Everything You Need to Know About Headlamps

Everything You Need to Know About Headlamps

Having the right gear makes it easier for folks to explore the outdoors without any inconveniences especially when you're traveling at night time. Wearing a headlamp allows travel enthusiasts to discover their surroundings without holding up a flashlight.

The hands-free light source thus allows users to multitask and make the most of their trips. However, with so many different options to choose from, investing in the right headlamp can be a challenging decision. Luckily, this detailed guide will provide you all the information you need regarding this awesome accessory.

What Is A Headlamp?

As the name indicates, a headlamp is a hands-free, portable light source that you can wear around the head. While lightweight headlamps typically feature a single strap, other sturdier models usually feature two straps.

Headlamps on runners

Because of its convenient usage, headlamps are suitable for mountain bikers, hikers, cave explorers or practically anybody who wants to navigate their way to underground locations, mountains, hiking trails, - you name it. You can use headlamps for the following activities:


Sure, camping in the woods is exciting and is a great way to take some time off from the city, but what about all the grizzly creatures lurking around? Wild animals, insects and all kinds of creepy crawlies reside outdoors which means you ought to be careful. Not to mention, nighttime bathroom breaks can be daunting.

Camping with headlamps

Using a camping or backpacking headlamp ensures you don’t have to use a flashlight to navigate your way in the dark. You can also use the convenient light to catch up on your reading at night or have a look at your hiking trail map before hitting the hay.

Home Repairs

Thanks to the multitude of resources available on the internet, homeowners can now conduct their house repairs without calling a mechanic or carpenter. Whether you're trying to fix a leaky sink or are trying to find your way around the basement, using a headlamp will make the task much easier for you. Simply wear the light on your head, and you'll be able to concentrate on all your tasks.

Home Repairs with a headlamp

Trail Running

When you’re hiking or running on a trail, you’ll need clear vision to see what lies ahead of you. Not to mention, you might have to may need light to see what's behind you in case you feel someone is chasing you or not.

Not being able to navigate your way may cause you to trip and fall. Headlights illuminate your way, reducing the risks of serious injuries. Running headlamps are ideal for this purpose.


Exploring a cave may seem thrilling, but you can't deny that it's probably filled with dangerous galore. Wearing a headlamp prevents unexpected confrontations with snakes, bats, and other animals in the cave which will also prevent you from tripping over slippery rocks or losing your way. In case you do get lost, you'll be able to find your way easily.

Bike Rides

Bike enthusiasts are not only thrilled about riding on trails and paved roads but are also ecstatic about going on bike rides around the woods. Thanks to a headlamp, you won’t have to worry about navigating your way in the forest or have trouble reading the map.

Headlamps for bycicles


Many fishing enthusiasts enjoy fishing in the early hours of the morning when there's barely any light outside. Fish are quite active in the morning, but the poor lighting conditions can make it difficult for users to catch fish in the dark.

By investing in a headlamp, you can see your way and ensure the bait has been set right, which will also make it easier for users to peer down into the water and assess the situation. A headlamp also comes in handy in case of an emergency or if someone falls into the water.

Different Types Of Headlamp Bulbs

When purchasing a headlamp, you can invest in some options depending on the bulb type. Ensure the bulb is designed and is appropriate according to the lamp's intended use. The most common types of bulbs include LED, incandescent and halogen bulbs. Each type has its own set of pros and cons. Here is everything you need to know about the most popular options.

Incandescent Headlamps

These lamps were the first of its kind to hit the market back in 1981 and were considered as among the most cutting edge technology back then. However, users now choose from some advanced headlamp options that offer hands-free lighting in the dark.

Old Incandescent Headlamp

These bulbs work using a filament wire that glows when the temperature rises. Unfortunately, the heating process requires a lot of energy, thus draining the lamp's battery much faster. Because of the amount of energy it utilizes, bright headlamps only last for a couple of hours. Not to mention, the lamp raises plenty of safety concerns as well.

Further, on the downside, this type of headlamp also has weak beam strength which means, it's not suitable for completing tasks that require precision. However, some people still prefer this lamp because of its affordable price and warm glow.

Halogen Headlamps

Halogen headlamps combine the benefits of an incandescent bulb and halogen. With the inclusion of gas, the bulb can operate at much higher temperatures, which increases the overall glow and beam strength. The halogen enables the light bulb to shine for an extended period.

While users are likely to benefit from increased power, this type of lamp requires special precautions. If not used carefully, halogen headlamps can start a fire because of its hot temperature. Campers, hikers, and other outdoor enthusiasts must also be careful not to touch the light bulb since the natural oils on our skin can cause the bulb to explode.

Another potential downside is that these headlamps are a lot more expensive than traditional options. However, this type of light bulb is still popular because of its intense beam. Today, halogen bulbs are popular because of their increased beam strength and bright light.


Most headlamps today are made using LED. Unlike incandescent or halogen lamps, LED headlamps don't have many safety concerns and are much easier to use. Though slightly pricey, campers prefer using LED headlamps because of its reliability and increased longevity. In fact, the headlamp can operate for about 36 days with a single charge.

LED Headlamps For Climbing

The only downside is that LED light bulbs tend to distort colors because it had a slightly blue tinge. Another common concern is that LED cannot reach long distances. If you're in need of a headlamp that offers both short and long range lighting, consider investing in a dual-bulb headlamp that features both LED and halogen lighting.

This ingenious headlamp allows users to conserve battery light. You can use halogen for longer distances and LED light for short ranges. Dual headlamps are usually bulkier and maximize the headlamp’s use.

Factors To Consider When Investing In A Headlamp

A headlamp is an indispensable outdoor accessory that not only helps navigate the way but also guarantees your safety. To get the most out of your purchase, it is imperative you invest in the right headlamp according to your specific needs and requirements. Here are a couple of factors you should consider when choosing a headlamp:


Brands have now started categorizing headlamps according to their particular purpose. While some lights are suitable for offering floodlight or spotlight, other models only cover short-range distances. If you intend on using the headlamp for hiking and running trails, invest in a model that can illuminate light along large distances.

On the other hand, if you wish to conduct repair work and need the light to focus on the subject, you're better off with an LED model that can provide a better visibility over short distances.


You can measure the intensity or brightness of the headlamp in ‘lumen.' Bulbs, which have a higher lumen, shine brighter than other bulbs. Some models may have a power of 0.1 lumens while other bulbs can shine as bright as 350 lumens.

How bright are Lumens

However, do note that high lumen levels will drain the headlamp’s battery life much faster. If you don’t require a powerful light source, consider investing in a lamp with a low lumen count to save money.


Most headlamps feature alkaline batteries that are widely available. However, lithium batteries are a more environmentally-friendly option. While this type of battery tends to be more expensive, it can last up to 10 years with good care. If you’re on a limited budget, we suggest you invest in a headlamp that can accommodate rechargeable batteries.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery conservation, hikers and campers can benefit from LED models. Battery life is significant if you plan on spending a weekend in the wilderness and won't access to power. Also, consider investing in a headlamp with a voltage regulator that’ll keep the brightness level constant until it's time to replace the battery.

Battery Life of Headlamps

Most headlamps in the market can shine their brightness for about an hour. After that, the light starts to diminish. We also suggest you invest in a headlamp with a battery indicator so that you can determine to charge time or know when to replace the old batteries.

Light Distance

As discussed earlier, not all headlamps are capable of illuminating light along long distances. This problem is common with LED and incandescent headlamps.

Cave explorers and hikers mainly need head lamps that can shed light as far as possible. Fortunately, a halogen headlamp can put an end to all these problems. Consider investing in a dual halogen and LED head lamp, so you don't have to compromise on brightness and light distance.

Top Manufacturers Of Headlamps

If you want to purchase the best headlamp in the market, it is essential you invest in the most reputable brands in the market. The most notable names in the industry include:

Black Diamond

Black Diamond is among the most popular brands when it comes to manufacturing outdoor gear. The company specializes in manufacturing outdoor gear for climbing and skiing. Over the years, the company has grown and focuses on designing innovative products that will help people around the world.

Black Diamond

It also manufactures gear for hiking and skiing. Black Diamond Headlamps are known for its exceptional quality and functionality. Users can choose from a range of headlamps, available at different prices.


Petzl headlamps have been around for more than 30 years now and have been evolving ever since. The brand is known for manufacturing innovative products.

Some of their headlamps have advanced features such as Bluetooth capability that makes hiking, climbing and other outdoor activities more fun and exciting. Aside from headlamps, Petzl also manufactures high-quality caving and climbing gear.


Bushnell specializes in manufacturing outdoor gear and optics. Bushnell headlamps are guaranteed to offer brilliant performance and have advanced features. The brand's rechargeable headlamps are particularly famous because you can easily adjust the light according to your outdoor settings.

Bushnell Headlamps

Some models also feature an advanced auto dimming feature that allows users to adjust the long distance or dim light for closer viewing.


InnoGear has been around for years and is known for manufacturing quality products. Most InnoGear Headlamps are comfortable, lightweight and you can use it for multiple purposes such as camping, running, fishing and hiking. Additionally, most of the models have different lighting modes so that you can use different settings according to your surroundings.


Energizer is another great brand which is known for manufacturing quality headlamps. The company produces an assortment of lightweight and powerful LED headlamps that are not only durable but comfortable to use.

Headlamp Colors

Headlamps are available in three main colors including red, white and green. Each color has its own set of pros and cons. To help you make the decision, we have listed down the benefits and characteristics of each color so that you know which one to select, which include:

White Light

Today, LED lamps are among the most popular types in the market, and nearly all of its models features a white LED light. Sure, white light allows you to see in the dark, but that's not all. White light is important for actual visibility and offers extreme clarity.

Colors of

However, while purchasing a white LED headlamp, ensure you have inspected the quality of the white quality. Most brands offer lights which are slightly tinted and appear unnatural. However, some models focus on providing natural white light. Keep in mind that white light consumes the most battery power.

Red Light

Red light creates an eerie warm glow that some people might offer traditional white light. Red light makes it easier for users to navigate their way in the dark, preventing folks from tripping or falling.

This light is also easier on the eyes and prevents the pupils from shrinking, which means that your eyes won't take much time to adjust to the light and you won't go blind or lose your vision once the headlamp has been switched off.

Red Light Headlamps

The most obvious drawback of red light is that it does not illuminate space well. While we suggest, you invest in a headlamp that features both the colors, many folks don't mind going without the red light. You will also be pleased to know that red light has a smaller impact on the battery life compared to white lights.

Green Light

Green lights are not as widely available as the other two colors. This light is known to be better on the eyes compared to white and red lights.

Green Headlamp For Hunting

People can use the lights on for longer period without any problems. Hunters are commonly known for using green light since it allows them to keep track of animals in the dark.

Best of all, the green light won't drain the battery compared to the other types.

Tips For Choosing The Right Headlamp

Your headlamp can save you from a particularly distressing situation which is why you should ensure you have purchased the right product. Follow these tips if you want to choose the right headlamp:

Don’t Settle For Less

While it may seem tempting to buy a cheaply manufactured product for almost half the price, we strictly advise you against it. The extra price will be definitely worth the money because of the benefits.

Factories in China produce low-price headlamps. These models are typically bulkier and will wobble around your head, providing an uncomfortable fit. Another drawback of headlamps is that these models typically run out in 3 hours which means the battery will drain quickly.

While a low-quality headlamp may come in handy when there is a power outage in the city, you ought to consider investing in a more trusted headlamp when you're out there in the wild.

Focus On Battery Life

Most backpackers know the importance of traveling light and thus don't carry too many items when they are on the move. If you don't have extra strength or space to carry additional items, you will benefit from a headlamp with a long battery life.

Battery Life for Headlamps

A longer battery life means you don't have to worry about carrying an extra battery, which by the way can take plenty of room.

A longer battery life will also guarantee your safety in the woods. After all, you wouldn’t want to run out of power in the middle of the night. Invest in a headlamp that can last for at least 20 hours. Some more advanced models have a longer running time.

Invest In A Headlamp With A Red Light Setting

We’ve already discussed how headlamps are available in three different colors. Well, here’s the thing: don’t purchase a headlamp without a red light setting. Here’s why red light is important:

  • It won’t drain battery life
  • It won’t sting your eyes
  • It won’t blind people if they directly look into the light
  • You can switch on the light in the tent without waking up other people

People use green and blue lights for signaling. Hunters prefer using colored lights since it allows them to identify animals.

Understand The Different Types Of Lighting Modes

Sure, the overall brightness and lumens of the headlamp are important, but you also need to focus on lightening modes. We can classify lights into two main types:

  • Floodlight: This mode offers a wider, dimmer setting. It is an excellent option if you want to focus on things that are nearby. You can use this setting if you want to read a book inside the tent.
  • Spotlight: Spotlight is great if you want to focus on objects located at a distance from you. It features a focused beam of light which can illuminate through long distanced. It'll also give you a better view of what's happening in the dark, so you are never startled by weird noises.

Both of these lighting modes feature different beam distances. Unlike lumen, the beam distance is a slightly better performance indicator. Invest in a headlamp according to the bulb's beam distance, so you don't have any trouble finding your way in the dark. Lumen rating can be misleading which is why you should also focus on beam distance.

How many lumens do you need


These are just a couple of factors you should keep in mind when investing in a headlamp. Many brands offer excellent accessories that have high-end features.

If you have more questions about purchasing the best headlamps, don’t forget to check out our buyer’s guide. It will also include a list of some of our favorite products. Good luck!

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