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 for the best headlamps below before embarking on your next hike or camping trip.
1. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Black Diamond is consistently ranked as one of the best headlamp brands on the market. The battery-powered Black Diamond Spot Headlamp offers an incredible burn time of up to 175 hours on the low setting, 30 hours on the high setting, 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.
Perhaps most useful and not common on headlamps, Black Diamond uses what it calls PowerTap technology to make changing light settings as easy as tapping your finger. Nothing’s more frustrating than having to yank off gloves to adjust your headlamp and Black Diamond’s gone ahead and actually solved that problem for you.
The headlamp also remembers the most recent light setting it was set on, which is a major win for convenience. We’ve all clicked off our headlamps and then remembered that one last thing we had to do and frustratingly had to cycle through the light settings again, so this is a small but really thoughtful feature we’re certain you’ll immediately love.
If you’re just looking for an overall solid headlamp to get you through most camping adventures without a hitch, Black Diamond offers the best headlamps for you.
2. Petzl Duo S Headlamp
We know most people aren’t inclined to drop almost $500 on the best camping headlamps, which is the main reason the Petzl Duo S Headlamp isn’t the top pick. But if you’re regularly finding yourself outdoors, walking through nature when the sun’s down, exploring caves or — God help you — going on the water when it’s dark out, you’re going to want a durable, extremely bright headlamp to safely undertake all your adventures.
The Petzl Duo S has just about every feature you could possibly want in the best headlamps. The headlamp has a brag-worthy 1100 lumens that can light the way up to almost 600 feet. The headlamp also offers five different lighting modes: a low-intensity flood beam for help stretching your battery to the max, a mixed light beam meant for things in close proximity, a focused beam to catch movement, a powerful beam for scanning the distance when you’re moving quickly and a high-focus long-distance beam to see far away.
But that’s not all. It’s also water-resistant up to about 3.3 feet for 30 minutes and impact resistant so it can survive the pack life. In even more premium features, the battery recharges in four hours and the light won’t blind your friends due to Petzl’s anti-glare Face2Face technology, which automatically dims the light when it crosses another beam.
Overall, the Petzl Duo S Headlamp is an over-the-top high-quality headlamp and definitely one of the best camping headlamps out there.
3. L.L.Bean Trailblazer Snap 300 Combo Headlamp
The L.L. Bean Trailblazer Snap 300 Combo Headlamp delivers exactly what you expect from L.L. Bean: a high-quality, versatile, overall great headlamp.
It boasts a burn time of 130 hours on three AAA batteries. While it’s nice to have a rechargeable battery, there’s something to be said for the easy replaceability of disposable batteries that makes sense when you’re going places without outlets.
The headlamp’s 300 lumens will light the way enough for you to easily see where you’re going and the lamp itself features big, easy-to-find buttons so you can turn the beam on or manually dim it with ease.
The head unit can also be removed to function as a flashlight, bike light or a magnetic area light, so even if you aren’t camping as frequently as you’d like you’ll still find uses for the lamp around the house.
4. Lighting Ever LED Headlamp
While good headlamps can get pricey, you don’t need to spend much to get a decent light. The battery-powered Lighting Ever LED Headlamp costs well under $10 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.
The brightest setting gets you a max of 78 lumens, which gets you about 20 feet of visibility. Depending on the brightness setting, you can expect 18 to 32 hours of burn time.
Thankfully this headlamp comes very highly-rated with over 9,000 reviews, so you can buy assured that it’ll hold up and perform despite the budget price.
If saving money and getting a decent headlamp is what you’re looking for, the Lighting Ever LED Headlamp is definitely among the best headlamps for you.
5. Ledlenser M10 Rechargeable Headlamp
We know we already included a very high-quality option as the runner-up pick, but consider the Ledlenser M10 Rechargeable Headlamp an affordable premium pick.
Ledlenser offers 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.
With a brightness range of 10-160 lumens and a burn time range of 10-120 hours on a rechargeable battery, this headlamp is versatile enough that you can use it for camp activities knowing the battery will last all night or take it spelunking knowing it can get bright enough and last long enough to keep you safe.
6. 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 for a whopping 200 hours, which is industry-leading battery life, so you won’t have to worry about running out of juice mid-stride.
Of course, keep in mind that with great battery power comes fewer lumens. In other words, the battery can only last so long on the lower brightness settings. In this case, that’s 6 lumens, which translates to about 25 feet of illumination.
7. Nitecore HC60 Rechargeable LED Headlamp
ALSO CONSIDER BURN TIME
If burn time is your only consideration and you just want a headlamp that will last as long as possible on a single charge, you might consider the Nitecore HC60 Rechargeable LED Headlamp. Though it claims a max lighting power of 1,000 lumens and a one hour burn time, the real differentiator in this headlamp is the availability of an ultralow light setting. That light setting can run for a miraculous 680 hours, which is likely enough time for months of camping.
Of course, the headlamp can run for that long because the ultralow setting only puts out 1 lumen, which basically means you’ll only be able to see a few feet in front of you.
But if you don’t plan on leaving the campground, a few feet is all you’ll need.
So if extended battery life and usage are your top priority, the Nitecore HC60 is the best headlamp for you, by far.
8. 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 a steady light and no discomfort. Plus, the moisture-wicking fabric gets rid of sweat as you grind away.
9. Outerdo LED Headlamp
BRIGHTEST / MOST LUMENS
Comfort be damned, you want the largest, brightest camping headlamps to light up everything in sight. That’s where the Outerdo LED Headlamp will help.
This beast of a headlamp boasts a whopping 13,000 lumens for max illumination of almost 2,000 feet. With that much brightness, you could use this thing as a spotlight on a red carpet.
Alas, you’ll only be able to use the headlamp at max brightness for about four hours before it dies and it only runs for nine hours on the less bright settings. But the headlamp comes with two rechargeable batteries so as long as you’re able to charge it, it’ll accompany you on your outdoor adventures for years to come.
If absolute brightness is your concern, the Outerdo LED Headlamp is the best headlamp for you.
10. Petzl e+LITE Emergency Headlamp
This minimalist headlamp from Petzl offers a great pick for simple trekking and makes a great back-up headlamp to stash in your bag. It weighs just 27 grams, making it feel like nothing on your noggin. But don’t let the small size fool you; this is still a solid camping headlamp with 50 lumens, a burn time of 70 hours on a rechargeable battery, and it will illuminate distances up to 95 feet.
Because of its light weight, it’s also a good pick for running, especially in the cold when you want to wear it over a beanie.
11. WOWTAC LED Headlamp Flashlight
BEST 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.
12. Petzl Bluetooth Headlamp
Petzl got experimental with this headlamp, integrating a BlueTooth feature (no, it doesn’t play music). The headlamp connects to a Petzl 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.
13. EverBrite LED Headlamp
If you’re not big on wild adventures but love getting out to campsites on the reg, then you might want to consider a multipack of headlamps. Multipack options frequently include less-than-stellar headlamps, but they’re useful because you’ll either always have a backup headlamp or you can throw your headlamps in multiple places like your pack, your car or your tent bag to make sure you always have one. You can always throw one on the table next to your door for late-night jogging or dog-walking too.
The EverBrite LED Headlamp pack of five will make sure you’ve got light wherever you are. The lamps use 8 LED lights with four different lighting modes, so you always have just the right amount of light, and the maximum lighting mode will illuminate up to 60 feet. In a win for safety, one of the modes is a strobe light, so you can disorient anything threatening you.
Further, the lamp can swivel 90 degrees so you can read something or better illuminate the ground in front of you without having to bend your neck.
Lastly, these are battery-powered and also ship with batteries, a pleasant change from the all-too-common refrain “batteries not included.”
Of course, given these EverBrite headlamps are on the cheaper side you can’t expect more than about five hours of light with continuous use, but that’s more than enough to get you through weeks of camping if you’re just using them to get set up late at night.