Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 Headlamps / Lighting

Auto-adjusting brightness and self turn-off mechanisms help save battery power. See what's ahead for outdoor headlamps and lighting at retail in 2016.
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Versatility is the name of the game with the lighting solutions at this summer’s show, with many devices doing double duty as a light source and a power station for charging USB devices.

Headlamps continue to be refined with more lumens, waterproofness, fit improvements and other touches designed to provide a wide range of uses to satisfy consumer demand. This reinforces what retailers are seeing, as Josh Streblow, store manager/buyer at Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Basalt, Colo., told us: “Given two headlamps that are similar in price, the one that’s easier to use with more features will outsell the other by a margin of 10 to 1.”

What was innovative at last summer’s show has become the new standard this year, as many camping lanterns are now also portable power sources that can charge small electronics like a phone or camera. The UCO Pika (MSRP $30) is a rechargeable, collapsible, and highly water resistant lantern and flashlight that’s capable of charging USB devices. Others with charging capabilities include the Black Diamond Moji Charging Station (MSRP $80), with 250 lumens; the Goal Zero 8-ounce Lighthouse Mini, pumping out 210 lumens and packing a 3,000mAh battery that’s good for a full smartphone charge; and the BioLite PowerLight Mini (MSRP $40), which can be used as a lantern or worn on the user via a unique clip attachment.

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If you just want a simple yet stylish camp lantern, the rechargeable Snow Peak Hozuki 2.0 (MSRP $100) has a candlelight mode for ambiance and sleep mode, which means you can fall asleep with the light on and it’ll shut down for you, preserving battery life.

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For aerobic athletes pursuing their passion in the hours between dusk and dawn, the GoMotion XtendD (MSRP $69) is a lightweight yet functional way to provide illumination without anything strapped to your head. The reflective vest has a 150 lumen sternum light, with red rear flashing lights for visibility, all powered by a new battery-management system, which is significantly lighter than previous versions.

Possibly the most innovative new lighting product at the show, the Led Lenser XEO headlamp (MSRP $330) features two independently operated LEDs with an astounding 2000 lumen output. It includes technology that senses how much light is needed for a given situation and automatically adjusts light output, an air intake chamber that cools the LEDs as the user moves, and the ability to charge USB devices. Light modes and brightness can be changed with the use of the five-programmable buttons on the top of the light, and several mounting accessories are available for maximum versatility.

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Headlamps continued to be refined. Black Diamond has redesigned the Spot (MSRP $40), now with 200 lumens and waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes (IPX 8). UCO’s A-120 Comfort-Fit Headlamp (MSRP $40) uses a system on the back of the headband to allow for a customized fit with superior comfort. Led Lenser has boosted the lumens and redesigned the look of its popular SEO line of headlamps, along with incorporating new, more ergonomic headbands. The SEO 7R (MSRP $100) also features the technology found on the XEO, which measures the light level in the surrounding area and adjusts output accordingly.

Nite Ize introduces a line of three-in-one LED flashlights that should appeal to the car camping crowd. The mini (MSRP $12) and full-sized (MSRP $18) versions both have lantern and safety light modes, the latter being a red light that can glow, flash or transmit SOS. The other new light is the three-in-one FlashStick (MSRP $12), which works as a light, lantern and glowstick.

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--BJ Sbarra 

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