The 6 Best Lights of Summer 2012

Solio Clip-Mini

The Clip-Mini isn’t terribly bright (the Sprinter has ten times as many lumens). But five hours of solar charging—or an hour plugged into a wall jack—will power it up for three hours on max brightness. Choose from five different modes, including flashing. Bike commuters: keep it clipped to your bag as a backup.

Eureka Warrior 230

The Warrior has everything we look for in a lantern—sturdy construction, big-time light output, and a built-in hook for hanging—and one thing we normally don’t: a remote control. The clicker works from up to 25 feet away and has its own LED, allowing it to double as a tiny flashlight.

Energizer High Intensity LED

Nothing novel or gratuitous here, but if we had an award for brightest light for the buck, at 130 lumens this simple flashlight would win it. Unlike most of its competitors at this price point, it sports a water-resistant aluminum body that should hold up to years of abuse.

Black Diamond Sprinter

A feathery 4 ounces thanks to a USB-chargeable lithium battery, the 75-lumen Sprinter is the perfect headlamp to pack when you’re not sure you’ll be needing one. The rear-facing red strobe wards off traffic, and as we learned on a recent run at dusk, the dimming main LED is perfect for illuminating trails without compromising night vision.

Princeton Tec Apex Rechargeable

If we owned only one headlamp, the 200-lumen Apex would be it. It’s bright enough for mountain biking and backcountry skiing, it’s waterproof down to three feet, and an extension cord allows you to wear the rechargeable battery pack on your belt (or stash it in your pack). An included Velcro strap makes mounting the Apex directly to your helmet a cinch.

A lumen is a unit of measure that expresses total light output. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter a headlamp or flashlight is. Along with beam distance (how far the light travels) and battery life, it's one of the primary factors to consider when comparison shopping.

Snow Peak Miner

The Tron-styled silicone covering on the Miner isn’t just for show: it’s an easily detachable lens. Pop it out and the Miner goes from a focused-light headlamp to a hanging lantern (clip included), throwing out 180 degrees of soft ambient light. Nice: straps and buttons are easy to use with gloves on. Less nice: the silicone covering tends to slip off.

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