Silva Trail Runner Free

The best overall lighting of 2021.

Pick up this headlamp, and you’ll notice right away that there’s something missing: wires. Unlike most other lights with external battery packs, the Trail Runner Free weaves its wires straight into its stretchy, knit headband, making it comfier and less prone to tangling on hair or catching on a tree branch. The light packs a close-up flood beam and a longer-distance spot into a case about the size of the tip of your thumb (no red light). It puts out a respectable 400 lumens for up to 25 hours on its highest setting, which our tester appreciated on a cross-country winter backpacking trip in Nebraska National Forest. Nice touches include a hybrid battery case that lets it run on either three AAAs or a rechargeable, removable battery ($30 extra), as well as an extension cable so you can stash the battery pack in your jacket to prolong its life in frosty weather. Note: There’s no lock, and the headlamp did turn on in our pack; disconnect the battery before storing it.

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