Tag Archives: headlamp

Backpacking Lights – Extra batteries or backup light?

While packing for a weekend trip, I realized I have been packing extra batteries for my headlamp (or previously flashlight) as a standard item in my “Repair Kit” for a long time.  This approach has a couple of flaws:

  • On a short trip, there is no need for additional batteries unless the ones in the light are already worn down or you expect to do a lot of night time activity.
  • The extra batteries don’t address a failure in the light except for dead batteries

So I decided to alter my gear list, and take just the headlamp with fresh batteries.  At the last minute while at the outdoor store, I saw a clip light for baseball caps.  On a whim I bought one and threw it in my pocket for the weekend.  Turns out, I like this little light – the Amphipod Swift Clip Cap Light – for a short trip.  I am working on a full review for Trailspace, but in short this thing weights a half ounce, takes up almost no room, and is a serviceable light for around camp.  I threw it on my ball cap in the evening to try it out and it worked fine for camp chores and walking around a bit.  It was also nice to have in my pocket when I arrived at camp in dusk and didn’t want to dig out my headlamp.  I would not hike with it at night as it isn’t super bright and has only one setting except for strobe.  You can’t pack it tightly as it doesn’t have a lockout, and it also has to cycle through the annoying strobe before turning off.  But for short trips with no need for extra batteries, the Swift Clip might be worth the half ounce in the event of a headlamp failure.

Don’t take my negatives above to be a detractor of the Swift Clip for its primary purpose. Amphipod does not market this as a backpacking headlamp.  It is probably much better suited for running and other activities for which it is designed.  However, I am always looking for items that have additional uses for hiking, and this is a great little backup light with no real weight penalty.

Headlamps & Flashlights

So I used a flashlight with a headband for almost 20 years of backpacking before finally switching to a headlamp several years ago.  I started off cheap with the Princeton Sync and am considering upgrading. But in looking at the other options for headlamps I am drifting back to my flashlight headband combo and considering buying a new flashlight. Why?

Headlamps make so much more sense…generally they are lighter, more adaptable in angle of projection, and more convenient.  But sometimes I want to hold the light or shine it in a different direction from where I am looking.  In those cases I would prefer a flashlight.  With the old reliable Nite Ize flashlight headband, I can use the flash as a headlamp or flashlight. It doesn’t have the ability to change angle but serves as a decent light for camp chores.

Since I avoid night hiking like the plague, I don’t need the long term hands free use of the headlamp. Nothing against night hikes, but as most of my trips are solo I don’t like to risk much. I think there is no logical reason for me to switch back from lamp to light, but it’s a personal comfort thing and probably just old habits coming back.

I might invest in a good flashlight and a good headlamp and carry both for a while…I see a couple more reviews in the future.