Looking to enjoy outdoor activities in the dark? If so, you’ll want one of the best headlamps to brighten things up.
There’s a few things to think about when making your decision and I’ll show you what’s most important – you’ll see my top picks for hiking, camping and running after.
I’m sure you’ll see a headlamp that you want to own by the time you’re done reading.
How To Choose A Headlamp
Here’s a video that explains things:
Pretty simple, right?
Here’s what I think is most important:
- What you plan on doing with the lamp
- Light output
- Smaller features (batteries, water proofing,e etc.)
First thing you need to consider is what activities you’re going to be doing while wearing the headlamp. If you need one for running and camping you’ll want a spot or focused headlamp. These products give you a tight beam and allows you to see things farther ahead of you.
If you need a headlamp for camping you’ll want a flood/wide one. This is good for camping tasks and other things with your hands – you won’t be able to see too far head of you, however.
There’s also adjustable head lamps available that let you switch between spot and wide light. This is good if you plan on doing all kinds of outdoor activities with your headlamp.
Next, you need to investigate light output. Light output is measured in lumens and the higher the lumens, in most cases, the more brightness you get.
Lastly, you need to look at the smaller features of the product like battery (lithium batteries which are good in cold and rechargeable batteries which are also good in cold) and water proofing. I’ll go more into this stuff when describing the products coming up.
Now that you know what to consider when making your purchase, let’s take a look at my top picks now.
Headlamps For Hiking
Black Diamond Storm
Company: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Storm is one of the most popular headlamps on the market and is perfect for people that backpack and hike. One reasons it’s so great for this is the light beam can reach up to 80 meters on its highest setting!
You’ll be able to see everything there is to see in front of you, no matter how dark it is. If you don’t need that much light, you can put it to its lowest setting and get 11 meters of light too.
Some other features that you’ll appreciate includes:
- Touch sensitive housing allows you to change the brightness with just the touch of your finger.
- Completely waterproof and you won’t have to worry about it breaking if you get caught up in a rain storm.
- You get peripheral lighting to so you can use this product while camping if you need to.
- You get 22 hours of run time if you run on highest power and 160 hours on the lowest setting. This product runs on 4 AAA batteries too.
- Lightweight and you won’t mind having it on your head for long periods of time. It’s comfortable to wear too.
What’s really great is the price isn’t too bad and most people will be able to afford this product. If you’re not convinced yet you should check out the reviews on Amazon. There’s hundreds of them and most are overwhelmingly positive. If you want to see what other customers are saying about the Black Diamond Storm, click below:
Petzl REACTIK Plus Bluetooth Enabled
The Petzl REACTIK Plus is one of my favorite headlamps and one of the most high quality on this list. What really separates this product from the pack is it can be connected to your phone through Bluetooth. This means you can change the beam pattern, brightness, lighting profiles and more from the free MyPetzl app.
This is handy feature will save you some stress out on the trail. You won’t have to take your headlamp off to play with it. Just take out your phone, make your adjustments and be on your way – it doesn’t get much better than that!
Some other aspects you’ll like includes:
- Very versatile product and you can use this headlamp for more than just hiking.
- Light sensor automatically adjusts the lighting to save you battery and makes it more hands off.
- Very far lighting range and you get up to 110 meters of light. That’s more than a football field!
- Runs on rechargeable batteries or can run on AAA batteries. On the lowest setting you’ll get up to 30 hours and on the highest setting you get 2 hours.
- Battery charge indicator so you know exactly how much juice you have left.
- Adjustable so you get the perfect fit and it’s comfortable to wear. It also absorbs sweat to keep your head dry.
- Completely weatherproof and this product will run no matter what weather you find yourself in.
Because this is such a high quality headlamp it’s going to cost a little extra to purchase – it’s one of the few that costs over $100. Do I think it’s worth it? I do but if you don’t want to spend that much there’s plenty of more affordable options to choose from.
Black Diamond Ion
Company: Black Diamond
Here we have another Black Diamond product and it won’t be the last one you see on this list – they’re probably the most well known makers of headlamps. Their Ion is a minimalist headlamp and is made more for casual hikers.
If you’re someone that spends days out in the wilderness you’ll probably want one of the headlights on this list with more features. I’m not saying the Ion is low quality or anything like that but it’s just not made for serious trips.
If you’re not looking to use it for those reasons, you’ll appreciate this product:
- Gives you up to 38 meters of lighting, which is pretty good and allows you too see a lot in the dark.
- Runs on 2 AA batteries and you get up to 6 hours of run time on the highest setting. On the lowest setting you get up to 180 hours of run time.
- 4 different light settings like strobe, red light, dimming and lock mode.
- Weatherproof and you won’t have to worry about this product breaking down in the rain.
- Extremely lightweight and you’ll barely notice it on your head.
Because this headlamp is so basic it’s very, very affordable and will cost under $20. If you’re looking to save a few bucks on a headlamp this year and don’t plan on doing any intense backpacking, the Black Diamond Ion will work for you.
Princeton TEC Remix LED
Company: Princeton Tec
Here we have another low profile headlamp and one that can be worn in many different situations. It works best for hiking but you can definitely wear it when camping too.
One thing that’s really amazing is this product gives you up to 200 hours of run time on the lowest setting. That’s pretty amazing when you think of it and is one of the longest running headlamps on this list. You also get 28 hours of run time on the highest setting too. This is more than most headlamps give on the highest setting too.
Some other benefits include:
- Provides light up to 73 meters away on the highest setting and on the lowest setting provides 10 meters of light.
- You get three colors to choose from in terms of light beam – green, white and red.
- Large buttons are easy to use and you can change settings with gloves on without taking them off.
- Head on this product is adjustable and you can move it up and down. This means you can pin point where the light goes.
- Comfortable to wear and it won’t cause any discomfort or pain.
The price is right where you’d expect it to be too. It’s definitely not expensive but it’s certainly not cheap either, which is the last thing you want. It’s right in the middle and a good value.
Black Diamond Icon
Company: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Icon is a really high quality piece of equipment and one that any serious hiker and backpacker should consider. The Icon is rugged and is a handy little product when you’re deep in the woods and on trail.
One thing that’s pretty amazing is the beam on this light reaches up to 110 meters, which is more than a football field. You think you’ll be able to see everything you in front of you with this type of range?
If that’s not enough you’ll like that this product is:
- Smartly designed and this headlamp will stay on your head no matter what you’re doing. You won’t have to worry about it slipping over your eyes or anything like that.
- 3 different light settings so you get the perfect amount of light in every situation.
- Completely waterproof and you’ll be able to wear this headlamp even if it’s pouring out.
- A whopping 250 hours of run time when on the lowest setting and 50 hours on the lowest setting. It also runs on 4 AA batteries.
The Black Diamond Icon is another headlamp that’s a little on the pricey side. Nothing too crazy but a little more expensive than most of the products on this list. But it’s worth every penny of its cost and I’m sure you’ll come to the same conclusion if you decide on this product.
Headlamps For Camping
Fenix HL60R Rechargeble Headlamp
The Fenix HL60R is a product that a lot of campers will love and one that any person that camps a lot should consider. This is the kind of product that will brighten up any situation, no matter how dark it is.
One thing that’s very convenient is this headlamp comes with rechargeable batteries. You won’t have to constantly purchase AA or AAA batteries and this makes life much simpler.
Some top features include:
- 5 different light options all the way from super (a whopping 950 lumens) to eco mode (5 lumens).
- You get a pretty good battery life on a single charge and you get up to 100 hours on the lowest light option.
- 160 degree tilt means you control where you point where the light goes and pin point it.
- Battery power indicator shows you exactly how much life this product has left in it. You’ll never have to guess when to recharge it.
- Pretty lightweight at 4.9 ounces and you won’t mind having this product on your head for long periods of time.
I wouldn’t consider this headlamp overly expensive but it’s a little more pricey than some of the other products on this list. I personally think it’s worth its price and believe this is one of the higher quality headlamps on the market.
Black Diamond Iota
Company: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Iota is a nice headlamp but doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some of the more high end products on this list. But not everyone needs a headlamp with a thousand different features and benefits. Some people just want basic and reliable – I’d say that sums up the Iota.
One feature that I know you’re going to like is that you get three different light settings. You can either set it full strength, dimming or strobe. This gives this piece of equipment some versatility and allows you to save some battery if you want.
Some other top aspects include:
- Powered by a rechargeable battery makes the Iota convenient to own. You won’t have to constantly purchase batteries because of this.
- Shows you how much battery you have left so you know exactly when to recharge.
- Lockout feature ensures this product doesn’t switch on and drain the battery in your backpack.
- Takes about 3 hours to fully recharge. You can pair this headlamp with a smart backpack and just charge it as you’re walking!
- You get 40 meters of light which is why it’s perfect for camping.
The Iota is an excellent value too and it’s pretty affordable. If you’re looking to save a little cash on your light source, this is one you should definitely think about.
Petzl ACTIK Core
The Petzl ACTIK Core is a headlamp that a lot of people are going to like and one that’s ultra convenient. The reason I say this is it comes with the Core rechargeable battery pack. But you can also use AAA batteries to run this product too.
This basically ensures you’ll never be without your light source. Even if you forget to fully charge the Core battery system you can always just pop in spare batteries. You’ll get light all night long.
Some other benefits that make this headlamp worth it includes:
- You get the option of both wide lighting and more concentrated lighting. This actually makes the ACTIK good for both hiking and camping. You get up to 110 meters of lighting too, which is more than any person will need.
- Red lighting makes sure you won’t blind your fellow campers.
- Completely waterproof and will stand up to rain and inclement weather.
- Comes with an emergency whistle in case you need help.
- Can run up to a whopping 100 hours.
This product is priced exactly where you’d expect it to be too. What really makes the ACTIK worth its cost is it comes with a 5 year guarantee. You’ll have a hard time finding a better warranty than 5 years, that’s for sure.
Petzl Ultra Rush
The Petzl Ultra Rush is a product that’s on another level when compared to the rest on this list. It gives by far the most light, has the most features and is by far the highest level quality. If you’re looking for an absolutely dependable product and one that’ll light up the darkest areas, this a headlamp that’ll work for you.
In terms of distance, the Ultra Rush gives you 140 meters of light. That’s basically a football field and a half. Does any person need that much lighting? Also, on low you get 37 meters of lighting which makes it good for camping and other times you’re in close quarters.
Some other features include:
- Very stong rechargeable battery gives you 4 hours of run time on the highest lighting and 73 hours on the lowest. This product automatically switches to low when you’re running out of batteries and this gives you an extra hour of light.
- Battery goes in your pocket to save you a little extra weight on your head.
- 4 different light settings so you get the perfect amount of brightness possible.
- Light dial lets you easily switch your settings without any issues.
- Very rugged and durable. This headlamp will work no matter what the weather is like.
- Adjustable fit and it’ll fit perfectly to your head so it isn’t shifting around or anything like that.
There’s one thing that’s going to keep everyone from purchasing this product – its price. This headlamp is BY FAR the most expensive on this list and will cost north of $400. Not everyone needs to pay that, though, and the Ultra Rush should be left to those who are very serious.
Headlamps For Running
Black Diamond Sprinter
Company: Black Diamond
When you’re looking for a headlamp for running you want one that’s reliable, low profile and low weight – that’s exactly what you’ll get with the Black Diamond Sprinter. In fact, I believe this is a product that all runners should think about. It’ll give you everything you need and you’ll be extremely satisfied with this product if you decide on it.
One reason I say this is you get up to 30 meters of lighting on the highest setting, which is more than any person will need. You get 8 hours on the lowest setting.
Some other features that you’ll love includes:
- Runs on a rechargeable battery which is convenient. You won’t have to worry about always having AA or AAA batteries.
- You get 6 hours of run time on the highest setting and 42 hours on the lowest setting.
- Rear red strobe light ensures cars can see you and makes sure you’re as safe as possible.
- Adjustable strap so you get the perfect fit for your own unique head shape.
- Waterproof and you can wear this headlamp even if it’s storming and raining out.
The price isn’t bad either and most people will be able to afford it. Still need more convincing? Check out the reviews on Amazon. There’s hundreds of them and almost all are positive. If you want to read them, click below:
UltraAspire Lumen 220 Waist Light
The UltraAspire Lumen 220 Waist Light, as the name suggests, goes around your waist and not your head. Do I think this type of design is better? I don’t really have a strong feeling either way. It’s less intrusive to have it not on your head but the lighting isn’t as good because it’s lower on your body.
If you’re more concerned with safety than comfort than you’ll want a headlamp. If comfort is what you’re most worried about than this waist light can work for you.
Some other top aspects include:
- You get 5 different light settings so you’ll always get what you need.
- Waterproof and you won’t have to worry if you happen to get caught up in a storm.
- Mixes lightweight design and durability – this is a product that’s going to last a long time.
- Operates on 3 AAA batteries.
- You get 28 hours of run time which is more than any person will need on a run.
This is another piece of equipment that’s not cheap but not overly expensive, which makes it attractive for many people. You may not want to break the bank for your lighting source but you certainly don’t want to cheap out. If you do you may get a low quality lamp.
Nathan Halo Fire Headlamp
The Nathan Halo is another headlamp that all runners should consider. One thing I really like about this product is you can change lighting without touching the headlamp. All you have to do is wave your hand in front of the lamp and it changes.
That’s pretty cool and something all runners should appreciate. You won’t have to stop your run to get the perfect amount of light. In fact, you won’t even have to break stride.
Some other features include:
- Rechargeable battery means you won’t have to deal with replacing the battery.
- 5 different light modes mean you’ll always get the lighting that you need.
- Auto-Strobe mode goes off once it senses car lights. This ensures you’re as safe as possible when running in the dark.
- Runs for 25 hours on the lowest setting and 4 hours on the highest setting. This should be good for pretty much any run.
This headlamp is a little cheaper than the previous two you’ve seen for running. If you want to save a little on your headlamp, this is a product you should definitely consider.
1) Question: What is a flood beam?
Answer: A flood beam casts light in more of a horizontal direction instead of a being narrow and far. This means it’s good in camp sites and when you’re looking for firewood or putting up a tent. It also comes in handy when you’re reading or any other task that’s close to your face.
This kind of beam isn’t great when it comes to distance, though. So if you need a product that lets you shine a spotlight 100 yards away, you should look elsewhere.
2) Question: What is a spot light?
Answer: A spot light is the opposite of a flood light and is more narrow and good with long distances. This makes this product useful on trails and when you need to see hundreds of feet away.
If you’re looking for a headlamp to wear around a camp site, you’ll want to look elsewhere, though. The narrow light isn’t good for setting up tents and stuff like that.
3) Question: Is there headlamps that have both wide and spot lights?
Answer: There is but not everyone on the market lets you switch between spot and wide. It’s best to look at all the features of the headlamp you’re considering and to see if it allows you to do this.
I personally like headlamps that do both because most people don’t just do one activity. If you love the outdoors you probably love to hike, camp, bike, run and more. A versatile headlamp will help you out with all of that.
4) Question: How much is a new headlamp going to cost?
Answer: Headlamps come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and some have a million different features and others don’t – all of this factors into how much it’s going to cost you.
Products that are more expensive tend to have rechargeable batteries, an impressive run time, different light modes, extremely durable and cast a bright light that makes being in the dark not seem so bad. There’s even products on this list that are Bluetooth enabled and you can control from your phone.
Cheaper headlamps have a smaller light, may run on AA or AAA batteries, and overall are more basic.
If you’re looking for a high end lamp, you’ll probably be paying between $75 to $125. Although, there’s a few that can go as high as $300 or $400 but you certainly don’t need a product that expensive.
If you’re looking for a less expensive headlamp you can pay under $20. It’s important to keep in mind that these pieces of equipment won’t perform like $100 lamp.
5) Question: Do I really need a headlamp?
Answer: I’m not going to say you absolutely, 100% need a headlamp but it really makes life a lot easier. You can just buy a flashlight (this isn’t true if you plan on running in the dark) but you’ll lose the function of your hands. If you’re reading a map or putting up a tent, that’s going to make life annoying.
You’ll have to perfectly balance the flashlight with one hand or put it in your mouth and use your other hand to keep the map straight or build your tent. Or you’ll have to have one person holding the flashlight and the other person doing the activities, which means less people are working and it’ll take more time to do what you have to do.
When you have a headlamp you won’t have to worry about your hands or anything like that. The beam just moves with your head and you’ll be able to do whatever you want.
Also, you get a ton of light too. Some products even go over 100 meters, which is basically the size of a football field. That’s an incredible amount of light and you’ll feel extra safe because of this.
Lastly, these lights are ultra durable and most are waterproof. Even if you get caught up in a bad rain storm you won’t have to worry about your lamp breaking or shutting down.
6) Question: Which batteries are best?
Answer: This really depends on your needs and what you want. Products that run on AA or AAA batteries tend to cost less up front but the expenses add up because you’ll always have to buy new batteries.
Headlamps that come with a rechargeable battery tend to cost more up front but there’s no extra expenses until it’s time to replace the battery, which can take a few years.
If you’re really concerned about running out of light while outdoors, disposable batteries are probably the best option for you. You can always bring along spares and when your batteries die, you can just pop new ones in.
If you run out of battery when you have a rechargeable battery you’re going to be out of luck, unless you have a back up.
7) Question: How much battery life can I expect?
Answer: Again, this really depends on the type of battery you purchase and on which level you’re running the headlamp.
When you’re running the light on its maximum output, you can expect to get a few hours of run time. Some products claim you get 2 hours on the highest light and others claim you can get up to 28 hours of light on high.
On the lowest settings and settings that don’t require that much power, you can get a lot more battery. There’s a few products on this list that give up to 200 hours when you run it on low.
You have to look at each headlamp and see what you get.
8) Question: How much light can I expect to get?
Answer: Like many of the answers in the FAQ, it really come down to the type of product that you get. If you’re camping you want brightness but you might not need much distance. For example, anything over 30 meters would just be overkill.
If you’re hiking, though, it’s a little different. You may need to look up the trail a few hundred feet. Because of this, some headlamp can cast a light over 300 meters.
There’s also different light modes that give off different amounts of light. In situations where you only need 20 to 30 meters light you can set it to that mode and when you need more you can switch it to get more.
9) Question: How many different light modes are there?
Answer: Almost all headlamps offer at least a high and low mode. This means you’ll get different brightness and distances, depending on your situation and battery life.
Many products actually have 3 or more different light modes too. For example, there’s pieces of equipment that offer a mid mode and this is a pretty convenient option to have.
There’s a couple of other light options that some headlamps offer, including:
- Strobe: Strobe makes the light blink and this is good for emergency situations. If you’re lost off the trail or want to make sure people know where you are, you can set it to strobe mode.
- Boost: Boost mode gives you a highly concentrated light and really lets you pin point an object. If you hear something ahead and want to make sure it’s not a bear, you set it to boost mode for 20 seconds of intense light. The reason it runs in 20 seconds burst is it strains the battery. If you run it on boost mode for too long, your battery will die pretty quickly.
10) Question: Are all headlamps waterproof?
Answer: Most headlamps have a degree of waterproofing and some do a better job than others. For example, there’s a couple that’ll withstand a light rain or snow but you might run into issues if it starts to down pour.
Others, however, can pretty much handle any storm that you’ll run into. There’s even a few than be held under water and be alright. If you expect to face some streams or anything like that, you’ll want a product that can do that.
11) Question: Can I buy a headlamp online?
Answer: There’s some outdoor products that you probably want to buy in person and not online – bigger items like a kayak or something like for example. Other items it isn’t so important.
It’s probably better to buy a headlamp in person so you can check out the light and see how it feels to wear on your head. But if you want to buy it online you can do that too. This isn’t a piece of equipment that 100% needs to be tried on before purchasing.
Also, this isn’t the most common product that you’ll see in every outdoor store. Depending on where you live it can take up to a hour to find a store that carries a headlamp. And even if a store does carry these lights, the selection might be limited and you might not find one that suits you at all.
There’s plenty of great online retailers that offer every single kind of outdoor equipment that you can think of. I personally like buying from Amazon and that’s why I link to them. They have excellent prices, a wide selection to choose from and you can read unbiased customer reviews on each headlamp.
Also, Amazon has an excellent return policy and if you want to get your money back for any reason, you’ll easily be able to do that.
Make Sure To Get A Quality Headlamp
Having a well made headlamp is essential when doing anything outdoors, especially if you plan on being in the dark. If you get the right lamp you’ll feel safe and secure to run, hike or camp. Get the wrong one and you might find yourself in an unsafe situation.
No matter your needs or budget you’ll find one on this list that works perfectly for you.
If you have any questions you can comment below and I’ll make sure to respond as quickly as possible.
Are you excited to try out your new headlamp?