Reviews | The Drive Tactical & Outdoor

Best Headlamps (Review & Buying Guide) in 2024

Illuminate your path in any dark or low-light areas with these products, the best headlamps you can buy.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by a lack of light while you’re working under the hood or trying to see clearly into your car’s inner workings, you don’t need another overhead light: You need a headlamp. While headlamps are must-have accessories for the outdoors, allowing you to see clearly when you’re hunting, fishing, hiking, or even working around your campsite, they’re also pretty handy for auto work too. Lightweight and secured right to your head, one of these compact lights can deliver impressively bright illumination right where it’s needed, allowing you to pinpoint problems, make repairs large and small, or simply see more easily without any difficulty. If you want to improve your visibility, we’ve rounded up some of the best headlamps you can buy right here.

Best Overall

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp

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Best Value

Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight

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Honorable Mention

Energizer Vision HD+ Focus LED Headlamp

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Summary List

Our Methodology

In order to choose the best headlamps that we’ve highlighted here, we took a close look at the different headlights available online. We compared different headlamps to one another, considering specs and details like the number of lumens (to determine brightness), ability to direct and control light beam, modes and colors, comfort of the strap, and weight. From there, we considered and took into account users’ real-life experiences via reviews to assess how well any given headlamp worked in different settings. Our top product picks were those that offered a combination of bright illumination, solid battery life, good durability, and lightweight comfort while worn in any setting.

Best Headlamps: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp

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Best Value

Shining Buddy LED Headlamp Flashlight

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Honorable Mention

Energizer Vision HD+ Focus LED Headlamp

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Best for Night Vision

Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp

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Best for Light Use

Ozark Trail 100 Lumen LED Headlamp

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Best Rechargeable

Streamlight Bandit USB Rechargeable Headlamp

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Best for Hunting

Pursuit 200-Lumen Headlamp

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Best Premium

Bushnell TRKR LED Headlamp with Power+ Technology

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Our Verdict on Headlamps

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.

What to Consider When Buying a Headlamp

Wondering where you should start and what you should look for when you’re searching for a quality headlamp? We’ve got all of the advice you need. Just follow the tips in our buying guide, and you’ll be able to pick out a reliable, bright lamp for your needs.

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 options 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 models 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 of the batteries properly after using them due to their harmful effects on the environment. 

Headlamp Key Features

Charge Life

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 charge life depending on the intended usage. You don’t want your charge lifespan to leave you in the dark, even if you’re just working in your garage, so look for a headlamp that can last you at least 3-4 hours. It’s also a good idea to opt for a product that charges quickly so your headlamp is ready to use again ASAP.


Lumen is the unit of measurement of brightness that comes from the light source. The higher the lumen count, the better the amount of light produced by the headlamp. On average, you’ll find budget-friendly headlamps with anywhere from 100 to 180 lumens; mid-level options can offer 200 to 400 lumens. If you’re looking for the highest brightness, you can opt for as many as 650 lumens. While this is an essential factor, just remember that 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. 

Beam Distance

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.

Light Modes

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.

Headlamp Brands to Know

Black Diamond

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. 

Shining Buddy

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. 


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. Its products 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. 


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. 


Bushnell is a brand that’s all about outdoor products, with a special focus on hunting gear and tactical accessories. Whether you’re searching for rugged, outdoor-ready equipment or specialized items that’ll make every hunt more successful, this is one of the best-known names in the hunting space. You’ll find specialized headlamps made just for tracking and with enhanced night vision capabilities from Bushnell. 


Streamlight might make plenty of different kinds of flashlights and headlamps, but this brand is no simple light company. Rather, Streamlight specializes in tactical and safety-rated lighting gear, meaning headlamps made by this brand are impressively tough and highly durable. In fact, the people behind the company’s products are those who use lighting tools in all kinds of settings, meaning you can trust that each headlamp is inspired by real-life needs. 

Headlamp Pricing Considerations

For less than $20, you’ll find 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. For $20 or more, you’ll find headlamps are functional and provide extreme brightness for demanding workbenches. They mostly use rechargeable batteries and are durable and waterproof, with long-lasting battery life. In this range, headlamps can also have adjustable brightness and are able to suit different uses.

Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and headlamps. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • 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.


You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!

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 a light rain or snow should be fine.

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.