This season’s newest headlamps offer brighter beams and longer burn times – perfect for climbers getting an alpine start or preparing dinner after a long day of cragging.
Black Diamond Icon
With its waterproof construction and bright 200-lumen light, the Icon is a top choice for climbers seeking maximum visibility during alpine starts or unexpected night-time descents. Multiple brightness modes ensure the appropriate level of visibility while preserving maximum battery life. While perhaps a touch too heavy (it’s powered by four AA batteries) for climbers going light-and-fast, the Icon is ideal for anyone that’s more concerned about visibility than gram-counting.
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Anyone looking for the most advanced headlamp currently available should seek out the new Petzl Nao. Not only does this USB rechargeable headlamp allow users to program light intensity with the downloadable Petzl computer-application, but the lamp also automatically adjusts the beam’s brightness depending on where the climber is looking; a brighter beam for objects further down the trail and a softer light for reading a topo. The system works surprisingly well with very little lag time as the lamp adjusts the brightness. An added benefit of this system is the increased battery life as the lamp is punching out unnecessary light when it’s not needed. The Nao is slightly heavier than some more conventional headlamps, but Petzl’s new head-strap system does a good job of controlling any unwanted movement. This is a truly innovative headlamp that offers tangible benefits in a variety of climbing situations.
Princeton Tech Apex
This USB rechargeable headlamp puts out a 200-lumen beam making it a perfect choice for climbers wanting maximum for climbing or around camp. For less extreme situations, the Apex offers three other beam options that are better suited for close-up work while also draining less battery power. For versatility and carrying comfort, Princeton Tech includes a short extension cord which allows climbers to carry the battery pack in a pocket rather than on the lamp’s headband. While some climbers may not approve of the somewhat heavy batter pack, few can argue against the Apex’s super-bright beam and surprisingly long burn time.
While this was the smallest and lightest headlamp in the review, it still managed to punch out a surprisingly bright 90-lumen light beam at maximum power. For less light intensive situations the T-Peak has a variety of other battery-life maximizing beam options. What’s particularly unique about the T-Peak is its clear and even circular beam-pattern that tends to mirror a climber’s field of view. This feature creates a very usable light beam even at lower power levels. With it’s small size, light weight and bright beam pattern, the T-Peak should be in the lid pocket of every cragging and alpine pack.