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Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp
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Joshua Thomas

Locale: SE Michigan
Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp on 12/07/2010 10:59:45 MST Print View

Hello Everyone,
I am planning and buying gear for the PCT comming up here in 5 months (2011). I have been looking at flashlight/ headbands for lighting , etc. My plan is to be sleeping at night, but it is very possible I might end up hiking some at night. The main purpose for the light will be for reading at night (about an hour), camp area, cooking, and so on. I have never thru-hiked or done a large amount of camping so my knowledge is limited about how many Lumens I will need for camp tasks/ reading/ and the rare occasion night hiking. The below lights are either 1 AA or 1 AAA

In the Flashlight Catagory;

Quark AA
.2Lm/ 240 hrs,
4Lm /48 hrs
22Lm/ 6 hrs
85 Lm/ 1.5 hrs
109 Lm/ 1.2 hrs

the Fenix LD01
3 Lm/ 27 hrs
26 Lm/ 3 hrs 8 min
72 Lm/ 1 hrs 28 min

the Fenix LD10
3 Lm= 70 hrs
13 Lm= 13 hrs
45 Lm/ 4 hrs 40 min
100 Lm/ 1 hr 48 min (strobe)

In the Headlamp Catagory;
Zebralight H51
.2 Lm/384 hrs; 2.5 Lm/72 hrs
8 lm/ 39hrs ; 30 Lm/ 12 hrs
200 Lm/ .9 hrs; 140 Lm/ 1.7 hrs
100 Lm strobe/ 2.4 hrs

In my research, I see alot of recommendations for these 3XAAA headlamps and I am not sure why they are so popular; I am trying to keep my baseweight for the trip around 6-7 lbs so weight is a pretty big deal. As far as the flashlight I could just clip it to my hat/belt and I would buy a Diffuser Tip; Im not sure how well this works, but it looks to be a good idea anyways.
My plan for backup/emergency is a Photon Light; There are two that seem popular. The Photon Freedom and the Photon-Micro Light II.
-Please give me recommendations for this thru-hike as my mind is tired of research and there are to many good lights out there. I need advice on the primary light and also wich photon you would say is the better for my purposes. Thank you and Bless you for your help...

Joshua Thomas

Locale: SE Michigan
PCT flashlight on 12/07/2010 15:46:43 MST Print View

What do you think about the Fenix LD01 R4? Is 3 Lumens enough for camp/reading? Will a difuser help at that low of Lumens? Is 26 Lumens enough for the cashual and hopefully rare night hike? Look forward to your replies. As I have done more research, the Quark AA does not seem to run so well on genaric batteries. The LD10 weight does not seem worth it, but however if the 10 lumens of the LD10 low-mode is better for camp/reading than the 3 lumens of the LD01 then the weight would not matter. What do you guys recommend? Can 3 lumens provide enough for general camp or do I need the 10? Will the diffuser on 3 lumens be enough? Will the Diffuser on 10 lumens be to much? Thanks you

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F

Locale: SoCAL
Thru-Hike Flashlight on 12/07/2010 15:54:28 MST Print View

I used a Fenix L1D (used 1AA at 1.8oz/no bat, do they still make it?) on my 2009 PCT Thru-hike. It was bright enough to hike with (you can snap a red lens cap on the end if you like red light) and lasts a long time. I found that I could use the lowest setting for most camp chores (except packing up as I wanted to make sure I didn't miss something). The lowest setting also worked for most early morning and after dusk hiking. I hiked through all of Oregon with only 1 battery so it lasts along time if you mainly use it just in camp. Even though I had to put one of my trek poles on my pack when hiking with it, I found that having the light held down at waist level gave better contrast of the trail at night since rocks and bumps cast shadows that way and never triped or stumbled. The problem with headlamps is you lose that contrast since the light looks down from high above so you don't get those shadows and thus you can miss roots and rocks that will cause you to trip over and then you'll need those poles to catch you.

Edited by Miner on 12/07/2010 15:58:28 MST.

Todd Hein
(todd1960) - MLife

Locale: Coastal Southern California
Petzl e+Lite on 12/07/2010 16:26:12 MST Print View

This would do the trick:

You can clib this light to your shirt or belt to avoid the 'lack of contrast" issue...

Edited by todd1960 on 12/07/2010 16:27:05 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Petzel E+Light on 12/07/2010 17:54:26 MST Print View

Yup, it is the best ultra light, light duty, general purpose light out there. It does not excell at anything.
It does everything well enough. And it uses fairly standard computer bat's- two 2032's.

It has a reasonble light.Good for a couple full nights of hiking. Good for around camp. Reliable. You can drop the head band and case, clipping it to your shouder harness. It is waterproof for rain. For a UL packer, it is hard to beat as a main light. 'Corse, a lot of this depends on your night vision to start with. There is a LARGE variation in peoples low light sensitivity.

The lever can be difficult. I have 5 of these and two had hard switches, easily "fixed" with a sharp knife. (One for each pack...)

The first is as old as they come and is loosing some tightness in the swivel. My only other complaint. But, after a couple hundred nights out, I can live with it.

My thoughts only . . .

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
Headlamp recommendations on 12/07/2010 18:14:16 MST Print View

I use the Petzl Tikka+ (4 leds, 3AAA batts).

Low works great for reading,

Medium works great for setting up the tent (can see enough of the ground to get good placement), and walking through the woods at night without tripping.

High is needed for finding your way back to your tent at night (unless you have a great memory).

Something about 50% brighter than high is needed to find blazes on trees that sit off the trail at night.

Holding it by both straps at waist level is very easy if you want to use it as a flashlight rather than a headlamp. It's easier to point it around to navigate the trail at night if it's not clipped to your waist too.

Edited by JohnG10 on 12/07/2010 18:14:50 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
PT Scout on 12/07/2010 18:27:47 MST Print View

I prefer a headlamp only. A Photon Microlite II would be a decent emergency backup light.

My choice is the Princeton Tech Scout for its ability to light a trail. Also it's light, waterproof and has 3 light levels and two strobe speeds.

It uses 4 coin LITHIUM batteries for an 80 hour max time so carrying spares is no problem. And the lithium batteries mean it's going to have good power even in freezing temps.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/02/2011 22:57:16 MST.

Steve Cain
(hoosierdaddy) - F

Locale: Western Washington
Zebralight H51 on 12/07/2010 19:12:15 MST Print View

I've got this light and L-O-V-E it!! It'll cook your breakfast and rub your feet for ya if you twist the bezel counterclockwise three times while singing a secret yodel!

Edited by hoosierdaddy on 12/07/2010 19:34:56 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Zebralight H51 on 12/07/2010 19:36:33 MST Print View

> It'll cook your breakfast and rub your feet for ya if you twist the bezel counterclockiwse three times while singing a secret yodel!

Hmmmm. All mine ever does is complain that I watch too much football and not pay enough attention to ITS needs.

Seriously though, the H51 is a cool light.

John Roan
(JRoan) - MLife

Locale: Vegas
Re: Thru-Hike Flashlight on 12/07/2010 21:00:37 MST Print View

Opinions on this topic seem to vary greatly. In my experience, the more time you spend out there, the less you rely on a bright flashlight. Many night I don't use a flashlight at all. I use the Photon X-light micro, and I find it does everything I need. Check out my review here.

Joshua Thomas

Locale: SE Michigan
PCT light on 12/07/2010 21:06:11 MST Print View

I love the post above! Where has she been my whole life! haha Anyways, I really am at this point Torn between the Zebralight H51 and the Fenix LD01 R4. Anyone have any experience that will pull me one way or the other? I know that its kind of comparing two different apple to oranges (headlamp and Flashlight), but as posted above I'm not so concerned with the style, but rather long lasting battery leaning toward camp use; with the possibility of night camping when needed. So please , if you have any reason why one over the other I would appreciate it. I am going to order tomorrow because all the choices are driving me crazy! Who knew buying gear would take up so much time. I feel like a girl picking out her prom shoes!! haha
So here they are... Whats best for this PCT hike and any reasons why? Also I was wanting more feedback on what backup light (The Photon Freedom or Photon II)

Fenix LD01 R4
the Fenix LD01
3 Lm/ 27 hrs
26 Lm/ 3 hrs 8 min
72 Lm/ 1 hrs 28 min
weight---0.5oz---Excluding battery

Zebralight H51
.2 Lm/384 hrs; 2.5 Lm/72 hrs
8 lm/ 39hrs ; 30 Lm/ 12 hrs
200 Lm/ .9 hrs; 140 Lm/ 1.7 hrs
100 Lm strobe/ 2.4 hrs

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp on 12/07/2010 21:16:34 MST Print View

I will second to observation that most of the time we don't need really bright lights, but I have to say if you are night hiking with cloud cover or a new moon and lose the trail.. a couple of minutes of really bright light with a good throw is really useful.

All the lights you listed are decent. My favorite is the ZebraLight H51, good level options, good regulation, pretty reasonable weight for a headlamp.

One other light I would add to your list is the iTP A3 Updated. This is one of the best flashlight values: $20 for a high efficiency AAA flashlight with good regulation and a nice range of brightness settings (in lumens: 1.5 for 50h, 18 for 4h 80 for 55min). This flashlight + lithium battery weights just .6oz (18grams)


Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
Just go with it on 12/07/2010 21:18:43 MST Print View

Honestly pick one--you wont regret it.

I'd go with the headlamp but thats because I am more of an oz. weeny then a gram weeny. You will however save some weight and increase battery life with lithium batteries. They are a little but more expensive but worth it in my opinion.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
"Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp" on 12/07/2010 23:02:07 MST Print View

Really... pick one that clips on can stay on your head or chest. You just might want to use both hands.

Joshua Thomas

Locale: SE Michigan
PCT light on 12/07/2010 23:10:46 MST Print View

Thanks for all the replies!! I am going to go with the Zebralight H51/ With the Photon II as my backup. One quick question... Does the H51 work well on regular AA, or do they have to be lithium? As I will be on the trail, there might be areas I cant get to expensive batteries and alkaline will have to do... If it runs well on Alkaline batteries, Then this is the way to go!! Can anyone testify!?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: PCT light on 12/08/2010 04:40:36 MST Print View

The H51 will work fine with alkalines, but lithium is a bit better and lighter. While not too practical for trail use, look into Sanyo's rechargeable Eneloop batteries for home/casual use. These are regarded as the best rechargables available. Want to go even crazier? Look at There you will find more than you ever wanted to know about flashlights.... And then some.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Zebralight reliability (the poll) on 12/08/2010 04:57:54 MST Print View

i make no judgement or comment on them since i dont own one ... one should however be aware of certain things for any products

for example i bought a set of link cams and found out afterwards that there may be an issue with them disintegrating under certain loads ... not confidence inspiring when its yr only protection for the last 20 feet ... oddly enough not too many people mentioned that fact at the time ...

then there was the time when everyone, their moms, and outdoor mags recommended powershield softshells ...

i get reborn as a sucker every few years i guess

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/08/2010 05:08:48 MST.

Mark Ryan

Locale: Somewhere. Probably lost.
Re: Re: Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp on 12/08/2010 05:30:51 MST Print View


Where did you find the ZebraLight H51 for $20?

David White
(davidw) - F

Locale: Midwest
Another H51 fan on 12/08/2010 05:43:36 MST Print View

I got a Zebralight H51 a couple of months ago and really love it. It can be as dim or as bright as you need, can be worn on your head, clipped to your pack or shirt, or carried as a traditional flashlight, and runs on a single AA battery for easy replacement just about anywhere.

I used to carry a combination of an iTP A3 flashlight for good throw and a Petzl E+light for reading and camp chores, plus a Photon Freedom in my emergency kit. I've replaced both the A3 and E+Light now with the H51.

The H51 will run just fine with alkaline batteries -- it just won't run for as long as a lithium battery would.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Thru-Hike Flashlight or Headlamp on 12/08/2010 06:27:12 MST Print View

The iTP light can be found for $20, not the zebralight.

As far as the reliability poll, yes the brand has had a few problems. Be sure to keep the light's contacts clean and that often keeps the light trouble-free.

Zebralight participates in those forums and from my limited knowledge, they honestly listen to the customers and take suggestions into consideration when upgrading a light or working on the quality issues.

Edited by T.L. on 12/08/2010 06:30:13 MST.