Light Emitting Diodes

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.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Jonathan Hoffman says:

    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!

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