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Tint and lumens? What am I looking for in a headlamp?
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USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Tint and lumens? What am I looking for in a headlamp? on 12/19/2012 20:31:40 MST Print View

Reading thru the recent threads regarding lights for bping, got me checking out a few of the brands and styles. How many lumens for the over 40, er 50 I mean crowd, to be able to read? What tint am I looking for also? I was looking at a few of the Zebra headlamps. I currently have an old BD Ion, which weighs next to nothing and is paid for, batteries are expensive. I mostly use it to read before trying to go to sleep on bp trips and I used it on my Portal to Portal trip up Mt. Whitney, where it did fine.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Lumens and aging on 12/19/2012 21:12:15 MST Print View

I'm glad you asked that question...

I keep replacing the batteries in my Petzl tikka xp with 60 ish lumens (I think...) because I just can't seem to see very well while hiking in the dark. I can read just fine with it, but I like to do quite a bit of night hiking and let's just say its a good thing I don't live in the mountains.

Perhaps it is an over-40 sort of thing........

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Tint and lumens? What am I looking for in a headlamp? on 12/19/2012 22:25:45 MST Print View

For reading, I (a young lad of 53) usually have my Princeton tec fuel on one of the lower settings. I'd go for battery life myself, that's how I chose this one.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
Tint and lumens on 12/20/2012 06:57:33 MST Print View

LUmens are total light output, and the light output can look quite different depending on the type of beam, even with the same lumens.
A broad floody beam will distribute those lumens over a larger area, so that the overall result is broad, but not as bright as a narrower beam which concentrates its lumens into a smaller area. Same lumens, different results.
You can research the beam types of the lights under consideration, and decide which type of beam would be best for your use.
In general, a fairly floody beam is best for general purpose, but it should have enough intensity to reach a reasonable distance for your purposes too.

Tint is a subjective matter, based on your personal preferences of beam color.
"Cool white" is generally around a beam color temperature around 6000K, and typically has some blue or purple tinge, at least around the edges. The beam center generally looks white, with perhaps a slight ice blue look, but not much.
"Neutral" is generally between 4500k and 5000k, and looks a bit creamy ivory at 5000k, and starts getting a yellow/brown/peach tinge to the color, at least around the edges.
"Warm" is generally under 4000k color temp, and this is a quite yellow/brown/peach type color which influences the entire beam, right down to the center. You have to really like this kind of color to want a light that is "warm". It's sort of like the old incandescent lights that cast that kind of color.

"High CRI" is an accurate rendition of colors, and it normally comes in the Neutral or Warm color categories. It makes the colors of things you look at appear to be more natural across the spectrum. It especially helps the yellows and reds which are inherently weak in the normal LED light output.

The "warmer" that you go in beam tint, the lower the actual lumen output of the light will be. They have to coat the LED with phosphor coatings to get these warmer tints, and that reduces the brightness by up to 25%-40%, depending on how "warm" the tint is made to be. The battery power used is not reduced, however. It still uses up the battery at the same rate as the "cool" version which gives more output. So, there is a price to pay for these "warmer" tints, by way of reduced output at the same battery usage.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Tint and lumens on 12/20/2012 08:57:51 MST Print View

Thanks Tom, I've changed what I may look for in a headlamp. Good info, did not know there was so much to just get a modern headlamp. :) I thought also I did not need a flood headlamp. So many variables, but I need to go with what is important to me, the manufacturers light selection is broad. I'll do more comparing tonight.


Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Tint and lumens on 12/20/2012 14:26:01 MST Print View


Just an option for you...not the lightest setup, but the CORE Battery System with the Petzel XP2 is programable.

You can program the two light settings on it exactly to the brightness that you want.

I have the headlight, but not the CORE battery system....I find that the high level on it is plenty bright for hiking at night and the low is fine for doing in came chores....I also like the red light on it to conserve power.

The lower would probably be too little light for reading, but the medium would be fine.

Again, having the ability to program the light level might be worth the weight so you can read comfortably at night.


USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Tint and lumens on 12/20/2012 18:07:25 MST Print View

Thank you Tony. I'll take a look tonight. Seems per one of the threads on lights, the Zebra lineup had a high failure rate. After last night, I also saw the Fenix lineup was cheaper and one model I looked at, lighter. I hope the Petzel is easy to work, I don't care for high tech stuff, it's hard enough at work using the newer phone system.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Regulated output vs non-regulated on 12/20/2012 19:26:03 MST Print View

Pretty much any headlamp will be a dramatic improvement for you over the BD Ion you currently own. Your older BD Ion has a claimed lumen output of 12, that is probably less than what most cell phones can emit from their rear LED flash.

Much was already discussed regarding light quality and lumen output, so I won't go there, but one thing not mentioned was regulated vs. non-regulated output. If you can, go for a fully regulated headlamp for consistent light output when you need it. To me, nothing is more frustrating than a slowly dimming headlamp when out on the trail at night. Some headlamps are fully regulated, in that the light output is consistent during use as long as the voltage across the cell remains within a specified range, other non regulated headlamps start off bright and continue to dim until you're squinting so hard your head hurts.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Petzl on 12/20/2012 20:08:38 MST Print View

Most Petzl lamps are compatible with the Coreā„¢ Rechargeable battery pack. This lets you plug into the computer and set the light to never dim over time, with a nice, regulated beam.

My Petzl Tikka 2 Plus lets me set my beam at whatever lumens you want. Since everyone's eyes are different, you can adjust till you find your own sweet spot.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
petzl propaganda ;) on 12/20/2012 20:15:07 MST Print View

from the petzl literature ...

Edited by bearbreeder on 12/20/2012 20:16:01 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Regulated output vs non-regulated on 12/20/2012 20:45:55 MST Print View

Thank you guys.
Eugene, so all these years, my old (at least 9 years old) Ion only has 19 lumens and I've been able to read with that little? Hmm, makes me rethink how large a headlamp I need, down sizing for sure as the little Ion got me up the Whitney/John Muir Trail until it was light enough to shut it off. I have noticed at least twice now, that after the battery gets used for so long, that there is a sudden change in intensity, maybe a reduction in lumens by a quarter to a third. A few of the California group I bp with explored the caves up in northern CA, south of Klamath Falls, OR last Easter. I noticed right away that my little Ion's light got absorbed pretty easy by the rock, it wasn't much use except for the immediate ground in front of me. I did not try a search on my old BD Ion as I thought there would not be any info on something that old.

Terry Sparks
(Firebug) - M

Locale: Santa Barbara, CA
Also consider this... on 12/20/2012 22:20:44 MST Print View

Something else to consider if you are planning future night hikes is to have a 2nd, wide angle light attached to your belt to illuminate the ground directly in front of you. I feel that I'm safer using 2 lights and can generally hike faster at night over using just a headlamp. To me, the slight weight penalty of 2 lamps isn't even a concern.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Light weight, good lumens, lighting options and a regulated circuit on 12/20/2012 23:43:35 MST Print View

That's what it takes to make a GOOD headlamp.

My vote for a lamp that checks all those boxes ia a Princeton Tec "Remix Pro" 70 grams, 100 lumens max., 2 light sources/patterns, several light levels and strobe mode.

It is the TACTICAL version of the PT Remix. This means that, unlike the standard Remix, instead of 3 AAA batteries it uses one CR 123 lithium and it has a Regulated circuit which gives an almost constant lumen level until near the end of the battery life instead of gradually decreasing light as the battery strength drops. (See the chart in the post above.)

Hmmmm, my Steripen also uses a CR 123 battery - one less spare battery type to carry.

I ordered my Remix Pro from US Cavalry. About $62. with shipping. I got all white LED lights but you can get other colors like green, blue red and infra-red for all you "operators" out there.

BTW, The Remix Pro is generally found only at "tactical" catalog sites.

Edited by Danepacker on 12/21/2012 00:27:20 MST.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Tint and Lumens... on 12/21/2012 02:16:28 MST Print View

I have a Black Diamond Spot headlamp, which I like very much. It's pretty versatile: you can set it for flood, or spot, you can adjust the brightness, it also has a red setting, and strobe settings. It's rated at 90 lumens. It runs on 3 AAA batts. Weighs 3.1 ounces, which probably sounds heavy but the head strap is very comfortable and I don't notice the weight. I'm very happy with it. It's bright enough to hike with, too.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Lights on 12/21/2012 06:06:07 MST Print View

I trail run at night quite a bit and find that a fairly focused light works best for that. I don't hike much at night but what works for running should work for hiking. I will also say that I actually find a hand held light works much better than a headlamp when it comes to seeing the trail surface. The reason is that being farther from your eye it creates the bit of shadowing that makes trail surface features stand out. Something like 20 lumens is generally enough for me, so I usually set what ever light I use to low. If necessary I might flip it to high to see something farther away. Too much light kills my night vision and I can then only see what is in range of the light, where if my eyes were fully adjusted to the dark I could see off into the distance better. I have not found different colors to be especially helpful.

That said I tend to like to go with minimal lighting and often just run with no light if there is any moon at all and sometimes even if there is just starlight. The best is night time with snow on the ground and no artificial light at all.

I often go on trips (bicycle tours and backpacking trips) with only a tiny eGear PICO LED Zipper Lite. It weighs 0.2 ounces, puts out 10 lumens and has a battery life of 15 hours. For me 15 hours generally equates to quite a few months on the trail or road, but I am inclined to only use it for a few seconds at a time and not very often at that. I wear it on a chain around my neck.

I am not too inclined to read much when on the trail, but when I do I am likely to listen to audiobooks either on my phone or on an iPod Shuffle that weighs 0.44 ounces.

A lot of personal preference comes into this though so what I do may not work for you. Some of what I do may be considered a bit eccentric by most.

Oh and since you mentioned age as a factor, I'll disclose that I an 61.

Edited by staehpj1 on 12/21/2012 06:07:34 MST.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Tint and Lumens on 12/21/2012 06:50:57 MST Print View

I'd rather get my hiking in while it is light, mostly to see the country. I understand some areas it is cooler (temps) or neater to hike after dark so as to see more animals. I'd get that little e-lite from Petzl but it seems a little grit in the switch thingy messes it up if not rendering it inoperable. If I'm to get my weight down more, however so slowly, I need to get the lightest gear or what will work for me for the next step down. I may check out headlamps at REI on the 24th when I come back to my moms. It's Friday, not much gets in my way for my trip home, I work away from home all week.:(