Light Emitting Diodes

by Dave Baker Monday, January 5th 2009

Light Emitting Diode I sometimes muse, “What have been the best advances in outdoor gear?” There are plenty of candidates. Developments in material, fabrics and design have led to plenty of innovation in packs, outerwear, clothing, cooking systems, tents, and much more. And how about GPS units and digital mapping software, or the introduction of trekking poles?

But trip after trip, I find myself most appreciating the positive change that LED lights have brought to outdoor pursuits. Why do I like LED’s so much? Two words: battery life. You don’t have to go crazy worrying about how many extra batteries to bring along, even for multi-day trips. Nor do you have to obsess about rationing your use of light. No worries if you want to read books or study maps after dark for hours at a time. Others things to like about LED’s are that they are light weight and tough. A few downsides: LED’s aren’t as good at forming strong beams like the old incandescent flashlights did so well, and the light quality isn’t quite as good either.

There are a lot of great LED flashlights and headlamps out there. My current favorite is a headlamp from Black Diamond that’s been around a few years, the Spot Headlamp. I really like this headlamp because of its versatility. In proximity mode the 3 AAA batteries will run for up to 140 hours, but a super bright mode is available that I have successfully used on long night hikes. Even in super bright mode, Spot is rated to run 50 hours before exhausting the batteries.

What's your favorite LED light?


LED image from Wikipedia used under Creative Commons Attribution license.


Comments (1) -

1/30/2009 6:36:09 PM #

I agree that LED headlamps are a great leap forward, a close third behind light hiking shoes and synthetic fabrics.

My personal favorite is the Princeton Tech EOS. It has a single, voltage regulated, LED. It is a simpler approach that having two sets - a small cluster of low power LED's for close work, and a more powerful focused one for distance. The EOS has a series of brightness levels to achieve what others do with the two sets. Simplicity is good, so is voltage regulation. Oh yeah, it's virtually waterproof!

Jonathan Hoffman

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!