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Thread: Headlamp or penlight, which light is better for camping ?

  1. #21

    I prefer a Tikka Plus headlamp but I usually have a stylus pro with me for when I want a torch type light. Both us AAA batts, weigh nearly nothing, last a long time and relatively inexpensive.

    I think the right answer is both!

  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by collecter View Post
    ... I think the right answer is both!
    +1. This.

    Fenix LD01 goes with me everywhere because it rides in my pocket. It has saved the day for me and others on countless occasions. But the Petzl Tactikka Plus is better in every way. If I take a bag with me, the Tactikka goes with me. And it is always on my bedside table. But ideally? Take both.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Headlamp, with a penlight as backup.

  4. #24
    I use AA penlight, with a headstrap.
    The straps are light, simple, cheap & available on *bay. I find them comfortable.
    I carry 2 torches. They are easy to carry, cheap, & are a good way of carrying spare batteries.

    I agree with the majority: hands free torch use is essential.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    North Central Florida, and Miami
    I find that a head light is the most useful in camp light. I use a fairly inexpensive one by Energizer. It has given me good service for about 4 years now. I also carry a Surefire TI Titan on a lanyard around my neck. This light uses one CR123 battery, which lasts 'forever'. It throws a lot of light, and is variable in output.
    Nemo me impune lacaset

    Rat Pack #875

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    My vote goes to "both". However, if I could only choose one it would be a headlamp.

    Headlamp because 1) it's hands free and 2) typically a brighter light with more flood.

    I also carry a Fenix E01 with me almost everywhere I go. Small, lightweight, but most of all it's rated to run for 21 hrs straight on 1 AAA battery. So when camping it gets used for small tasks in order to save batteries on my headlamp.

    The E01 is tough as well. I've accidentally run one through the washer AND dryer and it came out working flawlessly.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    It depends.... as always. I suggest a head lamp for back packing and probably a spare set of batteries. Car camping is another matter and you can pretty much bring the whole house with you... lanterns, head lamps, flashlights etc. I am particularly fond of the small mag light. Its only flaw is that there are not two power levels, but it is real handy and very bright.

  8. #28
    I am one of those also that votes for both. I use headlamps for just about any type of outdoor activity and honestly don't want to go back to just using a handheld if at all possible. I am also a bit of light nut so I carry several multi-purpose lights when I'm camping. Clipped to my left side pocket is a Surefire E1B which with its reversible clip I can place it on a baseball head and have a decent headlamp with two levels of output. In my right side pocket I have my EDC light, a Fenix LD01 which is clipped to a Spyderco Manbug. The LD01 also has a clip that I can use on a ball cap so I have several versatile backups in addition to my headlamp.

    On the headlamp note I recommend one with two different beam shapes. There are many that fit this criteria from the big headlamp makers and quite a few from smaller makers. I use the models that have multiple secondary small led's for flooding a broad area with less focused light, this is useful for most up close campsite tasks and even for navigating a clear trail while the main high output led gives you a long distance beam good for picking out landmarks and cheacking to see what that noise is fifty yards outside of camp.

  9. #29
    A headlamp, of which I am currently using a Zebralight. But, I also always carry a Surefire light as well that shares the same batts. This can be AA now as well as 123s with the E2L AA being released. I carry both in case one fails, or to have another source of light to loan to someone I trust.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    British Columbia
    For camping, a headlamp is the best choice. I would never carry a "flashlight" without also having a headlamp. A flashlight requires someone to hold it, which means that any task involving two hands becomes awkward. Generally, I carry a headlamp [Petzl XP2] and a powerful lightweight flashlight [HDS Systems - if the power is required for navigation or as a back-up]. Either way, a headlamp is my first choice and a flashlight is second. Petzl makes great headlamps. My next headlamp will be a Surefire. My Petzl XP2 has been fantastic, but I prefer CR123 primary cells, b/c they're lightweight, powerful, and work very well in the cold.

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Dallas, TX
    For backpacking we used to always carry a small plastic 2-AA flashlight. We would put a couple of wraps of athletic tape on the handle so you could hold it in your mouth if you needed hands free. I bought an LED headlamp for my wife and daughter to use at night while walking to the bathroom. And then I realized how useful it was when I had to go up into my attic to run wires or whatever.

    First I would recommend carrying both kinds of lights. A small light with single AA is very easy to carry in your pocket and a lot easier to get out and use quickly than a headlamp. Carry the headlamp too for when you need handsfree. The lights in my photo include a Fenix PD32 which uses twin CR123 batteries. It is very bright and not too big for pocket carry. The little LD01 uses a single AAA and is barely larger than the battery itself. I EDC it in my pocket with my other stuff. It is very bright on its highest mode, brighter even than the big multi-battery lights that I have from 5 years ago. The Fenix E05 is similar size and about half the price, and still pretty bright.

    Second I would recommend that your primary light have multiple brightness modes. For reading at night or close up work you don't need nearly as much light as you do for looking at something 50 yards away. With different modes you can also conserve battery power when you just need a little bit of light.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Hanover, Germany
    Without any doubt, a headlamp is the best choice. Have a look at the Fenix or Petzl headlamps.

    If you need a lot of light, have a look at Lupine headlamps.

    A small penlight can be a good backup.

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    I really like the Gerber Axle. It uses 3 AAA's and puts out 40 lumens in white or 6.5 lumers in red. Comes with a headband which i've never used because it also has a clip on it. I've used it attached to my backpack strap, shirt pocket, and especially my hat. I keep one in each backpack aswell as one in each of my 2 trucks. The one in my truck especially came in handy working under the hood in the middle of the night.

    FYI: I am also a big fan of the E01 due to its long battery life and quality for a 10 dollar light.

    For size comparison. Gerber Axle, Fenix E11, E15, E01, and E05.
    Last edited by blt-2-drg; 07-21-2012 at 09:38 PM.

  14. #34
    I also believe that taking both is the best option, if weight is not an issue; when dark sets in you can never have enough light. If one light is lost, broken or just stops working, your other light source can do the job. As other posts point out, where you camp, and what kind of hiking is involved to get there and back, are the critical factors to make your decision.

    A headband-mounted torch (flashlight) with a beam that's adjustable for intensity and/or spread is probably the most versatile option, but a good headlamp will probably cover all possible lighting needs you may have while camping or hiking.

    I prefer devices that use AA or AAA batteries, because you can get replacements anywhere in the world. My latest favorite torch for outdoor activities is the Fenix LD20 (2 AA batteries), but I still take out my old Surefire E2E (2 CR123 batteries) once in a while. However, I like to keep a couple of tiny Photon (NV Green Micro-Light + White Freedom) with two spare batteries and hands-free clip in my pack, for situations when water resistance is not an issue. Their total weight is negligible and they're versatile.

  15. #35
    I recommend getting one with an over-the-head band, like the pic below (that's the model I have). I recently upgraded my old Tactikka Plus to this new one with over-the-head band, and that extra band on top of the head really does make a world of difference in terms of comfort and security:

  16. #36
    Headlamp, with a brighter flashlight if you want it. I've done alot of wildlife work at night, hiking for owl surveys etc. in the dark. Everyone uses headlamps. Everyone. Years ago I started using it around the house, yard, shed etc. Seriously, how often do you not need your hands, not often. I do have a handheld spot light, but I mainly just use that occasionally, like when you hear a twig snap in the bushes, and you want to check it out.


  17. #37
    Join Date
    May 2012
    My own State of mind
    Hey, when I was in basic training and in the field for two weeks in alabama we had a flash flood and i lost my flashlight. I used my zippo every night to get by.

  18. #38
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Oklahoma, BECKERHEAD #112
    For what its worth, I prefer the headlamp. Recently I have been using the lights that are position adjustable and clip to the brim of your hat. I have used these to do everything from whittle to cooking to reading to setting up and entire camp site with a headlamp. The adjustable work well for me because I can clip it to the left side of my brim and keep shadows from occurring when whittling/carving with my right hand. But I also keep another hand held light handy. The downside to head lamps is that you can't always get down range light. But for most camp chores in the dark, a headlamp works perfectly for me.

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Headlamps are quite handy for tasks in crawl spaces and attics in addition to camping and hunting. But there is no substitute for a really bright light for distance, but prefer ones that have multiple power settings.

  20. #40
    One of my favorites in every one of my BOBs and take one with camping at all times:

    From 0.4 lumens to 189 lumens. Don't need much more than this. Very small size as well.

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