Headlamp for Backpacking at Night

2:19 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I'd like to find a headlamp suitable for backpacking in to a campsite at night.

I currently have a Petzl Tikka XP (http://www.trailspace.com/gear/petzl/tikka-xp/).  It's fine for around-camp use.  I've had no issues with it.  I've even used it on the trail a bit (e.g. toward the end of the 16 mile Half Dome r/t a few years ago).  I read it's rated at 40 lumens, and right off the bat I see some of the newer ones are as high as 100.  I guess there are probably other factors i should consider too.

There are zillions of headlamps on the market.  For example REI lists 61 of them (geesh).  Here's what I'm looking for:

- lightweight (I'm really trying to minimize pack weight)

- good beam for hiking - brought, long distance so I can see the bear prowling on the trail ahead, & even lighting

- compact for storage in my pack

- water resistant would be nice

- also good for around-camp use, and close-up for reading, searching for items in the pack, preparing meals, etc.

Any suggestions based on experience with similar usage? :)

2:27 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I have three lights - a Printceton Tec APEX (130 lumen), a Petzl E-lite, and a Princeton Tec EOS (the 70 lumen version).  Two of them generally stay on the shelf as I have found the EOS to be almost perfect.  Very bright, durable, good lithium battery use, and waterproof.  The range is very good and I can use it for reading as well as lighting up the trail, even in the rain.

3:29 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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My Tikka Plus2 is rated at 50 lumens and has been fine for my uses when hiking at night. Granted I can't spot deer with it but it does what it needs too. Then again I jumped from a P-tec Aurora to this and I was able to manage with the Aurora.

Maybe this? It has a 76 meter range. Should be bright enough.

http://petzl.com/en/outdoor/myo-series/myolite-3

 

The Black Diamond spot isn't bad either(75 lumen.)Pretty cheap too.

http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en-us/shop/mountain/lighting/spot-headlamp/

3:51 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Dewy,  I Just bought a PETZEL  ULTRA from a fellow member here on trail space.  This light is amazing, but at an also amazingly new price of,  $420-$450.  That in and of it's self is utterly silly, but with that being said if somone did not buy it new,  I could not have gotten it for the silghtly reduced price of $150.  This thing is bright.   It's way brighter than than my 3 D cell Mag, its way brighter than two full size Mag flashlights.  I didn't have three Mag's to test it with.  It comes with a whopping 350 lumens,  using 7 led's.  The Battery life on the rechargable lithum-ion battery is listed at 1hr.30min + w/ 30min reserve on high, med  is 4hrs 45 min. plus 20 min, and the lowest setting is 16h 45 min. w/10 min reserve.  They list that on high you can see 120 meters and I would say it is pretty close to that.  I have heard (read) that in the feild the battery lasts 1hr on high with 20-30 min reserve.  It also fetures a energy gauge on the battery itself.  The battery pack sits at the rear of your head but can be taken off and hooked on your belt with the extention cord that does not come with, but must be bought seperatly.  You can buy a larger 4 battery pack that I would guess will double the 3 the above listings of battery length times.  Like the light it's self the accessories are expensive, although the accessories are showing up on ebay as we speak.  This light is so bright that I do not think It would ever be necessary to use it on high unless you were mountian biking at night or maybe caving.  Otherwise I think that one can use this thing on the lowest setting most of the time and going to med when it's necessary.  I would guess that the only time I'll use it on high is to wow mu buddies.   After compairing it to my friends $80 petzel I think this  light is worth $150, so far.  I will be taking it into the field to test it this weekend.  It is heavy (for a head lamp) 345 grams (12.17 oz) but if your using it to walk in at night it will be on your head and I don't think you will feel the weight, I know id don't.   This is not a light for the UL backpacker, this is a light for someone who wants a lot of light.  I can let you know what I think when I get back, though it is well made and I anticipate no problems.  Again, I think it is silly to buy one of these new as I can get a great used tent and sleeping bag for this price ($420-$450), but at the price of $150 use it my just be worth it.

@Rick  you can deer spot with this thing.  I'm waiting for them to make a light bar accessory so I can attach four of them to my head. ;-}>

 

http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/headlamps/ultra-powerful

 

http://www.rei.com/product/786019/petzl-ultra-headlamp

 

http://www.amazon.com/Petzl-E52-AC-Ultra-Headlamp/dp/B001N0ETU8

 

 

4:44 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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4 of them? I think your name may want to change you name from apeman to sunbeam. :)

I am trying to figure out a way to configure a headband for a Vector Sportspot 20,000,000 candlepower spotlight. That would be an awesome nighthiking light.

Now where is my duct tape...

5:19 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Hey Rick,  I can help with that.  The only real problem will be the battery pack that I figure will weigh in at around 300 lbs.  The problem is much discussed in the topic "Wheel in the WIlderness".  My friend who is in an approved motorized wheel chair has agreed to haul whatever amount of batteries behind us as that we need as we traverse the wilderness, as he say's "it will be my contribution to the outdoor scene".  He's ok with this as long as he has enough juice in the batteries to make it back.  I have assured him we could set it up so that "it would be all down hill from here".  Let me know so I can apply for and get a goverment grant for this project.  I'm sure there is enough money left over from the current budget to slip this one in. ;-}> .

5:54 p.m. on July 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Not any help here I guess, but I used to have a tall hiking partner who was also an electronics student. He built his own headlamp and it was so bright we nicknamed him Lighthouse.

It did have a sizeable battery pack and I guess that's the trade off for a lot of light with a long burn time.

I have never used anything special myself, just an Energizer and an older Petzl. I do have an UV headlamp that is pretty cool.

I hope you find the right lamp!

2:37 a.m. on July 10, 2011 (EDT)
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another great, useful thread.  I love hiking at night.  It was always my brother and I's first stage of hitting the Porcupine Mountain trails.  After work, driving five hours and starting our backpacking weekends on Friday nights at around midnight.  I used to use a Maglite and I think it was called a J-strap.  Didn't do much of anything, which was a blessing in disguise.  Really heightened the other senses to barely be able to see 10ft in front of you.  And you weren't getting in the way of the other person's experience by lighting up a big area of forest and trail.

10:17 a.m. on July 10, 2011 (EDT)
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The black diamond storm is waterproof and puts out 100 lumens. Ive had mine for a couple of months and have been very happy with it.

10:29 a.m. on July 10, 2011 (EDT)
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Believe it or not I bought a $10.00 Sharper Image gift set at TJ MAX which came with a headlamp and a carabiner with a compass on it which I keep on the outside of my back.

Not the best brand, but it works pretty well and has survived storms and bumps and bruises, and the battery life is pretty decent, and its pretty bright. Plus if it breaks not big deal. Not like a I paid 50.00-60.00 for it.

6:25 p.m. on July 10, 2011 (EDT)
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I use a Black Diamon Spot as my primary headlamp. I got mine for 30$ on sale at REI.I want to start out by saying this is one heck of a good headlamp for the normal retail price of 39.99.

You get 75 lumens on high for 50 hours, 4 lumens on low for 200 hours. You have the white high power led, a white and red proximity led.

The light has light memory (it turns back on to the last setting it was on. ie if you are using the red light and turn it off and then back on it will start with the red light)

You can lock the light

You can set the sos flash.

Uses 3 AAA batteries

Weighs 3.1 oz with batteries

I find the white and red proximity leds to be perfect for around camp use or even to read by. It's not blindly bright so it doesnt cause a lot of stress on your eyes or your companions eyes at night.

The high power white led gives off an excellent throw that is perfect for night hiking. It has a range of about 70 yards, which is more than ample for night hiking.

And the light is waterproof!

Now, how can you beat that nice and neat little package. That is my tried and true companion since getting it about 6 or 7 months ago. I think the best word to describe the BD Spot is "Perfect" haha.

 

Good luck in your headlamp search! There are many excellent contenders that meet what your looking for.

5:08 a.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Check my review if this light. Best light Iv'e seen - by far.  Makes a really good camp latern too when shot down into a nylgene water bottle.  It is for sale on this web site.

Ed

10:01 a.m. on July 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Therea are any number of inexpensive headlights that will do the trick, as others have mentioned. If you want to spend more for long term reliability and improved function I would look for a light that features:

  •  a CREE LED
  •  Regulated output
  • Multiple output settings: Low (3-15 lumen); Medium (25-75 Lumen); and High (75-300 Lumen)
  • Red filter and SOS options.
  • Waterproof/resistant
  • Shock resistant

  Regulated output means that it provides constant brightness until the batteries are dead, so you do not have diminishing output as the batteries get weaker.

I have Petzl Tikka that I've owned for 15 years or so, and like it but it has severe diminishing output. With fresh batteries it is nice and bright, but one just one third into the battery life the outbut has dropped to half, and to a quarter ouput by two thids into battery life. It isn't waterproof either, though it hasn't shorted after getting wet many times.

My favorite light is a Fenix P2D, which is not a headlight, but I have a headband that the light slips into, allowing me to use it as a headlight. It is truly a quality peice of equipment.

2:38 p.m. on July 13, 2011 (EDT)
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I have an idea. Get a couple of these bike lights and an external frame backpack like whomeworry's and mount them on the top of the frame. 

Kind of like putting the lights on a jeep or truck's roll bar.  

P.S. Click on the "beam test" at the bike light website.

8:58 p.m. on July 20, 2011 (EDT)
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I have 3 Princeton Tec lights:

1. PT Quad (3 AAA batteries)

2. PT EOS W/3 color lenses (3 AAA batteries)

3. PT Scout (uses 4 coin batteries)

 

The EOS and Quad are regulated circuits, which I prefer for maximum light through the batteries' lives.

The Scout (and 4 spare coin batteries) is the lightest and goes with me in the summer.

Personally I've not had good experiences with Petzel lights and prefer PT lights.

 

3:43 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

I have an idea. Get a couple of these bike lights and an external frame backpack like whomeworry's and mount them on the top of the frame. 

Dude, the image you paint, a crunchy granola, redneck, yahoo, hiker is killing me!   Please find another poster child for this!  ;)

Ed
light-bar.jpg

4:59 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed,  this photo is about the most awesome thing I've seen in a while! Thanks for a really good laugh!

6:01 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed, uhhhhh, yeah ummmmm, uhhhhhhh....

You need a FU MANCHU, and a coon skin cap.

6:11 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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The theame from "Deliverance" is coming to mind...LOL

6:23 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Those burns are Captain Quint approved Ed....


Captain-Quint.png

6:55 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Captain Quint approved??????

good times........lol

6:59 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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 bheiser1,

Please let us know if you pull the trigger on a headlamp...I frequently night hike and would like to know what you go with. I've been using a very old no name light from walmart for the last several years and it's about done.

7:36 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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On that note I think its time to ditch the beard and bring the chops back....
chops.jpg

Captain Quint says these are good to go. Flannel and Cabelas cap are optional.

9:23 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Alright I had enough fun.

Definitely give us a heads up on what light ya go with, there are quite a few that meets your needs. Like I said I have found 50 lumens enough to get the job done.

How far ahead of ya would ya like to be able to see?

11:41 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

Those burns are Captain Quint approved Ed....


Captain-Quint.png

 I think I need a bigger boat -- err I mean pack...

Ed

11:56 p.m. on July 21, 2011 (EDT)
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LOL Love the photo Ed.  Somebody suggested somewhere to make a sitcom. We could have a group of people through-hiking the AT.  I think you just came up with one of the characters. Always rigging something up or planning a kegger. Robert would be the mysterious guru/sage. You always pass him doing yoga several times a day on the trail but you NEVER see him pass you.  We'll have to find somebody to play the rich ultra light gotta have the latest, lightest gear junkie (didn't say durable and he's always testing some new bleeding edge gear) Rick could play the city guy who is always trying to get out of the city. He section hikes. I'll play the newby with the 50lb pack full of junk. 

The other image that comes to my mind was an old Range Rover ad.  It opens with what appears to be a pair of headlights coming up a hill on a very rough road. It zooms in and it's a couple with flashlights dressed in evening wear walking up a very muddy, rutted road.  One asks "Why do they live way out here?" the other answers "They own a Range Rover."

12:04 a.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

Those burns are Captain Quint approved Ed....


Captain-Quint.png

 "Small World" department ....

One of my "old school builds"  (building a house from the ground-up, completely ... with just a couple other guys, which is very, very rare these days) ... was for a man named "Capt. Frank Mundus" out on the East End of Long Island, in a small town in  which I lived , named Amagansett.   This house was about 1/4 mile from mine.

Seems as though Capt. Mundus had just come into some big bucks.

I learned he was the actual person that the "Quint" character (shown here), played by Robert Shaw, was based on in the "JAWS" movie, by Steven Speilberg, who also happened to live nearby.  He was also an advisor during the shooting of the film.

He was the guy that caught the huge Great White Shark to which I alluded in one of my earlier posts, about coming in from surfing near Montuak Point, to learn about the shark, just a little ways from where we were surfing.   The shark weighed  3,427 lbs ... caught with rod-and-reel.

Odd epilogue to this ....   Mundus couldn't take the constant publicity.   He sold the house and moved to Hawaii, where he passed away a few years ago.

                                                   ~r2~

8:22 a.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Capt. Quint was a great character, he made the movie.

"I see you got your rubbers" 

2:32 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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ocalacomputerguy said:

Rick could play the city guy who is always trying to get out of the city. He section hikes.

 I am more of a transplant. I grew up in the country/mountains then I landed smack dab in the middle of bus fumes, boomin car stereo systems, and neighbors that are a stones throw away from me at best... and that is an over statement. Uggghhhhhhh.....

3:05 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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I got the Petzl MYO XP just for doing that - all rounder plus night hiking...I like it a lot, but sometimes I think I would like something lighter and smaller - I was just thinking about the Tikka XP2. Also the new BD Storm or Spot looks cool.

4:36 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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nirotem said:

I got the Petzl MYO XP just for doing that - all rounder plus night hiking...I like it a lot, but sometimes I think I would like something lighter and smaller - I was just thinking about the Tikka XP2. Also the new BD Storm or Spot looks cool.

 I was thinkin about the Myo. Ya like it huh... How is the juice in it?

 

4:50 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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just make sure that I got the myo xp and not the newboy rxp...it's great - I really likes the light setting, and also the small bit of plastic that serve as a deflector. I can't see myself ever needing more light when I am out trekking (I do carry a small surefire as an emergency light) - I used it in the woods and out in the desert or up the mt's...with the batteries in the back it sits really solid on my head. But saying all this - I used it on few weeks treks at the time, and I can't help thinking that maybe something a bit smaller will be nice - I sure want to get another headlamp for 2-3 days hikes

4:53 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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2 more things - after a bit more then a year I had some problems with the connections (I think) and Petzl just gave me a new one - sweet! and the batteries last for a good time, as you should expect from LED

4:59 p.m. on July 22, 2011 (EDT)
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Hmmmm, I may see a Myo in my future.

6:39 a.m. on July 23, 2011 (EDT)
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I need to check and see what I DO have.   I know I have about a half-dozen headlamps / lights.

I used go 'speelunkin'.   Haven't done THAT in a while.   Wet and chilly (and dirty).

                                                    ~r2~

3:45 p.m. on July 31, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for all the feedback, this has given me a lot to think about.  I went out this weekend to check out some of the options in person in the stores.  Unfortunately REI doesn't have "live" demos, so it's impossible to get a feel for how the different headlamps actually function.  Fortunately another store in the Bay Area does have live demos.

I still haven't bought one, and am sticking with my old Petzl Tikka XP for now.  As with so many things I evaluate for purchase, I have somewhat concluded for now that what I really want doesn't actually exist.  Everything has some kind of compromise.

With all this feedback I've narrowed down my selection criteria further.  I'd like something compact for easy packing (like the Tikka XP I have now).  I'd like one that has regulated power and 75-100 lumens, like the Black Diamond Storm.  I'd like it to be light weight, no more than 3 oz max with batteries.  And so by definition this excludes all those with external battery packs.  Yet I'd also like fairly long battery life so I don't have to carry lots of extra batteries.  The newer Petzl lamps meet the weight, battery life, and luminance requirements, but they don't have regulated power.

Like I said, I 'm sticking with the Tikka XP for now, but continuing to watch this technology for improvements.  And since it doesn't have regulated power, I need to keep carrying lots of batteries, since it quickly loses luminance as the batteries fade.

 

p.s. (added in edit) ... the Black Diamond Storm is a strong contender except it's heavy, relatively bulky, and has a lot of so-so reviews in the area of build quality.  Also I'm not a fan of having to cycle thru several different modes every time I turn it on.

3:55 p.m. on July 31, 2011 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

Everything has some kid of compromise.

 So true...

2:28 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Petzl e-Lite

The compact, dependable Petzl e+LITE® headlamp is a great replacement for that bulky flashlight in your glove box or emergency kit!

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2:50 p.m. on August 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Callahan said:

Petzl e-Lite

The compact, dependable Petzl e+LITE® headlamp is a great replacement for that bulky flashlight in your glove box or emergency kit!

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 I have one of these - they are great for camp chores but no way for night hiking.  Unless there is a full moon and / or snow on the ground.

10:40 a.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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Just about any light will show up in the dark of night, the trick is getting a light that will shine bright in midday!


giant-led-flashlight.jpg


"Pack light, freeze at night."

-USMC

 

Or, if you prefer:

 “Heavy packs kill light lives.”

 

Jeff

 

3:00 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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bheiser1 said:

...I have somewhat concluded for now that what I really want doesn't actually exist.  Everything has some kind of compromise.

 Have you taken a look at the Fenix Headlamps? I am pretty sure in all respects  two of them meet your requirements of:

  • Compact (like the Tikka XP)
  • Regulated ouput of 75-100 lumens
  • Fairly long battery

The two I am thinking of, the Fenix HL20 and HL21, both provide even more functionality with multiple output settings and SOS function, and use just one AA.

HL21 Specs:

• Cree XP-E LED (R2) with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
• Uses one 1.5V AA (Ni-MH, Alkaline) battery
•Lighting Modes - High (90 Lumens, 2 hrs 3 mins) - Mid (43 Lumens, 5 hrs 43 min) - Low (3 Lumens, 53 hrs) Flashing Modes: - SOS

 •66mm (Length) x 33.7mm (Width) x 48.8mm(Height)
• 41.1-gram weight (1.45 oz.) [excluding batteries]
• Digitally regulated output - maintains constant brightness
• Reverse polarity protection, to protect from improper battery installation
• Push button switch
• Made of high-quality plastic and aluminum alloy
• The aluminum alloy is Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating

 HL20 Specs

• Cree XP-E LED (R2) with lifespan of 50,000 hours
• Three levels of brightness, one flashing mode 
    4 lumens (56 hrs) -> 48 lumens (5.5hrs) -> 105 lumens (1.8 hrs)
   -Flashing mode: SOS (15 hrs)
• Beam Throw: 70 meters
• Electronic switch 
• Digitally regulated output
• Output automatic memory function 
• Uses one 1.5V AA ( Alkaline, Ni-MH, Lithium ) battery
• Lighting head:64.3mm(Length)*50mm(Width)*38.5mm(Height)
• Lighting head is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, remaining parts are made of high impact plastic
• Premium Type III hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish
• Weight: 49.5g (1.75 oz.) [excluding battery]
• Waterproof to IPX-8 Standard (Submarine to 2 meters deep
   water for 30 minutes continuous lighting)
• Toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating
• Including accessory: Fenix diffuser lens

(The HL21 is the newer model of the HL20- they worked out some bugs, but sacrificed a few lumens on the top end to do it) 

 

3:44 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I've had the Petzl elite for about two years.  Good lite for night hiking, the batteries last a good while, and I don't know how much lighter you can get.  I'm hard on equipment, and this one is still going strong.

3:50 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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FromSagetoSnow said:

Just about any light will show up in the dark of night, the trick is getting a light that will shine bright in midday!


giant-led-flashlight.jpg


"Pack light, freeze at night."

-USMC

 

Or, if you prefer:

 “Heavy packs kill light lives.”

 

Jeff

 

 Now that's a lite, I mean a light,  he said while drooling.

3:58 p.m. on August 12, 2011 (EDT)
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I'd go with this one at 2200 lumens (yes, you read that right, 2200 lumens!)


2011624164440332.jpg

Or this one at a paltry 800 lumens...but it uses AAAs


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