I have an upcoming trip to Costa Rica and Panama. During part of my time in Panama, my wife and I will be on an island and the only consistent means of transportation will be bicycles. We will be with local friends who know how to get around and how to stay safe. There isn't hardly any vehicle traffic on the island and we will try to avoid riding at night, but, for at least one evening, it will be unavoidable. I want to make sure that we have plenty of light when we do ride at night.

I want the most compact lights that will work, but I do want them to do the job adequately. Also, when I travel, I always try to use only AA cells for any electronics that I take. Lastly, I need to keep any lights acquired to a reasonable cost.

Some of the ideas that I have considered so far are:

Zebralight H51 headlamps - I plan on getting these eventually anyway, but I rather wait for the H51w version

Icon Irix I headlamps - I haven't heard a whole lot about these yet, but the UI is very straight-forward and I like the flood/throw variability with these lights

Fenix E21 flashlights - I like the simplicty of these lights, but I don't know how well they throw and they seem a little bulky for a AA light

ZL SC50w / Quark MiNi AAnw / Fenix L2D CE - make use of lights that I already own, but I don't know how these will do as bicycle lights

Quark MiNi 2AA - I like the compact functionality of this light, but I don't know if it throws well enough

For the flashlights, I was thinking of using this bicycle handlebar flashlight mount that seems to get pretty good reviews. Does anyone have any feedback on the advisability of a handlebar-mounted flashlight? The headlamps would probably be worn over our helmets, though, I have consider using a handbar mount for the Zebralights if we go that route.

My main questions are:

  1. What is the smallest, most compact AA light that produces sufficient light and throw for bicycle riding at slow to moderate speeds?
  2. What is the best method for mounting the light (on head or on handlebars), and why do you so answer?