Hiking in the Dark – a Guide to Buying a Flashlight or Headlamp

Headlamp vs flashlight

Whether you have decided to hike in the dark or are trying to set up camp in the dark, a light is always necessary. If you have ever tried to function at a campsite without a light, you will be nodding your head in agreement at the importance of needing a light.

Some people prefer to use a small flashlight that allows flexibility of where to look while other people want both hands free to climb on rocks, set up a tent, or build a fire. Either way, there are pros and cons to using flashlights or headlamps. But, what are those differences? What do you look for when buying a light?

By knowing your preferences about the different types of lights and what to look for when buying one, you will no longer have the dark hold you back from taking on a new adventure, setting up a tent, or simply cooking a meal.


Choosing the type of light: Headlamp vs Flashlight

The two main types of lights are a flashlight and a headlamp. Since this is going to be used for hiking primarily, a lantern will not be considered.

  1. Flashlight: The most common instrument for providing light. A flashlight usually has more power than a headlamp, allows more flexibility in what you shine the light at, and can double as a lantern if stood on its end. The difficulty comes when you need both hands.
  2. Headlamp: The headlamp has the advantage when needing to use both hands. It provides the flexibility in strapping it to you head, hand, or even backpack. The trouble comes when you turn to look at your friend and shine the light in their eyes or want the flexibility of shining in a different direction than you are looking.

When choosing one type, it is important to remember that you can make do with either type. For example, if you have a flashlight but want to strap it to your head, there are now products that accomplish that. Additionally, if you want a headlamp but want the flexibility of a flashlight, hold it in your hand.

What to consider when buying a light:

Whether you choose a flashlight or headlamp, here are the basics to look for:

  1. Bulb: It is important to get a bulb that shines bright and has a long life. A common and popular solution for this is to get an LED bulb.
  2. Charge: Make sure that you are getting a light that can last a while, but also can charge fairly quickly. There will be times when you need to charge your light quickly and you will want a light that holds its charge so you can continue to use it for multi-day hikes.
  3. Size and weight: There are some lights (flashlights in particular) that claim to be heavy-duty, but come in the name of weight and size. With technology advancements, flashlights have the needed durability that you are looking for at a good size and weight.

A flashlight recommendation:J5 Tactical V1-PRO 300 Lumen Ultra Bright Flashlight

A headlamp recommendation: GRDE Zoomable 3 Modes Super Bright LED Headlamp

Between a flashlight and a headlamp, both provide great pros and cons. A flashlight allows the flexibility to look in whatever direction needed without blinding people in the process, but hinders you from using both hands. A headlamp gives you the flexibility in using both hands, but usually does not have as strong of a bulb or allow you to shine your light in a direction without moving your head. Both will improve visibility and help to prevent injuries when walking around in the dark

Both types of lights are great investments for hiking, but require some research when looking for quality purchases. When purchasing a light, focus on buying a light with a strong bulb, long lasting charge, and small and light durable frame. With all of these characteristics met, you will be able to purchase any type of light and be confident that it will further your adventures.

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