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Best lightweight headlamp for winter use
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(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Best lightweight headlamp for winter use on 09/30/2006 19:38:06 MDT Print View

I plan on doing more winter hiking and was wondering if I need a headlamp with a remote battery on a coiled wire so that the power source is kept warmer close to my body, reducing battery drain.

I currently use the Petzl Tikka Plus for 3 season use, and was planning on upgrading to the Tikka XP. Petzl makes another headlamp, the Petzl Myobelt XP, with a remote battery pack, but the headlamp plus remote battery pack weigh about 3x as much as the Petzl Tikka XP.

Will the Tikka XP with lithium batteries , which perform better in cold weather, suffice for winter day hiking and backpacking use?

Thanks for any and all suggestions.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
headlamp with remote battery on 09/30/2006 19:42:42 MDT Print View

Doing winter ski search and rescue at night, we
find no need for batteries remotely stored on the
body if you use lithiums. We use either old petzal
lamps or princeton tec 1 watt LEDs. Cold doesn't
drain batteries, in fact you can store them in the
freezer when not used to increase the shelf life.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
lithium batteries on 09/30/2006 20:44:31 MDT Print View

I have read that regular batteries last a fraction of the time in the cold (and found that to be true on one occasion). If it's true that keeping batteries close to the body offers no performance benefit, why do headlamp manufacturers make models with remote battery compartments, when the remote battery compartment holds the same number of batteries as the head-mounted batteries?

Also, I posted the same question on the regular gear forum (G Spot), and the poster wrote that there was a post somewhere on BPL warning against lithium battery use in headlamps. Ever heard any cautions?

Thanks, just trying to figure out safest option. I have finished more than a few routes in the dark, and once rescued a day hiking group on a pitch black night stuck without a light on a steep trail - would like to avoid the same.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
BPL post on lithium batt. use on 09/30/2006 21:14:56 MDT Print View

that would be this---

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Best lightweight headlamp for winter use on 09/30/2006 22:56:13 MDT Print View

Lithium cells definitely reduce the arguments for use of a remote battery pack. I've never liked them much, because it's pretty easy to snag the wire and yank the headlamp right off.

The rub is that Petzl has withdrawn their somewhat offhanded approval of lithiums in the Tikka series, so there's at least an implied risk of damaging the headlamp with their use.

To get maximum life from alkalines despite the cold, I find it's easy to warm up a small headlamp before use and then, in a lot of conditions simply wearing it helps keep it and the batteries warm, especially when the batteries are in back and I'm wearing a hood. For headlamps with integral battery compartments (such as the Tikkas and the EOS and Quad) heat from the LED(s) seems to help warm the batteries (not necessarily a good thing when it's hot weather).

In sum, in selecting a lightweight wintertime headlamp I'd try to stay with those approved for use with lithiums (e.g., several Princeton Tec and Black Diamond models). Their current regulation is a plus whatever the weather. If you're set on the Tikka XP, NiMH batteries might be an option. Despite the somewhat lower output due to the lower voltage they're likely to perform longer in the cold than standard alkalines.

Yet another interesting alternative are the Primus headlamps that have a detachable battery pack that can hang from a lanyard inside your jacket. The wire is reasonably safe from snagging, and you can use it attached to the headband in mild weather.

At least there are a lot of choices!

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Princeton Tec and Black Diamond models with only LEDs? on 09/30/2006 23:35:02 MDT Print View

Hi Rick,

Thank you very much. Are there any Princeton Tec and Black Diamond models that are entirely LED? Have a strong preference for LEDs lights because of their long battery life.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Princeton Tec and Black Diamond models with only LEDs? on 10/01/2006 11:44:37 MDT Print View

Absolutely. Both companies have extensive lineups of all-LED headlamps.

Princeton Tec offerings include the Eos and Quad, which are one-piece lights that take AAA batteries, and the Corona and Apex, which are two-piece (separate battery pack) lights that take AA batteries. All are regulated.

Black Diamond has the Cosmo and Spot, which are AAA one-piece lights, and the Zenix IQ and Night Ray, which are AA two-piece regulated lights.

Larger outdoor stores usually carry a number of them for a hands-on trial. It's a good idea to try fit and button operation with gloves on, before choosing. (It's a lot tougher to preview beams in a brightly lit store, but at least you can compare beam width and the various modes.)

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Princeton Tec EOS and Apex; placement of headlamp between head and hat to keep warm on 10/01/2006 22:05:15 MDT Print View

A few questions:

1) How much light can I expect at sufficient lighting for hiking (not climbing) in the winter with the EOS using Lithium batteries? Say at 32F or 20F or pick another cold temp number? I will try to ask Princeton Tec as well.

2) will placement of a headlamp like the EOS with a self-contained battery compartment on the head, rather than over a hat, with a little insulation material cut in the shape of a donut to fit around the light unit, help keep it warm and preserve power in winter?

3) For headlamp units like the Princeton Tec Apex, where the battery pack is on the back of the head strap, but without a long wire enabling wearing on the body, can the battery pack be kept warm enough to prolong baterry life by simply wearing the unit on the head, under a hat?

Thanks so much for all the great info, very close to making purchase decision. Just in time for colder weather.

Love fall hiking/backpacking and looking forward to spending more time winter hiking/ski backpacking.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Princeton Tec EOS and Apex; placement of headlamp between head and hat to keep warm on 10/02/2006 14:51:03 MDT Print View

1) The Eos did very well when I tested it at 38 degrees with lithium cells, settling into steady regulated output for four-and-a-half hours on high and fourteen hours on medium. I find medium is plenty bright for a lot of nighttime travel, and use low around camp. My only caution is that some folks prefer a wider beam to the Eos' narrow output. The PT Quad is a worthy option in that case. Either light takes little pack space and is quite light, especially with Li cells.

The Eos output graphs are available in this test report, in case you've not read it.

2) I'd be curious to hear how such an experiment turned out; I've never tried fashioning a headlamp "cozy" myself.

3) I don't know whether a headlamp would be comfortable under a hat, but the battery pack will stay pretty warm under a jacket hood. Even uncovered it'll still pick up body heat, but how much is probably very temperature and wind-dependent. Smallish two-piece headlamps like the BD Zenix aren't very noticeable when worn, but bigger ones like the Apex and Corona are hard for me to ignore. Some folks don't mind them, though, and the Apex has a lot of fans. It's a real powerhouse, that's for sure.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Princeton Tec Quad on 01/11/2007 10:47:04 MST Print View

For my money I'd get a Princeton Tec Quad headlamp.
It's med. & low levels are REGULATED and give you a very important advantage: a c o n s t a n t light level, esp. with Lithium batteries, which are great in cold weather.

Most Petzl lights don't tolerate Lithium batteries well & their LEDs soon burn out. In fact they recommend AGAINST Lithium batteries wheras PT's regulated headlamps are made to use them. IT's just seems PT has a better regulation circuit.

Looking at other backpacking forums I find a P.Tec representative has said the new Quad headlamps (beginning around Nov. '06 I understsnd) have been made to operate even better on lithium batteries than the initial production run. Also this came up on a thread B/C of posters complaining of Petzl LEDs and some P. Tec Aurora LEDs burning out suddenly.
Bottom line: If a headlamp doesn't have a regulated circuit you probably should not use lithium batteries.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/21/2007 23:37:38 MST.

Jeffrey Kuchera

Locale: Great Lakes
QUAD question on 01/14/2007 10:39:33 MST Print View

According to the specs for the quad on the PT website it is suggested for use with A l k a l i n e batteries. Is this a mistake they have not fixed on their website? Is it ok to use lithium? Are alkaline batteries merely suggested for use with the quad? Nevermind further examination of the website has rendered the answers to my questions. My apologies.

Edited by frankenfeet on 01/14/2007 10:47:30 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: QUAD question on 01/14/2007 11:32:47 MST Print View

I have a similar headlamp, and use lithiums, and haven't noticed any problems.

There are minor differences between lithium and alkaline batteries: A fresh lithium runs 1.8 V, a new alkaline runs 1.6 volts. Lithium do have restrictions on max. current available, and this might be the issue, particularly with the AAA.

You can read more on it here:


James Watts
(james481) - F

Locale: Sandia Mountains
Re: Best lightweight headlamp for winter use on 01/17/2007 22:46:17 MST Print View

I haven't had any problems using the Tikka Plus with alkaline batteries for extended periods down to about 5 degrees F. Alkaline batteries are affected by the cold, but you just don't notice that much difference in a LED headlamp, as long as you accept that the runtime may be slightly shorter (but I haven't had to change out the batteries on multiple hikes of 5+ hours in the cold).