Even if you are only hiking during the day and sitting by a roaring campfire at night,  having a focused light to illuminate your path and your chores in the dark sure makes everything a lot easier. Headlamps and flashlights are so light and bright these days, there is no reason not to bring one along.

There are all kinds of options for lighting on the trail and at camp, with battery powered, rechargeable, and solar options being offered by most manufacturers. There are tiny ultralight single digit lumen lights on up to big ol’ deer blinding ultra bright and heavy spot lights for base camping and hunting.

The following are the stats and my humble opinions of lighting options I’ve used on the trail:


Photon Freedom Micro LED Keychain Flashlight – $15.95


Weight: 7 g / 0.24 oz (without clip)
Lumens: 4.5+ (comparable to competitors 10 – 14 lumen models*)
Power Source: CR2016 Battery
Water Resistance Rating: IXP-7

Photon Lights actually makes even lighter key chain-style lights than the Freedom, but I like this one best for hiking. It is waterproof to IPX-7 standards, making it submersible and more than capable of surviving any storm you expose it to. One tiny Lithium Energizer battery will last about 18 hours, will work in sub-zero temperatures, and is included in the 7 gram weight.

Unlike other key chain-style lights that only turn on while you are pressing the button, the Photon Freedom can stay locked on. The light is fully dim-able and has SOS flashing mode. The single indestructible LED is only rated at 4.5 lumens, but Photon claims their recent “2X Brightness increase” makes their 4.5 the equivalent of competitors’ 10 – 14 lumen bulbs. Most of Photon’s lights have an option to choose your bulb type, from 10 different colors, including red, Ultraviolet, and Infrared. Weight may change according to options.

I combine this light with the clip accessory. It adds 5 grams to the set up but I am able to attach the light to the brim of my hat for hands-free use.

*Photon claims their recent “2X Brightness increase” makes their 4.5 the equivalent of competitors’ 10 – 14 lumen bulbs


Get Replacement CR2016 Batteries here:
Energizer CR2016 Lithium Battery 3V, 5 Pack – $4.40



Petzl – e+LITE Headlamp – $29.95

Weight: 27 g / 0.95 oz
Lumens: 50
Power Source: Lithium 2032 Battery
Water Resistance Rating: IXP-7

The Petzl  e+LITE Headlamp was the first piece of Ultralight Backpacking gear I ever purchased. In 2011 it was the lightest headlamp I had ever seen. It has multiple functions – Two beam strengths, Red LED mode, Flashing White, and Flashing red. There are other more lightweight options out there today but this one has been my go to for years.

One small battery will last up to 45 hours and the light itself swivels 360°. After many years, the ball joint the light uses to swivel got loose and the light would no longer hold in a static position, slowly falling over ever couple of minutes. Easy fix with a small piece of duct tape, but an issue to noted. Elastic headband option has a whistle built into the cord adjuster.

I would not use this lamp for heavy night hiking. Much better suited for around camp/inside shelter/emergency flashing rescue operations.

  • Light shines up to about 50 feet
  • One coin-style battery will give about 45 hours worth of lamp life
  • Retractable or elastic headband options
  • Light itself swivles 360°
  • Mine came with a 10 year guarantee


You can get the replacement 2032 batteries for this headlamp here:

Energizer 2032 Batteries, 2Pack – $2.99




Black Diamond Ion Headlamp – $19.99

Weight: 46.71 g  / 1.64 oz
Lumens: 80
Power Source: AAA Batteries (2)
Water Resistance Rating: IXP-8

Less than an ounce heavier than the e+Lite, but with almost twice as many lumens and a more focused beam. If I am thru hiking or using an Ultra Light kit, and expect to night hike on occasion but not regularly, this headlamp will suffice.

There are no buttons on this light, just a finger swipe pad, so it takes some getting used to and a small amount of practice to remember how to activate each mode.

SOS strobe, red light, red light strobe, and dim-able.





Black Diamond Spot Headlamp – $49.99

Weight: 91.15 g / 3.21 oz
Lumens: 200
Power Source: AAA Batteries (2)
Water Resistance Rating: IXP-8

Substantially brighter than the Black Diamond Ion but almost 2 ounces heavier. I use this headlamp on shorter trips or trips that require lots of night hiking. 200 lumens is unnecessary for most applications, but will absolutely reveal everything in a close proximity on the trail.

SOS strobe, red light, red light strobe, and dim-able.

The newer version of the Black Diamond Spot packs 300 lumens at essentially the same weight, check it out here.




Foxelli 30 hour USB Rechargeable Headlamp – $12.97

Weight: 68.03 g / 2.4 oz
Lumens: 180
Power Source: Rechargeable USB light
Water Resistance Rating: IXP-5

Almost as many lumens as the Black Diamond Spot, but at less weight. You need to bring a power bank to recharge this light after extended use.

SOS strobe, red light, red light strobe, and dim-able.















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