What’s the Best Light for Backpacking?

You want compact and lightweight backpacking gear, but you need your gear to be functional as well. A cotton sheet is the lightest option for bedding, but it’s not going to keep you warm at night. That’s to say that you shouldn’t prioritize portability if it means sacrificing performance. Choosing the best light, flashlight, or headlamp for backpacking means choosing a lightweight light that can meet all of your needs. So what’s the best light for backpacking?

The lightest light might not be the best light

A small and lightweight light for backpacking is important, but that’s not the only criteria for choosing best light for backpacking. Don’t just think about weight. Function and practicality are just as important if not more so. For example, key-chain flashlights are the smallest and lightest flashlights that we sell in our store. Key-chain lights don’t put out as much light as a handheld flashlight or headlamp, however. This means that this type of light isn’t practical for working around your campsite – cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood, etc. – once the sun goes down.

Don’t plan for the best case scenario

Your plan is to get to your campsite and set up camp well before the sun goes down. Ideally, you will finish cooking before sunset, and you can gather enough firewood for the night before dark. This means that you don’t really need a powerful headlamp or flashlight since a fire provides a good source of lights and you don’t need more than a few lumens to look through your pack for toiletries and whatnot.

This is the best case scenario. However, everyone knows that things don’t always go according to plan. You may need to set up camp in the dark, or you may even have to hike the last half mile after the sun sets. You need a reliable light source that can help you light up the trail blazes in the dark, or provide enough visibility to set up your tent correctly. That key-chain light, mini flashlight, the flashlight on your phone, or emergency headlamp might not do the trick.

So what’s the best light for backpacking?

Lanterns provide the most dispersed light, but they’re big, heavy, and not practical if you walk away from the campsite. Key-chain lights are the lightest option, but they don’t provide much light and aren’t very practical. A headlamp is the perfect balance of functionality and portability.

Ultimately, a headlamp doesn’t take up much space and the weight is negligible, especially when you consider the value of a good light. Most people wouldn’t consider a headlamp to be too heavy for a backpacking trip, but ultralight backpackers want to shave ounces anywhere they can. There are some things that you shouldn’t skimp on, however, and a light is one of them.

A headlamp boasts ample lighting and has the added value of being hands-free. This means that headlamps are perfect for camp chores, behind-schedule hiking, and midnight ambles when nature calls.

We recommend any of the headlamps we sell at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters for backpacking. If you’re adamant about saving weight – but still want a reliable headlamp – there are super lightweight, minimalist headlamp options such as the e+LITE from Petzl.

We carry headlamps from Petzl, Princeton Tec, and Black Diamond. Stop by and visit us in Fayetteville, Arkansas the next time you need a light!

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