The Petzl DUO S Headlamp Reviewed

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Most of us will write this off as gear bling—who needs a headlamp that’ll nick us for nearly half a grand? I can stumble back to my tent on the river in the dark just fine, you say.

No doubt you can, but that’s just the point. There’s a new paradigm for sport lamps and it’s not about stumble. It’s about actually seeing.

Lighting tech has made huge strides in recent years, with lithium-ion batteries and LED bulbs revolutionizing the industry. Sure, they’re pricey. Some day you’ll pay a fraction of the cost for something even better. In the meantime, you can absolutely exultin how you deal with dark.

No more clueless peering past the fringe of a shallow beam. This baby will not only turn night into day but will outlast a basket of lesser lamps.  It is rechargeable, waterproof and shockproof.

This would be lamp o’ choice on a backcountry canoe trek, a coastal kayak tour or floating through the wilds of Idaho on the Middle Fork Salmon. Hit a whopping 1,100-lumen boost to resolve that rustling in the brush into bear or coon. And for you bluewater kayak anglers, use it after you’re towed out to sea by a big halibut and left paddling in after dark.

Want proof of its merits? Once, we were sea kayak camping on the south flank of the Brooks Peninsula on the remote BC coast and a big blow was heading our way, bringing storm force winds and tides.  We had our tents pitched as far back on the beach as possible with our backs to the rainforest. We didn’t get a wink of sleep as winds increased to a howl, whistling through the trees and slapping tent walls.

The boom of waves kept pace with the wind and every fifteen minutes I stuck my head outside and shone the DUO S around.  Come midnight it was obvious we’d need to make a move.  A sheet of foamy soup was sheeting over the entire beach and enormous driftwood piles beside our tents. If those bad boys started rolling around we’d have real trouble.

The relocate went smoothly enough and Joe and I squeezed our tents in between the towering Sitka Spruce.  But the storm tide inundated the creek, taking our food barrel with it.  So, with the help of the headlamp, we scrambled around in the racing waters and along the edge of the beach in the roiling soup and waves chasing down escaped apples, cabbages and beer.  There’s no way we would have recovered everything without it.

Specs: Ultra-powerful with 1,100 lumens in BOOST mode, the 370-gram DUO S headlamp runs on a rechargeable 3,200 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. Waterproof and durable, it is ideal for demanding sports such as caving, orienteering and cycling. Featuring the FACE2FACE anti-glare function, a Petzl patent, the DUO S headlamp allows users to face each other without blinding one another. $449.95

More info: https://www.petzl.com/INT/en/Sport/SPECIALIZED-headlamps/DUO-S

—By Rob Lyon