I had to remind myself of that when I received a headlamp for testing not long ago. The benefits of a headlamp around camp are all too often overlooked or dismissed in favor of a handheld flashlight or lantern hung in the camp. The headlamp I received was from 5.11, so let’s take a look at it first.There EDC Headlamp 2AAA is lightweight, runs on two AAA batteries (hence that part of the name), produces light via two LED assemblies and is capable of producing three different levels of illumination. As I examined and then tested it, I took a few minutes to educate myself about the pros and cons of a headlamp. Just as with a handheld light, there IS such a thing as too much light in some situations. If I’m lighting up paper—to write in a journal or read a map—I don’t want 1,200 lumens of light reflecting back at me. In fact, I don’t even want the light always pointed in the same direction. Looking down constantly to see something I’m holding can eventually cause a cramp in my neck, so a light that is angled down, by design, is helpful.
The 5.11 EDC Headlamp actually has two LED light assemblies: one for distance and one for “in your hands” map reading, cooking, etc. Both light assemblies are activated by touch buttons located above each and have three levels of light production: high, medium and low. There is also a lock-off switch on the back of the unit so it doesn’t get accidentally activated while in your pack or utility pouch.
Streamlight makes the ProTac HL, another LED driven headlamp but this one is BRIGHT: 1,000 lumens on high power. The low power setting offers less light for up to 20 hours and the unit is USB rechargeable. That’s very handy if you have a ready source of electricity and pack the right cord for charging.
SureFire makes the Maximus; another 1,000 lumen rechargeable light.
Of the three, the 5.11 EDC seems to be the most camp friendly but doesn’t offer the option of recharging; you have to carry spare batteries (not a big deal in my opinion since they’re AAAs). No matter which one you pick, the convenience of a comfortable headlamp around camp is something I’ve definitely learned to appreciate.