Certainly one important piece of gear that should be included in any degree of bug out bag is illumination, ie a flashlight. Whether your bag is meant for short term emergencies, a three day survival bag or a long term bug out bag, a quality flashlight is crucial.
If you were to go online right now and start shopping for lights your head will start spinning as there are an endless amount of options. Handheld, head mounted, LED or Xenon, AA or AAA batteries, $12 or $120; which one will get the job done? We’ve picked a few different options when it comes to headlamps that we recommend depending on your requirements for both use and budget.
Let’s start out with a budget light that will get the job done in an emergency. If the power inside your house went out or you find yourself heading back to camp a little late and the sun has gone down, and you need something that will provide you with light to figure out why the power is off and to help you navigate a dark house while you do repairs, or you require illumination to help you stay on the trail and get you back to your camp safely, which headlamp is right for the task? For these circumstances we recommend a flashlight that is head mounted so that your hands are free to deal with other tasks along the way. Several companies make headlamps with varying light output and functions, but which one will work for this situation?Princeton Tec’s Fuel Headlamp is a great compact headlamp on a budget that will handle your needs if you find yourself requiring illumination during an unforeseen situation or just for light camping and hiking. This is a K.I.S.S. headlamp; LED lights for durability and long term use, water resistant and a decent battery life. Throw one in your BOB or vehicle along with some spare batteries and be reassured that you’ll have a functioning light should you ever find yourself in the dark.
The innovative Fuel headlamp is designed to meet the widest range of applications possible, while remaining small, lightweight, and robust. The remarkably versatile headlamp weighs only 78 grams while still offering 43 lumens of brightness and 146 hours of burn time. An asymmetrical single arm bracket makes directing the light quick and reliable.
- Four Ultrabright LEDs: Ultrabright LEDs are bright and efficient, offering smooth, white, wide-beam light ideal for close to mid-range tasks.
- Focused Wide Beams: Beam pattern is well suited to multipurpose activities. At close range, focused wide beams simulate normal daylight conditions and allow you to take advantage of your peripheral vision.
- Multiple Modes: Multiple settings give the flexibility to adjust the light’s brightness and/or beam width to illuminate greater distances or to conserve battery power, depending on your needs.
- Waterproof to Level 1: Water protection equivalent to IPX4 in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Lights rated at Level 1 provide waterproof integrity for splashing and quick dunking.
- 43 lumens of brightness
- Four Ultrabright LED lamps
- 146-hour burn time
- Runs on three AAA batteries
- 78-gram weight
My pick for the best all around headlamp, taking into consideration size, function and cost, is an offering from Petzl. Their e+Lite Emergency Headlamps are never too far away from me no matter where I go. I own several and spread them out between home, work and my vehicle. I have been using the e+Lite for over 10 years now and have explored caves, hiked the Continental Divide for several days and nights on end and played cards while camping with this little gem. It comes in a water tight case and is compact enough to shove almost anywhere; you’ll forget it is even there.The Petzl e+Lite Emergency Headlamp is a compact, light weight headlamp that takes up hardly any room and will always be there when you need it. I personally have owned several of these units over the years and have one in my night stand, BOB and vehicles. For around $30, the e+Lite is a bargain and will handle your illumination needs during a short term emergency, trail hiking or camping trip. As with any flashlight or tool that requires batteries, always include spares with your bag, and with this light, you can pack them right where you need them, inside the included waterproof case.
- Compact & ultra-lightweight (28 g). 3 white LED & 1 red LED. 2 lighting levels:economic and maximum. Light source rotates 360° on ball & joint
- Functions in extreme temperatures: -30 degrees C to +60 degrees C. Waterproof down to -1 m. Protective case included
- Shines enough light to allow easy movement in the dark: shines up to 19 m. Provides up to 4 consecutive nights of lighting (45 hours)
- Long-range whistle for communication or rescue: up to 100 dB can be heard up to 500 m away (in the mountains, at night and without wind)
- Can be worn on the head, around the wrist or neck or attached to thin-edged objects with integrated clip
Long-term dependability, even when kept for years in harsh conditions. Can be used in potentially explosive atmospheres (see specifications for certification level). Always ready for use: can be stored with batteries for up to 10 years and still be operational. Red light beam helps preserve night vision. Strobe signaling mode. Uses CR2032 lithium batteries (included). 10-year guarantee.
I am an admitted gear whore and won’t deny it for a second nor do I feel bad about it. Often times I will purchase something not because I really need it, but because I just want to play with it and see what it’s capable of; maybe have it just in case I MIGHT need it one day. Nothing wrong with that is there? When buying a new piece of gear I seldom go with the least expensive, and on occasion I can’t fight back the urge to get the best. When it comes to lights, I have gotten the best and I’m here to tell you that unless you want to spend a fortune, or if you are needing a very high quality light on a regular basis, there is no need to spend extra money in this department. If however, you want a light with a bit more POWER and a few extra capabilities without completely emptying your bank account then here’s one that has made it through a few of my adventures.Tactikka XP might fit the bill. Sure, there are lamps out there that run well over $100, and I have owned a few, but when cost far exceeds function is where I drop out of the gear hording race. I have been using the Tactikka for all kinds of situations, from working in the attic to working under the hood of my truck, from all night hog hunting outings to casual fireside conversation. It even comes in two colors, OD green and FDE and from personal experience, they are very water tight.
- Powerful, focused light beam with 3 lighting levels (maximum, optimum, economy) and a blinking mode
- Light distance: up to 35 m (50 m in boost mode). Light duration: up to 120 hours.
- Boost mode: 50 % more light than the maximum level for 20 seconds
- Colored Wide Angle lenses (red, green, blue) for diffuse, proximity lighting while preserving user’s night vision
- Wide angle lens for flood beam-like proximity lighting. Battery level indicator
The TACTIKKA XP headlamp comes in colors for specific outdoor activities like hunting or fishing. Its functionality, as well as its four Wide Angle lenses (red, green, blue and transparent), make this lamp perfect for the demanding user.
Whether it sits in a BOB, your home or vehicle and will only be used for a short emergency or whether you want a set up that is guaranteed to get you through a SHTF scenario, there is a headlamp made for your demands. It is up to you to figure out what those demands are and to make sure your prep kit includes illumination. When it comes to lights, you can never be overly prepared in my opinion and that includes spare batteries. Budget minded or kick ass, either way a good light is a must.