Choosing The Best Headlamp

Choosing The Best Headlamp

Investing in the right gear is a must when it comes to camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. A headlamp is a hands-free tool that eliminates the use of a heavy flashlight or lantern, which enables users to find their way in the dark without any problems.

However, choosing the right headlamp can be a challenging task since there are many models available on the market. Rest assured, this buyer's guide will teach you all there is know about choosing the best headlamp.

Reasons To Purchase A Headlamp

Wondering why you should ditch the trusted flashlight for a headlamp? Here are some reasons why you should invest in a headlamp:


Thanks to a headlamp, you can multitask and use your hands for climbing, lighting matches, and other activities. Sure, a lantern also offers hands-free lighting but you won’t be able to direct extra light when required.

Headlamp Usage In Nature

Space Saving And Lightweight

Most headlamps feature a compact and space saving design which means you can conveniently pack the tool in your backpack. Most headlamps weigh less than an ounce, so you don't have to worry about carrying extra weight.

Beam Distance

Most headlamps offer different lighting modes which come in handy for all kinds of situations. For instance, the spotlight mode can cast a long beam which makes it easier for folks to find objects in the dark. Long beam distance can also aid you in finding your way to a poorly-lit campsite in the middle of the night.


Most high-quality lights are water resistant and feature a sturdy design, which means you'll have no trouble backpacking in areas or country side where the weather can be unpredictable.

Cons Of Using A Flashlight

Still wondering why you can’t use an ordinary flashlight? Here are some cons you should know about:

  • It is much easier for campers to drop their flashlights when they are out in the woods. Fortunately, this is not possible with a headlamp since the contraption wraps around your head.
  • Incredibly bulky and heavy flashlights can tire the hand in a few minutes. Not to mention, heavy batteries also take up a lot of room, which is typically not a problem with headlamps since you won't be using your arms.

How To Choose The Best Headlamp

Camping, trekking or backpacking becomes a lot more fun if you have the right gear to face the many challenges put forward by Mother Nature. If you’re planning on buying a headlamp, here are a couple of important features you should keep in mind:


Lumen is the term used to measure the amount of light coming out of the source. However, lumens should not be confused for ‘watts' which describes the amount of energy needed to power the light source. Most headlamps can shine from 15 to 500+ lumens. Consider investing in headlamps with a lower lumen range if you'll be camping with a large group of people.

Headlamp Lumens

The low light won't irritate others. However, if you plan on climbing, trekking or caving during your outdoor adventure, invest in a headlamp that can offer adequate light. Some of the best lights in the market can provide an output of 200 to 500 lumens.

However, you should note that the lumen output decreases as the battery life decreases. To preserve the battery life, try opting for a dimmer feature or adjust the lumen output.

Run Time

How many days do you plan on staying in the woods? If it's longer than two days, then you'll see in a headlamp with a long runtime. The runtime is used to denote how many hours the headlamp can work to produce usable light. Most brands test the burn time or runtime using the same batteries sold with the headlamps.

Runtime of Headlamps

These tests are typically conducted using the lowest setting possible. Determining the runtime is important since you don’t want to run out of power in the middle of the night. To avoid getting lost in the dark, we consider you pack an extra set of batteries.

Size And Weight

While most headlamps are about the same size, there are a few exceptions. For instance, some lights are designed for emergencies and feature a few basic design. Such headlamps can easily fit inside a small emergency kit.

On the other hand, you'll also find headlamps which are much heavier and bulkier than other models. Such headlamps typically feature an additional battery pack and give off high-quality light. These models especially come in handy for canyoneering, spelunking or night-time activities.

Light Mode

Before investing in the best headlamp, it is essential you read up on all the different light modes. The most popular features include:


Most headlights offer a flood light mode, which allows users to cast a wide beam in a dim setting. This mode is ideal for close proximity-use like catching up on your reading, rummaging for items in the tent or preparing meals.

Thanks to the dim setting, you won't have to worry about waking up or blinding your camping buddies. The low-light setting preserves battery life so that you can use the headlamp for longer periods of time.

Light Modes On Headlamps


Sure, a wide beam may be terrific for completing tasks in the campsite but what do you do when you have to navigate your way in the dark?

In such cases, a focused spotlight is a much better option. Invest in a headlamp that offers both a spotlight and a floodlight mode for added convenience. A bright beam setting is crucial if you want to make your way through long distances.

Red Light

Most of the headlamp models in the market offer a red light mode. Here’s how this light can come in handy: first off, red LED preserves battery power and does not blind folks. So, unlike white light, your kids won’t awaken when you switch on the red light.

This kind of light also comes in handy in rescue and search situations. Hunters also use red light (and other colored options) since it doesn’t scare away animals and preserves night vision. Experienced hunters can expertly identify what type of animal lies on their path based on the animal’s eye reflection.

Beam Distance

The beam distance denotes how far light can be projected using the headlamp. While a large beam distance comes in handy when you are cycling at night, it will drain the battery.

Beam Distance On Headlights

A headlamp with a greater beam distance can speed up battery depletion, which can especially become a problem if you are exploring exotic locations. The beam distance will also decrease as the battery starts to drain.

Special Activity Requirements

It is crucial you invest in a headlamp while keeping specific activity requirements in mind. We have covered the most popular activities below:


If you're a frequent runner, you will benefit from a headlamp with a tight yet adjustable strap, which will keep the headlamp from slipping off your head while running. Comfort and long battery life is another important factor you need to keep in mind. Consider investing in a rechargeable headlamp, so you don't have to invest in a new set of batteries.

Backpacking Or Climbing

Size and weight is a major issue for most climber and backpackers. For this reason, it is essential you invest in an ultralight headlamp. Most headlamps in the market aren't too heavy, but it's still worth investing in an ultralight model.

Our Recommendations: The Best Headlamps

Want to invest in the best headlamps? Rest assured; we have compiled a list of some of our favorite products according to different categories, which will help you in choosing the best products:

Best Running Headlamp

In our opinion these are the best running headlamps:

Winner - Petzl ACTIK Headlamp

When it comes to manufacturing the best headlamps, Petzl is certainly a name you can trust. The brand focuses on creating products, tools, and services that enable people to find their way in the dark. The ACTIK headlamp offers a mixed beam with 300 lumens, which makes the headlamp an excellent choice for hardcore activities such as running, hiking, mountaineering and backpacking.

Petzl Actik Headlamp Blue Review

Additionally, the red light mode preserves night vision and prevents the light from blinding other users. The reflective hand band is another cool feature since it brightens when you shine a light on to the band. The headlamp also features an emergency whistle so you can garner the attention of others during rescue situations.

Best of all, the headlamp is compatible with a CORE rechargeable battery, so you're never worried about being stranded in the dark. Here are a few notable features of the Petzl ACTIK Headlamp:

  • Hybrid Headlamp: The new and improved hybrid model features three standard batteries and is also compatible with a rechargeable battery, which means you never have to worry about depleting battery power.
  • Multi-beam Proximity: The Petzl ACTIK Headlamp is suitable for distance vision, proximity lighting, and movement. The headlamp has some advanced features such as red lighting that will preserve night vision. Red lighting also keeps you from blinding other people who are camping with you.
  • Some Lighting Modes: This innovative model features some lighting modes including Strobe, Max Powder, Standard, Proximity and Max Autonomy.
  • Elastic Adjustable Headband: Thanks to the adjustable, reflective headband, you can attract the attention of other users. The headlamp also features an emergency whistle.

Runner Up - Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

If you're in search of high quality yet affordable headlamp, consider investing in the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp. This compact light offers amazing performance for nearly half the price compared to other products in the market.

Plenty of headlamps priced at more than $70 were not able to match the superior quality and level of brightness of this headlamp. This model is certainly more advanced compared to other Black Diamond products and also has a new Power Tap feature that allows you to adjust the brightness.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp Review

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp features improved optics which makes the spot beam almost twice as large as the previous models. The headlamp also has a waterproof rating of IPX8 which means you can submerge it in 1.1 meters of water for about 30 minutes. Best of all, despite the new features, the headlamps have the same list price. Some notable features of the headlamp include:

  • Better Optics: Black Diamond Spot Headlamp features better optics for both proximity and spot mode. The beam diameter is almost two times wider in diameter, which allows users to get a better view of their trail while using the spot mode. The proximity feature also allows people to get an evenly lit view over a wide area.
  • Waterproof to 1.1-meter depth: You can submerge the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp in 1.1 meters of water for about 30 minutes. The older versions were splash-proof, but you cannot submerge it in water.
  • Power Tap Technology: Thanks to the super fast and convenient power tap technology, campers can conveniently adjust the light setting in a jiffy, which is best suited for users who want to switch between full and dimmed power.
  • Red Light Mode: Red light vision allows users to hunt animals and enjoy other benefits of red-night vision.
  • Compact And Lightweight Design: This model features a compact, sleek, stylish and lightweight design which makes the headlamp incredibly easy to carry. This model uses three AAA batteries and has an extended battery life.

Best Hunting Headlamp

In our opinion these are the best hunting headlamps:

Winner - Bushnell H250L HD Rubicon

The Bushnell H250L HD Rubicon is among the best hunting headlamps in the market and has an incredibly versatile head torch that offers some lighting formats, which allows campers to opt for a setting that best suits their requirements. Thanks to the boost feature, you can increase the brightness from 250 to 312 lumen.

The other light models are also quite impressive such as the low-power flood, high-power flood, red halo mode and high power spot. The red halo mode allows users to identify objects in the dark without compromising on vision.

Bushnell H250L HD Product

Campers, hikers, and backpackers will also benefit from the auto-dimming feature, which allows campers to adjust the brightness level according to your surroundings. A rear-mounted case houses the batteries, which contributes to the stylish and sleek design.

This design helps balance the overall weight of the Bushnell H250L HD Rubicon. Not to mention, the regulated circuit allows users to gain maximum benefits from the headlamp. Some notable features of this headlamp include:

  • Quality Vision: Thanks to the superior quality optics, users benefit from HD clarity.
  • Increased Brightness: The headlamp features a cool boost feature that amps up the brightness from 250 lumens to 312 lumens.
  • High-Quality Materials: The headlamp is constructed using 100% high-quality materials, which the brand tests for the best results.
  • Exceptional Design: In addition to its durable construction, the headlamp is made using durable materials and is built to last.
  • Rear Mounted External Battery: The external battery results in longer running time along with improved performance.
  • Automatic Auto Dimming Feature: With the auto-dimming feature, you can conveniently adjust the brightness according to your liking.
  • Red Halo Feature: For improved night vision, the Bushnell H250L HD Rubicon features an improved red halo feature.

Runner Up - InnoGear 5000 Lumen

If you're in search of a headlamp for your camping, fishing or hiking trips, then we suggest you invest in the InnoGear 5000 Lumen. Thanks to its advanced features, this powerful headlamp is great for hunting and has four light modes including flashing, low, medium and high.

What's best is that folks who don't have extra batteries can use the USB cable as an emergency power bank. The headlamp is made using high-quality rubber and aluminum alloy for the best results. Aluminum is a lightweight metal which adds stability to the headlamp. You can use the light for 4 to 6 hours using full charge, another great feature of this headlamp is that it is 90 degrees rotatable.

InnoGear 5000 Full Review

Because of its incredibly affordable price, campers will certainly get the best value for their money. Not only is the headlamp bright but it also has large illumination width and distance. Thanks to the rechargeable and removable batteries, you don't have to worry about purchasing expensive alkaline batteries.

Both adults and children can use this ingenious headlamp because of its elastic adjustable head straps. It also has a contoured plastic support which adjusts the headband at different angles. Here are some notable features of the InnoGear 5000 Lumen:

  • Maximum Output of 5000 lumens: The highly powerful headlamp has a maximum output of 5000 lumens which means you have more than enough light for outdoor activities. The InnoGear 5000 is suitable for running, hiking, reading, and other outdoor activities.
  • Four Working Modes: The headlamp features four working modes including flashing, low, medium and high so that you can opt for a setting according to your convenience.
  • Comfortable and Lightweight model: The headlamp is both lightweight and comfortable to use, with its rubber and aluminum construction, which also makes the headlamp perfect for the use of kids or people who are always on the move.
  • Emergency Power Bank: Aside from changing batteries, you can also use a USB cable as an emergency power source.

Best Rechargeable Headlamp

In our opinion this is the best rechargeable headlamp:

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

LED and rechargeable headlamps are making waves because of its added convenience. Because of its advanced construction, LED can project light much further compared to conventional incandescent models.

The makes LED headlamps more powerful than traditional bulbs, making it an excellent choice for night-time outdoor activities. Another notable advantage is that these bulbs consume less power which means you don’t have to worry about battery depletion.

If you’re in search of a quality rechargeable headlamp, consider investing in the Sprinter Headlamp by Black Diamond. The lightweight yet sturdy headlamp features an oval beam that lights up the ground and offers better illumination.

Black Diamond Sprinter Full

Strong oval beam illumination is an excellent option for people who want to practice running in the dark or explore the woods. The bright light will allow you to make your way through the dark so that you don't trip or fall.

The incredible beam can illuminate up to 45 meters ahead of you with a maximum power output of 75 lumens, which enables runners to get the most out of their running session. The Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp weighs only 3.4 ounces, which means it is incredibly easy to carry and comfortable to wear.

Because of its improved design, the headlamp does not bounce or shift position when you are running despite how bumpy or rugged the terrain is. Some notable features of this rechargeable headlamp include:

  • Removable Top Strap: The headlamp features removable top straps that are not only adjustable but are also convenient for all head sizes.
  • DoublePower LED: The Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp features DoublePower LED thanks to its oval-shaped beam, which is exceptionally beneficial for a runner as it lights up the ground around you.
  • Versatility: Though the Black Diamond Sprinter is ideal for all amateur and professional runners, it is incredibly versatile, and you can also use it for performing all kinds of night-time activities.
  • Easy to Use On/Off Button: The Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp features an easy to use on/off button which you can activate in seconds.Additionally, you can also adjust the lighting according to the required situation. Simply press the on/off switch twice to start the front strobe.


Hopefully, this detailed guide has provided you all the information you need to choose the best headlamp. Good luck!

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