Souped-Up Beamers: Additions for Your Perfect Headlamp

August 27, 2018
Harry HayashiA few small additions to your headlamp can make all the difference.

When picking out a headlamp that works for your outdoor needs, we recommended four key factors to consider: its primary use (trail or camp), brightness, beam distance, and battery life. But wait — there’s more! Here are some additional specifications—in rough priority order—to consider when choosing a headlamp. 

Comfort. Wide elastic headbands are more comfortable and secure than the thin, stringlike bands found on some ultralight options. 

Tilt. You’ll want to be able to swivel your headlamp, adjusting the beam up and down. Check to make sure the mechanism is secure at different tilt settings. A floppy headlamp is a major drag. 

Water resistance. Most headlamps are rated IPX-4, which means they can withstand sustained use in the rain. For serious water activity, look for models rated IPX-7, or waterproof to a depth of 1 meter. 

Large on/off button. This is essential for cold-weather use while wearing gloves. 

Weight. Most headlamps fall in the 3- to 5-ounce range, batteries included. Ultralight backpackers will choose the light end. 

On/off lock. A handy feature, this prevents your headlamp from accidentally getting turned on in your pack and draining your batteries. 

Red light. Handy for those folks—wildlife watchers, stargazers, etc.—who want to preserve their night vision.

Strobe effect. Use this setting as an emergency blinker to flag down rescuers in the event of an accident.


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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.