Best Winter Sports Flashlights
Best Flashlights and Headlamps For Winter Sports
Pick Your Poison
The Skier, Snowboarder, Snowshoer, and Snowmobiler all share a love of powder, but should not share the same exact qualities in their flashlight of choice. Snow enthusiasts should look for a flashlight that fits their specific needs, which can vary depending on terrain, skill level, and expected weather conditions.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
For the standard downhill skier lighting is usually not an issue that is considered. Most resorts close well before visibility conditions drop to dangerous levels, but for those who choose to ski back country or make their own tracks off mountain it is important to have a bright light that can illuminate a wide area, support a long run time, and have SOS/rescue modes for worst case scenarios. Flashlights can also be useful for daytime skiing applications as well, in the case of big mountain skiing people can frequently encounter conditions of skiing through clouds which can be helped by a flashlight with a narrower concentrated beam for cutting through fog/weather. The most practical lighting option while skiing is to use a headlamp because it provides hassle free beam directing and will keep your hands free for ski poles/balancing. However if you are on a longer trip it is never a bad idea to have a backup handheld flashlight in case of headlamp malfunctions or other unforeseen situations.
Recreation: Snowshoeing & Cross Country
Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are great safer alternatives to their downhill skiing/snowboarding counterparts, but still require careful preparation when being enjoyed in low visibility. As with downhill, it is important to look for hands free lights such as headlamps and angled flashlights with clips, because they allow you to easily handle poles and other gear. Because some snowshoeing and cross country skiing can occur on the sides of downhill mountain trails and main roads it is also important to outfit yourself with reflective, eye catching gear to readily announce yourself to the surroundings. Beyond wearing bright colored gear it is a good idea to attach reflective bands, stickers, or LED signaling lights to a visible spot on your person.
Snowmobiling is another popular winter sport that can benefit from additional lighting gear. Most snowmobiles feature headlights, taillights, and reflectors but it is a good idea to keep additional lighting options on board just in case. Small handheld lights can be a great way to quickly illuminate something to the side of the trail or out of the headlights beam focus. It is also important to have a signaling device on hand in the worst case scenario that your snowmobile breaks down away from well traveled areas. Finally in situations for medical/law enforcement it can be helpful to have a portable spotlight for illuminating objects that are long distances away from the beaten path.
Type of flashlight, style of use, and important features can vary depending on the situation, but their are certain winter time flashlight rules you should always keep in mind.
- SOS/signaling functions are a must have for any light. In cold winter conditions your time for being rescued is shorter than other emergency situations which makes having an attention grabbing function on your flashlight extra important.
- Extra batteries - because cold conditions during the winter can accelerate the drain on batteries it is important to avoid alkaline battery powered lights and go with lithium instead. Alkaline batteries are constructed with a water based electrolyte meaning that when temperatures approach or dip below freezing (32°F/0°C) you will see significantly reduced performance and run times. If you absolutely must use alkaline powered batteries then it is a good idea to bring an extra pair and hold them somewhere warm (chest pocket or inner layer of clothing) to prevent drainage (this goes for Lithium too!).
- Travel with a friend - Sometimes there is no way of predicting what can go wrong on a snow sports adventure, which means it is never a bad idea to go with another person. Should something unforeseen happen, having an extra person provides twice the gear, twice the brain power, a shoulder to lean on for injuries, and in the worst situations someone who can go get help. Always use the buddy system on long trips or when exploring new terrain.