This March, Princeton Tec will unveil a new outdoor/all-purpose headlamp that should hit the sweet spot for weekend warriors and backpackers looking to light up the backcountry (or brave a power outage). The design of the Vizz itself is nearly idiot-proof, with one big button—and that’s about it. Press the button once and you illuminate two ultra-bright red LEDs, press it twice and get dual ultra-bright white LEDs. You can also hold the button down to cycle through the modes, which includes a 150-lumin max-bright LED that can illuminate up to 90 feet. The Vizz is waterproof down to one meter for up to half an hour, and runs on three AAA batteries—with a built-in power meter to let you how much juice you’ve got left in the estimated 160-hour run time; a low-battery indicator also triggers when you’re down to 20 percent.
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This inventive flashlight from Snow Peak reminds us of a lavaliere microphone. You clip the battery pack to…wherever (belt, pack, tent pole, tree branch). Then you affix the powerful magnet on the light to another location—the brim of your baseball cap, the seam of your coat, your shoulder strap, a fold or pocket in a tent; the magnetic is strong enough to make a connection through your fingertip. It’s a fun, highly versatile way of directing up to 70 lumens of illumination where you want it. You can also nestle it on the batter pack itself to create more subdued ambient light.
It runs on three AAA batteries, runs for 140 hours on the lowest of three settings, and will hit the shelves in late March/early April.
www.petzl.com, 6 ounces
“Throw away all your old flashlights and headlamps,” said our tester after taking the NAO on a three-week road trip. “The reactive-lighting NAO is the only headlamp you’ll need, or want to use.” We don’t take the word “revolutionary” lightly, but the new NAO headlamp is worth getting excited about. In contrast to other lamps, the 400-lumen NAO has a beam that automatically adjusts to focus on your target. If you’re pouring over topo maps, the light adjusts to a wide beam with low output. When you look out the tent fly to see if it’s a raccoon or bear rustling by the picnic table, the beam focuses, with greater light intensity for—drum roll please—a distance of 300 feet. Other advantages include fewer manual adjustments and a better burn time than any other headlamp we’ve tested. The NAO comes with a single rechargeable lithium battery that’s guaranteed for 300-plus charges—we didn’t do the math, but that’s a lot of alkaline batteries you won’ t need to buy. Each charge provides nearly five hours of use in high Reactive mode (the auto-adjust) or eight hours in low Reactive. You can set the lamp on a constant function, which disables the sensor, but cuts significantly into the battery life, as the Reactive power setting really does make power use more efficient. The rechargeable battery can be replaced with 2 AAA batteries, but our testers swear that the rechargeable battery ups the lamp’s performance. We were leery of the downloadable battery management program that allows you to adjust the light intensity, burn time, and beam distance on a computer, but are happy to report that even techno-troglodytes found it easy (and fun) to customize the lamp’s performance. The easiest option is using the custom profiles pre-programmed to enhance performance for specific activities like climbing, running, trail running, and hiking. Two features worth noting: a big off-on knob that’s easy to manipulate with gloves or in the dark and a water-resistant shell that never leaked, even during a monster Texas monsoon that one tester encountered while night hiking up a mesa near Lajitas.
www.snowpeak.com, 2.4 ounces
We seldom like it when people take something we love and mess with it—but in this instance, we applaud the move. The Hozuki Lantern is an icon in Snow Peak’s camping boutique line, and the Mini is a smaller, perhaps wiser considering the price, alternative. Named after the sacred plant that served as the design for the ancient Chinese paper lantern, this light includes an innovative “candle mode” that lets the LED flicker in response to sound or wind—you get that candle-lit ambience in your tent without, you know…burning down your tent. The light has other settings as well, including high, low, stobe, and variable dim. Fed by 3 AA batteries, it’ll burn for 70 hours (on low). Max lumens come in at 60—sufficient for reading or doing the dishes. Oh, and its only two inches tall.
In stores October 15
www.snowpeak.com, 2.3 ounces (without batteries)
Hand’s-free lighting is a no-brainer industry standard, and the headlamp tech race is mostly focused on brighter lights and intuitive innovations that adjusts a headlamp’s brightness as you look at different things. But we like how Snow Peak has taken a different approach and addressed the collective desire for some ambient light when you no longer need to light at the point at which you’re specifically look. When you’re done with your targeted lighting needs, just pop open the rubber mounting on the 2.2-inch-diameter light and you get 180-degree glow, perfect for mellow light in a tent or at base camp. Four light modes—high, low, strobe, and variable, which dims as you hold the power button—offers a variety of moods, and a hook on the back of the strap lets the lantern dangle off a tree branch or the inside of a tent. Then, when you need to shift back to headlamp mode, push in the rubber ball and you’ve got directional lighting. It runs on three AAA batteries, with 140 hours on low (eight lumens). It won’t win any svelte design awards, and when testing the head lamp, it would occasional pop into lantern mode. We could still see, of course. But those who plan on using it mostly as a headlamp would likely prefer a more fail-safe option.