Mountain Trail Markers


Newly Enlightened
May 2, 2020
Can anyone explain to me the effect of a lower or higher Correlated Colour Temperature as well as a high Colour Rendering Index on picking out markings made with red gloss paint? Would 4,000 Kelvin LED "favour" the red more than 6,000 Kelvin, or the other way around? Is a high CRI more significant in this respect than the CCT?

The specific application would be picking out the trail markings on mountain routes. In Switzerland, for example, these markings consist of a red stripe sandwiched between two white stripes. In South Tyrol (Italy) they use the opposite, i.e. a white stripe sandwiched between two red ones. In various other alpine regions a single red and white stripe are to be found, but in Norway they use a red letter T without any white. I'm reluctant to post photos for which I don't have copyright, but if you Google "Den Norske Turistforening" and then select "Images", you'll see examples of the Norwegian "T" markers and if you likewise Google "Bergweg Markierungen" > "Images" there are loads of Swiss and other mountain trail markings to be seen.

I need a combination of a headlamp with moderate output and a handlamp with a fairly powerful output as a short-time booster to scan the surroundings (for markers) out to a maximum range of about 150 meters. It's important that both lamps can pick out the red as well as possible.

I usually keep my headlamp on low power for reading map, compass and GPS and for searching for markings out to about 35 meters. The booster handlamp is used in short bursts in order to save the batteries of the headlamp.

I'm not looking for a recommendation on specific lamp models, but rather some pointers as to what properties to look for, given the above requirements.

Thanks in advance for any relevant advice.
Oct 26, 2009
Columbus, Ohio
Are the trail markers reflective? If not, identifying them at a distance of 150 meters will likely be outside the effective range of most headlamps.

That noted, check out the ThruNite HC33, offering about 8700 candela, and a claimed throw of approximately 200 meters.
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Aug 9, 2015
John 3:16

If there are other colors involved such as oranges or pinks then CRI could matter. I'd guess there are only one color used in order to contrast with the snow and frozen environments unlike road signs to alert restrooms, parks or hazards.

My experience with artificial lighting is that a cooler beam like 6000-6500 kelvin helps me ID things faster. That temp light just 'seems' brighter to my eyes. And it's one of the reasons it is the choice of military and law enforcement.

Also look for high candella numbers, which indicates a beam's throw. Say you see a pair of lights at 300 lumens you like. The one with the higher candela (or cd) will throw the beam farther.

Be safe out there.
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Flashlight Enthusiast
Nov 9, 2007
The great state of Misery (Missouri)
A light capable of throwing to the distances you mention will draw more power than the AA/AAA format can deliver for more than a short time. A light using a 14500 cell might work, but will still drain rather rapidly. IMO, a light using one or more 18650 or larger (21700, etc.) will be needed.

The Lumintop GT Mini might be a good choice. It uses a single 18650 light, and should be able to provide the illumination you require. It is also small enough that a holster on your belt or strapped to a backpack would work to hold it when not in use.
The Nitecore New P30 would be another you should look at.

And I agree that while a high CRI light would be nice, since the markers will have been designed to stand out against their backgrounds, you should be able to use any light capable of casting enough light that far.