Top 3 Headlamps


April 19, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Gear Reviews



There is an amazing quantity of headlamps to choose from out there. It can be hard to narrow it down to one, so we rounded up our top 3 favorite headlamps to make it easier. Read on why we think these headlamps are the best.

The best selling, and most popular headlamps are made by Black Diamond and Petzl, and other popular headlamps are made by Coast and Fenix.

Our favourites are the Black Diamond Spot, Black Diamond Storm, and the Petzl Tikka Plus. All of these headlamps have a spot setting for proximity lighting, flood lighting, strobe and red light.

Type of Headlamp

The type of headlamp you get depends on the purpose. However, we highly recommend having a compact headlamp in your backpack at all times. Hence, our favourite headlamps are the headlamps of his category.

The Petzl Tikka Plus

The Tikka Plus is listed at around $40, and is a great lightweight compact headlamp with good battery life. Features red night vision, proximity, strobe and high beam.

petzl tikka plus headlamp

The Petzl Tikka + headlamp lists for $40.

Why we like it

This headlamp provides above average performance in all categories at a reasonable price. We like the simple to use and intuitive one button system.

We reviewed this headlamp in green.

The Tikka Plus is lightweight, compact with a great battery life. it’s much more compact than the Spot or Storm.  it’s not as bright as headlamps in it’s price range and category.  It’s splash proof, like the Spot. The head elastic is the most comfortable of all three of these headlamps. It features a padded, moisture wicking on the front of the band, that sits on your forehead.

The Tikka Plus is a step up from the popular Tikkina, which is Petzls simplest headlamp with one LED and a couple of brightness settings.  On the Tikka Plus, the LED is brighter and the control over LED brightness levels is much better.

petzl tikka 2

Beam Quality

The beam is a little spotty when compared to most headlamps in it’s category. However, the beam is much more focused than the Spot.  The headlamp comes in short in it’s maximum beam distance measurement, which is only 42 meters.

The lamp is very easy to use: much more intuitive and simpler than the Black Diamond brand headlamps above. We really like the one button click system.  The headlamp is very light, but not ultra lightweight like the Petzl e+LITE, at 30 grams.  It’s an ideal all around headlamp that performs above average in most measured categories.

There are plenty of great headlamps out there for less money, but the Tikka is great in every category for about half the cost of the others. The Tikkina is the most comparable headlamp and the biggest competitor to the Tikka Plus, which has slightly lower beam power and light quality, but has better battery life, and it’s half the price at only $20.

The red light mode on the Tikka.

The red light mode on the Tikka.

 

Comparable headlamps: Coast HL 7, Petzl Tikka XP, Petzl Tikka RXP and Petzl Tikkina.

Buy Petzl Tikka Plus on Sale

Black Diamond Headlamps

Next up are the Black Diamond Spot and Storm which have several features in common. Black Diamond headlamps, the Spot and Storm have three neat features. The battery conserving, PowerTap, lock mode and battery life indicator.

Battery conserving

Black Diamond headlamps, both the Spot and Storm turn on at 70% of full power (roughly 90 lumens) to help you conserve battery.  You can adjust this easily with the top button, or the PowerTap button.

PowerTap

PowerTap technology allows you to adjust the headlamp to maximum brightness with a simple tap of your finger.  When you tap it the first time, it will increase the headlamp brightness to it’s maximum capability, and if you tap it a second time, it immediately brings it back to the light intensity you had set before with the normal dimming function.

PowerTap is nice to have, but not essential. It took some getting used to at first as the system requires a really light touch to turn on.

The Black Diamond Storm showing the Power Tap feature.

The Black Diamond Storm showing the Power Tap feature.

Lock Mode

The worst scenario, is when your headlamp has been turned on accidentally in your pack, and when you take it out to use it, it’s basically dead. The Spot, like the Storm, is designed with a super simple lock mode, that’s activated by pressing on the power button for 2 seconds. We really like this lock mode.

The lock feature shown on the Black Diamond Spot.

The lock feature shown on the Black Diamond Spot. When it shows blue, the lock mode is on. To turn it back on, hold down the top button for 6 seconds.

Battery life indicator

The green, yellow and red indicator light will let you know how much battery you have left. The indicator will light up when the headlamp is turned on.

The Black Diamond Spot low battery feature shown. Here, the headlamp indicates low battery.

The Black Diamond Spot low battery feature shown. Here, the headlamp indicates low battery.

The Black Diamond Storm

The waterproof and robust Storm is recommended for inclement weather.

black diamond storm orange

The Black Diamond Storm in Vibrant Orange. This headlamp retails for $50.

Why we like it

It’s the most robust compact headlamp available. Use it if you want a burly, waterproof headlamp but don’t mind the extra weight.

Features: Trail finding, close proximity beam, waterproof, easy to use.

We reviewed this lamp in vibrant orange colour.  This waterproof headlamp is the most durable compact headlamp that Black Diamond produces.  It uses 4 AAA batteries, the main advantage of this over the Spot, is that it has longer battery life and is waterproof.  This headlamp is definitely the beefiest compact light headlamp in the Black Diamond product line. The Storm has a slightly longer beam than the Spot, (78 m versus 70 m of the Spot).  The headlamp is recommended if you need it to be waterproof, otherwise, we recommend the Spot instead.

The Black Diamond Storm headlamp in Vibrant Orange.

The Black Diamond Storm headlamp in Vibrant Orange.

Beam Quality

The maximum beam distance is a little bit better than the Spot. The trail finding illumination is excellent, and is best at close proximity rather than flood lighting. This headlamp has a very strong beam.

The Storm features the same ‘Power Tap’ technology, 3 level battery life indicator, and special light modes including proximity, flood, strobe and red light options.

The Storm is a robust headlamps that will be able to withstand years of abuse.  This headlamp is waterproof to 1 meter (IPX 7 rating).

Comparable headlamps: Coast HL 7 and Black Diamond ReVolt

Buy Black Diamond Storm on Sale

The Black Diamond Spot

The Spot shines much further than all the headlamps in it’s category and price point.  The beam is what separates this headlamp from all headlamps in it’s price range.

the black diamond spot headlamp in box

The best headlamp of all is the Black Diamond Spot. Shown here in Matte Black, it retails for $40.

 

Why we like it

The Spot wins the top award when it comes to value. It simply gives the best beam performance and battery life for a compact size and light headlamp that costs only $40.  The close and proximity of the beam are found in headlamps nearly twice the price.  the spot also continues to improve with each version created, giving a brighter beam and this version even features a “PowerTap” feature that allows you to adjust brightness just by tapping your finger. This feature is far from a novelty, and it’s actually a very useful improvement, however it does take some getting used to.

black diamond spot box open

Beam Quality

The Spot casts a wide, even beam instead of concentrating it in the middle. Plus, the Spot has an excellent battery life.  The burn time given in spec is 3.7 hours in high power mode. The beam distance is the highest for headlamps of the same approximate weight at 70 meters. The Petzl Tikka is nearly half of the distance, and it’s heavier.

The low weight of his headlamp, at 96 grams (3.3 ounces) is impressive given the quality and distance of the beam.  Though many headlamps have a better beam, they are often much heavier, for example the Coast HL7 is 33% heavier at 4.4 ounces, because of the battery pack at the back of the headlamp. This also makes it less comfortable to carry.

The Black Diamond Spot in matte black.

The Black Diamond Spot in matte black.

The functionality of the buttons is good, though the headlamp is a little difficult to use with gloves on.  The button could be more intuitive.

This all around headlamp is great for any application, from trail running to backpacking.  The Coast HL7 is probably the most comparable headlamp in it’s price range, and it’s slightly cheaper and has a better beam. But it’s much heavier.  So you get a lot for your $40.

The 2016 version of the Spot has 200 lumens instead of 130 for the 2015 model, and is claimed to be fully waterproof.

Comparable headlamps: Coast HL 7 and Petzl Tikkina.

Buy Black Diamond Spot on Sale

Here is a comparison table between our chosen headlamps.

headlamp comparison table of 3

What to look for

If you don’t know what to look for when buying a headlamp, read our headlamp buying guide to discover what features to look for.

Shop All Headlamps

Alicja

Alicja

Alicja is an economist, enjoys climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, cycling and gets out into the backcountry as much as possible. See all of Alicja's Blog Posts
Alicja
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