Updated March 18, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best Headlamps

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

We spent 37 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If the Sun has gone down and you still have miles to cover, hands-free illumination could be the difference between a warm campsite and a frigid, trail-side slumber. For those times when a simple flashlight won't cut it, take a look at these highly rated headlamps. One of our selections is sure to fit the needs of most users, whether in the woods or the workshop. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best headlamp on Amazon.

10. Black Diamond Icon

9. Petzl e-Lite

8. Fenix HP30R

7. Coast FL75

6. Petzl Tikkina

5. Black Diamond ReVolt

4. Zebralight H35

3. Fenix HL60R

2. Vitchelo V800

1. Black Diamond Spot

The Surprisingly Versatile Headlamp

The fact is that a headlamp can be a useful tool for almost any activity undertaken in the darkness.

If you have ever tried to change a tire, you know that it can be a thankless difficult task. Now imagine changing a tire in the dark, and doing so with only one hand available. If you ever have to illuminate a tire change process using a flashlight, that may well be the scenario you face. Next consider the annoyance of trying to hold a flashlight steady while you jog down a sidewalk or trail at night. Or think about trying to set up a tent at your campsite using one hand for the tarp, poles, and anchors, the other to aim your light.

The list of activities made more complicated by the need to illuminate them goes on and on, but the solution for all these situations and countless more is simple: just get yourself a great headlamp.

When many people think of headlamps, they think of adventurous spelunkers boldly exploring deep subterranean caves, or of robust miners working to bring coal, ore, and precious stones to the surface. The fact is that a headlamp can be a useful tool for almost any activity undertaken in the darkness. A headlamp is as useful an accessory for the cook trying to grill in the dark as it is for the caver, and they are as convenient for the person who wants to read in bed as for the first responder keeping her hands free while she works to perform CPR on or prepare a field dressing for an injured victim.

Whether you are a hiker or camper, you are preparing a roadside emergency preparedness kit, or if you are simply looking for a way to make those household projects like connecting wires to the TV or fixing the leaking sink easier, a headlamp can help you do it by putting light were you need it most. And while the most expensive, top of the line headlamps may cost more than a hundred dollars, there are perfectly suitable options that cost less than twenty five dollars. When it comes to putting light before your very eyes, the prospect is very much affordable.

Choosing A Headlamp For Recreation

If you are considering getting a headlamp for use during a recreational activity, then the type of activity will inform which options are right for you. If you are a hiker, mountaineer, or distance runner, then you will want to go with one of the lightest headlamps available. Every ounce counts when you are carrying your gear on your back and/or you are logging long miles with your legs, so spend the extra money and get a lightweight lamp.

Make sure to also weigh variables such as beam type and distance, battery life, and brightness adjustment.

You might also need a lamp with a strap that goes around and over your head if you will use it while running so the up and down motion does not shake the light out of place. If you will be climbing, caving, or biking, make sure the headlamp you choose can fit securely over your helmet, or that the strap can be woven through your head gear.

Just keep in mind that if you're using your headlamp while riding a bicycle, it's still a good idea to have a fixed light on the front of your bike as well. It can take a moment to reorient your headlamp on the path ahead after you have turned your head to one side or the other, and that second can be all it takes to hit an unseen obstacle or pothole. The combination of a bike headlight and a headlamp allows for ideal nighttime cycling safety, especially as many headlamps feature flashing modes that can help you be easily seen even when you don't need the extra light for your own vision.

If you need a headlamp for less active purposes, such as for helping you chop wood at night, spot the path or sidewalk as you take your dog for a walk, or for making your way around a campsite, then weight is less of an issue, as even the heaviest headlight of good enough quality to be worth considering will weight half a pound at most.

Make sure to also weigh variables such as beam type and distance, battery life, and brightness adjustment.

Choosing A Headlamp For Professional Applications

Whether you need a light to let you do your job on a worksite at night or you are a first responder who needs to make sure you can see the person you are trying to help after an accident or during a disaster scenario, a headlamp is the ideal tool to help you out. Headlamps direct light exactly where your gaze naturally falls, and most good models offer a diverse array of beam and fill options with variable brightness settings.

As with the climber or biker wearing a light with his or her helmet, just make sure the band of the headlamp you consider can fit over your hardhat if applicable.

When choosing a headlamp to help you get your work done, first consider if it's more important for you to be able to see for long distances, such as can be achieved with a "long throw" beam of light, or if you need to see the area right around you, as broader fill light will provide. For disaster response, for example, a beam that reaches out many dozens of feet can help the paramedic or law enforcement official take stock of the situation from a distance.

For a worker installing hardware, cutting pipes or lumber, or working with wiring, to name a few examples, it is more important to be able to see all of the work surface and surrounding area than it is to see far off into the distance. As with the climber or biker wearing a light with his or her helmet, just make sure the band of the headlamp you consider can fit over your hardhat if applicable.

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Christopher Thomas
Last updated on March 18, 2019 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.


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