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Thread: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

  1. #1

    Default flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Hello to all CPF members, i'm new but i have read the FAQ and the forum rules before posting. please notify me if i'm breaking some forum law.

    well that's my checklist which i have copied from the sticky thread :

    1) How would you prefer to purchase the light?

    ____I would like to purchase the light from a brick and mortar store. I am located in ______________.
    __X__I will be mail-ordering or buying online, so this doesn't matter.

    2) Budget: An easy question, but you may change your mind after answering the rest! :-)

    ____Less than $25.
    ____Less than $50.
    ____Less than $100.
    ____Less than $150.
    ____Less than $300.
    ____I have no limit.
    ____I’m flexible, tell me what you gotJ.
    ____Other, please specify ________

    3) Format:

    ____I want a flashlight.
    ____I want a headlamp.
    ____I want a lantern.
    ____I want a dive light.
    ____I want a portable spotlight.

    4) Flashlight-specific format/size:

    ____Keychain size.
    ____Every day carry small (2-4 inches).
    ____Every day carry medium (4-7 inches).

    ____Holster carry.
    ____Big enough to need its own travel caseJ.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.

    5) Emitter/Light source:

    ____LED (known for efficiency, longevity, and compactness)

    ____Incandescent (known for superior color rendition)
    ____HID (known for max output, but often at the expense of size)
    ____I don't know.

    6) Manufacturer:

    ____I want to buy a light from a traditional mass producing manufacturer that is ready to go out of the box.
    ____I would consider getting a light that is pieced together (for example a “host” or flashlight body from one manufacturer, and a “drop-in” emitter from another source). Under the right circumstances, this path can provide more options to the consumer to meet specific needs, and can often be easily upgradeable as technology improves.

    7) What battery type do you want to use?

    ____I intend to use alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C, D) (disclaimer, while it does not preclude all choices, these are not recommended for many of today’s most powerful lights)
    ____I intend to use rechargeable nickel chemistry (NiCad, NiMH, NiZn)
    ____I intend to use lithium primary batteries (CR123, CR2, Energizer Advanced/Ultimate Lithium AA/AAA)
    ____I intend to use rechargeable lithium (li-ion) chemistry. Feel free to specify a size if you know which size you want (14500, RCR123/16340, 17500, 17670, 18650, etc.)
    ____I want a light with an integrated rechargeable battery. (Note: these choices may be very limited unless you are looking at spotlights)

    8) How much genuine out the front (OTF) light do you want/need? Sometimes you can have too much light (trying to read up close up with a 100 lumen light is impossible).

    ____I want to navigate a dark room or read a map (0-10 lumens).
    ____I want to walk around an unlit rural area (50-150 lumens).

    ____I want to illuminate my entire backyard or a campsite (150-300 lumens).
    ____I want to illuminate an entire field, the neighbor's front yard several houses down, impress my friends and neighbors, etc. (300-700 lumens).
    ____I want ridiculous amounts of lumens (800+ lumens).

    9) Throw vs. Flood: At what distance will you be most likely to use this light? Select all that apply.

    ____Less than 1 yard/meter (reading, other close work)
    ____Less than 5 yards/meters (looking for something inside a dark shed/garage/basement)
    ____5-20 yards/meters (check out a noise in the backyard)

    ____30-50 yards/meters (I have a big backyard)
    ____50-150 yards/meters (I live in a very rural area/farm with wide open spaces)
    ____150+ yards (I want maximum throw possible)

    10) Runtime: Not over-inflated manufacturer runtime claims, but usable brightness measured from first activation to 50% with new batteries (Measured on maximum output).

    ____Up to 30 minutes (I want the brightest [and potentially smallest] light for brief periods)
    ____30-60 minutes (I have plenty of batteries just ready to be changed)
    ____90-120 minutes (Runtime is moderately important, but still not critical)
    ____3 hours + (I critically need this light to run on max for extended periods in between battery changes/charges).

    11) Durability/Usage: Generally the old phrase “you get what you pay for” is very accurate for flashlights.

    ____Not Important (A “night-stand” light).
    ____Slightly Important (Walks around the neighborhood).
    ____Very Important (Camping, Backpacking, Car Glove-box).
    ____Critical (Police, Fire, Search & Rescue, Caving, Survival).
    ____I don't care.
    ____I don’t know.

    12) Switch Type and location (choose all that apply):

    ____I want a forward clicky (Helpful for momentary activation and signaling).

    ____I want a reverse clicky (For use with multi-mode/level lights).
    ____I want a momentary switch (Predominantly for use with signaling and short bursts of momentary light only).
    ____I want a twisty switch (Tighten the head/tailcap to activate, and the light will stay on until the head/tailcap is loosened).
    ____I want a body mounted switch (near the head, like on a Maglite).
    ____I want a tail mounted switch (found on the majority of today’s high end lights).
    ____I don't care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________________.

    13) User Interface (UI) and mode selection. Select all that apply.

    ____A simple on-off with only one output level is fine for me.
    ____I want 2 light levels. (Brighter/short runtime and Dimmer/long runtime.)
    ____I want multiple light levels. (Some lights have 5-16 light levels.)
    ____I want a programmable light.
    ____I want a selector ring.
    ____I want a strobe mode. (Blinks to show location.)
    ____I want SOS mode.
    ____I want a beacon mode.
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.


    ____Plastic/composite body (this may limit your choices significantly).
    ____Anodized Aluminum – either type II or III (Hard Anodized) (Aluminum, specifically HA, is the most common material/finish for today’s flashlights).
    ____Stainless steel (durable, but much heavier than aluminum)
    ____Titanium (durable and nearly as lightweight as aluminum, but can be moderately to significantly more expensive).
    ____I don’t care.
    ____I don’t know.
    ____Other, please specify____________.

    15) Special Needs/extras: Is there anything else you want or need that hasn't been mentioned? Select any below.

    ____Red filter (for preserving night vision).

    ____Other filter colors (Amber, Green, Blue, _________).
    ____Dedicated R/G/B secondary LEDs.
    ____“Hybrid” light (bright incandescent combined with long running LEDs)
    ____Pocket/belt clip
    ____Wrist/Neck Lanyard
    ____Crenulated bezel
    ____Non-sparking Intrinsically Safe (IS) for use in explosive environments

    well i tried to anwer as many questions as i could so it would be easier for you to reccomend me a suitable flashlight.
    from a more personal point of view i need a durable headlamp for long distance alpine trail and off trail hike and expeditions.
    the batteries need to be ones that i can obtain in any small shop and not some fancy high tech ones.

    my latest head lamp was the Petzl xp adept. i really likes that it had a beam light and a plastic diffuser for a flood affect. it is common this days?

    i was planning to buy the 2012 Petzl tikka XP2 . but i have noticed that many folks think that the zebralight is better in many ways. is there a zebralight which is suitable for my needs?
    the problem for me is that Zebralight's web site is very complicated and all is written in codes , i cannot understand anything.

    thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    The fenix HP11 on goinggear looks awesome. video review is there too.
    I emailed them for tips last week. they will help you, big range of headlamps.

    not sure about a red filter though. i have an energizer trailfinder 6 led headlamp, might not be as expensive as what you want ($18 on ebay, $40 in shops), but it is water resistant and has a 2x red led mode. it is good value for the money, probably would carry a spare though if i was going on a long night hike.

  3. #3


    Sounds like you could use a AA-based light with loonnnggggg running moonlight mode - as in 300-400 hours per AA, and other good battery conserving low lows for when moonlight isn't enough.

    I think Zebralight H or SC 51s and 4Seven Quarks are the most efficient lights in this regard. Let your eyes go into night vision mode and you can really stretch the batteries using 0.2 moonlight, or 2 or 3 lumens, which is plenty for most camping tasks.

    The ZL H series is headlamp, but works fine as an EDC flashlight. The. Quark is a flashlight that works fine as a headlamp (I use the Nightcore headband with top strap). Both come in various favors of floody and warmer tints - better for camping.

    I personally think the Petzl and Black Diamond headlamps are garbage next to flashlight with headband. These lights are fragile and inefficient, always come on in high, and never go low enough, killing your night vision and burning batts at the same time. Course, YMMV.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    what kind of hiking and expedition needs an actual (even XR-E / XP-G) led light to run on highest setting for long periods?

    (except for everything else - mainly too bright - that eats Your batteries)

    will You be able to
    a) get wall plugged (car power source) energy for reloading rechargeable cells?
    b) or might be able to purchase batteries somewhere?
    because THAT makes a difference!

    If You can recharge cells (or are able to conserve energy to come through with Your cells), than TWO lights - running from 1*18650 protected Li-Ion cell - is Your setup.
    A Zebralight H600 and an 1*18650 light with P60 led insert (can also be multistage, but must not).
    1st for moving/reading, 2nd for high power/signaling/far reach (does not need a full power XM-L led, a good driven XP-G conserves energy and is more than adequate)

    If You can only get batteries somewhere during the hike, than the typical AA cell is what You need - thus 2 lights running with them.
    Maybe start with reachargeable cells (Eneloop) also and bring a small wall plug recharger ...
    ... no tips here, I have completely switched to 18650s and no longer check the small cell market

    PS: also bring some "last resort" rugged, loooong running mini-light, like the Fenix E01.
    If not needed by Yourself, You will surely be forced to lend it around and thus none of Your main lights gets into wrong hands

    PPS: forget the red filter "for conserving night vision". That myth has already been falsified. Use the white on very low, or - better - close one eye while using the flashlights.
    Last edited by yellow; 06-09-2012 at 11:05 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    I personally think the Petzl and Black Diamond headlamps are garbage next to flashlight with headband. .
    ... if one uses lights just for short time, the outbalanced light at the side of the head, with the tight strap - so that it holds well but causes (me) headaches - is ok.
    But for real and prolonged use, a real headlamp (with battery comp. in the back) and with an additional middle strap is the best.

    f.e. the Zebra H600 is nice, but to be honest, the rubber material used for the mounting is plain crap, that should be plastic, as with the "smaller" models.
    For real long use it also lacks the middle strap and thanks to the rubber holder the light tends to wobble around (on special uses like biking and such)
    Still I think the H600 is the #1 recommendation.

    When cell size AA is what You decide to use --> the Fenix headlamp HP11 seems to be a real hit, or ...

  6. #6

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Guys , thanks a lot for your feedback.

    couple of things:

    1. the accessibility of the batteries of very important for me, since i have to replace the batteries in tiny villages along the way. hence i can only purchase a headlamp which uses AAA or AA batts.
    or i can go with rechargeable batteries and a charger, are there advantages for doing so besides saving money? will the run time of the batteries be longer / the light brighter etc?

    2. the weight is very important as well, all my gear needs to be light i want a headlamp which weighs around 3.5 oz / 100 grams tops.

    3. i read couple of topics in the forum and many people talk about the zebralight headlamps . for the life of me i cannot understant why Zebralight so much better than the petzl/ diamond headlamps? sorry for the newbie question.
    is there a thread comparing zebralight to petzl headlamps? i have tried to search the forums and could not find any.

    4. Why is "red light preserves night vision" an old myth like yellow said?

    5. I lean towards the Tikka XP2 .
    80 lumen on high
    pull back floody lens - can switch between beam and flood which is very important when hiking in the darkness. - i which they had a zebralight model with this feature.
    beam length up to 68 meters
    lithium compatible.

    what do you say?
    Last edited by Lone; 06-14-2012 at 02:33 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    1: Is it really possible to get AAAs everywhere? I would think its better to go with AAs - if no recharging is possible.
    If recharging is possible, an 18650 gives You over 4 times the power that is in three AAAs, while being about the same size and weight.
    Rechargeables can stand higher current (not really important on low output headlamps like the ones from the classical producers)

    2: when I combine all Your "needs", NOTHING beats a Zebralight H51w (except for the H600 if You can get recharging power)
    in both cases I would advise for the "neutral white" version

    3: because it is. Zebralight (H600) simply is about the smallest and lightest headlamps I have yet seen and at the same time the brightest + ruggest + most versatile + best made one

    4: because ANY light - over a certain and very low level - ruins night vision, no matter what color.
    Close one eye while using any light for preserving night vision

    5: imho You are wrong on the beam switch "problem". The only thing that this does, is adding one feature that will break at some time during use. And all the time there will dust and mud catch itself in the mechanism.
    Totally unnecessary with multimode lights.
    Do not decide on this feature

    if You also will use the headlamp later on, where higher power with its reduced runtime does not count ... and at the same time are sure You will be able to recharge the Li-Ion cell at Your hike now --> get the H600 + a few (?) 18650 protected Li-Ion cells.
    Or get the H51w, when the light will need batteries during that hike

    PS: dont fear the "mode selecting" description. It seems much more difficult printed on paper than when playing with the light.

  8. #8

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    yellow, thank you very much for your serious feedback!

    more questions. i will address your replies as you have numbered them.

    1. Yes, the AAA are pretty common these days. the AA as well.
    I'm really new to this and i want to know more about different battery types. i know that this isn't the forum for those question, i will make en effort to find a thread which will explain me what is a 18650 battery. i wonder how heavy is the charger and is it worth it.

    2. I thought about the H51w as well, yellow please help me to understant why is it better than the petzl tikka XP2 . i can see that it has more power and it's more versatile - can go to really low level lumen, but what about run time and beam length?

    4. Ok i got the night vision issue.

    5. well i will explain you why this feature is very important for me.
    when i hike in the darkness i want medium to strong beam with good spill (i hope i got the terminology right) but when i want to check my maps/cook my dinner/ build my tent etc i want floody light. how can i achieve this without the "pop up" floody lens of the petzl?
    can a very low beam light have this effect?
    Last edited by Lone; 06-14-2012 at 03:02 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    I do a lot of walking at night, I would recommend you get two lights, one for seeing farther off, one that is all flood for walking around.

    For the flood part, Zebralights are great if you want to spend that much. I've had my eye on a Fenix HL30, myself, cause I'm cheap.

    I would avoid the petzl like the plague, since I can't find anywhere that lists it's low lumens setting.

    The fenix is 10 hours at 45 lumens, and that's good for walking at night.
    The H502c zebra light says it's 36 lumens for 7.5 hours.. that sound too good to be true, but what do I know /shrug...

    The petzl's diffuser is a nice touch, but either of those brands should be floody enough for your needs....

    You may also want to get any 2AA light and just put a piece of the Invisible Scotch Tape over the end to act as a diffuser. It actually works really well.

    Just make sure your primary walking around light has a setting in the 30-50 lumen range, and it would be nice if it has one in the 70-90 as well.

    Most of the time 30-50 is plenty for walking at night, if the beam is too focused, scotch tape works wonders.

  10. #10

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    As for the battery question, a 18650 li-ion is about 65mm long, 18mm diameter and 50g.
    The real advantage of this battery over AA (comparing 2 lights with the same led) is runtime.
    Yellow spoke about four time more than three AA's for one 18650, i don't knows if it's accurate, but that's the idea...

    The weight of a charger could vary, but i think it's possible to find one for less than 40g.
    Think about the plug compatibility with the country you plan to go (adapter ?).

    So this solution cost about 200g ( two batteries, the charger and the flashlight ) and you have to find a power source regularly (but not so often).

    Another solution would be to go with AA alkaline, easier and lighter (no charger, no plugs), but you have to find batteries in the small villages you'll cross, or to carry them... (heavy at start)

    Whatever your choice is, choose a Zebralight or so over the petzl: the overall quality (durability), regulation leading to better runtimes, better UI to always use the level you need (runtimes again...).
    Slightly heavier and more expensive too...

    About red light for night vision, i think i've read a thread (here on CPF i think) saying only one small portion of the wavelength of red really preserve your night vision, and most of the flashlight on the market don't respect this wavelength. (and if it is, we, customers, have no way to be sure of it anyway). So you'd better to go with a very low low and don't bother for the red light thing.

    Anyway, most of CPF'ers here would advice to take two flashlights, in case of... you know, you'd never know...

  11. #11


    My thoughts owing a half dozen Petzls and Black Diamonds and why they are all inferior to the one Zebralight H51w I have.

    - Red filters are like "two wrongs make a right". Bath everything in an unnatural red tint to preserve night vision while still wasting your battery to compensate for the simple fact that the low mode is not low enough (too cheap to run a buck driver).
    - Bulky, cannot be used for EDC pocket carry, unable to do double duty (flashlight and headlamp), unable to hands-free without headstrap
    - Plastic breaks far more easily, not as waterproof
    - lows not low enough (0.2 lumens) highs not high enough (200 lumens)
    - not regulated light
    - cannot provide 300-400 hrs of useable light from a single AA, enough to read by.
    - always starts out on high mode ruining night vision and forcing you to cycle to low
    - multiple batts always more costly, troublesome and prone to leaking or exploding vs single cell, one AA has nearly as much juice as 3xAAA
    - AAs compatible with way more battery powered devices you are likely to carry

    there's more, but those are the major points

    BTW, still like the Quark X w/1xAA on a decent headband (I use the Nitecore). Hundreds of hours moonlight, runs 14500 Li-ions, 10yr warranty, US service/HQ, 280 lumen high.
    Last edited by reppans; 06-14-2012 at 08:14 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Ok we're getting somewhere now.
    so battery availability wise the AA model of the zebra light wins the deal.
    so we are talking one of those:
    1.H502d- not available yet and flood.
    2.H502c- ditto
    3. H502- in stock but flood
    4.H 51- spoot
    5. H51FW- floody
    6. H51W spoot with neutral white

    so my i think either the H51 or the H51W but what do i do when i need to read map/cook/build tent/write in my journal at night? can i use the minimal spot for example the 2.5 lm in the H51 as a camp chores light?

  13. #13


    I'd go with an H51w. The small reflectors are pretty floody as it is, and you can always make them pure flood by using scotch tape, or a disc of frosted plastic, on the lens. I've never needed it. The warm tint really renders color naturally and helps with your depth of field perception.. it's worth it, especially camping in the woods, and you won't notice the 7% reduction in lumens.

    Inside a tent with reflective walls, I never needed anything over 0.2 moonlight to read/write or perform any task with my hands. Without the tent or room walls reflecting back, I tend use a 2-3 lumens for all close task work with my hands. I leave moonlight on continously for relaxing around camp, talking, etc. getting a beers, etc. This is all assuming it is very dark out and your eyes are night adapted. If you are staring into a fire, or it's a full moon on open gound, you might need to kick up a level.

    I really love the super low modes in the real dark - people have pretty good night vision, I don't understand why they don't use it. Turning anything on over 5 lumens for close task work just makes your pupils contract more and renders you blinder when you turn the light off.
    Last edited by reppans; 06-15-2012 at 07:01 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Quote Originally Posted by reppans View Post
    I'd go with an H51w. The small reflectors are pretty floody as it is,.
    can you please explain me this phrase?

    you mean i will have a seffiecient spill light to walk around camp and do chores? i dont want to glue ductapes on the my headlamp etc

  15. #15


    Lights with tight intense hotspots and a lot of throw need deeper and larger diameter heads. It's always difficult to make a tiny pocketable lights very throwy and so, by nature they are floody, which is better for close tasks.

    The ZL has a hot spot but it is reasonably large and smoothly transitions into the spill, just due it having a small, shallow head. It is not pure flood, but far from the "minimal spot" you mentioned above. I find it just fine for general purpose use, and camping....

    I personally use this for my camping lantern and perfectly diffused light... far better than my Black Diamond Apollo lantern (for me)
    Last edited by reppans; 06-15-2012 at 08:37 AM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    this is going to be a looong post, as I will try to type a few words regarding the different batteries at the end, Sorry ...

    therefore just a few quick words:
    I see myself as being pragmatic: if there are many ppl thinking similar on some topic, one might regard that as something to think of.
    In here, even in this thread, all posters agree on Zebralight vs. everything else, so
    --> trust us, get one, compare with the light(s) Your collegues bring. Maybe tell us the outcome ...

    maybe set high to H2, just to be on the safe side for Your runtime. Also Your buddies wont be too annoyed, because such a difference in output is not good while night hiking (if You used H1=170 lumen). To switch to full high You then would "only" have to double tap the button when the light is in high

    as Your best option seems to be AA size headlamps and at the same time You want to travel very light, the "H51W neutral" stays as my recommendation.
    * You can go with rechargeable AA batts (Eneloop) and purchase single use ones, when no recharging is possible.
    * with the low levels it is perfect for what You are used to do with the filter ("light stealer") thingy - map reading, working around in the dark, ...
    * on "normal" levels it is very good for hiking (much better than an optic based light like the Tikka, but thats just my personal view)
    * the floody Zebra models (Fw) are only good for reading, but ... (I do not like total floody lights)
    * it is correct that the Zebras are more "floody" --> compared to handheld lights
    thats why Ezeriel
    Quote Originally Posted by Ezeriel View Post
    I do a lot of walking at night, I would recommend you get two lights, one for seeing farther off, one that is all flood for walking around..
    is totally right!
    Thats sums it up totally ... The "strong" one being handheld ... way to go, if possible
    one running from 2*AA best (same battery size)
    .. but even the H51 will have the other options look like they are switched off.

    Unfortunately the data petzl gives is crap, but what they type is: after 1 h, the max (80 lumen --> 70 meters ((hahaha)) ) is reduced to almost half power.
    Zebra says: 2,4 hours for High 2 (86 lumen) ... even less than these 2.4 h, much better than the Tikka
    in short: brighter, for longer time, more stable regulation (light stays the same over time);
    but then possibly a more sudden reduction than the Petzl when the battery is depleted.
    With the Tikka the light immediately starts to dim and slowly fades away over runtime.

    now for the battery part:

    AAA is Ni-Cd/Ni-Mh with 1.2 Volt and 800 mAh
    AA is Ni-Cd/Ni-Mh with 1.2 Volt and 2100 mAh
    18650 is Li-Ion with 3.7 Volt and 2.900 mAh
    so to compare to the power of one AA, one would roughly "need" three AAAs, or
    to compare to the power of one 18650, one would roughly "need" to use three AAs, or nine AAA
    (reason: much wasted space with increasing number of round cells and their outside wrapping)
    imho the perfect battery whatsoever, but one big con: only rechargeable possible ... that reduces possibilities of usage when no power around

    Size comparison:

    right: the cells (AAA, AA, 18650)
    left: a typical 1*18650 handheld light, next to a Zebra H600.
    The H600 runs with the same battery but is this smaller ...
    ... but on the other hand the handheld is very extremely rugged and has the mass (and surface) to move the heat generated from a full power driven led away, the Zebralight features a driver that reduces the output when it would get too warm

    Then there are 2 chargers:
    the upper one is my most used Li-Ion multiformat charger (I have lights with CR123, 14500, 17500, 18650 batteries)
    the small, black one is a new entry from dealextreme, which is some kind of "travel" charger. This one has a europe wall plug at the back and is said to charge both Ni-Mhs and Li-Ions and the 9V ones
    (to be honest I have not yet tested it. For 18650s the charging current would be too low to be of real use when a real charger is at hand)

    PS: the H51 W - warm white, because the color of that led is somehow "nicer", than the slightly more powerful cool colored model
    Last edited by yellow; 06-15-2012 at 12:06 PM.

  17. #17

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Hello, first off, I'll admit I'm not as much of an expert on all the different lights as some are so I can't really comment on which model of flashlight is best, but I do have some information that may help in your decisions.
    First, I can comment that the outdoor color rendition of my warm tint zebra light makes a world of difference compared to the standard LEDs. I would highly recommend choosing a model with the warmer tint. I can also say that I am very pleased with the quality of my Zebralight and have no qualms considering it on a hiking trip (although mine are never the scale you are going on).

    Second, when you are talking about an alpine hike, I assume you are talking about one of the 2 week to 2 month treks with very limited connection to civilization. Based on this, I would NOT recommend rechargeable batteries at all for several reasons. First, are you really going to be in touch with civilization frequently enough and for a long enough time period to recharge the batteries? Do you really want to carry the extra weight (and size) of a charger, or would you be better off carrying an extra set (or 2) of batteries instead. My recommendation for a light would be a AA powered light and then use Energizer Lithium primary cells. These cells have the highest energy density for standard 1.5v primaries that I know of. The lithium batteries seem to be slightly lighter than standard alkaline batteries. They won't leak, they have very high discharge capabilities. Even if you run out of your spares, you can pick up standard alkaline batteries at one of the stores.

    I used the same EDC carry light for about 18 months, first with Eneloops and then changed to the Energizers. With the Eneloop batteries, I had to recharge it about 1x/month. With the Energizer Ultimate Lithiums, I only had to change the batteries about every 4 to 6 months.

    If you wanted to invest in one of the solar backpack chargers, I might change my recommendation but still think the primary cells will give you the least trouble for your journey.

    Hope this helps.

  18. #18

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Great! Great feedback guys! very helpful and informative.

    so my choice has narrowed to either the H51/H51W or the H600. although i believe the H600 will be too heavy with the battery and the headband. the ZL website does not give away this information. does anyone here has the H600 knows it's weight with the battery and the headband?

  19. #19

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Definitely agree for warm tint in outdoor conditions.

    From Zebralight website :
    H51w : 35,8g without battery and headband
    H600w : 39g without battery and headband

    One Eneloop seems to weight 26g and the headband for H51 about 23g, accordingly to the ZL website.

    One 18650 is about 50g i think, and the headband for the H600 shouldn't weight a lot more than th H51 one.

    The question is : how many spare Eneloop do you have to take for the same runtime than a 18650 ?

  20. #20


    Quote Originally Posted by taratata View Post
    The question is : how many spare Eneloop do you have to take for the same runtime than a 18650 ?
    The other question is how many other AA devices are you traveling with which you can share spare batts/chargers with, cannibalize from (or to, depending upon priorities), and store batt. available, of you've not accurately estimated your spare batts needs.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Lone View Post
    [COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]...5. I lean towards the Tikka XP2...
    Welcome to CPF!

    I've got a Tikka XP2 and it is a really useful light. I would recommend it. The red LED is really useful for moving around and not waking people up.

    Petzl has a Pixa series of headlamps out. They look interesting.

    Have a great time on your hike!


  22. #22

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Quote Originally Posted by taratata View Post
    The question is : how many spare Eneloop do you have to take for the same runtime than a 18650 ?
    Was that a question? if so i don't know, how many?

    i do not carry any electrical devices. so it's only the batteries.

    Kelmo, well i know the petzl's are good but the dry specs are in favour of the zebralight. brighter , lasts longer, more versatile. more resistant to water.

  23. #23

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Yes, this was a question, because i don't use Eneloops.

    But i can ask this another way (to Eneloops users) :
    Are Two Eneloops providing same runtime than a 18650 ? (just comparing equivalent weight)

    I don't say Lone has to choose 18650 over Eneloops, both are good choices and depends of his criterias.

    I personally do some one week long hikings, and have myself a Spark ST6. I think the "T" form factor of the ST6 is not ideal for long use, perhaps "SD" series are better in term of stability.
    If i compare specs given on the spark website, between the SD6 (18650) and the SD52 (2xAA), the runtimes are much better with the 18650.

    On (semi-)long term hiking, weight is THE point you have to master. A good headlamp and a tiny backup (a Photon or like) is the way to go for me, just adjust the number of spare batteries to your trip.

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    has already answered:
    Quote Originally Posted by yellow View Post
    AAA is Ni-Cd/Ni-Mh with 1.2 Volt and 800 mAh
    AA is Ni-Cd/Ni-Mh with 1.2 Volt and 2100 mAh
    18650 is Li-Ion with 3.7 Volt and 2.900 mAh
    so to compare to the power of one AA, one would roughly "need" three AAAs, or
    to compare to the power of one 18650, one would roughly "need" to use three AAs, or nine AAA
    (reason: much wasted space with increasing number of round cells and their outside wrapping)
    As long as You dont use the high levels of the H600 often, the number of cells "needed" for the small(er) lights to equal the power of the 18650 is definitly a pain.
    But their only positive point remains: AA and AAA can be purchased everywhere (hopefully) and be used as single-use cells

    I would rethink the time the hike lasts and thus the time the light will be "needed" (which in real then is probably 1/5 of what one thinks to "need" a light),
    + as well as how often such hikes will be done in the future
    + as well as how often a way more powerful headlamp (for biking f.e.) will be "needed" later - in areas where recharging power is available
    then decide on the powerful-but less-runtime H600 and the "safe" normal batteries H51W
    --> to be on the safe side: still the H51W ... with the Energizer Lithiums, which is a great tip,

    PS: I am pretty certain that I would be able - at a normal hike with not too much night hiking - to come trough with a H600 and just ONE 18650, where the typical Tikka user needs 5-10 battery changes. So one spare would give me way enough safety.
    The key were to use the high levels very shortly.
    For hiking medium 1 (55 Lumen / 18 hours) and even medium 2 (18 lumen / 50 hours) are enough in unlit areas.
    ... for that time scale I do calculate with a maximum of FIVE hours for a battery change needed with the Tikka - when compared to med1, or 10 hours (not a minute more) when its med2 of the H600.

    But my primary use for the headlamp is additional light support for mountainbiking!
    If I were hiking only, the H51 - with its widely available AA size batteries - is my choice

    PPS: I am still quite interested in You findings while/after the hike ... what the different lights encountered, the time light is needed, availability of spares, the region itself ... is concerned

  25. #25

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Dear friends. i truly appreciate all of your feedback.
    so are we all in agreement that Zebralight is the company to go with?

    if so i will start making my spreadsheet . when i have all the details i can decide while seeing the whole picture.
    the parameters i will include will be:
    1. Lumens
    2. Beam Distance.
    2. Runtime
    3. Weight.
    4. Max and Minimum power.
    5. Light Tint

    anything i am missing?

    p.s are the H51 and H51W lithium compatible?

  26. #26

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Accordingly to ZL website :
    "Operating Voltage Range: 0.7V - 2.5V"
    "Battery: One 1.5V AA (NiMH, lithium or alkaline). 14500 Li-ion batteries are not supported."

    So it seems that you can't use rechargeable li-ion batteries (3.7V nominal batteries, 4.2V fresh charged).

  27. #27

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Personnaly, for hiking use, my requirements would rather be :

    1: Runtime
    2: Led tint
    3: Weight
    4: Max and Minimum power = number of levels and accessibility of them, impact runtimes
    5: lumens (same as precedent)
    6: Beam type (pure flood, pure throw, flood and throw...)

    Saying you've already choose the battery type (AA, RCR132/cr123, 18650).

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* Outdoorsman5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    North GA Mountains

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    I'd agree with the recommendation to get the Zebra H51w (great neutral tint) and I'd recommend you use AA Energizer Lithium batteries for your trip. I would not want to tote a charger & solar panel while on a long hiking trip (if I could avoid it.) The energizer lithium batteries have more capacity than an alkaline, perform better in colder temps if needed, and are the lightest of the bunch (an AA energizer lithium weighs .51 oz., an alkaline weighs .84 oz., an AA eneloop weighs .93 oz., and an 18650 weighs 1.64 oz.) The 18650's have a lot more capacity though (4 x one alkaline AA,) and may be what I'd use if I knew I would not be able to get any other batteries on my trip. However, since batteries will be available on your trip I'd stick with AA lights and run em on AA lithium batteries when possible.

    The Zebralight H51w is the best all around headlamp (output, multi-levels, UI, runtimes) especially if you are going to be taking night hikes & need some decent throw. The H51w definitely provides enough throw to see up trail, so I'd recommend it as the best general use headlight. **Side Note....When not in use and tucked away in your pack or pocket, you will need to remember to twist the tail a little to lock the light out. This avoids accidental activation (accidentally bumping the switch.) The switch just takes a light touch to activate.

    I also agree that you should have a backup light, and would recommend a floody headlight for this roll (like the soon to be released H502w.) I've used the now discontinued Zebralight H501w for a while, and it is my favorite camping light (not my favorite for the trail though since it is all flood.) A floody headlight is easier on the eyes, and easier for reading or any other close up tasks - cooking, cleaning, pitching a tent, & general campsite stuff. Everything within 30 feet or less is evenly lit which is very nice. There's no annoying hot spot right in front of you for the close up stuff (especially when reading.)

    Good Luck.

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2012

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions


    no matter what you get, also get a PAK-LITE

    it is the ultimate in runtime and portability. snaps on top of a 9-volt,
    runs almost forever. it makes a great '2=1 1=none' backup light
    posted by jh333233
    Dont cheat me, im expert in using crap light

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* M@elstrom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Sunraysia, Australia

    Default Re: flashlight for long hiking and expeditions

    Quote Originally Posted by yellow View Post
    4: because ANY light - over a certain and very low level - ruins night vision, no matter what color.
    Close one eye while using any light for preserving night vision

    Whilst this is indeed true, red wavelength light will photo-bleach the Rhodopsin at a lower rate than white light and thus our genetic night vision ability will be regained faster using this light source in preference over white
    My modest collection HERE & 55w HID spotlight project HERE

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