Aug 09, 2018
A pitch-black night harbors a lot of dangers, especially for the anyone working outdoors. And when the visibility is limited, a headlamp can mean the difference between injuring yourself or doing the job smoothly. They are also quite versatile and make the perfect companion when out jogging, hiking, biking, camping or fishing.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Black Diamond
- Price: See Here
- Petzl Tikka
- Price: See Here
- Petzl Reaktic
- Price: See Here
Choosing a suitable headlamp is, however, an uphill task, at least for the vast majority of you out there. To help with that, we’ve dutifully put together this buying guide to walk you through the steps, beginning with criteria to keep in mind, then a comprehensive but brief review of the best headlamps on the market, and lastly an assortment of the frequently asked questions.
10 Best Headlamps
3. Black Diamond Spot
There is a lot going for Black Diamond Spot, from a powerful 300 lumens beam, user-friendly and simple interface, sleek, low profile and waterproof design. Together, these features make it one of the very best in the industry, and unlike high-end models that will cost you an arm and a leg, the device comes with a surprisingly budget-friendly price tag. And if you don't find these reasons to be concrete enough to sway your purchasing decision, consider that the machine, like our previous pick, has a red night-vision mode to enable you to see objects around you without hurting your eyes or quickly draining your battery.
The value-conscious user looking for a long-lasting, bright, and affordable headlight will immediately fall for the headlamp. It’s the perfect outdoor companion seeing as it comes with a dust
and water resistance rating of IPX8.
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At 300 lumens of brightness, it will expertly help you see no matter how dark it is. It is also an ideal choice for use in industrial and other commercial settings besides illuminating your path or environment. One of the product's highlights is the brightness memory features that works by activating the last brightness setting before it was switched off. The features save you the frustration, time and effort of cycling through the different brightness settings in search of the perfect setting.
You have a choice of three different bulbs: a QUAD power LED, DoublePower LED, and SinglePower Red LED, in the order of their levels of brightness. The first two output a combined 300 lumens of brightness, easily reaching a distance of 80 metres while the lowest brightness setting manages a decent 10 metres on its own. The spotlight is perfect for undertaking close-up tasks while there is also a red light that’s handy for navigating an area without disturbing others with too much bright light.
Even with all three AAA Alkaline batteries installed, it remains lightweight and stays securely in place. It has a single strap that’s immensely comfortable even though adjusting it requires some doing. Also, since it comes with a single button for controlling all the different settings, using it may be a bit cumbersome before you get used to it. Aside from that, the device works like a charm and will enable you to embark on your outdoor activities without the slightest hitch. It's a solid choice.
Exceptionally resistant to water and dust
Hard to use with a single button
2. Petzl - TIKKA Headlamp, 200 Lumens
Like its brother, or sister, above, the Petzl Tikka is a versatile and high-performance device that’s ideal for use on outdoor adventures and in the garage. The device’s wide beam brings to an end the days of straining to see objects up close. It comes with a distinct red lighting feature that efficiently illuminates objects in the dark, thereby providing for clear vision even in the pitch darkness of the midnight.
Despite being a budget-friendly, lower end model targeting beginners and greenhorns, the headlamp packs a punch. At 200 lumens, the headlamp still produces enough light to illuminate up to 60 metres in front.
As for power, it uses both disposable and rechargeable battery to provide you with enough runtime. Its compatibility with the CORE USB kit makes it an even more attractive alternative to other models in its price range. It has both floodlight and spotlight capabilities, the former coming in red and white colours. The white floodlight features three different operational modes the minimum of which produces 5 lumens with a length of 10 metres and the maximum that manages 60 metres at 200 lumens.
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However, at its price range, its spotlight feature is not as effective as those of high-end models, meaning that it’s not the best to use to find trails in the dark. Couple the headlight with Petzl’s NOCTILIGHT Lantern and you’ll be able to relish diffusive light spreading Omni-directionally, making the headlamp the perfect camping companion. Plus, there is a red strobe light mode for emergency situations.
It is a compact and lightweight option, weighing a paltry 2.88 ounces and with dimensions of 2.5 inches by 2.2 inches by 1.5 inches. The elasticity and adjustability of its headband ensure firm but comfortable fitting, minimizing the possibility of it coming off while undertaking strenuous activities. Couple that with the machine's water resistance and ease of use.
We love how perfectly the Petzl - Tikka balances performance, weight, and affordability to make it one of the best headlamps on the market. It’s easy to use, bright, and portable.
High capacity battery for long runtime
Uses both rechargeable and disposable batteries
Easy to use and lightweight
The absence of battery indicator and lock feature
No spotlight beam
1. Petzl - REACTIK+
The Petzl Reactik+ comes with a slew of defining features that easily propel it to the top of the list. The features that stand out conspicuously are its reactive lighting modes and Bluetooth connectivity, both of which make it convenient and a cinch to use. Also, with a brightness of up to 300 lumens, the headlamp is quite bright, illuminating up to 110 meters ahead. Other outstanding features that make it endearing for professional and domestic use are its comfortability, versatility, and durability.
It features an innovative reactive lighting mode that you won’t find with other options on the market. The technology works intelligently to provide you with optimal light levels by constantly but not inconveniently adjusting the modes, a process that also saves you tremendous amounts of battery juice. By using a sensor for measuring the ambient light and the proximity of the objects around you, it conveniently varies the beam to provide you with the best experience. As a result, you won’t have to manually adjust the modes when you shift your head from looking down a dark hole to checking your watch.
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For ease of use, you have the option of adjusting the light levels by connecting it to the MYPetzl Light app on your smartphone through Bluetooth. By going a step further and creating various profiles for different activities, you'll enjoy optimal lighting conditions. The app also allows you to monitor the remaining battery life and even create a correlation between the battery life and level of brightness so there are no surprises while working or enjoying the great outdoors.
It uses Lithium-Ion batteries that you can easily recharge with a Micro-USB cable. The battery lasts for between 3 and 30 hours in accordance with the profile, mode, and light setting you decide to use. And it has a comfortable head strap for securing it on the head. The strap has two buckles for easily adjusting it to ensure it fits firmly, with minimal likelihood of slippage while ensuring maximum comfort and increased sweat absorption.
For shift workers and outdoor enthusiasts looking for a powerful and reliable headlamp to use in settings where the lighting conditions are less than ideal, the Petzl - REACTIK+ would be a perfect choice. At 300 lumens, it bright has a long-lasting battery and is surprisingly easy to use. It's worth every buck.
Easy to control through a smartphone app
10. EdisonBright Bundle Fenix HL60R
This is a bar-setting headlamp and a must-have for those in search of a high-performance, long-lasting and bright option. It boasts a spectacular 950 lumens output that's more than enough for navigating in the harshest environments. The headlamp provides you with a choice of five different output modes, each optimized for a wide range of outdoor activities. The highest lighting mode, Turbo, outputs an impressive 950 lumens while the lowest, the Eco, boasts an output of 5 lumens. A sixth, the strobe, has a 1-lumen output that's perfect for searching for things within the tent without risking waking up your sleeping companions.
It features two headbands to ensure it remains firmly and securely but comfortably in place irrespective of the activity you’re undertaking. It also boasts an assuring IPX8 waterproof rating and features durable and heavy-duty metal construction to make last more than a lifetime. And since it features one switch
, cycling through the different lighting setting is much quicker and easier than it is with other models.
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For power, it relies on one 18650 Li-ion battery that can be swiped for two CR123A batteries. With dimensions of 3.4 inches by 1.8 inches by 2 inches and a weight of 4.3 ounces, the headlamp is comfortably compact and lightweight and is as a result very portable. Essentially, the headlamp meets and even exceeds durability, usability, and performance expectations, and any nature lover would be hopelessly lost without one.
Lightweight and easy to use
Cost-effective and waterproof
Prone to overheating at full blast
5. Petzl - ACTIK
Very few brands come close to challenging the dominant position of Petzl when it comes to the production of top-notch, specialized headlamps. Their products, and the Petzl - ACTIK option, in particular, is extremely versatile and is a perfect choice for climbers, campers, cavers, bikers, and hikers, among other groups. It might not look like much but beyond the simplistic, humdrum appearance lies reliable high-performance and remarkable ease of use. In addition to giving you a sense of security by lighting up your trail in the dark, the machine also features a lightweight and compact design and comes at a fraction of the price of its high-end counterparts in spite of the trivial difference in performance.
It is a multi-beam option that boasts an incredible brightness of up to 350 lumens, a performance that easily dwarfs that of other devices in its price tag. In addition to allowing you access to a proximity bulb, it features a floodlight LED and a spotlight red LED that's operational in both solid and strobe modes. In the solid mode, the red LED is perfect for night vision and for preventing you from inadvertently shining bright while light on your companions. In strobe mode, it's perfect for calling for emergency assistance.
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It comes with three AAA batteries but also gives you the option of using a CORE rechargeable battery, thereby providing you with a considerably longer runtime compared to the cheap, off-brand models on the market masquerading as headlamps. Toggling it on or off and cycling through the available light modes is considerably easy, thanks to the incorporation and strategic placement of a large and easy to use push button. Additional features include a safety whistle and an easy-to-wash construction quality.
While it is an expensive option with a disappointingly low IPX4 rating for water resistance, it has the advantage of offering the user remarkable convenience, sporting a lightweight and compact design and outputting a more-than-decent brightness level of up to 350 lumens. You won't regret choosing it over its competitors.
Has a constant lighting feature
Lights the dark greatly
6. Black Diamond ReVolt
The Black Diamond ReVolt has a host of instrumental features that sets it apart from other models in the fiercely competitive field. Its reliability, all-roundness, ease of use, and affordability makes it hugely endearing to many professionals in search of a durable and rechargeable headlamp. While it outputs an incredible 300 lumens, the beam reaches just 70 meters, 10 meters short of the distance the Black Diamond Spot attains. Still, being one of the brand’s flagship products, its performance is more than decent. To these add its compatibility with both rechargeable and disposable batteries.
It comes with an easy-to-locate button on the casing to make it a snap toggling between the different lighting modes
, meaning that even the elderly members of the society can operate one without assistance. It has just four lighting modes that are remarkably easy to shift through using the button. There is also a dimming
feature that provides for the quick and easy adjusting of the distance and proximity modes. The most powerful mode is the TriplePower LED that boasts 110 lumens and capable of reaching 70 meters followed closely by the Proximity mode that uses two SinglePower LED to produce up to 25 lumens to cover a distance of 9 meters. While the proximity mode boasts an excellent floodlight and boasts a dimming feature, the red LEDs have a useful night vision function that guarantees easy movement around the tent and lacks the bright white light that would otherwise wake up your fellow campers.
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It is both energy-efficient and is rechargeable using a Micro-USB cable which maximizes charging options. There’s also a convenient battery indicator and a lock feature that prevents the machine from accidentally turning on while in the backpack. Performance aside, it is both lightweight and compact and features a single, easy-to-adjust strap. The uniform balancing also makes it ideal for undertaking vigorous activities, with minimal likelihood of it falling or slipping off.
In all, this is an easy-to-use, affordable and lightweight headlamp. It fits comfortably and has multiple recharge options. The water resistance rating of IPX4 is however disappointing.
Comes with remarkable convenience and performance features
Beam distance is wanting
Disappointing IPX4 rating
7. Petzl Nao+ Plus
For the person looking for a durable, high-performance, easy to use, and versatile option for use in the evenings and late into the night, take a look at the Petzl Nao+ Plus. In addition to the already mentioned features, it also has the advantage of affordability. Unlike other units though, it does not compromise on quality or performance or both to keep the asking price down. You'll also like the reliability and trouble-free performance, which is more than you'll ever say for some of the weak and flimsy alternatives on the market.
It features an innovative Reactive Lighting Technology (RLT) feature that works by continuously sensing the proximity of objects within your environment, allowing it to automatically adjust the light beam accordingly. For instance, the headlight outputs a bright, wide and distance beam
when the user is staring down a cave but quickly scales down the brightness when you look at your watch or match. The continuous and automatic adjustment of the brightness level helps you save a considerable chunk of your battery life, giving it a longer runtime than the cheap, off-brand models lacking the feature.
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It uses a high-capacity 2600mAh 18650 rechargeable battery. Like the vast majority of other options, you can recharge the battery by connecting it to virtually any power source using the provided Micro-USB cable. A fully charged battery should provide you with an incredible 750 lumens in the RLT mode, more than enough to enable you to navigate the most challenging and advanced trails on mountain tops with remarkable ease. And the icing on the cake is that it comes with a smartphone app that you can use to quickly toggle through the different modes.
Additional features include water resistance and a strobe mode for enhancing visibility to vehicles and calling for assistance in case of an emergency. Also, it comes with a strap that’s both comfortable and adjusts easily to sit on the head with minimal likelihood of falling off no matter the activity.
In all, in the Petzl Nao+ Plus, you have a device that's durable and professionally built to last a lifetime. It performs as advertised and is both lightweight and compact and easy to sit on the head. The RLT features make it a worthy contender for the top spot and it's surprisingly versatile.
Easy to use
9. Black Diamond Icon
The Black Diamond Icon option is not an honorary mention, neither does it feature on the list by accident. The headlamp is jam-packed with auxiliary features and specs that take the time and effort away from undertaking any outdoor activity late into the night. It boasts a jaw-dropping output of 500 lumens, meaning that when it comes to brightness, virtually all of the headlights we’ve reviewed so far pale into insignificance in comparison. This, together with the fact that it is waterproof to one metre and is resistant to impacts and mishaps makes it an ideal choice for the most rigorous activities.
Every inch and cranny is designed to make it highly customizable for the most gruesome activity. You have to venture outside with it to truly appreciate its features. For instance, it comes with a long-distance and 500 lumens bright beam, which honestly over-qualifies it for most jobs. You can easily and quickly shift through the different beam settings, from a long-distance, spotlight mode to a close-up, floodlight one, all of which are suited for different activities.
Additionally, you get to choose between red, green, and blue night-vision modes so you don't wake your compatriots with the bright light while roaming within the tent.
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Like we mentioned earlier, the headlamp comes with an impressive waterproof rating that enables it being submerged one meter underwater for up to 30 minutes. The heavy-duty construction using high-end materials and impact and dust resistance also enable it to withstand the adverse and harsh outdoor conditions. Still, it's a cinch to use, considering that it weighs a paltry 14.9 ounces with dimensions of 1 inch by 2 inches by 1 inch and features a battery indicator and brightness memory. Furthermore, it comes with a single strap headband that fits snugly and securely and is easy to adjust.
If you’re looking for a superbly bright, durable, yet cost-effective option, look no further than this device. It has all the features and specs to make any outdoor venture enjoyable and fun.
Several lighting modes for versatility
Easy to use
Accepts both disposable and rechargeable batteries
Uneven weight distribution
4. Nite Ize Inova STS
The NIte Ize Inova STS bears the unmistakable innovative, outdoor-oriented design for which the vast majority of the brand's products are renowned. It might not be stylish or graceful or be as streamlined as its high-end counterparts but it more than makes up for these drawbacks by packing a punch and featuring a budget-friendly price tag.
It outputs a maximum of 142 lumens of brightness to light up the dark, enabling you to continue with your projects in the garage or warehouse
or your outdoor expedition wherever you are. You have a choice of five different lighting modes: high, variable dim, medium, strobe, and lockout. The latter feature is a battery-saver that ensures your headlamp does not inadvertently turn on in between uses, for instance, when you keep it in your backpack. Additionally, it features two red LEDs with a similar number of modes as the white light but which you can easily and quickly adjust within 50-degrees.
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Using it is quite the breeze, and a far cry from the frustration steep learning curve for which cheap, run-of-the-mill models are known. It comes with a user-friendly, easy-to-use, touch-activated Swipe-To-Shine interface that takes the time and effort away from shifting from one setting to another. The touch activated interface makes it a lot easier to change the settings and is far much quicker than having to fondle with knobs and buttons.
Like the vast majority of options on the market, it is powered by three AAA batteries that provide for a longer runtime than standard AA batteries. And when it comes to durability, the headlamp packs a few features to extend its shelf life including outstanding impact and water resistance for up to 2 metres. Plus, it’s lightweight and compact and fits securely and comfortably around the head.
For the outdoor enthusiast working on a budget but has their heart set on acquiring the best option on the market, the Nite Ize Inova STS would be a solid choice. It’s bright, lightweight and compact, comfortable and easy to use, and best of all, it’s cost-effective.
Compact and lightweight design
Easy to use
Unlike connection via Bluetooth
Criteria for Choosing the Best Headlamps
It would be risky and reckless venturing on an outdoor adventure with a headlamp with a low capacity and quickly draining battery, wouldn’t it? Do enjoy the great outdoors with peace of mind and confidence, it’s prudent to invest in a headlamp capable of lasting a reasonable amount of time before requiring a recharge or battery replacement.
It would be even better to go for one that’s compatible with both rechargeable and disposable batteries as this guarantees a considerably longer runtime. Note however that the technology your headlamp incorporates has a significant bearing on the battery runtime. While others are constantly and automatically adjusting the beam brightness to match your surroundings or the task at hand, others come with constant lighting technology that drains the battery much faster.
The headlamp you’re enamored of should not only meet your performance expectations but also exceed so it can withstand the toughest outdoor conditions. In this regard, pay attention to the brightness level and beam distance, keeping in mind that there is no correlation between beam distance and level of brightness as other factors such as the optical lens system come into play.
Optical lens system works by concentrating light into a beam meaning the models with a high-end system boast a considerably longer beam distance compared to those that don’t, irrespective of the number of lumens they pack. If you’re planning on working in an environment which requires for you to see all the surrounding, a headlamp that’s at least 300 lumens bright with a beam distance of approximately 80 meters should do the trick. For normal distances, it should have anywhere between 25 and 150 lumens.
Ease of Use
For the best experience, look for a model that balances performance and ease of use. To be truly portable, it should be both lightweight and compact, so that storage into your backpack before starting your activity is a breeze. High-end models, while they are powerful, are notorious for being bulky and heavy because they typically come with additional batteries and feature thick aluminum or plastic casings.
In addition to being lightweight, your choice should also feature uniform weight distribution and have comfortable and easy fitting straps. A second strap running over the head is only necessary if the model is heavy and proper and secure fit is required.
Resistance to Water
It’s not uncommon for the heavens to suddenly open when you’re on the trail, which is why waterproofing is an imperative consideration when shopping for a headlamp. Water resistance rating falls within a range of between IPX1 and IPX8, and the higher the rating the better your headlamp is protected from water.
If you need protection from splashes of water, an IPX4 rating should suffice. An IPX8 rating, on the other hand, gives your device for about 30 minutes when submerged in water up to 1 meter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which features a quality headlamp should have for home improvement jobs?
A: Obviously, not all headlamps are ideal for such extraneous activities such as running. To qualify, a headlamp would have to be lightweight, have a perfect short-distance beam, and the weight needs to be evenly distributed to make it comfortable on the head.
Q: Which is the better option between one using disposable batteries and one using rechargeable batteries?
A: While there is no difference in performance levels, headlamps running on disposable batteries have a considerably longer runtime than their counterparts with rechargeable batteries. If you can, go for a model that uses both.
Once you’re armed with the most pertinent and up-to-date info, choosing a headlamp from a market full to the brim with various models and sizes should be a breeze. Our list features some of the best the market has to offer. They are affordable, high-performance, durable, and easy to use. We guarantee you won’t regret your choice.