Which headlamp should I get?
If you’re planning on doing any camping, backpacking, climbing, nighttime running or even essential home maintenance, you’ll likely want to invest in a headlamp suitable for the task. When it comes to headlamps, Black Diamond and PETZL are the go-to brands.
While both offer various models varying in brightness, size and functionality, they do have a few distinct characteristics. Most Black Diamond headlamps offer complete waterproof protection with many useful light settings, while PETZL headlamps utilize a convenient rechargeable battery at an affordable price.
What to know about Black Diamond headlamps
Black Diamond has been synonymous with quality outdoor equipment for more than 30 years and their headlamps were designed for rugged outdoor use, providing light for those who need it the most. With brightness ratings ranging from 30 lumens to 500 lumens, models are created for a wide range of users and activities.
The price of Black Diamond headlamps will vary, with the most basic models costing around $20 and their more powerful options coming in at just under $100.
Black Diamond headlamp pros
- Waterproof: One of the main reasons outdoor enthusiasts choose Black Diamond headlamps is due to their superior waterproof capabilities. Most models will function when fully submerged under a meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
- Multiple light settings: Light modes may differ depending on the model, but most will feature proximity, distance, strobe and dimming modes. Black Diamond also commonly utilizes a lock setting, a brightness memory, and a PowerTap feature to switch easily between dim and full-strength modes.
- Night modes: Along with several light settings, Black Diamond is known for including a few distinct night modes, including red, blue and green light to minimize disturbances when used around others.
- Lightweight: Black diamond headlamps won’t weigh you down, with most models weighing in at just a few ounces. They even have minimalist models available for long-distance runners and hikers most concerned about weight.
- Burn time: The burn time refers to how long the headlamp can operate in different settings. Higher-strength settings will have shorter burn times, though the most popular Black Diamond model can produce a consistent light beam for up to 200 hours when used on their lowest setting.
Black Diamond headlamp cons
- High cost: Compared to other headlamp brands, Black Diamond can sometimes be more expensive.
- Rechargeable options aren’t as bright: Not all Black Diamond headlamps offer rechargeable batteries, with some powered by AAA batteries. However, even those that have a rechargeable option will sometimes have a slightly dimmer beam.
Best Black Diamond headlamps
As a best-selling headlamp, the Spot 350 is for use in all types of weather conditions. With 350 lumens, you’ll be able to see the trail, climbing route or campsite while easily switching between lighting modes.
With a powerful beam that lets you see up to 100 meters on the highest setting, the Storm 400 is a must-have for anyone spending extended time in the wilderness. The brightness memory will allow you to return to your preferred setting without messing with too many controls.
As one of the most affordable Black Diamond models, this lightweight headlamp has multiple light modes and a lockout setting to prevent unintended battery drainage. While not completely waterproof, the IPX4 rating will keep this headlamp protected during moderate rain or snow.
What to know about PETZL headlamps
First started in the 1970s, the French company PETZL has become an important name in the climbing and outdoor world. These reliable headlamps have been a go-to choice for anyone spending time outside at night, as they offer simple and easy-to-use controls and a sleek design to rest comfortably around your head.
You can find quality PETZL headlamps for just under $20, though the most advanced high-end models can cost well over $100.
PETZL headlamp pros
- Affordable: You can find many PETZL headlamps with lumen ratings comparable to Black Diamond models at a lower cost. While the price difference won’t be huge, it can still be a factor in your decision.
- Water-resistant: While they may not be submersible or provide complete water and dust protection, PETZL headlamps can still function properly in rain or snow without issue. For many users, their water-resistant rating will be sufficient.
- Rechargeable battery: Many people prefer PETZL headlamps because of their focus on an interchangeable and rechargeable battery. The PETZL Core battery is USB rechargeable and works seamlessly with most PETZL headlamp models. You’ll also have the option to use AAA batteries if desired.
- Lightweight: Like Black Diamond models, PETZL headlamps also weigh just a few ounces, making them a sturdy but lightweight option. Many popular models have a claimed weight under 3 ounces.
- Long-lasting: With a decent burn time on all models, you can expect reliable light using a rechargeable battery or disposable one.
PETZL headlamp cons
- Not as many settings: While PETZL headlamps usually feature a decent array of beam settings, they often won’t have as many night mode options or convenient controls settings.
- Not waterproof: Those who know they will be using their headlamp in extremely wet or rugged conditions may need a model with a higher IPX rating.
Best PETZL Headlamps
The extremely bright and lightweight Actik Core headlamp includes a fully rechargeable PETZL Core battery, which you can recharge using a portable USB charger so you won’t ever be left in the dark. The red light function will ensure that you won’t accidentally blind others at night while minimizing eye strain.
Featuring 300 lumens at a reasonable price, the Tikka headlamp from PETZL can take advantage of both a rechargeable battery or disposable AAA batteries. With a beam distance of 65 meters on the highest setting, you’ll have a defined field of vision when trekking in the dark.
Designed with the most serious nighttime adventurers in mind, the IKO Core headlamp has a unique headband design that can be worn around the neck, attached to a helmet or even strapped around a tree for added versatility. Though it may sport a higher price tag, the 500 lumens make it a worthy investment.
Should you get a Black Diamond or PETZL headlamp?
There may not be a clear winner in the excellent headlamp debate, but judging by your needs and intended activity, you can better understand which headlamp would serve you best. If being waterproof with multiple settings tops your list of requirements, Black Diamond is the way to go. For those who want a slightly lighter, affordable and equally powerful option, PETZL headlamps are likely your best bet.
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Matthew Young writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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