How to choose the right headlamp for your needs?

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Update time : 2022-12-05 12:48:17

How to choose the right headlamp for your needs?

Why do you need a headlamp?


Headlamp, as the name implies, is a lighting tool that is worn on the lamp's head. You can't beat the hands-free lighting convenience of a headlamp when setting up your tent at night, trail running at dusk, checking your car at night, or just for daily use.



What do you need the headlamp for?


There are so many headlamps in the market with different features, and it can be difficult to determine which model is the best for you. The first step in narrowing down your choices is to consider what will you use them for. For your reference, below we cover the most popular applications, including camping, hiking, running, biking, daily use, and more.



Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking

If you've ever tried to follow a trail or pitch a tent in the dark, you know it's neither enjoyable nor simple. It goes without saying that if you're going to spend the night in the woods, you'll need a headlamp. A 50-200 lumen headlamp should suffice for most night camping missions and hikes. Of course, if you're hiking in complete darkness and need to navigate, having more lumens will help you see further ahead. Some people prefer floodlights for wide-angle coverage around camp, whereas the red setting allows you to read without blinding your fellow hikers. A lightweight headlamp will also make your trip much easier and more enjoyable.


The FreasyGears HS5R is an excellent choice for most hiking and camping trips, weighing only 45g/1.44oz and offering a super bright 1300 lumens, and 220 hours of extra battery life. Besides, it features a soft white floodlight and red lighting. The IPX8 waterproofness, the working temperature of 30℃-50℃/-22℉ - 122℉, and 2m impact resistance allow it capable of use in all weather and all season.


Climbing

A headlamp is an essential piece of equipment for climbers embarking on long routes. After all, you never know what will happen. The best climbing headlamps have relatively high lumen output and both spot and flood settings to illuminate the rock ahead of you and the path ahead (we explain these settings in detail in "LED Types" below). Hikers who plan to be out for several days at a time should consider battery life and bring extra batteries or a USB battery charger. 


It's also worth considering whether your hiking helmet is compatible with the headlamp that has clips on the edge that allow the headlamp strap to slide in. If your helmet lacks these clips, your headlamp should be worn underneath, and a rear-mounted battery pack will not fit. For a more secure fit, some climbers prefer headlamps with a dual-belt system - one that wraps around your head and another that goes through the top of your head.


The FreasyGears HS6R is ideal for hikers because it has primary (white spotlight) and secondary (white flood and red light) lights that are controlled by separate switches and can work independently or simultaneously, providing up to 1400 lumens of light. It comes with a rechargeable 18650 battery that can be charged directly through the body's TYPE-C port, but it is also compatible with two CR123A batteries to adapt to the extremely cold environment. Additionally, it also has a mount that can be attached to a helmet or hard hat.



Cycling in the Mountains

Mountain biking with friends in the dark can be a fun way to spend a wonderful night. However, a good headlamp is essential for a pleasant and safe ride. Look for a model with a high lumen and an impressively long-range distance. Also, as previously stated, it is critical to ensure that your bike helmet is compatible with your headlamp.


Running

Many runners actually prefer to run at night, when there are fewer people on the trails and they feel more adventurous. Runners should look for a lightweight headlamp with a flood beam that can illuminate rocks and roots, cracks in the curb and sidewalk, and any other potential hazard. Most importantly, they want a lightweight headlamp that will keep up with them and not bounce. As a result, many night runners prefer our HS3R, which weighs only 1.3oz but produces up to 1100 lumens, and you can, of course, select different gears depending on the application scenario. Furthermore, it has a red light that can be turned on continuously or flicker to ensure safety while running on the road. 


Caving

Being trapped in a cave and unable to escape is a caver's worst nightmare, so when it comes to extreme caving, your life may literally depend on your lighting tool. In caves, you may need to climb or crawl through passages with both hands, so having a hands-free headlamp is important. When you're underground, you'll need a light with a lumen output of 600 or higher with further beam throw to see into the cave or beyond. However, in some of the smaller and narrow areas underground, anything brighter than 50 lumens can be blinding, so a headlamp with a floodlight and red lighting is recommended to avoid excessive eye strain after a few hours in the dark.


The FreasyGears HS6R is ideal for hikers because it has primary (white flood) and secondary (white flood and red light) lights that are controlled by separate switches and can work independently or simultaneously, providing up to 1400 lumens of light. It comes with a rechargeable 18650 battery that can be charged directly through the body's TYPE-C port, but it is also compatible with two CR123A batteries to adapt to the extremely cold environment. Additionally, it also has a mount that can be attached to a helmet or hard hat.


The FreasyGears HS6R is a popular caving headlamp because it has separate switches for primary (white spotlight) and secondary (white flood and red light) lights that can work independently or simultaneously, providing up to 1400 lumens of light. The different outputs on both the floodlight and the spotlight provide flexibility for different scenarios.



Daily Use


Headlamps aren't just for exploring the wilderness; they can also be useful for nighttime dog walks, locating a leak under the kitchen sink, inspecting the hood of your car, and a variety of other everyday tasks. Because you are unlikely to require top-of-the-line brightness, battery life, or waterproofing for daily use, we recommend saving your money and going with a more basic model.

Main features of a headlamp


Once you've decided how you'll use your headlamp, consider what you need your light to do for you. Here are the main headlamp features to consider in order to make the best choice:


Headlamp Brightness


A lumen is a unit of measurement for the amount of visible light produced by a specific light source. Simply put, the more lumens, the brighter the light will be. However, lumens are not always the only standard in choosing the right headlamp. You must also consider beam type, beam distance, and other factors, but they are a good place to start when comparing different models.


Although 200-300 lm is usually sufficient for moving along well-marked trails, you need more light to see farther than just in front of your own feet. If this is the case, increase the brightness of the headlamp to 400-600 lm. A camping light should have a very wide beam so that you can see a larger area. If you're on the move or need to see farther ahead for some reason, you'll need a spotlight with longer-range beam.


It's more difficult to navigate in a forested area off the beaten path. The amount of light should then be doubled again, to around 1000 lm. This sum is also applicable if your moving speed increases. There is no such thing as too much light in trail running, orienteering, or cycling. Dedicated enthusiasts and athletes use extremely powerful light sources, such as our high-power headlamps HS6R, HS5R, and HS3R.



Color Temperature / CRI Rating

You're probably aware that not all white lights are created equal, and if you're sensitive to cooler tones or require a light that accurately renders colors, this is the feature to look for. Color temperatures are frequently classified as "cool," "neutral," or "warm," and can help you determine whether the LED will emit light with a blue or yellow tint. Taking it a step further, a flashlight's CRI, or color index rating, is a useful guide to how similar colors will appear when compared to natural sunlight. The closer the light is to 100, the more sunlight-like it is.


"Colder" color temperatures, such as 5700K, provide a noticeable difference in brightness and look awesome in most cases. But in foggy, rainy, or snowy weather the “colder” color temperature would be likely to make you dizzy, while the  "neutral," or "warm," like 4000K, and 3000K would be more comfortable.

 

Secondary Colors

Many headlamps have a secondary red LED output, which is popular among campers, photographers, and hunters. Red light appears much dimmer to the human eye, preventing harsh glaring lights from ruining your night-adjusted vision. It's also useful for evading other animals and insects.

 

Beam Type

Flood (or Wide): Good for general camp chores, close-up repair work, and reading. Flood beams do not typically throw light a long distance.

 

Spot (or Focused or Narrow): This narrow beam is ideal for long-distance viewing. In most cases, this is a better option for navigating a dark trail.

 

Adjustable flood/spot headlamps or the ones that have both floodlight and spotlight are the most versatile, such as FreasyGears HS6R. 

 

Beam Distance

The primary function of a headlamp is to direct light to a specific area. Headlamps are tested to see how far they can project usable light (in meters). While lumens indicate how brightly a headlamp glows (at its source), beam distance indicates how far it travels (to a surface you want to be illuminated). A long-range headlamp would be useful for navigating a dark trail, or hunting.

 

Battery Types

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries 

These cylindrical batteries, which are popular for their rechargeability and energy density, are the gold standard for LED headlamps and are among the most common, including 21700,18650, and 16340.

 

Non-rechargeable alkaline/nickel-hydride batteries

These are the standard AA, AAA, C, and D-size batteries that you've most likely used in your life. Headlamps powered by these batteries are dimmer and have shorter run times than comparable lithium-ion battery lights, however, some people prefer the ease of access and affordability.

 

Built-in battery packs

Don't want to muck around with batteries? Choose a built-in battery and simply plug in a charging cable to recharge it. This feature can be found on many miniature rechargeable headlamps, which helps to reduce the weight of your pack and run.

 

Run Time

Runtime indicates how long your headlamp will last after a full charge. However, the headlamp industry has made a change for this measurement, so comparing one headlamp to another may result in some perplexing numbers. This is the reason. Manufacturers used to measure run time until the headlamp stopped producing usable light at 2 meters (the light of a full moon). As the end point of run time, the new standard uses 10% of the lamp's original brightness. For example, under the old standard, a 350 lumen headlamp might have a runtime of 40 hours. However, under the new standard, the same headlamp may only have a 2-hour runtime. (It would still provide 38 hours of light.)

Materials 

 

There are mainly two kinds of materials for headlamps - aluminum or polycarbonate (PC). Both have a strong but lightweight shell that protects the internal components from damage.

 

If you're concerned about bumps, drops, and rough treatment, aluminum headlamps are a good option, while a PC body is the lightest option if weight is important to you.

 

Weight

Headlamps are available in a variety of weights, ranging from ultra-light models weighing less than 1 ounce to hefty models weighing more than 10 ounces. In general, heavier headlamps will be brighter and last longer on a single charge. Furthermore, lighter headlamps are typically made of thinner plastic, whereas heavier models are typically made of aluminum or thick plastic for increased durability. Most outdoor enthusiasts will prefer a headlamp that falls somewhere in the middle of these two options. If you don't require extreme performance or lightweight, these mid-range designs are comfortable, provide a good balance of brightness and battery life, and are small enough to fit into a corner of your pack. The lightest lights, in our opinion, should only be used in an emergency.

 

FreasyGears metal headlamps are so popular because they are the best balance between weight and performance. 

 

Water Resistance: IP Ratings

When your headlamp will be exposed to rough environments - rain, snow, dust, and sand, you'll need to consider the weather resistance. The IP rating of a headlamp determines its seal's effectiveness. IPX0 provides very little protection, whereas IPX8 means that the headlamp should function properly even after 30 minutes in water. For example, all FreasyGears headlamps are rated IPX8, whereas most headlamps are rated IPX4, which means they can withstand heavy rain but should not be submerged. A higher level of protection will go a long way toward ensuring that your headlamp still works normally if it falls into water by accident.

 

Cold-Weather Performance

It's no secret that cold weather can drain your electronics' batteries, though some battery types perform better than others when the temperature drops. For example, lithium or rechargeable NiMH batteries perform better in cold temperatures than traditional alkaline batteries, and CR123A batteries perform better in extremely cold conditions than others. Another way to increase battery life in the cold is to keep the headlamp warm during the day, such as in a coat pocket or wrapped in backpack clothing (tucking it into a sleeping bag at night is also a good idea). Special low-temperature batteries are required in the most extreme conditions.

 

Tips for choosing the right headlamps

 

☑️ Headlamps are frequently the preferred lighting tool because of their hands-free feature and flood beam profile.

☑️ The most important feature is output, and in addition to brightness, consider beam type, color temperature, beam throw, and secondary color.

☑️ Headlamps can have built-in rechargeable batteries or removable batteries.

☑️ Headlamps are primarily made of one of two materials: aluminum or polycarbonate (PC), both of which are lightweight and durable.

☑️ Different headlamps have different weights, so choose the one that is appropriate for your needs.

☑️ Get a rugged headlamp to ensure your safety in harsh environments.

 

Compare FreasyGears Headlamps


As you might expect, FreasyGears has a headlamp for just about any situation. Find out more about our headlamps here.

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