Headlamps and Lanterns for Lightweight Backpacking

I live in Scandinavia where there are considerable differences in daylight length all depending on where my location is. When I’m on my treks in northern Sweden in the late summer months, I experience only a few hours of darkness. In June the sun does not set at all and in January there is darkness around the clock. Meanwhile, in Denmark and southern Sweden at this time of the year (mid December) the sun rises 08:34 am and sets at 15:37 pm. With these variations in the amount of daylight available I adapt my packing lists to suit the season and geographical location. During periods with only a few hours of darkness I pack my lightest headlamps and most probably they remain stored in my pack for most of the time. However, through the dark and cold months I like to use more powerful and reliable sources of light. Even lightweight camping lanterns find their way onto my packing lists. The below headlamps and lanterns are examples of what I use on my lightweight backpacking adventures.

Asivik H Mini Headlamp

This was my first official lightweight headlamp. The H Mini is a little, lightweight and practical headlamp. With the 2 mm thick elastic cord it is uncomplicated to attach. The tail loop design also makes it easy and fast to adjust. It has a waterproof rating of IPX6 so you can use it in a heavy rain downfall but not under water. The headlamp uses two CR2032 batteries. Including the two batteries the headlamp weighs in at 31 grams.

Asivik H Mini

It has a LED lamp of type Cree ML-E LED/511m including 2 small red LED lamps. At the low setting with 4 lumens the H Mini will burn for 77 hours and light up at a distance of 6 meters. With the high setting of 25 lumens it will burn for 40 hours at a distance of 25 meters. You turn it on with the orange button. When you press the orange button again the LED will shine brighter. When you hold it down for a couple of seconds the red LED lamps will turn on. Holding the orange button down again the lamp will change back to the white light. By pressing the orange button once more it will turn off. It is simple to use and by the way, it has never turned on by itself while stored in my pack 👍.

I prefer to use this headlamp rather than the lighter Petzl E+Lite mentioned below as I find it easier to operate and attach. The H Mini is also comfortable to wear. I purchased this headlamp in 2015. When I try to search for it now on the outfitters website it doesn’t seem to be available any longer 😞. From late spring to early autumn this is my go to headlamp.

Petzl E+Lite Headlamp

I purchased the Petzl E+Lite in April 2019 so this is a reasonably new piece of kit for me. Mine weighs 27 grams including the two CR2032 batteries. The Petzl E+Lite also comes with a plastic carry case that weighs an additional 19 grams! I never pack the carry case. Excluding the carry case it weighs 4 grams less than the Asivik H Mini does.

Petzl E+Lite

The manufacturer actually recommends this headlamp to be used as a backup headlamp or as an emergency lamp. They advertise that it can be stored in the plastic case with batteries for 10 years.

Unlike the Asivik H Mini the Petzl E+Lite has a switch that can be locked so it can’t accidentally be turned on while in storage. I found the switch to be unhandy and difficult to turn on in the dark compared to the H Mini which is a breeze to operate by the way.

Waterproof to 1 meter under water for 30 minutes (IPX7) the lamp has a higher rating than the H Mini which can’t be operated submerged under water. At the low setting with 15 lumens output the Petzl E+Lite will burn for 12 hours and light up at a distance of 6 meters. With the maximum power setting of 50 lumens it will burn for 9 hours at a distance of 10 meters. It also has strobe and proximity settings using the red lamp. Using it with the strobe setting and the red lamp it is visible for 100 meters and has a burn time of 70 hours.

The Petzl E+Lite also has a whistle integrated in the elastic headband which allows the user to signal an emergency. I don’t think that the Petzl E+Lite sits as comfortably as the Asivik H Mini does. It is also a lot more awkward to put on as you have to first open the cover, turn it around, adjusting the angle at the same time and then feel for the switch turning it on in the correct direction. The H Mini just needs to be attached and then turned on with the large orange button.

The minimal weight of this lamp appeals to me and suits my backpacking style. I use the Petzl E+Lite occasionally but I do find it clumsy to operate when comparing it to the Asivik H Mini.

Black Diamond ReVolt Rechargeable Headlamp

With the long and dark Scandinavian nights a powerful and reliable headlamp has been on my wish list for some years. I purchased the Black Diamond ReVolt one year ago and this winter will be the second time it will be in use. A headlamp with rechargeable batteries was also one of my requirements. The ReVolt can be fully charged before every use without the need to pack backup batteries. Simply plug it in a standard USB charger. The ReVolt can also run on three standard AAA batteries in addition to the included rechargeable type.

Black Diamond ReVolt Rechargeable

It is completely waterproof. With an IPX8 rating the headlamp has been waterproof tested up to 1.1 m underwater for 30 minutes. Apparently when submerged, some water can enter the battery compartment but it will still operate.

One TriplePower LED and one DoublePower LED can combine to emit up to 300 lumens (max setting with alkaline batteries). The DoublePower Red LED for night vision has proximity and strobe settings, and activates without cycling through the white mode. Brightness memory allows you to turn the light on and off at a chosen brightness without reverting back to full power.

Using alkaline batteries and at the low setting the ReVolt will burn for 175 hours and light up at a distance of 8 meters. With the maximum power setting of 300 lumens it will burn for 30 hours at a distance of 80 meters.

My headlamp including the 3 rechargeable AAA batteries weighs 100 grams. It’s defiantly not a “lightweight” piece of gear and a lighter headlamp can be purchased. However, I’m keen on the flexibility of being able to fully recharge the batteries before every use and the versatility to use standard AAA batteries is a bonus.

Easy to use, waterproof and rechargeable batteries attracted me to this headlamp. However, I’ve read some reviews about earlier versions of this model where the batteries have failed after short term usage so I’m also hoping that mine will last for some years before I have to replace them. So far I’m impressed with the Black Diamond ReVolt. This is my go to winter headlamp.

Tread Lite Gear Camping Lantern

If you have followed my blog and read my posts for a while you would already know that I have several bits of kit from the small UK based cottage company called Tread Lite Gear. Tread Lite Gear’s ultralight DCF LED lantern is made from 0.3 oz DCF with a Dyneema X Grid base and finished with Dyneema cord, micro cord lock, internal aluminium reflector and a mitten hook for hanging anywhere. It weighs only 8 grams 😉. This is an ultralight piece of gear!

Tread Lite Gear camping lantern

The lantern is powered by 2x CR2016 batteries. There are no specs on the Tread Lite Gear webpage about the lumen output and battery life etc. It is recommended to undo the cord lock and remove the light unit to turn it on as using the switch through the DCF will degrade it over time. It will light up a small shelter enough to see what you are doing.

However, I find this lantern difficult to operate. Turning it on and off is always a hassle for me. You should be willing to fumble around for a while in the dark to operate this lamp. If you require some ambient lighting in your shelter and don’t want to be penalised with extra weight then this lantern should be on your packing list. The big bonus is the minimal weight of 8 grams and the tiny packable size which takes up no room in your pack.

Update December 18, 2019: After I published this post Paul from TLG Tweeted me the below message on Twitter. “There have been 3 models since the MK1 lantern in your write up. It was a pain to use and is now discontinued. The two main versions now are both rechargeable and are very easy to operate and offer up to 200 lumens for sub 1 Oz with much longer runtimes“.

Black Diamond Moji Camp Lantern

Wanting some soft lighting for the long and cold winter nights, I was also interested in a lantern to light up my shelters for some nighttime photography. I became particularly interested in this genre after I purchased my Canon G7 X Mark II camera last year. So last December I also purchased the Black Diamond Moji Lantern.

Black Diamond Moji Lantern

The Black Diamond Moji lantern is very simple and easy to operate. At a weight of 122 grams including 3 AAA batteries this is a luxury item and not a lightweight camping lantern. When weight is not important to me and my base weight is low, this lamp accompanies me on cold winter adventures.

With the frosted housing design the Moji emits 100 lumens at maximum setting providing soft ambient lighting. There is also a dimming switch which provides adjustable brightness. It will burn for 70 hours at maximum power lighting up a diameter of 6 meters. The waterproof rating is only IPX4 and the LED type is called TriplePower.

It includes a collapsible, double-hook hang loop and suspends very nicely from the “drying line” that I normally have in all my shelters. In the middle of the night the Moji is very easy to locate and turn on. When I operate it in a lean-to shelter I can either hang it from a nail or turn it over the other way and just let it sit on the shelter floor. Either way it does the job satisfactorily. On my last hike in Sweden the woods became very dark after sunset. In the early hours of the morning I had to go to the loo and so I turned on the Moji in my shelter using it as a beacon to find my way back again.

I look forward to packing this lantern for my winter hikes as it not only creates a cosy atmosphere but it also provides some delightful nighttime photo opportunities. So maybe I could call this a “lightweight” piece of kit as it has at least 2 uses for me and supports my multiple use lightweight backpacking principles 🤣.


Product(s) discussed in this article were either purchased by Brian Outdoors from a retailer or otherwise provided by the manufacturer at a discount/donation with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review to the manufacturer(s). I do not accept compensation or donated product in exchange for guaranteed media placement or product review coverage without clearly denoting such coverage as an “ADVERTISEMENT” or “SPONSORED CONTENT.”

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