You need a headlamp, in addition to a flashlight.

Black Diamond "Storm" Headlamp, $50

A headlamp is a good choice for walking at night, and when you want to be doing something else with your hands, other than holding a flashlight.  They are also a good light for things around camp, and reading at night.

These headlamps don’t take the place of a flashlight for searching in the distance, but they are practical for most other night uses.  LED models  won’t break as easily if dropped, and bulb-life is usually more than 10,000-hours, so be sure to get an LED model.

A headlamp which incorporates several levels of light output, and also a red-only beam for retaining night vision, is best.  If you are looking for something in the distance, a brighter light is nice, but for reading a map a low setting is far better.  You can easily spend a $100 for a powerful headlamp, but the Black Diamond model illustrated here is only $50, and does a great job.

Another important consideration is weight.  Some of these headlamps utilize a heavy battery-pack, which can make wearing it bothersome.  When possible, you also want to select a headlamp which uses the same type of batteries as your other electronics.  Being able to share the same type of batteries between your different electronics, makes logistics much easier.  And, recharging a more viable option, too.  There are a lot of poor-quality headlamps on the market, so be careful what you buy.  A reliable source is Recreational Equipment, Inc.   If you don’t have one of their stores nearby, visit their website ( to find a good selection of quality headlamps at various price points.

The 100-lumen model illustrated above is more than adequate for most uses.  When selecting a headlamp, remember to pick one which uses only LED bulbs.  Your batteries will last loner than when using other types of bulbs, plus LED bulbs are far more durable.  Selecting a model with a light output of at least 75-lumens is probably optimal for headlamp use, and it should have at least two brightness settings.

Be sure to use the lowest setting which matches your need for illumination.  this will let you get more life out of your batteries.  Use the “Specs” tab when comparing headlamps.

Below is a link to the one I purchased, and I’ve now used it for a number of months.  It cost $90 at REI, and I love it, but I really wish it had the option of switching over to red LEDs, so that I could retain my night vision.  What I do like is that the super bright 200-lumens output is bright enough to light up the trail, even when I’m biking in the dark.

On a side note, certain LEDs are either bright enough or somehow reflect animals eyes at night. I actually prefer this, especially when I take the dogs on a walk in the dark, because I can see if a cat or other animal is ahead.  It would make night-hunting in a survival situation easier, too.  Be sure to check the weight of the headlamp (with batteries) before ordering, as a couple of extra ounces can make a big difference in comfort.  Most of us aren’t used to carrying weight on our head.  ….

–  Erik S.

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