Last year, Petzl debuted one of the biggest advances to date in headlamps with their reactive lighting technology, shown in the powerful but expensive NAO headlamp. The Tikka R+ continues to wield this impressive technology, but at half the price. The lamp dims and focuses in when close objects like a map or a plate of food reflect brightly, reducing the blinding effect near objects can have when suddenly thrust into your beam.

When your line of sight is clearer, as on a trail run, the lamp ups to its full 170 lumens and projects a narrower beam farther. For us, that clearly illuminated trees and rocks 30 yards away on late fall night trail runs. The function saves battery power and lets you keep your hands on your work instead of toggling between modes – essential in technical situations like caving, climbing, or torquing on a wrench in a darkened garage.

You can also switch the rechargeable Tikka R+ to one of three constant lighting powers. It gets high marks for the easy-to-read meter that shows remaining charge, and even more so for the secure, stable and well-padded headstrap that outshines competitors' offerings.

[Petzl.com; $80]

Field Notes
Days Tested: 20
Area Used: Tetons, British Columbia, Moab, Utah
Activities: Backcountry skiing, trail running
Nitpick: Mastering the array of different modes takes some practice