If you’re a night owl who doesn’t want the outdoor fun to stop after dark, you need a great headlamp to wear. Headlamps are necessary for nighttime activities because they allow you to see what’s up ahead and others to see you coming. (No one deserves to be startled!)
Headlamps come with all kinds of different features, so it can be tricky to narrow down the best one for your needs. Someone who jogs at night is probably going to want a different headlamp than someone who hunts!
Keep reading to see our best headlamp picks. Later in the post, we’ll walk you through everything we considered when selecting our picks. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions by buyers of headlamps.
Our Top Picks
Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp
Best for Jogging or Biking
Ledlenser NEO5R Running Headlamp
Best for Hunting and Fishing
GearOZ Coon Hunting Lights Headlamp
Victoper Rechargeable Headlamp
We see a lot of people recommending the Fenix HP30R v2.0 Headlamp because it’s the brightest headset offered by Fenix, but for our favorite intended purpose–camping–we find that the Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp is a better value.
The Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp comes with a rechargeable battery and a beam distance of 290 meters with brightness levels ranging from 5 to 1600 lumens. It’s incredibly durable, with an IP rating of 66, and it comes with cable clips and helmet clips for biking and other activities that might require a helmet.
It’s able to run up to 400 hours at the lowest mode or 800 hours on SOS mode; then, it takes only 4 hours to fully recharge with a USB-C charging cord. This is a high-performance headlamp with all the features you need for exploring the night while camping.
- Features floodlight, red light, and spotlight bean types
- Waterproof and sand proof
- Long battery life
- On the heavier side, at 8.4 ounces
Best for Jogging or Biking
If night-time workouts are your jam, then the Ledlesner NEO5R Running Headlamp is exactly what you need. Its lightweight design, at 3.7 ounces, means it won’t bother you during your workout. This sturdy headlamp will allow you to see everything around you.
This is a rechargeable headlamp that offers 360-degree visibility, and it offers a powerful light output of 600 lumens up to 100 meters. It will automatically switch to a backup low-power mode to preserve battery life when it is near depletion.
It fits into the pocket of your running shorts and comes with a transport lock to prevent it from turning on accidentally during transport.
- Red rear-facing light for extra visibility
- Temperature control to prevent overheating
- 7-year warranty
- AC adapter not included
- No IP rating
Best for Hunting and Fishing
If you’re a hunter or angler, you need a colored LED headlamp, and we find the GearOZ Coon Hunting Lights Headlamp is the most impressive headlamp on the market for these buyers. You can wear this headlamp three ways: headlamp only, headlamp and black hat, or headlamp and camo hat.
It has a beam reach of up to 730 meters, allowing you to easily spot predators. This headlamp comes with a rechargeable battery, and you can power your headlamp for up to 15 hours.
This headlamp has six modes, including red, amber, and green lighting, to protect your eyes and not alert predators. Amber allows you to view 9 meters underwater while bow fishing.
- Three colored lights offer versatile use for hunters and anglers
- The IP rating is 68–meaning it’s dustproof and waterproof
- Comfortable and easy to set up
- Hat is generic
- The setup might feel awkward for some people
If you’re on a budget and looking for a cheaper high-quality headlamp, we recommend the Victoper Rechargeable Headlamp. This headlamp reaches up to 18,000 lumens and 100 meters. It’s perfect for exploring caves, camping under the stars, and all your favorite outdoor activities.
Weighing in at 5.3 ounces, this headlamp has an IPX5 rating, which means it can sustain a low-pressure water jet spray. It comes with two rechargeable batteries, and its battery life lasts for 3 to 6 hours.
- Ultra bright
- Lightweight battery case
- The unit is made from plastic, making it flimsier than higher-budget headlamps
- A headlamp is easily accidentally turned on when carrying
- The beam is very narrow without the ability to adjust
You might prefer an ultra-lightweight headlamp for running or backpacking. Ultra lightweight headlamps are often lower quality, but we think the Black Diamond Spring 225 is an excellent quality headlamp, weighing in at only 2 ounces with batteries.
This headlamp features an LED floodlight, brightness memory (so you can turn it on and off easily), and a 3-hour charging time rechargeable battery. It has an IPX4 rating, meaning it hasn’t been tested against sand but is resistant to splashes from any direction.
It reaches a max of 225 lumens and 42 meters. The headlamp’s six settings include full strength, dimming, and strobe. Run time is between 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 20 hours.
- Compact, low profile
- Digital lock-out safeguards accidental use when in pocket
- Comfort is priority
- Low battery life, especially on high beam
- The headlight may fall from the cord after extended use
Best Headlamp Buyer’s Guide
In general, the heavier the headlamp, the brighter it illuminates. Heavier headlamps also tend to have a longer battery life.
Heavier headlamps are of higher quality. They are made from aluminum or thick plastic to increase their durability. Lightweight models are made from thin plastic, meaning they’re more breakable.
Most people will prefer a middle-weighted headlamp–one that’s not too heavy or too thin. The mid-sized headlamps tend to be comfortable with the right balance of brightness and portability.
Weight distribution is also something to consider. Some headlamps have battery packs in the back to improve balance, but this could get in the way if you’re wearing your headlamp with a biking helmet. Meanwhile, heavy front battery packs could be irritating while running.
LED Beam Type
The best headlamps have several beam types used for different purposes.
This mode is usually the default mode on most headlamps. It is a long-distance light beam. The spot mode is used for lighting up a trail, finding your route, or scanning the area for signs of wildlife or other hikers.
This mode maximizes the view of what’s right in front of you, so it’s useful for setting up campsites in the dark or searching for personal belongings.
This mode is used for emergencies and flashes a bright light in short intervals to preserve battery life.
Many of the best headlamps come with color settings, most commonly red. Some will have blue and green lights. Colored light is easier on the eyes, and they don’t attract bugs in the same way that white light does.
The best headlamps have been tested to know how far they’re able to illuminate quality light. This measurement is calculated in meters.
Beam distance is especially important when mountain biking in the dark so that you can see in the distance for upcoming curves and rocks. Mountain bikers should look for headlamps with beam distances of over 100 meters.
A headlamp’s brightness level is measured in lumens. A lumen measurement tells you how much visible light is created by a light source.
Between 250-350 lumens is sufficient for most situations, and keeping your headlamp at lower lumen settings is recommended to preserve battery life if your headlamp has higher settings.
Rechargeable batteries are becoming more common in modern-day headlamps. These batteries use micro-USB chargers and can be recharged with portable generators or power banks like the Anker Portable Charger.
You save money on batteries in the long run with rechargeable batteries since you don’t have to constantly keep buying new batteries. The caveat is if you run out of battery life without access to a portable charger, you’re going to be without a headlamp.
Many headlamps still run on AAA batteries, which can easily be packed if you’re going to be away from a power source for some time. The downside is they do get expensive over time, and if you forget your batteries, you’re going to be without a headlamp.
These headlamps offer the best of both worlds. You’re able to choose whether you want to use AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery. These headlamps are ideal for backpacking away from civilization for lengthy periods.
It’s a good idea to pay attention to the battery life number noted by the manufacturer, but know that this number isn’t a guarantee.
Multiple factors will influence your headlamp’s battery life, such as brightness, strobe use, and even the weather–don’t be surprised if your headlamp dies faster in extreme temperatures.
Knowing how you plan to use your headlamp can help you decide which product is best for your intended use.
Wearing a headlamp while camping isn’t just so you can see, it also allows others to see you. A headlamp between 50 and 200 lumens will be appropriate for most camping trips, though if you’re in an especially dark area, you might want a brighter headlamp.
A flood light comes in handy while camping because it provides you the ability to see more of your campsite. We also recommend a headlamp with a red light for camping with others, so you can read without disturbing others trying to sleep.
The best headlamps for hunting should include a red, green, or blue LED mode. RGB light is less likely to alert game animals and protects the hunter’s night vision in the dark.
Another perk of the best headlamps for hunting is adjustable beams, so you’re able to adjust your beam as needed and preserve the battery when possible.
Running or Biking
Squeezing in a workout before the sun comes up or after it comes down is the perfect way to get your daily exercise away from the heat of the day. A lightweight headlamp is ideal for running or biking in the dark.
The best headlamps for runners and bikers should have a short-distance beam for lighting up any obstacles in the pavement, such as rocks, curbs, or potholes.
If you’re outside, rain or shine, you’ll want to pay attention to the IP rating of your headlamp. IP rating stands for Ingress Protection, which is the standard used for identifying an electronic device’s ability to protect against water, dust, or accidents.
The first digit in an IP rating listing describes the product’s protection against solids, like sand, and the second number tells you the product’s water resistance. A headlamp with an IP rating of IP11 does not offer any water or dust protection.
Our best overall headlamp, the Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp, has an IP rating of IP66, which means it is completely protected from dust and has prediction from high-pressure water jets, and can handle limited water entry.
The highest IP rating a headlamp can have is IP69, meaning it is completely dust tight and protected from close-range, powerful, high-temperature water jets.
A headlamp with an IP rating of 68, like our best for hunting and fishing pick, the GearOZ Coon Hunting Lights Headlamp can handle submersion into the water for long periods.
You will find more than one strap style when looking at different headlamps. Some straps provide a standard flush fit, while others split at the rear for extra sturdiness.
Another popular strap style is the two-strap system. Two-strap systems also often have rear battery packs.
Other simple headlamp systems include a thin elastic cord, though these can be quite flimsy, so you’ll want to avoid them unless it’s an emergency and the only headset you have on hand.
Best Headlamp Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a headlamp and a headlight?
Headlamp is the term used to describe a device that produces a headlight or beam of light.
Which is better for hunting: Thermal, Infrared (IR), or Red LED?
Red LED works better than thermal or IR because it blocks the predator from seeing you. Thermal and IR light are not able to fully block the predator’s view of you.
Wrapping up the Best Headlamp
We’ve shared with you all you need to know so you can confidently pick the best headlamp for your needs. For general camping, we highly recommend the Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp.
If you’re looking for more camping gear reviews, check out our Camping Gear archives!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Nicole Kinkade grew up in campgrounds in the Midwest with her family in their RV and has many fond memories around the campfire. She and her husband took many tent camping trips at the beginning of their relationship, and she looks forward to sharing the outdoors with her young son as he gets older.
She loves discovering new camping techniques and sharing them with the world. With a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Media Communication, she is a passionate writer who loves sharing her knowledge online.
Nicole can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org