Best Headlamp

Original Post
Tom Lausch · · Madison WI · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 170

Looking to buy a new headlamp. Which one should I buy? GO!

Kaylee Catmull · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2013 · Points: 0

Get a Princeton Tec or Petzl. I've had so many BD headlamps that shorted out and/or failed when needed most. BD covers the headlamps for 3 yrs with the receipt (crappy Customer Service). I put all the old crappy BD headlamps in a box and shipped them back to BD in Salt Lake City with a note to keep the junk and enclosed the receipt for my new Princeton Tec. Still going strong.

Bill Shubert · · Lexington, MA · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 55

I have one and it works great. The charge lasts forever, and it's extremely bright.

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 700

Interesting response as I have had every Princeton Tec light I have owned crap out after less then a year of being used. Several Head lamps and at least 3 flash lights. People keep raving about how great they are -Im not buying another one...
My BD headlamp has been working well for several years it is the Icon.
I like Petzl lights but don't ask my wife she has one that she has only used a very small amount and it burns through batteries so fast she is always changing out the batteries and it is an LED...

Russ Walling · · · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 3,160

I went big a while back and got 2 Princeton Tec rigs. Pretty big money too.

First one failed pretty quick with no real use except for maybe 3 days of car camping. Hassle to get it replaced from Princeton. Second one really never got used and pulled it out one day and it had structural cracks on the main body of the lamp and was working sporadically. I contacted Princeton and they said they would send me a new body, but not a new unit. I was to swap the innards out. Never got the new body. Zippo... nada....

These days I would just buy a POS from Big 5 or Walmart and save your money. They all sorta suck and are temperamental. Oh, I have about 5 Petzls and did the BD thing too. They are all overpriced crap. Maybe go and get 5 Harbor Freight ones for $8 with a coupon and you might have one that will get you through the night.

Hey, any Princeton guys reading this??? I'm still steamed and have two of your unreliable lights. Whaddya gonna do for me?

Gary N · · Durango, CO · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 540

I think it's important to have a good headlamp.

If you're looking for a great middle-upper class headlamp:

If you're looking for an amazing upper class headlamp:

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549

I've had several Princetec headlamps fail on me, but they were replaced without any questions by the company. Takes a couple of weeks though.

For real brightness, there are some spectacular new caving headlamps. I'm not sure how they'd do in alpine temperatures.
1500 lumens.
Needs a separate battery pack attached to your helmet.

The Bosavi mentioned above is 110 lumen. Most of the PT headlamps are <200. THe BD Icon is 200 lumens.

Unfortunately the Scurion costs $1075.

Josh Kornish · · · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 835

whatever fits your head the best...

I've had pretty shitty luck with Princeton and I've loved my BD lamps.

+1 for the BD Storm

Ian Cavanaugh · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 615

Surefire was the best one I've ever owned. Aluminum body, 1 battery, super bright with infinite angle and brightness adjust, small and pretty light. But expensive. Now I have a petzl and its awesome but a bit bulkier. Also have a BD I use as a back up that has lasted years and never let me down. I think if you get a nice one and treat it with care any of them should last for quite a while.

Andrew Mayer · · Driggs, ID · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 130

This was discussed here recently as well

I've had great experiences with a BD spot and storm (one of each). petzl makes great headlamps too. no firsthand experience with princeton tech.

I know very little about the new rechargeable battery technology in some BD and petzl headlamps but you may want to look into that before you buy

Nielsonru Nielson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 35

Petzl Nao Reactive Lighting.

A friend of mine had this headlamp and we got caught in the dark part way up a 4 pitch climb. We pulled out our headlamps, and I soon turned mine off as his was lighting everything for the both of us. He told me how much he spent and I rolled my eyes. He paid almost $200.

Now, I own one.

I use it for climbing, mountain biking. Heck, I could probably drive down the road with the thing on my head and be fine. It was my 5th headlamp, after all $30 headlamps before it that basically gave me shadow-less, flat light while hiking in the dark.

It goes up to 400 lumens, but it regulates the output depending on the activity and what the light sensor picks up so you don't have to constantly adjust the settings and it save battery power. I am just glad to be done trying to find something that is good on battery life but pumps out the lumens.

Mark Pilate · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 10

Interesting posts. I somewhat disagree with Gary N - I'd say a headlamp is not all that important. Not saying don't bring one, and if you do need one, you want it to work, but you just should almost never need it. It should gather dust.

If that's not how you typically roll, try it for fun next trip. See how long you can go without breaking out the light. Pretty soon you'll ask why the F am I carrying a $200, 400 lumen light (unless you're on an active SAR mission)

Get the smallest, lightest one you can double check your rig with in the dark and rummage for stuff in your pack.

For hiking and distance viewing, you can typically see better and farther if you never turn on a headlamp.

Personally I have had no issues with Petzl or BD over the years. I never owned a Princeton Tec but I had a dive light from them that was junk.

Jeff Thilking · · Lynchburg, VA · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 65

Have never had issues with BD or Petzl, but I'm pretty careful not to pack them too tight. My Petzls were mostly pre-L.E.D models in the 90s. We use Princetons for surgeries at work, but can't speak on their durability. I would recommend SIerra Trading Post with a 30% coupon code and get a BD or Petzl with a good compromise of Lumens and battery life.

Nodin deSaillan · · Boulder · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 80

Vote for the BD revolt. spot + USB rechargeable

rock_fencer · · Columbia, SC · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 265

have an older BD Icon which is as bright as the sun and a lighter princeton tech vizio i think. Different purposes and both work well. Unless you really really need to do some distant route finding in the dark any of the smaller lighter headlamps will suit fine.

Scot Hastings · · Las Vegas · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 35

BD Storm. Awesome product. Knowing how rechargeable batteries degrade over time, I'm hesitant to buy anything with a built-in battery. With my storm, I can use regular AA rechargables most of the time, but throw in disposables in a pinch.

I completely agree with Mark, though. It's amazing how your vision can adjust if you give it a chance. My gf and I recently did a full-moon start at 2am for Longs on a clear night. We had headlamps but didn't use them. The scenery under moonlight was a truly sublime experience. We passed a convoy of hikers all with headlamps at full-blast. We felt quite sorry for them for what they were missing.

Ray Pinpillage · · West Egg · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 180

I had my Princeton Tec lamp fail on a WI4 route in the dark with a complex decent. If I hadn't had a back up things would have gone badly. Sometimes your headlamp is just for convenience and sometimes it is critical equipment for your survival.

I have since switched to Petzl but still carry a backup on anything of consequence. I have a Tika XP with the Li-Ion USB system. There are other good lights but Princeton Tec is off my list. PT exchanged my lamp but I replaced it with a different brand.

Gargano · · Oakland, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 1,280

+1 for Bosavi. (

Been using once since April. It's rechargeable, it has great battery life, the light output is impressive and the unit is super lightweight.

a.) Rechargeable. Holds charge for 65-hours. Charges really quickly (less than an hour?). Charge indicator lights show how much juice is left. I've used it on several multi-day outings and haven't gotten close to running out of power. Not having to deal with/pay for batteries is nice.

b.) Bright. Three regular light modes - low, bright, really bright. Plus Boost mode, which bumps output to 110-lumens for a minute - great for spotting rap anchors, landmarks, trails, etc. Also has red light, flashing red, and flashing white. It's programmable, so you can turn on/off any mode you don't use.

c.) Lightweight. 2.1-ounces.

On top of all of that, Bosavi is a small company run by climbers.

mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,390

For true headlamp nerdery, checkout the candlepower forums. Those guys are light geeks to the extreme. What's interesting is that climbing brand headlamps are a few generations behind what's cutting edge in headlamps. Not that that's BAD per se, but it's interesting to note that 200 lumens is WEAK in the headlamp world. eg the new Zebralight H600w MkII is 1020lm on HIGH.

The flip side is that the headlamps may not be ideal for climbing specific needs.

Kai Larson · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 250

I've been really happy with my Mammut TX1. Great battery life with the 2 small LED bulbs. 100+ meter with the big bulb. The head rotates all the way over so it can be stored with the glass protected from scratches etc. when not in use.

I think the TX1 has been replaced with this one:,-black?preferredSku=8490300001&cm_mmc=cse_PLA-_-pla-_-product-_-8490300001&mr:referralID=34ae032f-220e-11e3-a88a-001b2166becc

Looks pretty much the same.

DavidLG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 15

It would be a lot easier to offer help if we knew the application that this headlamp was to be used under. Some lamps are better than others depending on what you are using them for i.e. a light to be carried while climbing for emergency use, general camp lighting, will it be used for caving (spelunking; to those who prefer this terminology}, long term use for hiking or search and rescue. As an example I like my Petzl Zipka for climbing as it is compact and easy to carry and a Petzl Duobelt where long term use or cold or wet conditions exist.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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