The Best Headlamp for Search and Rescue in 2021
It's a matter of life and death. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
When on a search and rescue mission, lives hang in the balance. Getting the right equipment is one of the most important buying decisions you can make for people who will depend on you.
Search and rescue teams answer the call in a variety of conditions, often with restricted light and visibility. You may encounter confined spaces inside unfamiliar structures, or an unforgiving outdoor expanse exposed to the elements.
The best headlamp for search and rescue must operate in every environment, both known and unforeseen. Reliability is non-negotiable.
Let's look at the features that should be a part of your decision making process when ordering headlamps for search and rescue.
Search and rescue headlamp guide
Search and rescue headlamps as tough as the terrain
First, the headlamp needs to be able to take a pounding. That means constant impact with anything from concrete, drywall, glass, overhead obstacles, rocks and more. This requires a durable and robust product.
At UWK, we use high impact ABS, LEXAN® and molded rubber for durability and shock resistance. Combined with our no-hinge design and a big push button that can be operated with gloves, our headlamps are close to unbreakable.
A headlamp that excels in search and rescue should work where others would fail. Extremely hot environments are battery killers. That's why the perfect search and rescue headlamp is insulated from this extreme.
Similarly, unless the headlamp is insulated against extreme cold, the capacity and run time of the batteries could be dramatically lowered. Be on the lookout for headlamps that recycle heat from the LED to warm the batteries. A heat recycling system like this can extend the burn time of the unit when it’s used in an extremely cold environment.
Water-resistance is good for search and rescue products. Waterproof headlamps are even better. You can’t call off the search because of a little drizzle, or even a monsoon. Make sure your choice of headlamp can go through the paces; that means providing light no matter what the elements throw at you.
In truly dangerous environments, you may need a headlamp that is intrinsically safe. This is a protective insulation technique that makes it impossible for the headlamp to be the source of ignition in environments with explosive fluids or gasses.
We highly recommend our VIZION Z3 Headlamp, which meets all of the above needs and more.
- 100% waterproof - you can even scuba dive with it
- Thermal Recovery System recycles heat from the LED to warm batteries for improved performance in low temperatures
- Proprietary Compound Path Optics (CPO) permits high efficiency and compact size
- Rotating beam angle adjustment knob, no hinge to break
Different environments call for different lighting. Some search conditions require a spot beam that can pierce darkness, rain, smoke or snow at a distance. In others, such as working up close on a casualty or reading a map, you’ll need to switch to a low power mode. The best headlamp for search and rescue conforms to all of these conditions with a tap of a button.
Adaptability also extends to being able to adjust the beam angle of the headlamp itself. If you're spending time trying to work out how to manipulate your light for the environment, that time is wasted. A high level of adjustability will preserve your vision and ensure that you don’t miss a single cue within your field of vision.
The VIZION Z3 Headlamp has these qualities; with an adjustable angle mechanism, the ability to work on any helmet with either a no-slip band or a mount (or a strap for the forehead), and three lighting modes: spot, diffuse, and red diffuse.
The headlamp also has three different power modes:
- High (210 lumens, 3.5 hours)
- Medium (110 lumens, 6.5 hours)
- Low (40 lumens, 32 hours)
Lightweight and long-lasting headlamps
Your headlamp should be lightweight and sturdy. Some callouts require a lot of heavy gear, so all available weight savings should be seized upon.
You’ll want a long and consistent burn time from the LED and batteries. The time it takes to complete an operation is variable and usually out of your control. A battery that will last is crucial to giving you the hours you need to perform your crucial service.
When you’re nearing the end of your battery life in the field, you’ll also want to change the batteries in a matter of seconds.
To aid weight reduction and ease of use, the best power source for a search and rescue headlamp is common, rechargeable household AAA batteries. These batteries are easy to replace when you’re on site, weigh very little, and are available at any good retailer.
If you are a search and rescue worker, we commend you for the work you do and hope you have everything you need to perform to the best of your ability. If you have any questions about our products, please drop us a line.