What’s the Deal with the Red-Light on a Headlamp?
Why We Recommend a Headlamp with a Red-Light Feature?
Headlamps provide versatile lighting that is perfect for your rafting adventure or any camping trip. We recommend a headlamp over a standard flashlight because there will be times you need your hands free in the dark, whether it’s for setting up camp, eating dinner, reading in bed, or if nature calls. But why use the red light? Red light does not ruin your night vision the way that white or yellow lights do. If you use the red light setting, you’ll be better able to see in the dark and are less likely to blind your companions momentarily.
Below are the many reasons we recommend a headlamp with a red-light option, as well as a couple of situations when you might not want to use the red-light feature.
Preserving Yours and Others Night Vision
Have you ever turned off your headlamp or flashlight when it’s dark outside? You can’t see at all, and it can take 20–30 minutes for your natural night vision to fully return. Your eyes are less sensitive to red light than to other colors of light. Therefore, the red-light feature will allow you and others around you to see in the dark without ruining one’s natural night vision. It is the most considerate lighting to use when outdoors at night with others in the vicinity.
To Optimize Stargazing
Don’t bring night pollution with you! A view of the night sky unhindered by the light pollution of a cityscape is a huge part of a Grand Canyon rafting adventure and is one of the most commented on favorite aspects of a trip! The Grand Canyon is also an official “Dark Sky Park,” so the inner canyon is a superb place to go stargazing. Being inside the canyon makes it more dramatic when watching the stars in the sky spin between dark imposing cliff walls!
Whether using a telescope, binoculars, or the naked eye, one needs 100% of their night vision to get the best views of the skies grandeur and to see better the shape and colors of stars and planets. So, be sure to only use the red light feature at least one hour before you plan to view stars.
Red light should also be used when night photography is taking place, allowing people to move around safely and not disrupt the photographer. Using a white light has the potential to ruin a photographer’s shot.
To Read in the Dark and Minimize Attracting Bugs
Red light is less attractive to most flying insects, such as moths and mosquitoes, compared to white or yellow light. This makes red headlamps an excellent choice for nighttime reading to minimize the annoyance of insects flying into your face attracted by a white light headlamp on your forehead.
Animals that are active at night are less likely to be alarmed by red light versus white light. You will increase the odds of observing wildlife behaving naturally if you watch them using with the red-light beam on your headlamp.
To Navigate to the “Groover” Location or to Find Gear at Night
We have all had it happen. You wake up halfway through the night to nature’s call. You must choose between fumbling around in the dark to find your shoes and jacket or blinding yourself and waking up everyone nearby by turning on a bright light to locate the facilities (the groover).
A red-light feature gives campers a third, softer option. Red light provides enough light so that you can see what you are doing but will not give you that searing pain of suddenly flipping on the switch. You are also much less likely to wake anyone up who is sleeping near you.
Save on Battery Life
Red light LEDs typically consume less power than white or white- or yellow-colored LEDs. When using the red-light selection on your headlamp, you can extend your battery life, which can be useful during a long river trip.
When You Might NOT Opt to Use the Red-Light Feature
While there’s nothing worse than getting blasted in the face by someone else’s headlamp in the complete darkness of the outdoors, there is a reason for opting not to use the red-light function. One reason is aging eyes (or if one’s vision is impaired). As we age our night vision slowly becomes impaired and the red light may not be bright or powerful enough to safely navigate in uneven, dark terrain. If you find yourself in a situation where that is the case, then please use the white light. The most considerate way to use the standard white light is to first, use it sparingly and secondly, to try to always point the light down towards your feet. Never shine it directly into someone’s eyes. If you need to scan about farther afield, try using the red light first, as it is usually fine for figuring out roughly where you need to go, but the white light will illuminate challenging terrain near where you are walking better. Only do this if the red light is not effective for your vision deficits. Keep in mind that while the red light may be fine for most situations, do not try to walk around difficult terrain if you cannot effectively see where you are walking with a red light. Feel free to considerately use the white light for the shortest time possible that might be required.
The other reason you may not want to use a red light is if you are red-green color-blind! This common condition affects 4% of men and 0.4% of women in the US. Red-light will not work for color blind individuals. Thankfully, there are other headlamp manufacturers, Petzel being one of them, that now make headlamps with reduced-intensity lights in other colors. The green light option may be a desirable choice if you are color blind, but the preferred color may vary with individual preference.
Purchase a Headlamp with Red-Light Feature at Our Store
At our Red River Sports retail store when we select a headlamp to sell, we consider all the factors; price, brightness, usability, and if it has a red light. Purchase a headlamp with red light feature on this page of our store.
So, after considering all the reasons listed above, it turns out that those red-lights aren’t just for mood-setting around the camp, there are so many reasons for using a red-light headlamp when outdoors at night!