The 10 Best Headlamps

Updated May 06, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

10 Best Headlamps
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

The flagship model from a backwoods mainstay, the Black Diamond Icon brings powerful features to the trail, such as a rear-mounted battery pack, IP67 dust and moisture protection, and variable red, green or blue night vision lighting.
  • well-balanced and easy to operate
  • not quite as bright as claimed
  • some units suffer from coil whine
Brand Black Diamond
Model BD620629
Weight 14.9 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Petzl e-Lite

Coming in at under an ounce, the Petzl e-Lite is a great auxiliary model for use while cooking or setting up camp. Plus, it can be stored for years without draining any power, so it's perfect for automotive or in-home emergency kits.
  • submersible down to 3 feet
  • protected from extreme temperatures
  • not intended for trail finding
Brand Petzl
Model E02 P4
Weight 1.4 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Fenix HP30R

The Fenix HP30R is a top-of-the-line device created with high adventure and emergency situations in mind. Whether you need to illuminate a cave descent, or locate a missing ski party, this one offers nearly unrivaled brightness in any conditions.
  • maximum 1750 lumens in burst mode
  • belt pack also charges usb devices
  • considerably more costly than most
Brand EdisonBright
Model HP30R-BK
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Coast FL75

The Coast FL75 sports separate buttons for the red and white LEDs, making it simple to find the right setting without cycling through several options. It throws a high-quality beam that's easy on the eyes, and it's priced near the middle of the field.
  • built to ansi fl1 standards
  • body twists to adjust focus
  • a bit heavier than similar models
Brand Coast
Model FL75
Weight 9.3 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. Petzl Tikkina

The Petzl Tikkina is popular among ultralight backpackers because it's about as small as a primary light can be while still remaining functional. Not only does it weigh a scant 3 ounces, it also boasts a battery life that few can touch.
  • high beam and flood settings
  • a good choice for kids
  • lacks a red night vision mode
Brand Petzl
Model E91ABB
Weight 3.8 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Black Diamond ReVolt

Leading the wave of more environmentally friendly options is the Black Diamond ReVolt, which recharges using a standard micro-USB cable. It also works with AAAs, just in case, which is good, because the nickel metal hydride battery doesn't last the longest.
  • three-level battery meter
  • two variable white bulbs
  • takes quite a while to charge
Brand Black Diamond
Model 620631
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Zebralight H53

There's a lot to appreciate about the Zebralight H53's craftsmanship, in particular its one-piece body that's machined from a solid bar of aluminum. Its professional-grade heat sink technology ensures that it won't short out, even after thousands of hours.
  • hard-anodized outer finish
  • fully waterproof to 2 meters
  • runs on a single aa battery
Brand Zebralight
Model pending
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Fenix HL60R

The Fenix HL60R is a cut above most others, thanks to high-end voltage control that provides consistent output throughout the battery's life. With unmatched durability, including 1-meter waterproofing, it's ideal for intense activities like spelunking or industrial repair.
  • charges fully in roughly 2 hours
  • commercial-grade cree diode
  • well worth the premium price
Brand EdisonBright
Model pending
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Vitchelo V800

A perfectly reliable and affordable choice, the Vitchelo V800 proves there's no need to break the bank just to see at night. It's great for home maintenance, camping, and emergency kits, and though it's not the very brightest, it's a tough one to pass up.
  • holds up in bad weather
  • available in 6 bold colors
  • plenty of features for the cost
Brand Vitchelo
Model FBA_V800
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Black Diamond Spot

The Black Diamond Spot has been a favorite of experts for years, and its simple effectiveness is still hard to beat. It's on the low end of the price spectrum, made by a reliable company, and boasts a battery life that's as long as they come.
  • convenient one-tap dimming function
  • sold in 5 different colors
  • safe down to 3 feet underwater
Brand Black Diamond
Model BD620634OCTNALL1
Weight 5.3 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

The Surprisingly Versatile Headlamp

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.

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.

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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Last updated on May 06, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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