LAST UPDATED: October 19, 2019
Best Headlamps: See More Clearly and Be More Visible
Be a bright beacon at night with these high-quality headlamps
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED ON October 19, 2019
If you run, hike, walk, or bike outside at night, then you need to be seen, as well as be able to see the path ahead of you. To help you do just that, you should consider a bright and powerful headlamp. They go around your head like a hat and leave your hands free to carry a water bottle, carry your phone, or hold your dog’s leash. We put together a list of some of the best headlamps to check out for your next outdoor adventure.
A stylish headlamp that stands out with its unique aqua color and ultra-bright light.
USB rechargeable. Charges in four hours. 40 hours of consistent light. 180 lumens. 300 feet beam. Red and white lights alert others and let you see more clearly. Waterproof and durable.
No battery indicator light. Unable to focus the light beam. Cover for charging port is flimsy.
An easy-to-operate headlamp with four settings and swivel ability.
Lightweight. Features high, low, red, and flashing light modes. Swivels down to 45 degrees. Comfortable. Non-bobbing or wobbling. 110 lumens. Bulb lasts up to 100,000 hours.
You have to cycle through the light modes. Snug fit. No off switch. It can get warm on your head.
A powerfully bright headlamp that comes in several colors, features six different modes and is simple to use.
It includes two separate buttons to select either a white or red light. No cycling through modes required. Triple LED light with four cool white modes and two red night vision modes. Lightweight and waterproof. 165 lumens.
Narrow beam. Buttons are small. Adjusting the light can be a hassle. The case doesn’t feel sturdy.
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Headlamps
- Versatility. Headlamps make it possible to tackle all types of tasks, from working underneath the car, camping, and rescue missions at night. They are good in situations where both hands are occupied.
- Last a long time. Quality headlamps last long. Once you have installed new batteries, you can rely on them for hundreds of hours.
- Comfortable to use. Headlamps have fully adjustable straps that provide a comfortable fit. The hinged adjuster offers a secure fit to ensure that the headlamp remains in place regardless of the activities you are undertaking.
Types of Headlamps
These are headlamps that are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Most of these lamps come with a USB cable that can be used to recharge the lamp using a laptop or wall charger. The advantages of these headlamps are that they are eco-friendly and they save you the cost of constantly replacing batteries. Additionally, such headlamps are bright, reliable, and durable. However, these lamps are a bit expensive.
These are the types of headlamps that come with disposable alkaline batteries. AA and AAA batteries are often used to power these lamps. Non-rechargeable headlamps are cheaper than their rechargeable counterparts but you have to keep on replacing the batteries. Therefore, if you are going for upcountry trips, such as hiking and camping, you need to carry extra batteries. Due to the weight of the battery, these headlamps seem bulky and they are not very bright. It is important for hikers and campers to dispose the batteries properly after using them due to their harmful effects on the environment.
Black Diamond is an international company that is situated in Utah. Since 1957, the company has focused on producing innovative and high-quality yet affordable gear for climbing, hiking, camping, skiing, and other sports. Some of the best products from the company include the Black Diamond Icon Headlamp and the Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp.
Shining Buddy is another great headlamp company formed in the United States by two brothers who were looking to resolve the lighting problems they experienced in their outdoor escapades. The brothers formed the company in 2012 and launched it in 2014. Ever since, the company has provided various LED lighting products for every outdoor activity. Its products suit avid runners, beginner campers, cyclists, pro anglers, and even those who like walking their dogs at night. One of the best products from Shining Buddy is the Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight.
Nitecore is an award-winning American manufacturer of illumination and electronic tools. The company has existed for many years and prides itself on providing reliable headlamps globally. Headlamps from the company suit divers, cyclists, anglers, and boating enthusiasts. It shares a similar passion with those who like to explore mountains, roads, ice, hunting, and search and rescue missions. Its best products include the Nitecore NU32 550 Lumen Rechargeable Headlamp and the Nitecore High-Performance Versatile L-Shaped Headlamp.
Foxelli is an international company located in Tualatin, Oregon. The company provides high-end, reliable, and durable lighting gear at affordable prices. Foxelli understands the importance of heading outdoors fully prepared, especially with reliable lighting equipment. It seeks to empower outdoor enthusiasts with proper lighting equipment for use in extreme environments and activities. Some products from Foxelli include the Foxelli 165 Lumen Headlamp Flashlight and the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp.
Best Headlamps Pricing
- Below $20: In this price range, you expect headlamps that are not very bright but suit basic use. They are mostly headlamps with non-rechargeable and disposable alkaline batteries. These lamps are relatively bulky, but their batteries last quite some time since they don’t consume a lot of energy.
- Above $20: These headlamps are very functional and provide extreme brightness for demanding workbenches. They mostly use rechargeable batteries and they are durable and waterproof. They have a long-lasting battery life and are comfortable to use. In this range, the lights have adjustable brightness and are able to suit different uses.
Headlamps use different battery types to achieve their lighting needs. Some use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, while others use disposable alkaline batteries. Some have a long-lasting battery life of more than 20 hours, while others have a battery life of as low as two hours. When choosing a headlamp, ensure you choose a light that has a reliable battery life depending on the intended usage. Also, ensure you carry extra batteries in your backpack if your headlamp is for camping or hiking.
Lumen is the unit of measurement of brightness that comes from the light source. While this is an essential factor, lumen doesn’t affect the quality of the beam pattern. It only describes the total sum of light striking a given direction. This means that two headlamps with the same lumens can have different light quality. Therefore, you shouldn’t base your selection of the best headlamp solely on lumens. However, the higher the lumen count, the better the amount of light produced by the headlamp.
Every headlamp has a specified beam distance. This specifies the brightness of the headlamp and the ability of the lens to focus. Most manufacturers indicate the highest possible output when the headlamp is in spot mode and a low measurement when in close-proximity mode. Always check both numbers to find a headlamp with medium settings, as it will provide a better battery life.
Headlamps come with different light modes that suit different uses. Some common light modes include;
- Red light. This light uses little energy and doesn’t result in pupillary dilation at night. This mode is best for camp chores, as it doesn’t attract flying insects.
- Strobe. This lighting mode is best if you want to make yourself visible when biking, hiking, or running on roadsides. It can also be used as an emergency signal.
- High/spotlight. The headlamp is condensed and focused to produce bright light that is directed at a distant object. It is the best mode for night hiking, spotting climbing aids, bike headlights, or looking for hidden trail signs.
- Low/floodlight. Also known as proximity mode, it produces a soft, dimmer light for viewing close objects. It conserves battery power and is best for cooking in campsites, setting up tents, and going on night hikes on familiar trails.
Ensure that you choose a headlamp with a variety of lighting modes to suit different applications.
- Burn Time and Battery Life. This describes the amount of time that the battery can sustain light without necessitating recharge or battery change. The burn time increases when the headlamp is used in low settings.
- Weather Resistance. Always go for headlamps made from quality materials. Manufacturers use an IPX rating to classify the weather resistance of a headlamp. Waterproof headlamps should have an IP code that indicates specifically how the units’ electrical components are protected from water and dust.
Best Headlamp Reviews & Recommendations 2020
The Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp is a rechargeable headlamp specifically designed to suit professional sports enthusiasts and everyday users in various environments. The unit is perfect for lighting in various situations. Users can tilt the headlamp’s body to 45 degrees, enabling them to focus the light where needed. It also comes with various lighting modes.
Without a doubt, the primary benefits of this headlamp are that it is powerful, reliable, and durable. It is made from high-quality yet lightweight materials to suit everyday use. It also comes with a longer burn time of approximately 40 hours. With a weather resistance rating of IPX5, you can be sure that it is protected from splashing water from any angle.
However, a major downside is that the battery goes off without warning. It might also not hold a charge for a long period after several charges. You might have to carry backup batteries to avoid such situations.
The Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight is an ultra-light, comfortable, and easy-to-wear headlamp. It is a perfect go-to light source to use when working on indoor activities or late night strolls. Due to its lightweight nature, the headlamp is perfect for everyone, including adult men, women, teens, and young kids looking to make the best of their nighttime expeditions.
An outstanding benefit of this product is that users get the value for their money. It is a good quality headlamp, yet available at an affordable price. It is also lightweight, as well as weather- and shock-resistant with an IPX5 rating. It has a non-slip adjustable strap and has four bright LED light settings.
A major drawback with the Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight is that it uses disposable batteries that are not friendly to the environment and also adds to the cost. Also, you have to cycle through the light modes to reach your preferred lighting mode. Note that the headlamp can get warm on your head.
The Luxolite LED Headlamp Flashlight is a sturdy and bright headlamp, which ensures that you enjoy the utmost safety in the dark. You can comfortably wear this headlamp flashlight for a run, walk, or workout while enjoying unlimited freedom. It has separate push buttons for switching between white and red light without cycling through different modes.
An outstanding benefit of this headlamp is its IPX6 waterproof rating, which ensures it can be used in any weather condition. It also comes with a comfortable and stress-free head strap, making it reliable for extended working hours. Additionally, the unit is lightweight. Weighing only 3 ounces, it’s perfect lighting for camping, hunting, cycling, climbing, and mining.
Despite all these benefits, the headlamp has a narrow beam that inhibits its usage in complete darkness. Also, its buttons are small, which makes it a real hassle to switch between different modes.
- The plastic casing around the headlamp can get warm if the light is left on for an extended amount of time. However, it should never get dangerously hot. You should always turn it off when not using it, or you can wear gloves if you have sensitive hands.
- The strobe setting is more useful to alert others of your position. If you run or jog at night or ever go camping, consider using this setting to signal someone else.
- You should consider where and when you will be using the headlamp. Runners should opt for ones that are more lightweight and wobble-resistant, while campers should look for brighter headlamps with longer-lasting batteries.
Q: Are all headlamps water-resistant?
A: Not only will the majority of headlamps be water-resistant, but they should be waterproof, as they are designed to be used outdoors. However, this does not mean they should be submerged in water. A large amount of water can damage the batteries or ruin the light. However, using them in light rain or snow should be fine.
Q: What is a lumen?
A: Lumens are the measurement of the amount of light emitted per second by a flashlight or headlamp. More lumens provide you with a brighter and more powerful light. One downside of having a headlamp with increased lumens is they will wear down the battery faster.
Q: What types of batteries do headlamps take?
A: The majority of headlamps will typically run off of AAA batteries or lithium-ion batteries. Many also use rechargeable batteries, which allows you to save money.
Q: What is the purpose of the red light?
A: Our eyes are sensitive to light, especially at night. Red light puts less stress and pressure on our eyes. It takes longer for eyes to adjust after seeing white light, while a red light impacts them less but still allows us to see clearly. You will often see members of the military using red light to read at night.
For one of the best headlamps with a bright light and many settings, consider the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp.
Save some cash with the Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight, which offers a long-lasting and powerful light.