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Headlamp or penlight, which light is better for camping ?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by lindaopa1986, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. lindaopa1986


    Jul 2, 2012
    I am going to a camping trip next month and I want to buy a camping light. Convenience and light weight are the most important features , headlamp or penlight, which is better ? Which kind of camping lights are you using ? my friend are using the heavy professional camping torch, but I don't want a heavy one .
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 5, 2012
  2. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    It is an individual preference really. I find that I actually need very little light while camping. I've been using a "glowstick" type flashlight and also a cheap headlamp myself. Both have multiple light levels depending on the task at hand. Combined I have less invested than most of the high-tech penlights cost individually. Either can be hung for a tent light. And either provide a low setting that allows for walking, cooking or sorting gear without blinding me or my campmates. You can even supplement with a cheap squeeze light for a couple of dollars more. I just cannot justify spending a lot of money on a single light source when I can get multiple redundent lights for about $20-30 U.S. All last more than one trip and come in handy at home as well.
  3. baldtaco-II


    Feb 28, 2006
    Contingent upon what type of camping you do and where and when you'll be doing it. As a rule headlamps are my preferred choice just because they are hands free and always pointing where you're looking. Those factors alone make it hard to make a case for alternatives but those aren't the only factors. Unlike the explosion in growth of hand held lamps headlamps are dragging their sorry selves a long way behind and you have to pay a premium if you want a decent amount of output....................................................... Massive amounts available light isn't always important to me and sometimes I can make do with a little head mounted light running on CR2032s. Uber light. I'll still have a compact hand held that pushes out about 300lm somewhere about me though. Most often I use that same hand held in conjunction with a headlamp of 300lm running on 3*AAAs. That's enough light for most situations occurring to me in the outdoors. The weight penalty isn't insufferable and I'm extremely unlikely to be grabbed by the bowbolds in the event of failure. Meat and potatoes stuff here and I've always got a set of batteries on charge for this pairing just for daily living........................................................ At the most extreme I use that same 300lm compact hand held as back up to a headlamp of 1000lm. Sometimes the ability to lay down a huge amount of light just can't be beaten. It's all very well pissing around with the small stuff but on occasion having a horrible impediment to one of your senses at a time when you need it online the most is just not something I'm willing to put up with. On forums you often see folk training for imaginary disaster scenarios by rubbing sticks together and carrying spare spare spare fire lighters and filing uncomfortable spine angles on their knives so the can rub them over a spark rod and all that jazz. In reality, for situations you are likely to get caught out by the ability to turn you immediate area from night to day is much more useful. The downside of mine is that the remote battery pack weighs 202.6g. But then it is a remote battery pack, which is pretty much essential for being out in cold conditions. Add to that when I'm out my dog is invariably with me and even on his three legs he can reliably pick up the bunnies if I give them a squirt of that.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  4. fmajor007


    Apr 1, 2010
    Headlamp. It's a 'hands-free' light - unless you like holding a penlight in your mouth while trying to do something which requires both hands. They are slightly more expensive than a simple penlight, but the convenience is more than worth the extra couple bucks.
  5. jhamer9


    Sep 29, 2008
    What you could also do is get a small AA LED light with a clip (for instance I have a Fenix LD10) you can then reverse the clip and attach it to the brim of a baseball hat. Works securely and you have he best of both.
  6. RickJ


    Mar 2, 2003
    Take it from a 20 Year Infantry Vet, who has spent alot of time in the field, Headlamp! Headlamp! Headlamp! and a good one. I liked the petzl LED ones the best.
  7. Daddyo16


    Jan 12, 2012
    Given the choice, I would take a headlamp every time.
  8. Magnaminous_G


    Jul 13, 2011
    There is no competition there, OP. That's like asking what is better for long-range land battles, a Howitzer or a pea shooter. The headlamp rules in every single way. The penlight has no advantages over it. You put your headlamp on, and now you have two hands free. Anywhere you turn your head, a concentrated beam of light is perfectly centered. No competition... I almost can't believe you asked the question...

    Anyway, get a Petzl Tactikka Plus, the one with the third "over the head" strap.
  9. gregorio


    Nov 9, 2007
    I would go with both. A small penlight doesn't add much weight but my preference is a head lamp
  10. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    I use a penlight everyday, and I love it. However, if I were to need a large amount of light and hands free often, a headlamp is the way to go. Of course, I would also be in the 'both' category.
  11. coaldigger


    Jan 27, 2007
    Headlamp here to...Hands Free means alot ! I got the Princeton Fuel -
  12. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    I like the iTP H01 head light. It's cheap, lightweight, rugged, bright, and cheap to operate.
  13. Nickelsig229


    Sep 7, 2004
    I use a pen light on my key chain for an EDC. I have full faith in it however, I would never use it in an outdoor/camping scenario.

    There are to many benefits from my petzl head lamps that a pen light can't provide.

    Head lamps now are starting to catch up to personal flashlights, I've seen some over 100 lumens with multiple settings, IPX6 and powered from simply AA batteries. They usually come with a red or green night light, strobe settings and head bands are adjustable and comfortable enough that I forget its even on my head.

    You don't have to break the bank for a quality head lamp they are not that expensive. You can probably afford to buy both a head lamp and a pen light.
  14. thebrain


    Dec 12, 2007
    I love me a nice small bright flashlight but headlamps are the bees knees for outdoors at night ,nothing beats both hands and mouth free to use as you will. As has been said above Get a good one like a Petzl or even a Princeton Tec but only LED and watch that you get one with a long "burn time" brighter isn`t always better a long battery life can save your butt. (ask me how I know)
  15. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I would go for the headlamp, BUT and that is a sir mix-a-lot sized BUTT, the egronomics of a headlamp are much more critical, go to a store where you can try the switches, wear gloves if you are a glove wearer, and see what works. or go as cheap as you can, and learn what you like and don't like, maybe buy a couple different cheap ones to see which style works for you. do you prefer spot, or flood? do you want both? extra colors, modes? there is a light for everyone on the market it seems.

    I've been stuck with a black diamond icon even though I'd prefer a smaller headlamp, just because the switch works for me all the time, every time, and I haven't found one that works as well. That said, its a great light, but having 3AAs hanging off the back of your head is annoying. but the batteries go stale before I use them up, so run-time is no issue, in fact unless your light is trying really hard to be bright (like all the "tactical" flashights) runtime should be no big deal with an LED light.
    I did see one of the newer Pelican headsup light LEDs that had a very good switch, and I'll probably get one eventually, but it was single mode, which you might not like. Its a huge preference thing. I've passed on many lights because they didn't feel right to me. Don't just go on someone else's opinion of a light.
  16. Joe Real

    Joe Real

    Apr 4, 2006
    In my opinion the advantage of a penlight is that if it is small enough, like a 1AAA or even a 1AA, you can carry it in your pocket our around your neck. Therefore you can have it always with you.
    I recently bought a Four Sevens mini 1AA and a Klarus headband, very high quality not like the some other headbands in the market, and it is a wining combo.
    The other advantage of this set up is that one cell flashlights are great at depleting one battery at the time, so it is easy to carry a spare. In fact I carry another light as backup. This might be rendered trivial by the run times of any modern light but redundancy is what I learned in this forum.
    Best Regards
  17. skorpyd


    Jan 24, 2010
    I like the Zebralight. Small, lightweight and can be used as a small anglehead flashlight or headlight with the included head band. I just ordered the 1-AA size and it's advertised to give 200 lumens on high. I already have the 18650 rechargeable size and use it frequently.

    I also always have an ITP A3EOS in my pocket. Best $20 I ever spent.
  18. Daniel L

    Daniel L Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 2, 1998
    I cut my teeth (oh what a pun) holding the original mag lite AA in my mouth and drooling like crazy, before headlamps became commonly affordable and not using weird battery packs like the Petzl caving stuff.

    If you're not convinced already, headlamp all the way and bring a single AA /AAA as a backup. I like headlamps with commonly sized AA - my Princeton Tec Scout is still going strong even though it's been superseded in output.

    I like the extra elastic band across the top, which is needed for 3xAA battery packs, and running. They are comfortable once adjusted but the current trend is to go lighter with AAA and a single elastic loop around the head.
  19. will62


    Oct 18, 2002
    Headlamp but I still carry a pen light ( INOVA X1)
  20. michaelm466


    Mar 5, 2009
    Headlamp, also +1 on the Zebralight, outstanding quality, brightness or runtime depending on the mode selection, water proof, and a nice small size. Also since they're not permanently attached you can take it off and use it as a regular flashlight/penlight if you'd like as well, or if you want something thats more of a spot light than floody headlamp just get one of their one AA flashlights that also come with a headlight strap (it just attaches from the side.

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