If you’re a backpacker looking for the smallest, lightest headlight on the market, look no further than the Petzl e+LITE headlamp. It is bright, lightweight and compact
The e+LITE has an oval shape and is quite compact. It measures 1 x 1.5 inches on the face and is ¾ inch thick. The black face is divided into two parts. One side features the lighting system, comprised of four small lights. Three white lights are arranged in a triangle while a red LED is located in the center of the triangle. On the other side is a red lever that cycles through five different lighting options that either help the user see or be seen. The white lights have low and high intensity setting for reading or illuminating the immediate surroundings. A red light is good for preserving night vision for star gazing or late night tent exits that won’t disturb others with bright lights. For emergency use there is a flashing red or white strobe. Flip the lever all the way to either side and it turns off and on one side there is a locking mechanism that prevents the light from accidentally turning on.
To attach the headlamp a thin elastic cord is provided. It looks flimsy and uncomfortable but it’s not. The lamp is so light that the elastic band provided is all that is needed and it can hardly be felt, especially if donned over a hat.
The headlamp can be angled in different directions by opening the bending the front half of the device away from the back panel. An articulating joint allows the light to be pointed in several directions. By opening the clamshell, the battery panel is exposed. There are two clever design elements in this part of the lamp. One is that the end of the plastic tab that is used to pull the elastic cord can be fitted in a wide slot that twists open to reveal the battery—no other tools are required. The other is that two simple emergency arm signals are printed inside, SOS (two arms raised) and OK (one arm up, the other down).
The headlamp can be stored with its two lithium CR 2032 batteries for 10 years, even if stored in a pack or disaster kit and not used. The headlamp is waterproof down to 1 meter for 30 minutes and works at extreme temperatures ranging from -22 to 140 F. The low setting will shine for 70 hours versus 55 hours for the low setting. The light was 26 grams (0.9 oz), weighed at home on a digital scale
The headlamp was tested on two overnight backpacking trips. I used to use a headlamp extensively at night, mostly to read. However, once I started reading with the Kindle app on my phone or listening to audiobooks I found that I hardly use a headlamp anymore. Therefore, it was tempting to give it up entirely. It could be useful in emergency situations, however, so I was on the lookout for a smaller, lighter headlamp. The e+LITE fit my requirements perfectly.
On both trips I was guiding a group. We gathered the first night in a campground and backpacked the second night to a backcountry site. I used the headlamp several times to walk to the bathrooms several campsites away on the first night. It was so light and compact that at first I just slipped two fingers through the elastic strap and wore it like a ring. Then I wore it around my neck at dusk so it would be handy. When it got dark I positioned the lamp on my forehead and slid the elastic around my head, where it was barely noticeable. The white lights were more than adequate to walk down the path and light up the area around the campsite. I used the red light late at night when others in the group were sleeping, to be less intrusive. The next night, at the backcountry site, I used the headlamp around camp in the same way, and for visits to the outhouse (this site had amenities). I don’t normally hike at night so I don’t need a light that illuminates a wide area. This, combined with my desire to migrate to ultralight backpacking means that this light worked well for my needs. A habitual night hiker might prefer a stronger, wider cast of light, but it had plenty of light for reading and navigating around the campsite at night.
The founder of Petzl, Fernand Petzlln, discovered caving as a teenager in 1930. A mechanic by trade, it was only natural for him to tinker with equipment to solve unmet needs in equipment used for exploration. He worked with a friend and his sons, expanding his business over the years. He and his team created innovative caving, climbing and mountaineering equipment including nylon ropes, ascenders and harnesses. In 1973 they created the first headlamp designed for mountaineers.
The Petzl e+LITE headlamp is highly recommended for the ultralight backpacker. It has a bright white light, emergency red and white strobes and steady lights, is comfortable to wear and is compact.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.
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