There are tools in a hunting fanatic’s arsenal that are obvious and absolutely critical. Then there are tools that typically get overlooked and forgotten about until the time comes when they are actually needed. And that’s when frustration sets in.
Don’t be that hunter.
I’m chronic about carrying too much stuff with me, whether climbing into a treestand, bow-in-hand, or taking the boat out fishing. My near OCD requirements are almost inconvenient. But let me tell you what’s really inconvenient: Being ill-equipped.
I guess my mantra over the years has become: I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. More often than not, my “excessive” amount of gear has saved my butt. #sorrynotsorry
As I went though my hunting pack prepping for this year’s bow season, I thought of a discovery I had a few years ago. It’s hard to find a good headlamp built for hunters. In fact, good luck finding one. But if you’re willing to look outside the walls of the fishing and hunting industries, you might find what you are looking for; you just have to know where to look.
When I say “good,” I’m not suggesting you spend $20 at your local hardware store and be satisfied. I’m talking about a quality piece of equipment that is capable of standing up to the abuse a hardcore deer hunter is known for. And at the same time, the light must fulfill any requirement once the sun goes down. I mean a headlamp you can fully depend upon when the trophy of a lifetime is on the line.
Hunters need an intense, penetrating light that will show the way to and from the stand, and provide the necessary night vision to follow a blood trail and find a dead deer in the woods. Losing an animal is no joke. It’s one of the worst thing a hunter will have to deal with. You certainly don’t want that to be a result of inadequate lighting.
The following headlamps were tested and approved for hunters by a hunter. If you’re looking to add a few headlamps to your arsenal, here are a some you can count on without question. (T.A. Harrison)
Icon | $99.95 | BlackDiamondEquipment.com
This thing is loaded with cool features a hunter will find very handy. The company said it’s their brightest headlamp, kicking out an impressive 500 lumens that will easily light a path out to 100 yards.
A detachable battery housing runs on four AA batteries, and thanks to an included extension cable it can be worn around your chest, waist or in a pocket. Plus by detaching the power cord from the battery pack, battery life will be extended.
There are red, green and blue (RGB) night vision selections, a cool dimming feature and strobe for all conditions. Plus, it’s waterproof up to 1 meter; it will run submerged for half an hour and requires no follow-up maintenance.
- Runs on four AA batteries for 70 hours on high
- Brightness memory resumes power selection each time it’s turned on
- Features one QuadPower LED spotlight and one DoublePower white LEDs
- Three-level power meter shows remaining battery life for 3 seconds after turning the headlamp on
- PowerTap Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
Storm | $49.95 | BlackDiamondEquipment.com
Considered to be the workhorse at a value in the Black Diamond lineup, this rugged headlamp will work for you when you’re trekking through the timber in the pre-dawn darkness en-route to your treestand. It produces 350 lumens pushing a max viewing distance out to 85 yards.
The lighting profile offers improved peripheral lighting for close-range activities without zapping your retinas. This light also features the company’s Brightness Memory that allows the light to be turned on and off at the previously selected intensity.
It also comes standard with the RGB color selections, and a strobe option if the need arises. There are eight different lighting modes that allow for full customization that will appeal to just about any dark situation.
- Runs on four AAA batteries for 40 hours on High
- Features PowerTap Technology that makes for instant brightness adjustment
- One QuadPower LED and one DoublePower white LED
- Waterproof and dustproof withstands immersion to 1 meter for half an hour with no required follow-up maintenance
- Settings include full stretch in proximity and distance modes
Nao + | $199.95 | Petzl.com
If over-engineered-to-the-hilt is your thing, the Petzl Nao + (pronounced now) is the headlamp for you. The ultra-powerful, multi-beam, rechargeable headlamp kicks out 750 night-slaying lumens that will reach 120 yards. The Nao + also features Reactive Lighting technology that automatically analyzes ambient light and instantly adjusts the brightness based on user needs.
It’s programmable thanks to the free MyPetzl Light app via Bluetooth smartphone and tablet connectivity, allowing the user to easily implement personalized setting adjustments. There are a customizable beam patterns, access to remaining burn time and other valuable settings and information.
- Ergonomically friendly button, even in gloves
- Red indicator light on rear of battery compartment to signal location
- Available lock function to avoid accidentally turning the power on
- Belt kit accessory allows battery to be moved to the belt to reduce head weight
- Runs on rechargeable 3100 mAh lithium-Ion battery
- Run time on constant max power is 1 hour, 30 minutes
Tactikka +RGB | $54.95 | Petzl.com
Designed for activities where stealth is critical, the TacTikka +RGB headlamp offers an impressive 250 lumens in a compact package. It features a substantial burn time and versatile lighting options, including: Proximity lighting and focused lighting for movement and distance vision.
- The headlamp runs on three AAA batteries, but power can be upgraded to a Petzl Core rechargeable battery pack available as an accessory.
- Red/Green/Blue night-vision options for increased invisibility
- Single-button operation for very simple operation and functionality
- Under max power, 50 hours of operation
- Available in three colors: Black, camo and desert
Protac HL Headlamp | $75 | Streamlight.com
Producing blinding light measuring 635 lumens that will reach 180 yards, run for nearly two hours on high, the Protac HL offers simplicity with one-hand operation and a single button to access several settings. The combination of a compact size and intense output from the C4 LED result in an extremely bright light compared to its size.
The light comes with an additional rubber head strap that is ideal for hard hats or helmets. The durable, anodized aluminum construction will stand up to the abuse a hunter is known for and it’s water and impact resistant. It features the company’s unique Ten-Tap technology that works through the switch allowing users to select one of three different programs based on the number of times the main switch is quickly compressed.
- Features a glass lens that is gasket sealed, and weighs only 6.6 ounces
- Adjustable 90-degree head that can be quickly adjusted to reduce neck fatigue
- Runs on two 3-volt CR123A lithium batteries that have a 10-year shelf life
- Light can be operated on three settings: High, medium and low ranging lumens from 635 to 105 to 20 respectively
- Solid State power regulation provides maximum light output throughout battery life
Protac HL 5-X Flashlight | $90 | Streamlight.com
Headlamps are functional and a necessary tool to any outdoors enthusiasts, especially hunters. But don’t overlook the value of a heavy-duty, incredibly bright handheld flashlight. This one will change the game for you, I promise.
The 5-X kicks out an incredible 3,500 lumens that will run for 1 1/4 hours on high using the two included USB rechargeable 18659 batteries, but the flashlight will also operate on four CR123A lithium batteries — so keep a few handy, just in case. Beam distance is 450 yards, and features the company’s Ten-Tap programming that allows for multiple brightness selections.
- When loaded with the rechargeable batteries the medium program will kick out 1,000 lumens and run 2 1/2 hours, the low program will produce 250 lumens and run for 11 1/2 hours
- Strobe feature for emergency signaling or disorientation
- Constructed of durable, anodized machined aircraft aluminum
- Rubber sleeve provides thermal insulation and a confident grip
- Waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes
Again, I have a tendency to take too much stuff with me. But, I’ve found that having a quality headlamp for every occasion will ultimately reduce frustration, and keep you prepared for any situating you may encounter.
Pick up a few, or six.
As I’ve aged, I’ve learned the true value of convenience, and that means placing multiple headlamps in multiple locations to accommodate whatever the current situation requires. I keep one in my truck, one in my bedroom, one near the gun safe and one by the grill and smoker, (this is a brilliant idea, by the way). I also keep one in my shop, one in my tool box and several in my boat - not to mention three to four in my hunting pack and gear storage.
Headlamps are like tape measures, you really can’t have too many.