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Gear Review: Best Headlamps for $40 or Less

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October 14, 2013
Gear Review: Best Headlamps for $40 or Less - 1

During this time of the year, most of us use a headlamp for sneaking into a deer stand or duck blind and then finding our way safely back to camp. It doesn't take a sophisticated light to accomplish these tasks, but what happens if you get lost, need to blood trail an animal through the night, or traverse the backcountry after hours? You'll need a headlamp that has enough features and durability to get you there and back. Here's a look at five that will get the job done, and they won't break the bank in the process.

1. Streamlight Trident LED


Photos by Nick Ferrari

Here’s one for duck hunters, bowfishermen, gator hunters, and anyone else who spends time in dark marshes and swamps. The ­Trident was the most durable and most comfortable headlamp in the field, but it was also the heaviest. Three AAA batteries fuel a max output of 80 lumens and by far the longest beam of the lamps tested. This water-resistant unit has three light modes (all of them white) and an extra rubber head strap for wet conditions.

Max Lumens: 80
Max Beam Distance: 126 meters
Max Runtime: 53 hours
Power Source: 3 AAA
MSRP: $38; streamlight.com

2. Energizer 7 LED

This light is simple and inexpensive, but it offers the shortest max runtime (5.5 hours) of all the headlamps tested. It delivers four modes, including a red light and a strobe light, but you must toggle through the entire series of settings to turn it off. This is not ideal if you’re creeping into your deer stand using the red light, because you have to go through the high beam and strobe before you go dark.

Max Lumens: 100
Max Beam Distance: 25 meters
Max Runtime: 5.5 hours
Power Source: 3 AAA
MSRP: $26; energizer.com

3. Black Diamond Spot

The Spot boasted the longest runtime of any lamp in the group: Even on the brightest setting, it lasted about 45 hours. It’s lightweight and comfortable to wear, but the most distinguishing feature is its highly adjustable range of illumination. You can dim or brighten the light by holding down the button, giving you a range of brightness from 4 to 90 lumens. The functionality takes a little getting used to, but you’ll learn to love it. Other settings include a red light and a strobe.

Max Lumens: 900
Max Beam Distance: 70 meters
Max Runtime: 200 hours
Power Source: 3 AAA
MSRP: $40; blackdiamondequipment.com

4. Coleman CHT 15

If you want a bright headlamp with a wide variety of illumination modes, then the CHT 15 is a good pick. This 150-lumen light (the brightest in the group) offers seven different settings, including red, blue, flood, and strobe. The downside is that the headlamp is bulky and not very comfortable. It’s a good option for weekend warriors, but not so much for backcountry hunters or hardcore night fishermen.

Max Lumens: 150
Max Beam Distance: 55 meters
Max Runtime: 27 hours
Power Source: 3 AAA
MSRP: $40; coleman.com

5. Fenix HL 10

This slick little number is the perfect option to throw in your tackle box or to serve as a backup light on a backcountry hunt. It’s the lightest and most compact headlamp in the group, but its thin strap and hard exposed case make it uncomfortable to wear for an extended period of time. One AAA battery will keep it running for 30 hours. The HL 10 has three settings and is waterproof to 2 meters. I submerged it for two minutes and it flipped back on as bright as ever.

Max Lumens: 70
Max Beam Distance: 15 meters
Max Runtime: 30 hours
Power Source: 1 AAA
MSRP: $30; fenixlighting.com

Comments (1)

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from Phillip Hathaway wrote 25 weeks 3 days ago

The spot is not 900 lumen it is only 90

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from Phillip Hathaway wrote 25 weeks 3 days ago

The spot is not 900 lumen it is only 90

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