caving, working on industrial areas or in any kind of field that would require a higher lumens level, you’ll need a more solid headlamp, one that can be detached from the headband, and that maybe also has a magnetic tail cap, for quick attachment to metal surfaces. Sometimes carrying a headlamp on your head for hours while working can get uncomfortable, or maybe you just need a different angle lighting on your work area.
We have a newer slightly bigger version than the HC33: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nitecore-HC35-Head-Torch-Rechargeable/dp/B0873B1C5V?ref_=ast_sto_dp
The new HC35 can also be tilted 180 ̊ on your head, so you won’t have blind spots!
And the 4th scenario, is that you need a headlamp to do small tasks around the house, or simply for your late dog walks. I guess any headlamp would work here, depending on your preferences.
2. USB Rechargeable
I’d say you need a headlamp that doesn’t require carrying spare batteries all the time. If you go for a few days camping trip, you can easily charge it before you leave, and some headlamps last all the way until you’re back home. Just in case, we recommend taking a small power bank with you to charge your headlamp on the go.
Most of our headlamps have an emergency setup, where on the lowest level, the battery will last for days and days, which is a cracking good feature to just KNOW you have, in case of a disaster.
For instance, the Nitecore HC33 can last for 330h on ultralow.
The runtime is highly important, and kind of disregarded by most of us, until we really need it. And that’s one of the moments we decide, if we’re going to be loyal to a brand or not.
When we’re talking about how a headlamp/flashlight is built, we can talk about materials, durability, user experience and water/dust resistance.
People looking for professional headlamps, are usually interested in durability and resistance. That’s why aluminium alloy military grade flashlights/headlamps are growing more and more in popularity. HA III military grade hard anodize makes your torch/headlamp much more resistant. The effect of the Hardcoat Anodize Type III is a harder, denser, thicker, and more abrasion resistant coating.
Some of the main characteristics of hard anodize are:
- Increased abrasion resistance
- Increased wear resistance
- Increased corrosion resistance
- Improved aesthetics
The user experience is important as well, as it’s a part of the general feel that you get, when you’re using your headlamp.
If it’s messy and it has a button sequence too hard to remember, if the buttons feel cheap or get pushed accidentally in your pocket too often, you’ll probably going to leave a bad review ):
If you like your headlamp to have one button, or two, or three, or a rotating wheel for mode shifts, that’s entirely up to your preferences, and frankly it shouldn’t affect the functionality overall, of your headlamp. If you like your headlamp with 3 color modes (e.g. white, warm white and red) than you should get one that has all these functions, like this on for example:
User experience it’s mostly relative, unless there’s a big flaw that no one likes.
All in all, look for a headlamp that looks solid, that it’s advertised as being built with high quality materials and that comes from a trusted manufacturer. Also, if you have the option, why not pick one that’s IP rated for water and dust resistance? You never know how the weather might change, and a headlamp resistant to water showers will turn out to be exactly what you need!
If you want to learn more about IP ratings, here’s an article we’ve posted some time ago on the topic: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ip-ratings-daniela-margoi/
In the next article, we’ll talk more about the beam types of a torch, the color modes, the special emergency modes and when to use them!