Whether you’re heading out on a two-month Everest ascent, trekking deep into the bush on an African Safari, or just car camping at your local lake with the family, you want – nay, need – a reliable headlamp. All coal-miner jokes aside, today’s sleek, high-power headlamps are the essence of practicality: They’re a convenient hands-free light source for cooking, gathering firewood, or late-night reading in the tent – not to mention navigating a headland during a midnight low-tide on the Olympic Peninsula, or acting as an emergency beacon when you’ve gone a little too far off trail.
The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is our go-to favorite, not least because it’s about half the price of many top-notch headlamps, but still packs the same, if not better, punch. It’s lightweight, compact, and has a single adjustable strap that makes it easy to fit onto your head. Also handy: It’s powered by three AAA batteries that are easy to replace, no matter what random general store you find on your trek.
Despite its compact profile, the Black Diamond pumps out 90 lumens, or bright enough to spot a lost trail from 50 yards. We especially like that its beam can be infinitely adjusted to provide just the right amount of light and that its Red Single Power LEDs don’t compromise night vision. Another nice touch is the power switch lock to prevent accidentally draining juice while it’s stored in your pack. Pro tip: To create a makeshift lantern for group situations, pop your headlamp into an opaque bag hung from a branch or tentpole and – presto – you’re in business. [$39.95; blackdiamondequipment.com]