Backcountry Forum
Backpacking & Hiking Gear

Backcountry Forum
Our long-time Sponsor - the leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear
BCG Holiday Sale
Backpacking Forums
backcountry gear

---- Our Gear Store ----
The Lightweight Gear Store

Bivy Bags
Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads
Snow Sports
Winter Kitchen


Avalanche Gear
Hats, Gloves, & Gaiters


Ultralight Backpacks
Ultralight Bivy Sacks
Ultralight Shelters
Ultralight Tarps
Ultralight Tents
Ultralight Raingear
Ultralight Stoves & Cookware
Ultralight Down Sleeping Bags
Ultralight Synthetic Sleep Bags
Ultralight Apparel

the Titanium Page
WM Extremelite Sleeping Bags


Sleeping Bags


Ropes & Cordage
Protection & Hardware
Carabiners & Quickdraws
Climbing Packs & Bags
Big Wall
Rescue & Industrial






Men's Footwear
Women's Footwear


Mens Apparel
Womens Apparel


Black Diamond
Granite Gear
La Sportiva


Top Brands
All Brands

 Backpacking Equipment 

Sleeping Bags
Water Treatment

 Backcountry Gear Clearance

Stay Healthy--Eat Well


Mary Janes Farm Organic Backcountry Meals


Natural High


Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
Rate This Topic
#117542 - 06/23/09 07:13 PM Losing the Headlamp?
gorge_medic Offline

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 131
Loc: Kentucky
OK, they seriously need to put a disclaimer on the site, this UL business is addicting!

I've been really looking at my pack weight relative to my camping "style", and the question of if I really need my headlamp has come up. I have a nice light headlamp (a Princeton Tec Fuel), but it always winds up in my "didn't even think about using" pile post-trip. My normal day on the trail has me with shelter up, dinner eaten and crawling into my bag when the sun goes down, and I don't read or write in a journal when I'm out by myself.

I've been considering replacing the headlamp with two of the small LED lights that many folks carry as a backup light source. I also toyed with just buying a lighter headlamp, but I don't particularly want to shell out 30 or 45 bucks on a peice of equipment that I already have and probably won't use except very rarely, if at all.

But I'm also a little unsure, mainly because of the idea that this isn't just fooling with different options for shelter or multipurpose items. This is making a change to the essentials that everyone swears by.

Anyone have any feedback or experiences either way?

#117543 - 06/23/09 07:27 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Wolfeye Offline

Registered: 01/11/07
Posts: 413
Loc: Seattle, WA
I went through a similar train of thought a few years ago. I never hike at night on purpose, and I don't read or write after it gets dark. However, I've had more than one trip where it took a lot longer to finish a leg of the hike than planned, meaning I've had to set up camp and cook dinner by headlamp a few times. I think I'll always pack a hands-free method of lighting.

So, I've gone through 3 headlamps in the last 5 years, and they keep getting smaller. My current one is a Petzl e+lite. Now I'm considering switching to my keychain light. I think adding a patch of velcro would make it easy to attach to a hat brim.

#117549 - 06/23/09 08:50 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Glenn Offline

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
I'd be very hesitant to go without a light. I always carry a small headlamp (Black Diamond Gizmo, currently, but I've also used a Princeton Tec Scout and Petzl Zipka), and use it pretty much every night.

Have you looked at the Princeton Tec Pilot light? It's small, weighs less than an ounce, clips onto a shoulder strap (or leave the clip behind and save a fraction of an ounce), and provides plenty of light for camp chores or the inside of a tent - maybe even enough to walk a trail on a dark night, in a pinch. I used to carry it as a backup light - hey, now that I think of it, maybe I should carry it instead of a headlamp?!

Edited by Glenn (06/23/09 08:51 PM)

#117557 - 06/24/09 12:00 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2757
Loc: California
Sometimes I take a headlamp, sometimes not. If it is a short trip in full moonlight, I do not take any kind of light. On longer trips I at least take the very tiny key chain light just so I can find stuff in the tent at night. I make a point of not using my light much - I like to see how I can do in natural night light. Usually there is more light than you think. The only exception is the dark cloudy nights

#117560 - 06/24/09 12:17 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Jimshaw Offline

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
You can do without a head light just fine, BUT sometimes you really NEED a bright light of some kind. Headlamps are heavier because of the head strap design. Probably the best idea would be to shoot for a high efficiency led flashlight with a large reflector. A flashlight with adjustable output would be nice. There are some really nice ones.
Jim crazy
And WD, when I do hike by moon light, I take my Night Vision Gear.
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

#117563 - 06/24/09 02:04 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Rick_D Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
Have to admit I often find myself hiking and especially setting up camp after dark, and today's headlamps really make the whole thing possible. So no, I won't leave mine at home. My current favorite is the Tikka XP but I'm eyeballing the new Primus 2xAAA cell lights, in case they're ever imported to the States.

Considering what I once carried today's LED headlamps are nearly weightless and are unbelievably dependable, plus being very frugal with batteries.

As much as I love button cell lights they're so poor WRT battery life they're really only good for emergencies and puttering around camp.


#117566 - 06/24/09 09:36 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: Rick_D]
Pika Offline

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1737
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I carry a Petzel E-lite and a Princeton-Tec "Pulsar" coin light with a slide-type on/off switch. I took the clip off of the E-lite to save a few grams but kept the head strap.

I use the Pulsar the most; for rummaging around in stow sacks after dark and such.

I have used the E-lite for hiking at night and for cooking after dark; it more than meets my needs. Actually, I have hiked using the Pulsar and was able to find my way. But mostly, there is light enough at night for me to hike w/o a light unless it is cloudy, or I am hiking under a thick forest canopy, or it is warm enough for rattlesnakes to be out.

I carry spare batteries for both: 0.75 oz with packaging.
May I walk in beauty.

#117579 - 06/24/09 12:49 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
ringtail Offline

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
I also have considered leaving the healamp at home, but I still carry it.

The Petzl e+Lite is only 1.6 oz. including the worthless case. I was very surprised to find that the case is NOT waterproof. Not something you want to discover AFTER you swam your pack.

I use the coin LED that I keep on a lanyard around my neck to answer the call of nature. I never plan to set up in the dark. I never plan to hike at night. I have used the headlamp once in eight nights so far this year. Borderline useful, but I still carry it.
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not."
Yogi Berra

#117590 - 06/24/09 05:17 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
jpanderson80 Offline

Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 292
Loc: Memphis, TN
After looking through a few responses, I think that this may be a personal preference.
I always forget and make it more complicated than it needs to's just walking.

#117591 - 06/24/09 05:19 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: ringtail]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6404
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I have set up camp in the dark a few times, which is a lot easier with a headlamp. I also have to get up several times every night (old age...). Sometimes things go bump in the night and I want to investigate. If the weather is hot I get up in the dark so I can be on the trail as soon as it's daylight. I've never done night hiking but once almost hiked out at night in an emergency situation (daughter with AMS symptoms--but she went back to sleep--I was awake for hours listening to her breathing, but she was fine). And a couple of times I've switched the light on to discourage visiting wildlife. I would never want to be without one.

I especially wouldn't want to be without a light when camping in an area where skunks roam. The thought of tripping over one in the dark isn't very appealing!

I have a Princeton Tech Eos and recently got a Petzl e+light. I'll use the Petzl for most backpacking, saving the heavier Princeton Tech for late fall trips, around home use (many handy uses), etc.

I know that some people use those little LED lights with a clip to fasten it to the hat brim, which is as good as a headlamp. I take one as a backup light.

Edited by OregonMouse (06/24/09 05:21 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#117593 - 06/24/09 06:17 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I use a Fenix LOD clipped to my hat. On high it's brighter than most of my headlamps, waterproof and less than .5 ounces without a cell. With this I can do away with the weight and bulk of a headstrap altogether providing I bring along a hat with a brim, which I always do anyway. It uses AAA cells which are available anywhere and with 3 levels I can do anything from camp chores, reading or even night trail running with just enough light. It's one of my favorite pieces of gear.

One caveat: In winter when the days are short I usually bring a full blown headlamp with the LOD as a backup. Or when bushwhacking after dark is a possibility. No one light does it all.
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

#117600 - 06/24/09 07:38 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Offline

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
"I especially wouldn't want to be without a light when camping in an area where skunks roam. The thought of tripping over one in the dark isn't very appealing!"

Been there, done that.

We had taken a scout troop to summer camp for a week, and had all gotten used to walking around at night without a light since we had at least some moonlight every night - it's easy to get sucked back into that 14-year-old macho nonsense, I guess.

Nature called around 2am one night, and I got up to open the door, so to speak. As I was walking down the path to the outhouse, I suddenly tripped over something. (Come to think of it, can you trip any way other than suddenly?) I looked down, and saw the white stripe. "Oh, darn." I thought - or words to that effect.

Now, we were the sixth or eighth group to have occupied that campsite, and luckily the skunks (and raccoons) were fairly habituated by then. It looked up at me as if to say, "Ever hear of a flashlight, dummy?" and meandered off into the underbrush.

Good thing I was heading to the outhouse anyhow. grin

#117632 - 06/25/09 12:56 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: wandering_daisy]
sabre11004 Offline

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 513
Loc: Tennessee
Yeah, I to like to see how well I can get things done in a natural light after dark, however, I never go into the back country without my trusty headlamp. I use it very often because I find it difficult to settle in after a long day of walking and I am usually up a little later then most...sabre11004 awesome
The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there 1!!!!!

#117866 - 06/30/09 07:50 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: sabre11004]
phat Offline

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I seem to be like many of the others, During the regular hiking season, I do carry the Petzl E-light, and a spare coin battery for it, however I really don't use it a heck of a lot. I have hiked at night with it, but find that I don't acutally *need* it most of the time to do so, and even then I usually only use the little red led in it to avoid demolishing my night vision.

Having said that, that's pretty rare. Most of the time I only use it to read a book at night, or occasionally to find something while in my hammock or tent at night. I could probably do without it if I were going totally minimalist, particularly in the summer. I don't because I like to read, and it weighs about an ounce (I tossed the useless case). I used to carry a "backup" led light but decided based on the above that I didn't need to anymore.

In winter I carry a nice bright Tikka Plus with Red filter, and a small high intensity flashlight. Winter up here means 18 hours of darkness, so you end up doing things in the dark and I find I want a bit more light then.

Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
Winter list.
Browse my pictures

#118028 - 07/05/09 12:02 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
aimless Online   content

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2869
Loc: Portland, OR
You really truly never think of using the headlamp on one trip after another? OK. That seems to establish your pattern of non-use pretty well, so perhaps you could get away with no headlamp just fine maybe 98% of the time.

I still wouldn't recommend having no light source at all. In an emergency it can make a big difference to be able to see at night.

You might get away with a fairly bright LED pinchlight that can be switched on without having to maintain a pinch-hold on it, and could be clipped to a hat brim for hands-free use. You'd save maybe an ounce or two.

Test it each time before you hit the trail.

#119100 - 08/06/09 01:28 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
bigfoot2 Offline

Registered: 09/17/06
Posts: 1432
Loc: Eugene , Oregon
If not using a headlamp is ok by you then don't take it. YOU have to be comfortable with what you are carrying. That said, i cut other items so i can bring my Black Diamond SPOT with me everywhere. I love hiking at night and the fact that i can light up the entire woods with my torch if needed is a neat feeling grin I also stay up late and read for hours. Again, each to his/her own.

BF cool

Edited by bigfoot2 (08/06/09 03:13 AM)
Hammockers aren't stuck up, they're just above it all.

#119837 - 08/25/09 12:01 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: bigfoot2]
jonnycat Offline

Registered: 04/21/05
Posts: 363
Loc: PNW
I consider my headlamp (PT eos) a safety item, so the three oz penalty (with the lithium AAAs) is accepted.

#119838 - 08/25/09 12:08 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Most of us carry some sort of first-aid kit in one form or another. I'll bet most of them rarely get used. But we still take them on trip after trip "just in case".

IMO a light is no different.

Mr. Murphy is always lurking around the corner.
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

#119844 - 08/25/09 09:46 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
lori Offline

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I take a headlamp and a keychain LED light as backup. I have been out with a group that on a final day out hiked so slow we ended up walking in the dark - I could also see myself hurting a leg or hip and being extremely slow, and walking out after dark in the trees becomes an exercise I wouldn't want to do without a light of some kind. Starlight and moonlight are fine some of the time; other times, you want to find that trail, but it's overcast or the trail goes deep into acres of conifers.

A light also allows me to shine it on the bear who's licking the bear canister, so I can arrange to not hit him with the rocks I'm throwing.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

#119857 - 08/25/09 01:26 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6404
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
With early fall backpacking season (the best, IMHO--fewer people, no bugs and ripe huckleberries, yum yum) coming up, the sun is now rising about 6:30 and setting just before 8 in the Portland, OR area. The nights are starting to get too long without a headlamp in the tent. By the end of September, they'll be even longer!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#119877 - 08/25/09 06:45 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: Trailrunner]
TomD Offline

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
TR, that light looks discontinued-the link doesn't go to it and it seems to be on their "discontinued" page. They have a bunch of others, but I can't tell what is similar to it-they all kind of look alike, just different sizes.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

#119879 - 08/25/09 07:23 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: TomD]
Trailrunner Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Sorry Tom, since I posted that last June I found something better and cheaper. Simply speaking the Maratac blows away my LOD.

When I whipped the light out in Yosemite last week my friend couldn't believe how bright it was. The fit and finish seem to be on par with the Fenix.

These little LED lights are like computers lately. Wait a few months and something better/cheaper will come out. I'm not surprised to hear that the LOD has already been DC'd and replaced by the LD01. That light may be better than the Maratac but it costs almost twice as much.

We've come a long way from the old incandescent Minimag.

Edit.....just tried to edit the change in my post above but it looks like the edit feature has a time limit. DOH!!

Edited by Trailrunner (08/25/09 07:48 PM)
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

#120777 - 09/12/09 03:36 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
dash4689 Offline

Registered: 07/11/09
Posts: 18
Loc: TX
8+ years ago, I bought a Petzel Zipka (I think) which has a retractable cord instead of a headband. I'm still going with the original batteries. It weighs 2 oz and is very compact and take it with me every trip.

It's helpful whenever I tuck in at night, and or awake before morning. It's great for middle-of-the-night potty runs so I don't trip over mine or other's tent cord, and it's always useful for adjusting my tent thru nightime storms and checking out things that go bump in the night. It's a basic safety item for me.

#122603 - 10/19/09 10:10 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: Trailrunner]
oldranger Offline

Registered: 02/23/07
Posts: 1735
Loc: California (southern)
Your comments are right on target. In addition, a light is often extremely useful in a first aid situation think checking pupils) - it really is a FA component that is usually kept separate from the FAK.

#122608 - 10/19/09 11:09 AM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: oldranger]
Knaight Offline

Registered: 03/31/09
Posts: 50
Loc: Massachusetts
I realized that every time I wear a headlamp, I'm also wearing my wool hat. I've been toying with the idea of losing the head strap and just sewing the lamp onto the hat. That'd probably save me almost an ounce, and it'd mean no more losing my headlamp in the bottom of my sleeping bag at night.

#122946 - 10/26/09 08:33 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: OregonMouse]
Kent W Offline

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I was at my local Lowes today. They Have a baseball style camo hat with three LEDs sewn into the brim. Kinda cool keep the sun off the face bye day. And light when nature calls at night?

#126612 - 01/10/10 03:17 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
iceman Offline

Registered: 11/16/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Valley Forge, PA
one of the big reasons I keep a headlight is for emergency situations - much like my first aid kit. While many time I don't need it if I accidentally get hurt while taking a midnight "break" or need to hike out in a emergency situation because some else gets hurt a headlight is in my opinion a must. So while many people say "I don't bring one" I hope these same people don't feel the same way about a first aid kit. I can say I have never used my first aid kit but still bring it and my head lamp. petzl-e (which stands for... emergency hum...)

#126841 - 01/15/10 06:04 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: gorge_medic]
skippy Offline

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
It is funny how the more experiences I've had the less stuff I carry. I started out backpacking with a full on maglite, then a mini mag, then a Black Diamond headlamp, and now I carry a Petzl E lite headlamp and a princeton tec pinch light.

I've used a light at night quite a bit including hiking in Canyonlands NP, looking for group members who started out late, setting up camp, cooking, etc. I would never intentionally leave home without a light as I've just needed it so many times unexpectedly or intentionally.

I would reconsider not taking a light if I were you. The minute you leave it you'll invariably be desperate for it and kicking yourself for not taking it. smile

#133531 - 05/11/10 01:43 PM Re: Losing the Headlamp? [Re: skippy]
Pappy Offline

Registered: 04/25/10
Posts: 7
Loc: NC
My headlamp just attracts bats at the strangest times. Now I just carry my little UCO candle lantern for camp and I have my sidewinder light whichs weighs nothing and attaches just about anywhere you want. (2AA)
In my possiblities bag I carry a mini mag light I bought 20 years ago runs on two AA and is very bright. Sometimes I carry a couple of Chem-lites to keep the coyotes at bay.

When hiking at night I rarely use a light,but if it is too dark I'll use the Sidewinder. My kids carry those powerful Stinger lights,but I don't care for them. Sure they make night look like a lighted ball field. However the special batteries are hard to find and the bulbs burn out quickly

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Shout Box

Highest Quality Lightweight Down Sleeping Bags
Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bags
Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Is Colombia still making hiking shoes??
by steve-in-kville
01/16/18 03:23 PM
Old Lowe Alpine Systems 65L Pack - removable stays
by Lucidcryotan
01/11/18 05:12 PM
Shelter Advice
by Monsieurp
12/26/17 10:31 AM
Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
Cowboy Camping?
by AliasDave
11/10/09 02:41 PM
Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
I Made Bamboo Trekking Poles
by 4evrplan
12:36 PM
Quilt sizing
by PaHiker
01/04/18 01:35 PM
How to fix Tension problem on .66oz membrane
by Cowgirl007
01/03/18 10:36 AM
Featured Photos
Breakneck Ridge, New York
May 2012 Eclipse, Lassen Park
New Years Eve 2011
Trip Report with Photos
Seven Devils, Idaho
Oat Hill Mine Trail 2012
Dark Canyon - Utah
Who's Online
1 registered (), 30 Guests and 0 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
Ruca, lgarcia, Manda, tightline, Loner
12489 Registered Users
Forum Links
Site Links
Family Hiking
Lightweight Gear Store
Backpacking Book Store
Lightweight Zone
Hiking Essentials

Outdoor Gear Daily Deals
Outlets, Sales, Bargains

Our long-time Sponsor, - The leading source for ultralite/lightweight outdoor gear:

Backcountry Forum

Since 1996 - the Original Backcountry Forum
Copyright © The Lightweight Backpacker &