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Discussion: Headlamps 2022

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Sep 7, 2022 9:37 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Hey all, I'm looking for a headlamp recommendation, since dark evenings are right around the corner.

Main uses: trail/road running, control setting/retrieval in the dark, (very) occasional night-o and 24h rogaining

I've had a MagicShine MJ-872 since 2014. It's claim is 1600 lumens, and it's been great for everything I've used it for. The original battery went kaput and they don't make replacements. Then I got this Bright Eyes kit in 2018 (also claimed at 1600 lumens). Supposedly, the battery in the Bright Eyes kit was supposed to also work for the MagicShine, but it doesn't really (the MagicShine does output light, but only on max power, and battery life is very short). The Bright Eyes light is heavier and bulkier on the headstrap, so I just don't like it as much.

What I'm looking for: Something about as bright as I've had before (~1500 lumens, I guess). Something that's comfortable on the head (while both the MJ-872 and Bright Eyes are bike headlights that can strap onto a headstrap, the former is comfortable and latter is not). I don't mind too much if I have to snake a power cord into a belt/pack/pocket. Something that isn't too expensive, say in the ballpark of $100; I don't need something bombproof or something with a lot of fancy options.

What are the headlamps to get in 2022?

Sep 7, 2022 11:47 PM # 
I highly recommend I'm not sure about the Euro/USD exchange rate so it's possibly more expensive than you were looking for but I think it's worth it. I've been very impressed with my one and when you consider how much you spend on shoes or other outdoor gear I think the cost of a good headtorch is well worth it.
Sep 8, 2022 12:33 AM # 
I use the cheapo Chinese headlamps that you can find on ebay that use 18650 cells. Like this kind. (The light output is obviously a lie.) For long duration events, I'll bring an extra set of batteries. Not the best that's out there, but it works well enough for me. I have a bunch of them. For cycling, I also use an additional light on my handlebars, and a taillight.
Sep 8, 2022 3:38 AM # 
For cycling, I mounted a light low on the front fork. The low angle gives better depth perception (shadows) for bumps and holes.
Sep 8, 2022 6:53 AM # 
battery packs and connectors are fairly standard, there are lots of replacement options available. Something like this (Portland?) site sells might do I think:

Edit: and if that battery for some reason is not comparible with your old light then you can get from the same shop a new Gloworm Alpha light head only, it should be a good lightweight less bulky upgrade to yout old magickshine. Or use it as a USB battery bank.
Sep 8, 2022 4:22 PM # 
As mentioned, 18650 fueled lights are the way to go for maximum flexibility and lowest cost. I prefer the “L” style form factor that can be handheld or placed on head strap.

A lot more detail here:
Sep 8, 2022 4:53 PM # 
The organizers of the 17th WRC 2022 (World Rogaining Championships) in the Czech Republic Aug 26-27 were offering rental of a headlamp through Czech company Lucifer (, model Lucifer M6. My teammate rented one (rather than bring her normal headlamp from Australia) and I ordered one to buy - both delivered to us at check in. We used them all night - upwards of 10 hours. I really liked it. It comes with two lamps - one with a longer beam, and the other for side vision. I did not need a separate lower light hand lamp for map reading, as I have used in the past. And I didn't feel "tunnel vision" as with others.

Headlamp is made of very high quality material. It comes with a sealed battery pack, 2 lithium-ion cells type 18650. Overall weight 227 g, of which battery pack is 128 g. An additional battery pack can be purchased for really long needs. Their runtime chart is as follows: Very Low - 25 lumens - 180 hrs; Low - 200 lumens, 20 hrs; Mid - 400 lumens - 10 hrs; High - 850 lumens - 4 hrs; Boost - 1700 lumens - 1:45 hrs.

I mostly ran mine on Mid (medium), but would put it on Low when walking on trails, and occasional on High near controls. After finishing I ran the "State of Charge" test, and it gave me 3 blinks = 40-60% charge remaining.

Rod Gray (the only person to have competed in all 17 WRCs, and won medals in most, including 2nd in Men Ultra Veteran class this year), had ordered one including an extra battery pack, and had had it shipped to him in Australia beforehand. I paid about $160 for mine - It was about $200 on their web site, minus about $40 Vat tax. It is possible that Lucifer has sale outlets in the US and it can be bought here, or you can order it online directly from them.
Sep 9, 2022 1:46 PM # 
If price isn't an important factor then Lumonite make fantastic lights....

I've used the Leader for Night-O for years and it's basically as good as it gets - great light in peripheral vision as well as in spotlight ahead - incredible range, not too heavy. Good spill of light so you can read map without pointing light directly at map...

I'd probably drop down to the Navigator if I had to buy a new one as that seems to give excellent range too. Have also used the Lumonite Pixel as a spare light and for general jogging and as a bike front light but find that doesn't work so well for Night-O as the spill isn't quite so wide...

If you are looking for the 1500lmn range then the Air2 would probably fit that bill nicely... my partner bought one for use this night O season, haven't yet had chance to go out and play but from looking at it in the shop in Oulu it looked really promising... happy to report back in a couple of months if you are still looking...
Sep 9, 2022 2:46 PM # 
I bought a Fenix bike light and spare battery for my XWA bike trip this year. They offer several head lamps that operate on 18650 batteries. Two things that I like about that battery is that it's easy to bring along a fully charged spare. It is charged off USB-C so I don't need a special charger. They make a battery that has USB port built in. It looks like they may be slightly less lumen power than other options out there. I've been happy with the light so far. Coming up on longer nights here soon so I'll get more testing in then.
Sep 9, 2022 11:12 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Thanks to everyone for the info! I'm sure that this will help more people than just me!

I think I'll just get a new one that's meant to be a headlamp, as opposed to what my 2014 MagicShine was: a bike light strapped to a headband. Seems like I can get something just as bright as before, that's more comfortable on the head, doesn't require snaking a cable to a larger battery, and has the flexibility of just getting some extra 18650 batteries if I need them (for easy replacements, or if I'm doing a 24h event).

I saw the Fenix brand at REI before Alex posted, so that seems reputable. The HM65R-T is the Fenix one that caught my eye. I want to get something at least quasi-reputable, I don't want to play eBay roulette with a bunch of $15 options, haha. But I also don't want to overpay for less-bright "big outdoor brand" lights, either.

One thing I like about both the Fenix light I linked, and Sharon's recommendation, is the two light system: one for distance, one for flood.

I went down the rabbit hole through Mark's reddit link, and I discovered the HS-20 from Sofirn, which ticks a lot of the boxes I'm looking for: throw and flood dual LED's (2100 max lumens), an easy and flexible battery situation, USB-C charging, waterproof, from a quasi-reputable brand, and is pretty inexpensive (just $33, after 15% coupon code, and shipped from California).

I say quasi-reputable because Sofirn products are all over that flashlight aficionado reddit thread, plus I found some very detailed reviews about the HS-20 (including one specifically from a trail runner and a few on YouTube). But it's still a brand that I hadn't heard of before.

And if you are still reading this and you're interested in the HS-20, here's something I found that you may find useful. There are two versions: an older one with an XHP50.2 LED for the throw that claims 2300 max lumens, and a newer one with an SFT40 LED for the throw that claims 1600 max lumens (both versions have the same LED for the flood). The SFT40 actually has a further throw, despite having fewer lumens. I saw several photos and YouTube reviews showing this. Anyway, if you have a preference for throwy vs floody (or vice versa), now you know.
Sep 13, 2022 3:15 PM # 
Geez, that Sofirn looks like a good deal...the one problem I have with my (inexpensive China bike style light ) is that I can't get the lamp housing up to quite the angle I would like. I guess I keep my head down, and i would like the light to be pointed higher. I only use it once or twice a year though. I do like having the battery on a cord, it keeps the head weight down.
Sep 26, 2022 2:59 PM # 
I saw some pictures of team Quest/Bend Racing at the finish of the AR World Championship and it looked like several were using Fenix headlamps.
Sep 26, 2022 5:32 PM # 
Silva just released a new headlap model for orinteering, Spectra O. But maybe not quite what you were after.
Sep 28, 2022 4:18 PM # 
We have sooo many head lamps and bike lights. Many cheap China options and a few nicer. Honestly the light throw is pretty similar. Lumens matter in night mt biking and orienteering. But in adventure racing, length of run is even more important. I find some of mine when fully charged and run on high run out of juice before the 3 hr mark. Which is just shy of the 3 hr Krank races. Meaning I have multiple times had to switch to a back up light or limp in to finish relying mostly on street lights. So check that full power run time!
Sep 28, 2022 5:29 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I ended up getting the Sofirn HS-20 headlamp (the version with the SFT40 LED for the throw).

I've only used it once so far, but it wasn't an ideal test for its illumination power. I set up a corn maze orienteering event which required some pre-dawn work, but a lot of my tasks were close at hand (eg: unloading stuff from the car and in the tight corridors of a corn maze).

Build quality seems pretty good. And despite it being a little heavier-on-the-head than the MagicShine 872 that it's replacing, the its weight sits right up against your head, instead of cantilevered, so it actually feels more comfortable and secure, not to mention that there's no cord to snake around to a battery stashed in a belt or pocket.

I might run into some runtime issues for a few future uses. In those cases, I think I'll just get some spare 18650 batteries, because they are super easy to swap out.
Sep 28, 2022 8:41 PM # 
I also picked up a Lucifer Lights M6 at the 2022 WRC, and I love it!

I had been using a ZebraLight H600 and it's still my preferred light for camping and work tasks (it's lighter and has great options for very low light output (single lumen territory)), but the M6 is my new favorite for rogaines & night hiking/running.

- Battery life. The M6 is a 2x18650 light with efficiency as good as any other light on the market, so the "mid"/400 lumen setting works for 10hrs+. Like Sharon, I found that mid was a little bright for much of the night, but in more open terrain I would likely leave it on mid.

- Beam spread & quality. The default lenses (13 & 29 degree spread) were _fantastic_ for map reading without blowing out my vision. Beautiful even illumination at just the right ratio vs. the tighter beam.

- Quality of the headband. The forehead/lamp interface is a dense foam mounted on plastic rather than the silicone of the ZebraLight. Very comfortable all night. The angle adjustment is also fantastic. Very easy to dial it in and it won't budge on its own.

- Remote battery option. The lamp body is soooo light. 50g or so? By default the battery pack attaches at the back of the head, and that worked fine for me, but I ended up using the included extension cable to put the battery in my pack.

-User Interface. Love it. Any of the 4 core brightness settings are available with 2 clicks from off or any other brightness. Defaults to low from off which is important to avoid accidental blinding. You can play with the interface in your browser at

Build and material quality and mechanical design (clips etc) are all great too.

The price is high, but very competitive with other higher-output, remote-battery options, and it supports a small, vertically integrated company doing almost all of the fabrication in-house in Prague.

Main downside to me is the sealed, proprietary battery packs. This is potentially a major issue - if you lose the battery or it breaks you can't just grab an 18650. And it means spare batteries can only come from the manufacturer. I'd like to see a pack with swappable cells as an option from the manufacturer or a 3rd party.

@moojieturtle and I usually complement our headlamps with a "pocket thrower" - a lightweight flashlight with a very, very tight beam to illuminate distant objects without lighting up nearby vegetation. is my favorite light in this category these days, and at high output it will put usable light on objects about 500m out. With the optional 18350 body (plenty of capacity for the momentary use these lights see), it comes in at 150g w/ battery and fits in the palm of your hand at 25mm x 80mm.
Sep 29, 2022 11:54 AM # 

when there is fog/rain/dust it is essential to have the light source elevated some distance away from your eyes. If it is too low close on your forehead you will have to look through the fog/rain the beam lights brightly up, better if first meter(s) of you line of sight is below the brighest part of the beam. (Photo by Hirppa)
Sep 29, 2022 12:52 PM # 
Or lower: in foggy conditions I've taken my headlamp off and carried it below waist level in my hand.
Oct 2, 2022 2:28 PM # 
Also a great way to confuse the competition. ;)

A cautionary note, especially important for people who make modifications or buy lights that are very inexpensive compared to well-known brand names: Get a battery charging bag to reduce the risk from fire/explosion and use it for both charging and battery storage. Try to charge your battery while you're nearby to keep an eye on it. Put your batteries in the bag when you fly.

A friend with a very good (but not top) quality light left his lithium battery charging overnight. A fire started in the night and he had to evacuate the house with his wife and kids - scary experience.
Nov 2, 2022 9:31 PM # 
I'm also looking into a new headlamp and came across this thread.

I've got the original sofirn hs20. I think the new model with the sft40 for throw would be much better but likely both suffer the same issue with ramping down / loss of light quickly. I alternate between this and an old bike mount one with a massive battery back. Always get caught out with the sofirn losing light near the end. Also tried a different brand for the battery.

Have been looking into lumonite nav and almost purchased but a silly thing for the price being paid put me off and that was no holder for the battery pack. Needs purchased separate which I found disappointing for something on the high price point / top brands. Also no proof of lumen test available, only the compass r.
Nov 4, 2022 5:58 PM # 
I’d seriously consider supporting one of the orienteering headlight/headlamp companies such as the aforementioned Czech company Lucifer and Finish company Lumonite

Silva, similar to the above two companies is orienteering oriented but not as focused on lights but I’d also seriously consider them.

Fenix also has a good reputation.
Nov 6, 2022 1:47 AM # 
For a small/trailrunner-style with battery-on-strap, significant brightness, throw and good flood I like my Silva (Exceed or Trail Speed.) Silva has just come out with Night-O style Spectra, which I haven't tried. But I really like the LedX ( I have which demoted my Silva to backup/loaner. The lamps that are 4/6/8/9 high-power leds up there looking like old-timey doctor mirrors from the cartoons are frequently plugged into some monstrous battery packs in vests, packs, belts, or pockets tho.
Nov 14, 2022 10:13 PM # 
I promised to report back.... My partner has now had a couple of races with the Lumonite Air2 and really loves it.... both the light and the way the headband fits too.

This discussion thread is closed.