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Best Headlamp: Camping and Adventure Are at Your Fingertips

headlamps in the hands
Bradley Page
Written by Bradley Page

Light is everything. Without light we cannot see, and if we cannot see then we cannot complete our jobs properly, or enjoy our activities at night. And sometimes holding a torch can be unnecessary, annoying and inconvenient. So someone somewhere decided to put a lamp on a head strap, and for that we are grateful.

Having a light on our heads makes perfect sense – we need the beam of light to travel in the direction that we are looking, and it leaves our hands and feet free to do whatever else it is that you do.

Even though a head lamp sounds simple in theory – it is a lamp on your head – in reality there are different features and types, and so purchasing the best one for you can be difficult. So we have taken a look at 8 of the best headlamps on the market, and reviewed them so you don’t have to.

Important Features to Look At

Headlamps have multiple uses, and people have different reasons for purchasing one. One person might simply want to be able to walk their dog at night without holding a torch, another might use it camping and rock-climbing, and there are runners who use them to better light their path when they run at dawn or dusk.

best headlamps for adventure

It is beneficial because it is a constant beam of strong light and it is just so much more convenient (and often safer) than holding a hand-held torch. There are a few key features that you should always look for when purchasing a good headlamp, and some features might be more important to one person than another (such as the number of Lumens). The main features are discussed below.

Strap style

There are two main styles of straps – the single strap, which goes horizontally around the forehead, and the double strap which is the same as the single but with an additional strap that goes from the front (where the lamp is) to the back of the head. Most of the time, the single strap one will suffice – oftentimes they are easier to adjust and can be more comfortable if you have a lot of hair.

headlamp strap around the head

However the double strap style is more secure as it stops the headlamp from falling from your face (unless you put your head upside down of course). Some sports helmets actually have special holders for the double strapped headlamps, so they might be preferred. Mostly it depends on your head and what type you feel most comfortable with.

Beam Distance

One way that a lot of different headlamps will differ is in the type of beam, and the distance that it reaches. The better headlamps will illuminate as far as 200 or more feet, which can be beneficial for runners and those who want it to act as a kind of floodlight. And others have a smaller beam that does not go as far – more like a pointed spotlight.

Headlamp beam distance

And the really good ones will be adjustable – change a setting and the light will change from a floodlight to a spotlight. If you are unsure what type of light you will want, it may be a good idea to get an adjustable one so you can have options.

Lumens

Just like when you buy any type of lamp, the power of the light (brightness) will be measured by Lumens. It is just simply a measure of how bright it is, so the more lumens, the brighter the lamp. Smaller headlamps will have a lower maximum Lumens, under 200, whereas the strongest light on the market has over 3,000 Lumens.

Many headlamps that have an adjustable beam will have an ability to change the Lumens (brightness) as well. Sometimes you will not need such a focused, bright light, and it also saves battery life.

Waterproof or Water Resistant

All headlamps will be at least water resistant (unless they are strictly for use indoors). Water resistant ones are fine for most people who do not plan on going swimming with them. Rain and perspiration will not affect the light if they are water or moisture resistant.

waterproof headplamp

There are a few completely waterproof ones, and they will be able to stay underwater up to a certain depth (such as 3 feet) for a limited amount of lime (usually under 2 hours). This is perfect for people who want to take the headlamp into rivers and bodies of water, or those who just want extra reassurance that their lamp will not break if dropped into a deep puddle.

Check the individual specifications for how waterproof they are, and how long they can handle being submerged.

The Best Headlamps You Can Find

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Weight: 4.8 Oz.

Dimensions: 5″ x 5″ x 2″

Features: 130 Lumens. Red night vision mode. Waterproof.

The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is a well designed and lightweight head lamp that has more settings and functions that you would ever need. It is powerful enough to emit 130 Lumens on normal mode, and there is a single power red LED that emits a brighter 200 Lumens when on its max setting.

One of the features that makes the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp so special is the simple one touch transition between full and dimmed power – so if you quickly want to switch to full brightness, or dim it back down, then simply tap the side of the light and it responds instantly.

Powered with AAA batteries, it is also waterproof, and can survive being immersed in 3.3 feet of water for half an hour. Perfect for outdoors work. It is available in different strap patterns, ranging from plain black to bright blue.

BYB E-0460 LED Headlamp Flashlight

BYB E-0460 LED Headlamp Flashlight

Weight: 5.6 Oz.

Dimensions: 6.3″ x 3″ x 1.8″

Features: Pack of 2. 6 LED’s (including 2 red). 3 modes including SOS.

Why have one quality headlamp when you can get 2? That’s exactly what you get when you purchase the BYB E-0460 LED Headlamp Flashlight. You can either give one of them to a friend or relative, or keep the second one as a spare for yourself.

Both in the pack are identical, and they are specially designed to be suitable for action – so can be used for running, camping and water sports. The special non-slip head strap is super comfortable, and ensures that the light stays in place when it is on.

It has 6 LED’s for a super bright beam, and there is even a strobe red LED (which constantly flashes SOS). It is one of the sleekest designs on the market, and resembles a sports car headlight, and the light itself is able to be adjusted to face upwards or downwards to direct the beam of light without moving your head.

Mifine Waterproof LED Headlamp Headlight

Mifine Waterproof LED Headlamp Headlight

Weight: 14.4 Oz.

Dimensions: 3.4″ x 2.2″ x 1.5″

Features: Over the head strap. Waterproof. Outside of lamp is made from Aluminum. Rear display.

For a really professional headlamp that would not look out of place in the military, then Mifine Waterproof LED Headlamp Headlight is your go to. It is extra tough and is perfect for anyone adventurous – the extra strap over the head provides extra support and means that it is less likely to slip off.

As well as the lamp on the front to provide a strong beam of light, there is also a display on the back of the head which acts as a ‘warning’ light – this is perfect for night walkers and night riders, so people can see you from behind.

Like most good headlamps, it is powered by AA batteries, however when purchased it comes with rechargeable batteries so they last up to 6 times longer than ordinary batteries – and these batteries do not even need to be taken out of the headlamp in order to be charged (USB charging cord included).

It is possibly the brightest on the market – besides the ordinary LED lights on the front, it has two extra bright spotlights on either side, when at maximum power, can omit up to 3,500 Lumens.

GRDE Zoomable 3 Modes Super Bright LED Headlamp

GRDE Zoomable 3 Modes Super Bright LED Headlamp

Weight: 4.8 Oz.

Dimensions: 6″ x 4.75″ x 3″

Features: Over the head strap. Waterproof. Rear display. Zoomable.

If you are looking for a headlamp which is powerful and has the functionalities of a good torch, then you will love the GRDE Zoomable 3 Modes Super Bright LED Headlamp. The LED lamp resembles a camera lens as it is zoomable, so the beam of light can be adjusted to be thinner and stronger (and can reach a further distance), or can be a wider beam.

Perfect for use in different light conditions. And the zoom is easily adjusted without even needing to take if off – simply reach up and turn it until the desired beam of light is reached.

The straps are made to a very high quality so are super comfortable so you will not even notice the extra weight. There is an extra strap that goes over the head, and there is a light up safety display at the back of the headlamp. Rechargeable batteries mean that you should never run out of power, and it even comes with a car charger, so you do not even need a power plug to charge it.

Fenix HP25 Headlamp

Fenix HP25 Headlamp

Weight: 8.0 Oz.

Dimensions: 2″ x 3″ x 2″

Features: Over the head strap. Waterproof. 340 Lumens.

For a head lamp so bright and strong that it will allow you to see into the next neighborhood, you cannot go past the Fenix HP25 Headlamp. Fenix are one of the most respected and trusted brands of outdoor products, and once you use this headlight you will be able to see why. It is closer to a floodlight on your head, as at maximum power it illuminates up to 525 feet.

The maximum brightness is 340 Lumens, which is brighter than average, and it is completely waterproof (can be submerged up to 3.5 feet for up to half an hour with no issues).

It may be higher in price than many of the competition, but considering the quality, and the fact that it has a lifetime guarantee, it will end up paying for itself in the long run. You can also change the angle of the light beam as the lamp can rotate up to 60 degrees down – so makes it easier to see what is immediately in front of you.

Aennoin Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light

Aennoin Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light

Weight: 5.2 Oz.

Dimensions: 2.1″ x 4.1″ x 3.1″

Features: Over the head strap. Water resistant. 4 light modes.

For a headlamp with the most comfortable fit, the Aennoin Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light was made to be worn for long periods of time while still remaining comfortable while avoiding the dreaded ‘brain squeeze’ headaches.

It is one of the most user friendly on the market with a single touch button on the top (that can be easily accessed without needing to take it off your head). There are four modes – simply press the power button to change between the modes.

Each mode is a different level of brightness, and there is even a strobe setting. Battery operated, and it actually comes with 3 x AAA’s so you can use it straight away. And while it is not completely waterproof like others on the market, it is still water resistant meaning that it can be worn in the rain, and you won’t need to worry about forehead sweat ruining it.

Petzl – TIKKA XP Headlamp

Petzl - TIKKA XP Headlamp

Weight: 2.99 Oz.

Dimensions: 3.03″ x 5.2″ x 4.41″

Features: Single strap. Mixed beam settings. Rechargeable batteries.

Petzl have been around making quality exploration products for over 40 years, and have proven their commitment to quality with their TIKKA XP Headlamp. It was made for the outdoors, and will move with you – no bobbing or slipping as your head moves.

At normal mode it will shine 110 Lumens with a reach of 214 feet, and there is an option for additional brightness and reach to be maintained for a limited time (maximum of 180 Lumens reaching 230 feet).

The batteries are included and are rechargeable, and it is weather resistant so running in rain will not affect the quality. Available in 3 different colors – plain black, white/orange and the original black/orange.

Coast HL7 Focusing 285 Lumen LED Headlamp

Coast HL7 Focusing 285 Lumen LED Headlamp

Weight: 4.50 Oz.

Dimensions: 2.4″ x 3.2″ x 2.1″

Features: Two different focused beams. Up to 285 Lumens. Pouch included.

For a headlamp with a high quality, focusable light beam, you need to check out the Coast HL7 Focusing 285 Lumen LED Headlamp. It is special because it has the one lamp which can be adjusted simply by turning the dial on the outside.

It can go from a wide beam to a focused, powerful beam with one touch. So depending on where you are and what type of illumination you require, it will work for you. It even comes with a special padded pouch so it can be transported safely without damaging or scratching the lamp.

The Lumens that it emits depends on how focused the light is – the more focused, the more Lumens and the brighter the beam. At 285 Lumens it will last 1 hour and 30 minutes of continual light, and at the dimmest setting (4 lumens) it will last an astonishing 70 hours.

Wrap Up

Turns out that headlamps are for more than just hunters and explorers – everyday people are benefiting from being able to essentially attach a torch onto their forehead. And it is also clear that one headlamp is not like all others – there are many factors in which they can vary.

Black Diamond headlamp

From how bright they are, how adjustable the beam is and how secure the strap is. If you do feel that you could benefit from a headlamp, then hopefully this review should clear up the differences and make the decision easier.

We have tried to look at a wide range of the more popular headlamps on the market, including a more basic headlamp, to a top of the range one with extra features. So let us know, what’s your favorite headlamp and how do you like to use it?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bradley Page
Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!

  • Mark Lee

    Fenix HP25 an amazing combination of a maximum of 340 lumens and waterproof but is it really the best one on the list? I’ve seen unfavorable comments somewhere that sooner it will have battery pack problems and will fail after a year. Nonetheless, I might choose it because of its perfectly bright light.

    • Bradley Page

      The Fenix HP25 is a trusted brand and most campers swear by its incredible light. When you’re outside in a dark environment with no electric lights whatsoever, 340 lumens IS really bright. What more, it’s waterproof and with a lifetime guarantee, how can you lose? It’s indeed pricey but you’re paying for quality here and the trusted name.

  • Linda Jones

    Hello! I’m going to buy a headlamp or flashlight. Advise please, what is better to buy for the camping? I thought for a long time, but I can not decide. When you use the headlamp, hands are free, that’s good. However, it seems to me that it’s uncomfortable for the head. Is it so?

  • Bradley Page

    Choose a headlamp that has a wide band so it’s going to be comfortable to wear. Most of the ones listed above are great products to choose from. I was able to use and test those headlamps and I can say – all are top-notch and easy to wear.

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