6 reasons to take a headlamp on a hike

I remembered writing this article after returning at night once at 1:30 am and the other at 11:00 pm . It was a few weeks ago, during the return journey after great climbing routes on the rock of Gozzi near Ajaccio and in the massif of Bavella.

Now I do not have more! I know it’s very easy to finish at night . Even when I plan to return before night, I carry a headlamp . I do it for most outdoor activities, and of course hiking.

For multi-day hikes, I guess I do not really need to convince you of their usefulness. Just to set up a night tent, prepare a meal, get water, or whatever, it’s much more convenient with a lamp.

So I will mainly give you the reasons to bring a headlamp for your day trips , because it does not necessarily seem very intuitive at first. But, I assure you that it can save you many “galleys”. ?

You have the right not to take my word for it and wait for a “galley” to happen to you. You will see, you will soon be convinced (as I am) and you will never forget your headlamp.?

Anecdotes, I have …

Stories of “failures” that end up in the night, I have! Not just personal anecdotes, many others that I’ve been told as well.

I especially like that of a couple of friends who walked in the forest at night, having exhausted the battery of their camera and the gas of their lighter to light up.

All they had left was the sparks of the stone of their lighter to find their way. Regularly, they pressed desperately on the key for the automatic opening of the doors of their van, waiting for him to make a sign to them. Fortunately for them, it has a good reach and they ended up finding it that way.


When walking towards the blinking lights …

Surely they would have had less adrenaline with a headlamp , and the anecdote would have been less funny, but it would have been a little more cautious . Do not worry Greg and Laeti, I will not say it’s you!?

In my opinion, the headlamp is a safety feature, just like the survival blanket or the whistle .

Headlamp or other?

I will not develop here the rather obvious advantages of a headlamp compared to a flashlight or a flashlight. Just put a head lamp on his head once and ask himself how it was possible to do without it.

This is so convenient because it allows you to have your hands free. In addition, it is light, space-saving, has good autonomy and is generally durable.

I speak in this article of headlamp, but a flashlight or a flashlight would do very well – even if a frontal is in my opinion more practical.

You will say to me: “More material to buy! “. With the democratization of headlamps, there are models of good quality at a low price , such as the Petzl Tikkina2.

In addition, you can use it at home to tinker, to take out the dog, to barbecue, etc. or for other outdoor activities.

If later on I give you reasons to carry a headlamp, it is not to visit a cave during your hike, it is especially in case you get caught by the night . And if you hike regularly, chances are that this will happen to you one day!

Why would you surprise you by night?

  • The hike is more difficult than expected.
  • You lost yourself.
  • Someone is slower than expected (it could be you).
  • Somebody gets hurt.
  • You have misjudged the running times.
  • You must have saved yourself the time a storm passes.
  • You left too late.
  • Etc.

There are a lot of reasons, I have listed quite a few of them. Even if leaving early is always a good idea to avoid the night, a headlamp at the bottom of the bag is really a big plus at the security level .

6 reasons to take a headlamp on a hike

1 – To see where you put your feet if you have to hike by night. This will prevent you from stumbling on all the stones, roots and anything that “outgrows” on the trails. Already in daytime it is not always easy, at night, without light, I let you imagine … In addition, it will avoid you to approach dangerous areas , such as steep slopes, cliffs, ravines, or others.

And even with a head lamp, be careful , because we do not see as well as in daylight. Sometimes I stopped and said, “It’s very dark in front of me.” And looking better, I was a few meters from the edge of a cliff.

2 – To have less chance of losing yourself . With a lamp, you can not only illuminate your map and compass (or your GPS screen if you want to save energy), but you can also illuminate around you, and spot the necessary clues for your orientation (road intersections, topography, marking, etc.).

3 – To be seen . If you are in a critical situation and you need help or help and it is dark, you will be more easily found with a headlamp. So it’s very important, because in some emergency situations, time is invaluable .

4 – Because it is light and compact . A headlamp typically weighs less than 100 grams with the batteries and holds in one hand. This is very little compared to the extra security that it brings. Some models like the Petzl E + Lite , even weigh less than 30 grams.

5 – To be more relaxed and less stressed . When you know that you have a head lamp in your backpack, you are a little less pressed by time and if there is an unexpected, you will be more relaxed and less stressed.

However, this can have the opposite effect. That is, you risk being too relaxed and end up in the night because of it.

Be aware that hiking at night requires a little habit and that it is a little more “risky” than day. You see less well where you put your feet and it is more difficult to orient yourself. In addition, it is often colder and the humidity can “fall”.

6 – To reassure you – as a night light for the children . Imagine yourself in a dark night with no way to enlighten you, lost and telling you that you are going to have to spend the night you are.

I assure you that you would be very happy to have a light source to enlighten you! Even light from a lighter, a laptop or a camera would be enough to reassure you a little.

But, a headlamp would even allow you to light around you to see what is the little noise that made you jump. And that would allow you to make an improvised bivouac if necessary, making a makeshift shelter, fetching water, making a fire, etc. It’s still a safety issue!

When to take one?

  • Hiking for several days : all the time, I do not see any exceptions.
  • Day trips: I would tend to say all the time, but maybe it’s a little too much. For example, for a 2-hour stroll in the morning, in a frequented and civilized place, it is not necessarily necessary.

But why not do it systematically? It can be a good habit to take. Because at least, on the day you need it, it will be in your bag. You can even drag one into your first aid kit and leave it in. Petzl developed a lightweight model for this purpose (which I have not tested): the E + Lite.


You have understood , do not bet on the moon or the stars to light you at night (a cloud is so quickly arrived) and carry a headlamp!

Do not forget that a good preparation will prevent you from ending up in the night in most cases. And do not forget to tell someone about your exit in case there is a problem.

And you, have you already finished a hike in the night? Why ? Do you systematically carry a headlamp for your hikes? Tell me all this in the comments.

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