Best Headlamps for Hiking, Backpacking, and More
Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, camping, or even just walking the dog at night, having a headlamp makes everything more convenient. Of course, there are seemingly endless options for headlamps on the market. So how do you know which ones are the best headlamps for hiking?
This list of the top headlamps goes over all of your options so you can pick the best one. You’ll even learn about the different features you should look for so you can ensure you choose the right headlamp to suit your needs.
Why Use a Headlamp When Hiking?
Having some type of light is absolutely essential when you’re hiking. However, instead of packing a flashlight in your hiking backpack, go with a headlamp. Headlamps offer a variety of benefits over flashlights because they’re significantly more convenient.
If you’re trying to navigate a hiking trail in the dark, a headlamp will shine light exactly where you’re looking. This makes it easier to spot rocks, roots, branches, and other tripping hazards on the trail.
A headlamp also keeps your hands free so you can hold on to your hiking poles, more easily pitch a tent, or quickly grab on to things if you’re climbing.
Additionally, headlamps tend to be smaller and lighter than flashlights. Since every inch and ounce is crucial when packing your backpack, a headlamp is often the better way to go.
Best Headlamps for Hiking
Now that you know why you should never leave home without a headlamp in your backpack, you’re probably ready to start shopping for one. Whether you’re interested in a rechargeable headlamp, a budget-friendly headlamp, or a headlamp that can go from your head to your bike, you’ll find exactly what you want on this list of the best headlamps for hikers.
1. Best All-Around Headlamp
The Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp is our top pick for the best all-around headlamp for hikers. The headlamp offers a max brightness of 400 lumens, which is plenty to handle everything from predawn hikes to warming up your dehydrated dinner at night.
The headlamp also includes a variety of convenient features everyone will appreciate. It has the dual-fuel feature, which means you can either use rechargeable lithium batteries or three AAA alkaline batteries.
It puts out a wide dim beam, narrow bright beam, and red light. You can tap the side of the light with your finger to get a quick burst of maximum brightness without losing the light setting you’re on.
When turned off, the headlamp can remember the last setting you had it on, so you don’t have to reset it every time. It also comes with a convenient locking feature, so it won’t accidentally turn on in your backpack and drain its battery.
2. Best Rechargeable Headlamp
Rechargeable headlamps are great for reducing battery waste and saving you money over time. If you’re interested in the top rechargeable headlamp, choose the Petzl ACTIK CORE.
Although it’s more expensive than regular AAA-powered Petzl headlamps, you can save money since you don’t have to constantly buy new batteries. Plus, in addition to using rechargeable batteries, the ACTIK CORE can also run on three AAA batteries, so you always have a backup plan.
The headlamp provides 450 lumens, two beam patterns, several brightness levels, and a red light to preserve night vision.
Like other Petzl headlamps, the ACTIK CORE has several user-friendly features, such as single-button operation for quick and easy selection of brightness, a lock function to avoid accidentally turning it on, and a reflective headband for night visibility.
3. Best Budget Headlamp
You don’t always have to spend a fortune to get good hiking gear. If you’re looking for a simple headlamp that meets your basic needs, the Petzl TIKKINA 250 is the perfect option.
Petzl designed this headlamp to be easy to use. It has a single button so you can quick and easily select the brightness level you want. Press it once for low, twice for medium, or three times for high.
For convenience, the headlamp can run on either the CORE rechargeable battery or three AAA batteries.
4. Best Headlamp for Kids
Young hikers need to be able to see in the dark as well. So if you’re looking for the best headlamp for kids, go with the Princeton Tec Bot Kid’s Headlamp.
This affordable and durable headlamp comes with fun, bright designs that every kid will love. But it goes beyond just looking cool.
The Bot has the same reliability and ruggedness as other Princeton Tec headlamps. It includes a large push button that’s sturdy and simple to operate, a break-away headstrap, and an auto shut off feature.
It also offers three modes of operation: High, low, and flash. It operates using 2 AAA batteries, and the battery compartment screws shut to ensure the batteries won’t accidentally fall out.
Related: How to Hike With a Toddler Without Losing Your Sanity
5. Best Ultralight Headlamp
The Black Diamond Spot Lite 200 is sleek, compact, and weighs in at just 1.9 ounces, making it the perfect option for anyone looking for a functional headlamp that’s extremely lightweight. Even though the Spot Lite 200 is lighter, it still comes with many of the same popular features as other Black Diamond headlamps.
It includes a thin band that helps it fit comfortably on the forehead and runs on two AAA batteries. It emits a maximum of 200 lumens and offers full strength, distance, dimming, strobe, and red light modes.
Plus, it has a locking feature to keep it from turning on in your backpack.
6. Best Headlamp for Trail Runners
If you’re a trail runner, you know having gear with a secure fit is a must. That’s why you should use the BioLite Headlamp 330.
This headlamp features a stable fit unlike any other. The lamp sits flush right on your forehead and includes a moisture-wicking fabric headband so you don’t have to worry about bouncing or slippage.
It offers a max output of 330 lumens and includes settings for flood, spot, strobe, and red light. You can even tilt the light panel down with one hand for more control on where you shine the light.
Additionally, since the BioLite 330 runs on a rechargeable battery, you can leave the alkaline batteries at home.
7. Best Headlamp for Winter Hiking
If you plan on doing some winter hiking, you’ll appreciate the features of the Fenix HM50R V2.0. It has a large button on the side that’s easy to press when you’re wearing gloves.
It emits up to 700 lumens, making it the brightest headlamp on this list. It also has four modes of white light and a red mode light.
The waterproof headlamp is made with durable materials that can withstand harsh environments and weather conditions. It also includes a rechargeable battery that can run up to 42 hours on the lowest mode.
You can even slide the light out of its headband bracket and clip it to your backpack or use it as a handheld flashlight.
8. Best Versatile Headlamp
If you’re looking for another versatile option you can use as a headlamp, handheld flashlight, or bike light, take a look at the Princeton Tec SNAP. Not only does this headlamp come with all types of mounts so you can hang it, clip it, or attach it, but it also has a magnetic end so you can stick it on metal surfaces.
It has light modes to cover all types of activities. The wide beam spreads light over a large area and the narrow beam provides illumination over a distance. It also has a dimmable light that helps conserve battery power.
It has a maximum lumens of 300 and can last for 155 hours using low light.
9. Best Ultra-Bright Headlamp
Sometimes, you need A LOT of light to help you see where you’re going and what you’re doing. That’s when you should use the Ledlenser MH10.
This lightweight headlamp can light up the trail or campsite with up to 600 lumens that shine over 490 feet for up to 120 hours. It offers three convenient power settings: high for on the trail, mid for around the campsite, and low for reading and longer use.
It also features green and red light mode for better night vision. Additionally, it has an IPX4 water resistance rating, so it can stand up to rain, sweat, and more.
You can reposition the rear battery pack on the band for a more comfortable fit, or you can remove it and stash it away in your backpack or jacket pocket for even greater comfort.
When it’s time to recharge the batteries, you can use the included micro USB cable. You’ll also appreciate the transportation lock that prevents the light from turning on in your backpack.
10. Best Emergency Headlamp
You might not plan on being out on the trail at night, but sometimes the unexpected happens. That’s why it’s always important to be prepared with essential survival gear, including this Black Diamond Flare Headlamp.
This headlamp is small and lightweight, yet it’s still extremely robust. Since it’s so compact, you can easily store it in a backpack pocket, emergency kit, or glove box so it’s easily accessible if you need it.
It features 40 lumens and runs off two CR2032 batteries housed in a durable aluminum casing. You can wear it in any weather thanks to its waterproof design.
In addition to low and full-strength white light modes, the headband able offers strobe mode, SOS mode, and red light mode.
Best Headlamps for All of Your Outdoor Activities
You never want to be caught in the dark without an easy way to see what’s around you. That’s why you should always carry one of these best backpacking headlamps. When you do, you know you’ll be prepared for plenty of outdoor fun no matter how dark it gets outside.
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