Q:

Are headlps that combine LED and halogen bulbs worth the money?

What kind of headlp is better for hiking in the dark: LED or halogen? Are lights that combine both LED and halogen bulbs worth buying? Art Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Mar 28, 2005
Outside
Outside Magazine

Helion

A: LED-based headlamps have come a long, long way in the past five years. They've retained their incredible battery life, and gotten brighter and brighter. Petzl's LED Tikka ($29, www.petzl.com) is probably the best-selling headlamp on the planet, and for good reason. It weighs next to nothing, throws out an amazing amount of light, and if conditions are right (not cold), it'll burn for close to 24 hours on one set of batteries.

But, if you're hiking in the dark on a trail that's apt to toss roots and rocks your way, or if you're on a bike or doing some trail running, then it's still helpful to have the extra light thrown out by an incandescent light. LEDs just don't have the "reach" to light things up that are 15 or 20 feet away. But I do like the hybrids you mention—headlamps that combine LEDs with a halogen or Xenon bulb. That gives you the best of both worlds—an economical LED light when you're reading or fiddling with gear in camp, plus a more powerful light for navigation or other purposes.

There are several excellent hybrids out there. The Black Diamond Helion ($45, www.bdel.com) has a bright Xenon bulb and three LEDs for close-up work. It takes three AA batteries, and while Black Diamond doesn't list battery life, my guess is you'd get up to 24 hours on the LEDs, two to three with the Xenon. The bulbs themselves should burn for around 220 and seven hours, respectively. For something even brighter, Petzl's Duo Hybrid ($85) uses a focused halogen incandescent bulb and seven LEDs. It takes four AA batteries, so you get a little more time per battery change than with the Helion, although of course it's also a little bulkier. But either would work well for you.

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