How to choose the right headlamp

This article can also be found in the how to section of our website.

Unless you have experience of a particular model or have be given a recommendation then it can be quite a job to get the right lamp for you, especially with so many new models and technologies now available. Before you look at the actual lamps you need to decide which features are important to you in the lamp. The main considerations are Power, weight, battery life and cost.

Power Think what you will use the lamp for and what will be the maximum distance that you will want the beam to reach. If you do a lot of night navigation you will want a good beam, but for general camping then it is not really necessary. Power is very closely linked to battery life, more beam means more battery drain
Battery Life (or burn time) Battery life is more of an issue for those going on long trips where fresh batteries will not be available than those week end camping. Long trips require an energy effcient lamp. Replacement batteries cost money so burn time is a factor although this can be greatly reduced by the use of rechargeables
Weight Adventure racers and climbers will be looking for the lightest lamp that fulfills their needs whilst car campers will not be concerned with weight.
Cost Everybody cares about the cost, and hopefully you will get the right features for your budget by reading this

Once you know the features you need, we can look at the technologies that provide these features

Power For maximum beam, over 50m, Xenon Halogen bulbs are best but really drain your batteries. The new superbright LED’s have replaced halogen bulbs over near and middle distances so for less than 50m choose one of these as burn times are 10’s of times longer
Battery Life (or burn time) Halogen bulbs drain 4 AA batteries in less than 5 hours where as LED’s can be powered on the same batteries for over 100 hours. For trips longer than 2 days on the same batteries then LED technology if preferable
Weight Our lightest headlamp is only 35g including the battery but as always weight must be measured against what you need your lamp to do. All the Lamps we sell are lightweight, just some are lighter than others
Cost The headlamps range from £18 to £55. With plenty of models for £35 or less

Now we can look at the actual models that offer these features

Petzl Tikka/Zipka Range Strengths – size, weight, battery lifeWeaknesses -beam range Compact and light weight with small batteries. The Tikka/Zipka range offer long duration LED light with burn time up to 150 hours. The new Tikka XP offers a 35m beam that can be boosted to 50m (for short durations) so combines a reasonable beam with excellent battery life at a low weight. Costs £18 – £33
Petzl Myo Range Strengths – beam range, battery life, sizeWeaknesses – weight Combines 2 light sources so can be used in just about all situations. The Myo’s combine Xenon halogen bulbs for distance work with energy effcient LED’s for proximity work. Power when you need it, but maximum battery life when you don’t. The Myo 3 has the greatest range with a xenon beam of 95m. The Myo XP has dropped the xenon bulb for a new super bright LED that gives a boosted beam of 65m but at LED energy costs. A very good choice for most people. Myo’s use more and larger batteries than the Tikka range but are still quite lightweight £20 -£55
Petzl Myolite Range Strengths – beam range, weight, sizeWeaknesses – battery life If you need the features of the Myo range but really want to keep the weight down then choose the Myolight range. Uses 3 AA batteries rather than 4. Nearly the same range as the stndard Myo but lighter and more compact. £22- £32
Black Diamond Range The Black Diamond range has 3 lamps
Ion – similar to Tikka features
Moonlight & Zenix – Similar to Myo features
Black Diamond offer similar features to Petzl, it’s just good to have a choice. The Ion is the lightest lamp of them all, (Petzl and Black Diamond) for weight freaks that don’t need a beam. The Moonlight is a good all rounder and the Zenix uses the new new super bright LED technology to give an energy effcient 35m beam £20 – £39
Petzl Classic Range Strengths – Your dad had one, price

Weaknesses – beam range, battery life, size and weight

A couple of classic models from Petzl, the Zoom and the Micro. Superceded in technology, size, burn time and features by all the new models but still selling. Don’t ask me why, but if you want one then why not? £12.50 – £20

Click Here for features comparison chart