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How to Choose the Right Headlamp

By Edited Oct 27, 2013 1 1

There are many uses for headlamps, and many models of headlamps designed to meet those uses. The factors listed below should be helpful in evaluating what headlamp design will best suit your needs.

Things You Will Need

An idea of how you will be using your headlamp.

Step 1

The most important factor for determining what type of headlamp to buy is the purpose the light will be used for. Listed below are some typical uses for headlamps and a description of important features for that purpose. Use these descriptions in conjunction with the other factors when shopping for the best headlamp for you.

If your simply needing a headlamp for general camping comfort is probably the most important feature. You'll want something easy to turn on and off and having prolonged battery life is not crucial.

If you plan on hiking at night you may will want to consider a light that has enough lumens, or brightness, to shine a beam a considerable distance to discover any hazards on the trail. You may also want one that adjust to show a wide area.

A headlamp for caving, or spelunking, should also have the ability to shine a beam a fair distance. With caving you will also want to make sure you have plenty of battery life. You should be sure to carry extra batteries and bulbs as well. You should also be wearing a helmet so the light should fit securely on your helmet.

A headlamp can also be very useful when biking. Here, a solid beam is definitely necessary. You may also want to consider some type of flashing light to be used in conjunction with your headlamp to be seen by others. Bike headlights are also available.

There are headlamps designed for use while hunting and fishing. Many of these are typical headlamps but with colored filters to avoid detection by wildlife and to highlight fishing line in the darkness. However, such filters also reduce the brightness of the headlamp.

Headlamps can also be useful for mechanical and construction work, particularly while under a car or house. Here, it is very important to have something comfortable and battery life should not be too much of a concern, unless your stranded on the road somewhere. You'll also want to have a white light to ensure you can discern colors accurately, in case there are any leaking fluids or color-coded parts.

Step 2

The Bulb
The most common light bulbs found in headlamps are either LED or xenon and halogen. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. While LED bulbs have an incredibly long life span, use little battery power, and are often quite compact, they are also not as bright at long distances and sometimes not absolutely white which can cause color dilution. Xenon and halogen bulbs are brighter and purely white, unless they have a filter, but require more battery power and burn out quicker. There are several models of headlamps that have both LED and Xenon or halogen bulbs, but obviously these are usually bulkier.

Step 3

The type of battery used will also determine the size and brightness of the headlamp. Alkaline batteries are the most common though they do not produce a tremendous amount of light. They are decent, relatively inexpensive, though a little larger. Lithium batteries on the other hand are smaller and provide tremendous light. However, they are very expensive. Solar powered headlamps are available but may not be as reliable for activities that are hazardous.

Hopefully, the information above will assist you in selecting the perfect headlamp to suit your needs.

Tips & Warnings



Jun 25, 2009 8:28pm
My brother bought me a headlamp with l.e.d.s and a regular bulb a few years ago, and it still works great. I take it with me every time I go camping. It even comes in handy around the house when the power goes out, when I have to work on the furnace, or when I have to go in the crawl space. A headlamp is much handier than a flashlight.
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