[Page updated: 3 January 2020]
Good Headlamps are Expensive Headlamps – Here’s Why
I know. I get it. Some of the headlamps on Headlamps101.com are priced higher than you thought a light on your head could ever be priced. It was the same for me when I started researching headlamps in 2009.
Back then, the choices on all the “Best Headlamps” websites listed just the Black Diamond or HCL brands. Both were horrible and didn’t even have LED bulbs yet. I just bought cheap Chinese rip-off flashlights for ten dollars apiece for a couple of years until I found Petzl headlamps.
Today, head-torch technology is MUCH different. In just a few years we have new lighting technology, new battery power consumption programs, programmable headlamps, and new battery technology. Some headlamps can be fully immersed in water to a meter or even two meters deep.
All of the headlamps found on this site are water-resistant in severe rainfall – like typhoons. The headlamps you’ll find here have been tested over and over in the field, and we’re confident recommending them to you. Spend your hard-earned money on a decent headlamp and you won’t regret it.
Some Inexpensive Headlamps We Recommend!
With Expensive Headlamps, You’re Paying for Reliability and Safety
I’m walking through the dense rainforest on unmarked trails where there are leopards, bears, pythons, and probably a few things I’m not aware of that can hurt me. I would pay even more than I do for the best headlamps I can find.
The best headlamp I can find is the Petzl Ultra Rush. It’s unbeatable. It’s the top of the top. They retail for $430 each. Nuts, right? I thought so until I began using it. Everything is perfect about this headlamp – for my uses. I find more reptiles, spiders, lizards, geckos, skinks, slow lorises, etc. I make more people happy on our field trips because they love the Ultra Rush and Nao+ headlamps we use.
I don’t have any fear of my expensive headlamp stopping at 2 am. in a forest. None. The reliability of my Petzl headlamps has been outstanding for almost 18 months now. I’ve had four of them during this time, and we’ve used them hard. Some of them get worked almost daily. I’ve had no problems with them, and that’s why I HIGHLY recommend Petzl here on this site over any other brand.
When you buy a headlamp under say $70, in most cases you’re getting junk. The headlamp market exploded when people realized they could put a flashlight on their head instead of carrying it around, freeing up their hands. The manufacturers started focusing on headlamps when they realized that they could put a $10 flashlight on a headlamp harness, and charge $50. Trust me, there is absolute junk coming out of China if it’s in the $50 range with the exception of one decent company who’ve been around for a decade – Fenix. Petzl comes from France, and now they’re in Malaysia. Petzl’s been making headlamps for 30+ years. You can’t go wrong!
With Expensive Headlamps, You’re Buying Build Quality
Pick up a Petzl Tikka RXP from three years ago, and compare it to a brand new 2017 Black Diamond, HCL, Fenix, Nathan, or any headlamp you can find. Compare the build quality. You’ll understand in just about a minute how differently made Petzl headlamps are than any others. The quality and toughness of the plastic. The smooth, ergonomic lines. Engineered comfort. The comfortableness of the straps on your head. The balance of the headlamp on your head!
Petzl lamps were engineered to be great. Black Diamond, HCL, Fenix, and Nathan were just hacked together and slapped with a model name. Honestly – that’s how we feel here. If these other lights could compare with Petzl, we’d be cheerleading for them too. We don’t. We cannot!
You’re Buying Customer Support Responsiveness and Competence
I had a small issue with my “My Petzl Light” app on my iPhone. I emailed Petzl’s customer support. They responded within four hours and we got it sorted.
I don’t know about you, but for me, customer support when I’m having a problem – is essential. GOOD customer support – prompt, courteous, helpful, empathetic. All of that. When you buy a Chinese rip-off and think you’ve spent enough money to get decent customer support – you’re mistaken.
There probably isn’t any at all. If you don’t go with a respected headlamp company, there probably isn’t any support at all. Even though Fenix has been around for 10 years, I wouldn’t expect to get someone that could speak English at their support email. They’re a Chinese company based in China. They probably don’t have a native English speaker in the entire company. Petzl does, and I think you’ll be happy with their support. If not. let me know.
Buy expensive headlamps and you’ll have peace of mind. Buy junk headlamps and flashlights as I did for years, and you’ll have problem after problem, and nobody to help you. Our highest recommendation is Petzl. Do yourself a favor.
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The best all-around headlamp this year is this one by OLight – check it out…
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