Flashlights vs. Headlamps | Pros and Cons

Headlamps vs. flashlights (torches), what are the pros and cons of each?
Which do YOU prefer – Headlamp or Flashlight?

[Page updated: 1 September 2017]

My main activity is looking for venomous snakes at night in the rainforests of Thailand – I’ve said that a few times here at Headlamps 101 already. I used flashlights for a couple of years, actually 6 years! That said, I’ve switched to using headlamps primarily, and I’m enjoying them a lot more. Here’s more about advantages and disadvantages of both.

Pros and Cons of Using Flashlights Vs. Headlamps

Flashlight Pros

  1. Most flashlights take store-bought batteries, so they’re easy to find and give you emergency power when needed.
  2. You can usually stand a flashlight up on the back end and have it point to the ceiling if on a flat surface. We have constant power outages here at our house, so we’re doing that quite a bit.
  3. Many flashlights have zoom features, enabling quick zooms which focuses and brightens the beam in a small spot so you can see something much further away. Control of the beam with zoom and wide options is a real plus.

Headlamp Pros

  1. Almost all headlamps have rechargeable batteries – good for the environment, and cheaper than buying expendable AAAs or AAs at the store.
  2. Using a headlamp frees up both hands – for doing things, or for falling – both of which will help you immensely.
  3. Your head doesn’t get tired of having a headlamp on it. Mine doesn’t anyway.
  4. At anytime you can pull the headlamp off your head and carry it like a flashlight anyway. This resolves three of the four Headlamp Cons below.

Flashlight Cons

  1. It is so much easier to drop flashlights. I usually drop mine over water, for some odd reason! I have never dropped a headlamp. I have had one catch on an overhead branch and get pulled off my head though.
  2. Heavy flashlights tire the hand out after a few hours. Note – C and D size batteries are completely out of date. Don’t use them!

Headlamp Cons

  1. Cannot zoom the beams on most high-quality lights – at least not in 2017 yet.
  2. If there are many bugs at night and you’re not moving much, you will get more bugs in your eyes than with a flashlight held lower. You can always take it off your head for a period of time.
  3. You cannot turn your head without lighting up the area – so you have to be careful not to blind others standing close-by.
  4. Your neck may get tired turning so much – in the case of looking for wildlife in the forest.

Conclusion

I think the best thing to do is always to buy a headlamp because you can take it off your head anytime you want, and use it like a flashlight – using your hand to point in the direction you choose.

What do you use – headlamp or flashlight?