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Best Headlamps of 2021

Best Overall Choice
Black Diamond Icon

Black Diamond Icon

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Best Premium Choice
Petzl Actik Core

Petzl Actik Core

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Best Budget Choice
Energizer Rust Red Headlamp

Energizer Rust Red Headlamp

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Kyle W by Kyle W Updated on January 20, 2021. In Camping

Adventure does not end with the setting of the sun. The real adventure starts in the dark. In which case, you will need a reliable source of light.

A headlamp is a must-have tool for adventure in the dark. Or even to easily access the not-so-well-lit parts of your home. Whether you are an avid camper, an outdoor runner, or a mountaineering enthusiast, finding the right headlamp is paramount.

This article provides you with all the necessary information to help you find the right headlamp. It starts with a review of the best headlamps, expounds on the features of a good headlamp, and then proceeds to offer you tips for choosing the right headlamp.

Best Headlamps: Our top 10 picks

With so many headlamps available in the market, it can be difficult to decide on one. Here is a review of the 10 best headlamps for your consideration.

Best Overall Choice

1. Black Diamond Icon

Black Diamond Icon

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 500
  • IP rating: IP67
  • Weight: 500g with batteries
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: Detachable battery pack containing 4AA batteries
  • Maximum burn time on highest setting: 50 Hours
  • Strap style: Single Strap
  • Teach Features: None
  • Lighting modes: High, low, and strobe
  • Beam color options: RGB colors

The Black Diamond Icon is a powerful headlamp with 500 lumens. It can be used for various activities, including extreme sports like mountaineering, week-long backpacking, and caving.  Once switched on, it shows the remaining battery life. Its IP67 rating indicates that it is waterproof and dustproof and can be used in extremely wet or dusty environments. It can also be submerged in 1m deep waters for up to 30 minutes. Its beam distance ranges between 15m – 110m in high and low settings, respectively. It is Quad powered by a detachable battery pack that contains 4 AA batteries. Its maximum burn time on the high setting is 50 hours and 200 hours in the low setting.

Pros

• Has a brightness regulation feature
• Offers 3 beam colors including red, blue, and green
• Can be operated in strobe mode
• Bright light ideal for use even in extremely dark conditions
• Waterproof, dustproof, and weather-resistant

Cons

• Not rechargeable
• May feel heavy for some people

Best Premium Choice

2. Petzl Actik Core

Petzl Actik Core

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumen: 450
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 75g
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery Type: 1250mAh rechargeable battery (also compatible with Alkaline aNd lithium batteries).
  • Maximum burn time highest setting: 2 hours
  • Strap style: Single
  • Tech Features: None
  • Lighting modes: high, medium, and low
  • Beam pattern: Flood and mixed
  • Beam color options: Red

The Petzl Actik Core is a powerful and lightweight headlamp suitable for use in a wide range of activities, including running, cycling, hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering, among others. It boasts of 450 lumens that provide adequate lighting even in extremely dark conditions.

It offers two beam patterns, including wide and mixed, to suit your various lighting needs. You can turn the brightness down as it has three brightness settings (high, medium, and low). It also has a red-light feature.

The Petzl Actik Core headlamp is powered by a rechargeable battery that can be charged via USB port. It is also compatible with AAA batteries. A fully charged battery has a maximum burn time of 130 hours when operating in the lowest setting and 3 hours in the highest setting. It is IPX4 rated, meaning that it is resistant to water splashes and dustproof. The straps are compatible with various mounting accessories, including bicycles and helmets.

Pros

• Has a rechargeable battery
• Compatible with both alkaline and lithium batteries
• Can be used for a wide range of activities
• Offers two beam patterns: mixed and flood
• Has a red beam color option
• Has three brightness options

Cons

• Not entirely waterproof

Best Budget Choice

3. Energizer Rust Red Headlamp

Energizer Rust Red Headlamp

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 315
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 28.3 g
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: AAA batteries
  • Maximum burn time on highest: 6 hours
  • Strap style: single strap
  • Teach Features: Digital focus field adjustment technology and a memory recall feature
  • Lighting modes: high, low, full, and spot
  • Beam color options: Red

These 315 lumens headlamps illuminate up to 85 meters in the highest mode. It can be used to light up the dark corners of your home or for outdoor activities to provide light at a campsite. It is built for maximum durability. It has a shatterproof lens and is IPX4 rated, meaning it can last in 1m deep waters for up to 30 minutes.

It can be operated in 5 modes to suit your lighting needs at any one given point. The five lighting modes include high, low, red, full, and spotlight. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries with a maximum burn time of 6 hours when operated in maximum brightness.

This headlamp incorporates two smart features – the digital focus field of vision adjustment technology and a memory recall. The digital focus feature allows you to broaden or narrow the beam light, while the memory recall feature offers users an easy and quick way to set the most frequently used lighting mode.

Pros

• Lightweight for easy handling by both kids and adults
• Digital focus smart feature allows you to broaden or narrow the light beam
• Has a memory recall feature for easy lighting setting
• Reaches up to 85metres
• Versatile – can be used for a wide range of activities

Cons

• Not rechargeable
• Not bright enough for extremely dark conditions

4. Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamp

Vont ‘Spark’ LED Headlamp

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 200
  • IP rating: IPX5
  • Weight: 52 g
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: AAA batteries
  • Maximum burn time on highest: 6 hours
  • Strap style: single strap
  • Tech Features: 45degree tilt
  • Lighting modes: Main light -high, low, full, strobe; and Sidelight; low, SOS, and strobe.
  • Beam color options: None

The Vont Spark LED headlight is bright and durable. Its build incorporates the LEDs to offer ultra-bright performance. It offers seven light modes that you can easily toggle with a single press of the button. The seven light modes include low, medium, high, strobe for the main light and strobe, low, and SOS for the sidelight. It has an ergonomic 45-degree tilt so that you don’t have to constantly crane your neck to shine a light on the surfaces below you. It is IPX5 rated, so it is fully waterproof and weather resistant.

It comes with a lifetime warranty and 24/7 Vont customer support. It is powered by 3AAA batteries with a maximum run time of  6 hours when operated in full brightness. It comes as two pieces in a single pack.

Pros

• Lightweight for easy handling by both adults and kids
• Offers seven light moods to suit various needs
• Has a 45 degrees ergonomic tilt
• Fully waterproof and weather-resistant
• Has a lifetime warranty

 

Cons

• 200 lumens are not enough to light very dark surroundings
• Non-rechargeable

5. Princeton Tec Remix LED

Princeton Tec Remix LED

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 300
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 292 g with battery
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: AAA batteries
  • Maximum burn time on highest: 6 hours
  • Strap style: single strap
  • Tech Features: None
  • Lighting modes: High and low main light setting
  • Beam color options: red

The Princeton Tec Remix is a simple to operate, and lightweight LED headlight most preferred for night fishing. It can also be used for other activities, including camping and running. It is powered by 3AAA batteries to produce up to 150 hours of burn time when operating continuously in low mode.  It is available in different colors, including black, camo, grey, tan, green, and blue. It has a single Maxbright LED and three ultra-bright LEDs for both long-distance spotting and close-range lighting. It is IPX4 rated for water and weather resistance.

Pros

• Lightweight for easy handling
• Ideal for night fishing and other lighting needs
• Water and weather resistant
• Offers both peripheral and focused lighting

Cons

• Doesn’t have a hard switch, so it can be accidentally pressed on inside the bag
• 3AAA batteries are not included in the package

6. Foxdott 8 LED Headlamp

Foxdott 8 LED Headlamp

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 12000
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 292 g with battery
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: Rechargeable 1500mAh lithium-ion battery
  • Maximum burn time up to 100,000 hours in weak mode
  • Strap style: helmet mount
  • Tech Features: None
  • Lighting modes: main beam, side beam, SOS strobe, all Bright, weak beam, SOS red Strobe, and strong beam.
  • Beam color options: None

This is a super powerful headlamp. It has eight led lights that can be used in 4 modes for optimal lighting in different conditions. The eight lighting modes include the main beam, side beam, SOS strobe, all bright, weak beam, SOS red strobe, and strong beam. It is powered by a 1500mAh rechargeable battery that is easily charged within 4-6 hours through a USB port on the headlight.

Once fully charged, the Foxdott headlamp has up to 100,000 hours maximum burn time in weak mode. The headlamp has a battery indicator to help you keep track of the remaining battery life at any one given time. It also has a rear safety light that, once activated, ensures you are visible from behind. It is IPX4 rated to prevent damage from extreme weather conditions and water splash.

Pros

• 8 LED bulbs that can be operated in 8 modes for super lighting
• Rechargeable battery that lasts up to 100,000 hours when continuously operated in weak mode
• Wide range of use, including camping, cycling, running, fishing, etc.
• Helmet compatible
• 90 degrees rotate adjustability for all angles lighting

Cons

• Not fully resistant
• Too bulky for kids

7. Black Diamond Spot

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 300
  • IP rating: IPX8
  • Weight: 90g with batteries
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery type: AAA batteries
  • Maximum burn time at the highest setting: 30 hours
  • Strap style: single
  • Tech Features: Powertap technology, Memory mode, and Lock mode
  • Lighting modes: Main light, strobe mode, high/low mode
  • Beam color options: Red

The Black Diamond Spot is a lightweight, multi-purpose headlight designed to be user-friendly and efficient. It is operated by 3 AAA batteries that offer 30 hours of burn time when operating in the highest mode and up to 180 hours in low mode. It lights up to 16 meters and has a dim function.

The headlamp is fully waterproof and weather-resistant with an IPX8 rating. It has several smart features, including a power tap, lockout mode, and memory mode. The lockout mode prevents instances of accidentally switching on the headlight, while the memory mode allows you to set your preferred brightness mode.

Pros

• Has a power tap for easy brightness regulation
• Fully waterproof and weather-resistant for use in all conditions
• Has two sets of proximity lights: Dim red and white main light
• Has memory and lockout mode

Cons

• Non-rechargeable

8. Ledlenser MH10 Headlamp

Ledlenser MH10 Headlamp

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 600
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 158g with batteries
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable
  • Maximum burn time at highest setting: 10 hours
  • Strap style: single
  • Tech Features: Rapid focus and smart light technology
  • Lighting modes: Power, low power, and defense strobe
  • Beam color options: Red taillight

The Ledlenser M10 is a powerful, high-performance headlamp. It is easy to use as it incorporates the smart light technology for easy changing between modes. The 600 lumens provide super bright light for adequate illumination even in extremely dark conditions.  It is lightweight and has an adjustable headband strap for a comfortable and snug fit.

It also an advanced rapid focus system for seamless and crystal clear focusing of the beam on nearby objects by adjusting the beam from flood to focus. The headlamp is powered by a rechargeable battery that provides 10 hours of burn time in high mode and up to 120 hours in low mode. Furthermore, it comes with a 7-year manufacturer guarantee against defects in material and craftsmanship. It can be operated in 3 modes: low power, defense strobe, and power.

Pros

• 600 lumens provide bright illumination up to 150 meters
• Has a low battery signal
• Has a rear safety light to increase your visibility from behind
• Incorporates several smart features for easy and effective handling
• Lightweight and has an adjustable strap for easy handling and a good fit

 

Cons

• Not fully waterproof

9. Coast Tri-Color Focusing Headlamp FL74

Coast Tri-Color Focusing Headlamp FL74

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Specs

  • Maximum Lumens: 405
  • IP rating: IPX4
  • Weight: 427g with batteries
  • Materials: Plastic and metal
  • Battery type: AAA batteries
  • Maximum burn time at highest setting: 10 hours
  • Strap style: Single
  • Tech Features: Dimming function, Variable Output Technology, and Advanced focus system
  • Lighting modes: Power, low power, and defense strobe
  • Beam color options: Red taillight

The Coast Tri-color focusing headlamp is designed to produce a crisp and bright light. This 600 lumens headlamp has a 140 meters beam reach. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries with a maximum runtime of 6.25 hours in the brightest mode and up to 75 hours in low mode. It has a dim function and an advanced focus system.

Pros

• Provides a bright and crisp high-quality light
• Has clips for securing the straps to a hat or helmet
• 405 lumens provide up to 140m beam reach.

Cons

• Not fully waterproof
• Not rechargeable

Buying Guide for Headlamps

To choose the right headlamp, you must have a clear understanding of the various headlamp features and specifications. You also need to know which factors to consider when choosing. This explores the various headlamp features and then provides the factors to consider when choosing a headlamp.

Understanding Headlamp Features and Specifications

When shopping for a headlamp, you will come across specifications such as lumen, battery type, battery life, beam pattern, lighting mode, and weight. These specifications are used to describe some of the key features in most headlamps. Understanding these features is paramount in choosing the right headlamp. Below is a detailed look at the key headlamps distinguishing features:

Lumen

Lumen is the amount of light that a source emits. A headlamp with a higher lumen is brighter and reaches a longer distance than one with a lower lumen. Note that, while a higher lumen is an indicator of more light, it is not the only factor to consider when determining the amount and quality of light in a headlamp.

The beam width, beam pattern, and type of LED are key contributing factors. The number of lumens has a direct impact on battery life. When you operate the headlamp in the highest mode, it uses up all its lumen capacity, and the battery drains faster.

Brightness

Headlamp brightness is a factor of beam distance and lumens. The higher the lumen and the longer the beam distance, the brighter the headlamp. Most headlamps offer different lighting levels, including high, middle, and low. The high mode is most suitable in extremely dark settings as the headlamp is the brightest it can be.

While some headlamp models have a middle setting, others do not. This mode is most ideal in not so dark settings. Finally, the low mode is the dimmest and most energy-efficient. You can use it at dusk or dawn.

Beam Color

While most headlamps have a translucent beam color, some have additional beam color options, including red, green, or blue.

Blue light is most ideal in foggy weather as it sees through the fog well or reading maps in low light conditions or darkness. Law enforcement officers use tactical flashlights with blue beams to trace bloodstains in the dark, while hunters use it to trail animals. Similar to blue light, a green light can be used to read contour lines on a map.

On the other hand, a red light is ideal for illuminating things within your immediate environment without putting a strain on your eyesight or blinding a companion. It does not attract flies or insects. Besides, red light uses little energy; therefore, it saves you battery life. It can also be used for reading in the dark.

Lighting Modes/ Beam Pattern

Most headlamps on the market have LED lights that can be operated in different lighting modes as follows:

  • Strobe. Headlamps with strobe light patterns can be used to signal during emergencies. They also make you visible to other people or motorists when you are hiking, running, or cycling.
  • Spotlight. The spotlight beam pattern is a bright, condensed, and focused light that points towards a distant object. It is most appropriate when hiking at night to look for trail signs or spot climbing anchors. It can also be used as a headlight on a bike when cycling at night. It is indicated as a high setting on some headlights. In most headlights, the spotlight mode is the default settings and often labeled as high mode.
  • Floodlight. The floodlight is indicated as either low or proximity mode on most headlamps. The floodlight beam is wide, soft, and dim. It is usually directed downwards towards nearby objects. Since it is not extremely bright, it conserves the battery. It is ideal for use when setting up tents or cooking during camping.

Battery Type

Headlamp batteries fall under the following categories:

Rechargeable vs. Non-Rechargeable

While rechargeable batteries are environmentally friendly because they reduce battery waste, they usually have a shorter running time. On the other hand, non-rechargeable batteries tend to burn for longer, but they are more expensive and contribute to overall environmental waste.

Rechargeable batteries are ideal for everyday use, such as running, short-distance cycling, or walking the dog, while non-rechargeable batteries are the best option for activities such as camping and long-distance hiking.

Alkaline vs. Lithium Batteries

There are two main types of alkaline batteries, including AAs and AAAs. Lithium batteries offer a longer burn time and energy efficiency, even in the most extreme weather conditions. Besides, they are lightweight and offer the highest energy density. Lithium batteries are up to 30% brighter than Alkaline batteries of the same size.

While lithium batteries are ideal for high or moderate drain headlamps, they are too powerful for low-drain headlamps.

Extreme weather conditions can lead to battery life draining faster. Lithium batteries perform better in cold weather conditions. When you are not using the headlamp during the cold season, ensure to store its battery in a warm place to prevent draining.

Some headlamps offer the versatility of both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, while others offer you the option to use either alkaline or lithium batteries. For instance, most Petzl headlamps come with a USB rechargeable core park, which can also use with any of the Petzl headlamps that use AAA batteries. With that said, ensure to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended battery type for your headlamp.

Battery Life

The battery life is also known as battery burn time. The amount of time that the battery last when emitting light without needing to recharge or change it. While most batteries have a definite burn time, factors such as the headlamp’s set mode determine how fast it drains. For instance, when operating on a lower power mode, the battery may last longer than when the headlamp operates on a higher power mode.

To optimize your headlamp’s battery life, adjust the mode as need be. Whenever you can use a dimmer light, switch to the low mode, and only adjust to the high mode when it is absolutely necessary. For most headlamps, as the battery life diminishes, the light becomes dimmer.

Weight

Generally, headlamps are built to be lightweight. However, some are lighter than others, weighing less than 10z and others up to 15oz. The lightweight headlamps are made from light plastic while their heavier counterparts are made of wither thick plastic or aluminum. You want to go for the lightest headlamp that has most of your preferred features.

The size and weight of the batteries also significantly contributes to the overall weight of the headlamp. Generally, more powerful headlamps are bigger in size and require bigger or more batteries making them heavier. Conversely, lighter weight headlamps are smaller and use fewer or lighter batteries.

Straps and Comfort

A well-designed headlamp should fit snugly and comfortably around your head without putting too much pressure on the skull. It should also have adjustable straps. The straps should be made from a durable yet soft material.

There are two basic strap styles: a single elastic strap or a two-piece strap. A single strap is sufficient for most lightweight headlamps. A two-piece strap style is recommended for heavier headlamps. Two-piece straps are also most ideal for activities such as rock-climbing, caving, or mountaineering as they offer adequate support, whether you are indoor or outdoor. Most two-piece straps are helmet-compatible.

Weather Resistance

Most manufacturers use the IPX rating system to indicate how weather resistant their headlamps are. For instance, if a manufacturer says that their headlamp is waterproof, an IP code indicates that the headlamp’s electrical components are protected against water.

For instance, a headlamp that is rain and humidity proof is rated as IPX4. IPX0 rating indicates that the headlamp is not weather or water protected. An IPX7 rated headlamp can last in 1-meter deep water for 30 minutes, while an IPX8 rated headlamp can be submerged in deep water for a longer time. Watch out for headlamp companies that vaguely use the terms waterproof or weather-resistant in their marketing.

Tech Features

Over the years, headlamps technology has evolved to incorporate smart features such as a built-in sensor that adjust the headlamp’s brightness depending on the lighting conditions in the immediate environment. You can change the beam pattern with a simple rotation or pulling the headlamp’s lens casing in some headlamps.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Headlamp

Purpose

While one headlamp may be perfect for use within your home in case of a blackout, it may not be ideal for running. Below are some pointers on what to look for in a headlamp, depending on its primary intended purpose.

Running, paddling, kayaking, and cycling: Ensure the headlamp is lightweight and fits snugly and comfortably on your head. It should offer both long and short beam distance to enable you clearly see your immediate steps and a few meters ahead. In addition, the headlamp should have a red taillight to increase your visibility in the dark.

Backpacking, hiking, traveling, and camping. The most critical features to look out for in a headlamp for use in this category of activities are long battery life, wide beamwidth, and 300 or more lumens. The last thing you want is the headlamp dying on you in the middle of the night when you need it most.

Suppose you can get one that has a variety of modes, the better. It means you would be able to adjust the brightness depending on your needs. Also, ensure that the headlamp fits comfortably on your head. Another key feature to consider is weather resistance. You want a headlamp that will survive extreme conditions, including fog, rain, very high or low temperatures.

The best camping headlamp produces a wide beam to enable you to see a wider area. If you are a hiker, you should go for a headlamp with high lumen, at least 12 hours of battery life, and long beam distance.

Headlamps for kids. If you are buying a headlamp for kids, ensure that it is light, has the right fit, and that it is easy to operate. Its brightness and number of lumens will depend on the purpose you will be using it for.

Price

There is a wide variety of headlamps at different price points in the market for you to choose from. You don’t have to break the bank to get a high-quality headlamp. With a little due diligence, you can find an affordable headlamp with your preferred key features. Check the reviews of the headlamps you consider to ensure that previous customers have had a great experience with them.

Usability

You want to go for an easy to use headlamp whose settings and modes are intuitive. A headlamp with complicated settings can be frustrating to use, and you could end up operating in the dark if you can’t figure out how to use it. For instance, if you want a headlamp to use during winter, consider one with a single and large operating button.

Availability of Accessories

A key component of a headlamp is its battery. It is best to buy a headlamp with batteries that are readily available. For instance, while coin batteries are light, they may not be readily available in stores. On the other hand, AAAs and lithium batteries are available in most stores.

We hope that this review and buying guide for headlamps has made it a little easier for you to find the right headlamp. Take time to do your due diligence to ensure that the headlamp you settle for has g

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