Hiking is an undertaking that requires you to err on the side of caution. Statistics show that nearly 50 percent of injuries can be prevented if you have prior knowledge of your route’s rappel anchors and if you have a headlamp. The best headlamp helps you navigate terrain at night and move more comfortably in the campsite once dusk falls.
Best Headlamp Comparison Table
Headlamps give you the benefit of hands-free illumination, which is more comfortable than the cumbersome alternative of a hand-held lamp. For example, if the weather turns and you are caught in a downpour while hiking, a headlamp allows you to see and forge ahead while using your hands for support. Lighting is on the top ten list of essentials for any hiker, so to find the best headlamp you have to consider your needs. Are you on the trail at night, is this a tactical or rescue mission, and what is the weather like?
Everything You Need to Know About Headlamps
When shopping for a headlamp it is best to base your purchase on real-life hiking situations. Consider how it will come in handy in poor weather and visibility or if you or a member of your party is injured. Additional factors you need to consider during the purchase include the following:
Are they easy to operate?
Fortunately, the controls on a headlamp are fairly easy to operate. You can easily switch it on and off without having to take it off. Most will also have a control function for dimming or brightening the beam as you see fit. Keep in mind the best headlamp is relative to whether you need a floodlight, spotlight, or red-light headlamp. Some models even come with side mounted lights.
What's the power source of a headlamp?
Some headlamps are rechargeable and can hold up to seven hours of lighting with standard power. Others also recharge using a micro USB. Should your charge run out you can revert to using batteries. Luckily, finding a headlamp with several charging options is not a problem today thanks to numerous highly functional products on the market.
What should I look for in a headlamp?
Generally, headlamps should be lightweight, so they are not an uncomfortable weight on your head. The best headlamp can weigh between 1.9 ounces and 10.6 ounces. The weight is usually dependent on the design of the headlamp, the number of batteries it carries and any other accessory it might have. Some people focus on the lamp’s lumens, but this measurement only shows you the total sum of light from your headlight. However, it is better to focus on the quality of the light, especially the beam distance and width. Two headlamps can have the same lumen measurement but perform differently because of the quality of the light.
Also, consider the ability of the headlamp to withstand different weather conditions. Weatherproof options will survive sustained rainfall conditions and submersion in water. Finally, look at the battery runtime. Choose a headlamp with batteries that can sustain a high-setting output for long periods. Always bring extra batteries.
Noting whether the headlamp is a hybrid or not is vital as this will tell you three things: Can it store electric charge and for how long, does it run solely on batteries or does it run on both. The price of the best headlamps ranges from $ to $$ depending on its capabilities.
How We Reviewed
This review looks at the weight and general construction of the headlamps. We also look at the ease of use, beam intensity and maximum distance the beam can illuminate at full blast. Equally important is pointing out if the headlamp is a hybrid and has any other special features.
Best Headlamp: Top 8
The headlamp is synonymous with high performance on any expedition. The importance of a headlamp is critical although the debate of flashlights vs. headlamps still rages on. With so many incredible headlamps on the market, you are sure to come across some of the most innovative technologies that make night adventure possible.
- One QuadPower LED and one DoublePower white LED emit 300 lumens
- Red SinglePower LED for night vision has dimming and strobe settings and activates without cycling through white mode
- PowerTap Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
The Black Diamond Spot features a 300-lumen headlamp encased in waterproof housing. This allows you can plow through watery conditions without the headlamp getting damaged. It includes red-light mode as well as dimming and full blast for long-range vision. The red lights allow it to save on power. The Black Diamond Spot is lightweight, weighing a mere 3.2 ounces.
At maximum, the quad power beam can illuminate as far as 262 feet ahead when you need it. This great illumination easily puts this product ahead of the pack as the best headlamp this year. Combine that with the affordable price of $ to $ you can see why consumers on Amazon give it 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
- LONGER BURN TIME: Enhanced visual quality, and reduced to a minimum manual intervention, thanks to the REACTIVE LIGHTING...
- CONSTANT LIGHTING: It is also possible to use the lamp with the CONSTANT LIGHTING technology, which guarantees a...
- MULTIPLE LIGHT CONES: Combination of a wide light cone for close-up vision and a focused light cone for long-distance...
The Petzl NAO+ is ideal for any high-performing athlete who needs effective illumination while out on the trail. This 750-lumens product can comfortably illuminate a distance of 459 feet at its highest settings. It is also programmable utilizing the MyPetzl mobile app to help you create your own light profiles for different activities. Through your phone or tablet, you can see vital information regarding the headlamp such as remaining battery runtime or adjust your settings accordingly.
The headlamp uses a rechargeable lithium battery that goes for a maximum of 15 hours to a minimum of 6.5 hours. This headlamp weighs 6.5 ounces, and it can get lighter since you can remove the battery.
Operation is easy as the light adjustment button is big enough to be accessible even with thick gloves on. You can adjust from flood beam for great peripheral vision or to a focused beam for long-range spot vision with ease. The 3.7 out of 5.0 stars rating on Amazon shows how effective users have found it on the trail. You will spend between $$ and $$ on the Petzl NAO+.
- 900 Lumen Utilizing Cree XM-L2 T6 neutral white LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
- All-function switch in the head for easy and fast operation
- Uses one 18650 or two CR123A batteries
When reliability is what you are looking for, the Fenix HL55 delivers top-notch performance. This headlamp unleashes 900 lumens at full burst for brilliant lighting with a 150-hour battery run time. Those specs make it arguably the best headlamp on the market.
It works great in high humidity settings like when exploring caves. The light has several lumens-adjustment settings ranging from high 420, mid 165, low 55 to the eco mode which is 10 lumens. Operation is straightforward. The overall weight of this product is 6.4 ounces including batteries. Also, it comes with a strap band for a comfortable weight bearing fit.
- LIGHT UP YOUR ADVENTURE: With its easy-to-use design, the TIKKA is perfect for camping, trekking, or household use.
- BRILLIANT BEAMS: Features a wide, uniform beam with white and red lighting for nocturnal stealth.
- CHOOSE YOUR LIGHT: Features a single on/off button, which easily selects the lighting mode of your choosing.
The Petzl Tikka is an uncomplicated headlamp that works well for a day hike near your base camp. With 200 lumens the wide beam brightness works well for camping, trekking, biking, and jogging. This headlamp enables you to take in everything in your line of sight up to approximately 131 feet. The red night mode is helpful as it prevents a team from blinding each other when cycling or skiing.
The best part is that it is a hybrid headlamp so you have the option of using core rechargeable batteries or three standard batteries. It weighs 2.88 ounces making it ideal for sporting activities because it is so lightweight.
The phosphorescent light locator makes it is easy to find the headlamp in the dark whenever you need it. The rating of this product by consumers on Rei is 4.6 of 5.0 stars because it is simple to use and has a waterproof encasement that allows you to use it in moderate rainy conditions. It has a price range of between $ and $.
- TWIST FOCUSING OPTIC: The simple Twist Focusing system goes from an Ultra View Flood Beam to Bulls-Eye Spot Beam.
- DUAL COLOR: The FL85 includes white and red LED light options. The red LED light preserve night vision.
- ADDITIONAL FEATURES: Reflective strap for added visibility, hinged beam light adjustment, and hard had compatibility...
Considered the best headlamp by many adventures, this headlamp comes equipped with simple but practical features such as a reflective safety trap for easy location in the dark and an LED light encasement that is water resistant. The LED light is sturdy with the ability to take impact from a fall without affecting the performance. Operation is simple with the twist of a button to shine the flood beam or the spot beam. It has a second button for nighttime red light mode.
This headlamp weighs only 4.5 ounces but unleashes 615-lumen with an amazing focusing ring. It also comes with light options for mid and low. The beam can carry over a distance of about 600 feet when on high settings.
The hardiness and ease of use of this light have made it quite a favorite among adventurers, earning it a consumer rating of 4.1 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon. The price ranges between $ and $.
- PURE BEAM FOCUSING: Zoom between a super wide flood beam or spot mode with transition halo at varying distances and...
- BRIGHT: 305 Lumens in a hands-free package perfect for work, hiking, backpacking, emergency prep, disaster situations,...
- HARD-HAT: Includes clips to attach headlamp to hard hats
This is without a doubt the best headlamp in terms of light beam adjustment. It easily oscillates between the highest to lowest light, smoothly allowing your eyes to adjust to each setting. At its highest settings, this headlamp gives you a 285-lumens flood beam, but you can adjust this to a spot beam by simply twisting the bezel.
The beam distance when on the high setting is 390 feet, and 42 feet on the low setting. Three AAA batteries power this lamp with a run time of one and a half hours when on high and 70 hours when on low. It is lightweight and comfortable to wear weighing only 4.5 ounces.
Its affordability and tough build have consumers rating this item 4.2 out 5.0 stars on Amazon. It is an excellent headlight to also use for projects within the home. It will set you back $ to $.
- One QuadPower LED and one DoublePower white LED emit up to 250 lumens on max setting.
- PowerTap Technology allows fast and simple transitioning between full and dimmed power in order to momentarily increase...
- Red and Green SinglePower LEDs for night vision modes have dimming and strobe settings, and activate without cycling...
The housing of this lamp is waterproof and fitted with red and green night vision modes. For night joggers, skiers, hikers, and campers this makes it a great option for night visibility. It has 250 lumens of power and can illuminate up to a distance of approximately 197 feet when on the high setting.
The Black Diamond Storm utilizes power tap technology that makes it possible to make prompt light adjustments between high beam and low beam as well as oscillate between red and green night modes.
The waterproofing is solid enough to withstand full submersion of up to one meter for 30 minutes. It has an IP67 waterproof rating giving it the mettle to withstand salt water submersion. It is also very effective in a sandstorm.
The headlamp is fairly light at 3.2 ounces. Consumers have rated it 4.4 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon where you can buy it for $ to $ depending on which vendor you order from. The settings make it possible to use this headlamp for everything from setting up camp to reading a book at different levels of brightness.
Once you have used this head torch you might think it's the best headlamp for adventure and high-performance settings. It weighs 9.6 ounces which is toward the heavier side, but there's a strip band for weight distribution and comfortable wear.
The lamp provides a 200-lumen power beam which is decent enough illumination. It comes with four light levels including a safety flash mode which is great for signaling. The construction is designed to be impact resistant, so just in case you take a knock or two on the trail the lamp won't fail you. It can run on rechargeable lithium or NiHM batteries or four AA batteries. When on low beam, the battery runtime is 150 hours. When running on high it will allow you 72 hour burn time.
Consumers have rated this product 4.2 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon not only because it has an excellent construction but also because Princeton Tec honors its lifetime warranty with users. The price ranges from $$ to $$.
The Best Headlamp for Your Next Adventure
A lot of factors go into choosing the best headlamp. For the most part, it boils down to personal preference and your specific need. However, all things considered, our top pick is the Coast FL85 Headlamp because it is tough, easy to operate and fits comfortably. With an IPX4 weatherproof rating, it also makes it hard for the weather to get the best of you even in grim conditions. A reflective safety strap ensures you can find it with ease in the unlikely event that it is dislodged from your head and switches off in the dark. Finally, the lock mode ensures that the light does not come on accidentally in your backpack. Choosing the Coast FL85 is really choosing to stay safe out on the trail.