Headlamps are one of the most important items in your camping or hiking bag. No matter how long your trip, how far out in the wild you are or how much wilderness experience you have, you’ll need a reliable headlamp to light up the night.
When picking a headlamp, there are a few important features to note. Brightness (measured in lumens) can vary depending on your environment and needs. If you’re actually on the trail in the dark, you’ll want a brighter lamp, but if you’re just pitching a tent or cooking at the campsite, brightness isn’t as important.
You’ll also have to choose between rechargeable or battery powered. Rechargeable headlamps save you some money on batteries and reduce waste, but if you’re on a camping trip, finding a place to charge your lamp can be tricky to impossible. Therefore, we recommend battery-powered if you’re on longer trips and rechargeable if you’re just doing night hikes or short trips.
Other features to consider are burn time (battery life), features like red-light or strobe, and obviously price. But whatever your needs or budget, there’s a headlamp for you. Check out our top picks below before embarking on your next hike or camping trip.
1. Black Diamond Spot
Black Diamond is consistently ranked as one of the best headlamp brands on the market. This battery-powered Spot lamp offers an incredible burn time of up to 175 hours, a crisp double LED beam and IPX8 water-proofing (meaning you can drop it in the creek without a worry), all bundled in a super-compact design. The headlamp also has red night-vision and a few key features for preserving battery life.
2. Lighting Ever Headlamp Flashlight
While good headlamps can get pricey, you don’t need to spend much to get a decent light. This lamp costs just $8 and offers some solid features too. It has adjustable brightness, a red mode and the ability to tilt up to 90 degrees, helping you to find your footing when traversing treacherous terrain. It comes very highly-rated with over 6,700 reviews, so you can buy assured that it’ll hold up and perform.
3. Black Diamond Spot 325
LONGEST BURN TIME
If you’re doing some serious trekking and need long battery life, go for Black Diamond’s Spot 325 lamp. The listed burn time on Amazon is 200 hours, but Clever Hiker claims the lamp will last 600 hours on low. Either way, that’s industry-leading battery life, so you won’t have to worry about running out of juice mid stride.
4. BioLite Headlamp
BEST FOR RUNNING
For extreme hikers or night runners, we recommend this BioLite headlamp. It’s very slim and features an ergonomic, no-bounce fit. This allows you to climb, run or jump with steady light and no discomfort. Plus, moisture-wicking fabric gets rid of sweat as you grind away.
4. ELMCHEE Rechargeable headlamp
Need some serious light? Pick up one of these Elmchee headlamps. It boasts 12,000 lumens with 6 LED lights, ensuring that you won’t miss a thing in the dark. Surprisingly, this high-powered device is also very reasonably priced at just $15. The downside is all that power doesn’t last for long, as the burn time is just 5-6 hours.
5. PETZL Bindi Compact Headlamp
This tiny headlamp from PETZL offers a great pick for minimalist trekking and makes a great back-up headlamp to stash in your bag. It weighs just 35 grams, making it feel like nothing on your noggin. Reviewers say it’s also a good pick for running, especially in the cold when you want to wear it over a beanie.
6. WOWTAC LED Headlamp Flashlight
Headlamps with a removable flashlight can be very convenient. You get quick access for seeing into crevices, working at a campsite or providing light for someone else. We like this one from Wowtac because it’s not too expensive at $30 and the flashlight is compact yet powerful with 1,050 lumens.
7. Ledlenser Rechargeable Headlamp
If you camp or hike often, upgrading to a premium headlamp is a good idea. This one from Ledlenser is one of the brightest, most crisp lights on the market, giving you confidence on any trail, rock wall or wilderness adventure. It has a unique ring focusing system that lets you narrow or widen the beam without cycling through options. It’s especially good for spelunking, as the strong beam can illuminate any cave or hole.
9. PETZL Bluetooth Headlamp
HIGH TECH OPTION
Petzyl got experimental with this headlamp, integrating a BlueTooth feature (no, it doesn’t play music). The headlamp connects to a Petzyl app on your smartphone, allowing you to see battery life or customize the headlamp’s setting to a specific activity. The light also analyzes the ambient light and adjusts as necessary for optimal lighting and battery conservation. If you want to try something new and high tech (and you have the money) give this thing a try.