10 Best Headlamps Reviewed in 2020 ( Top Headlights )

man hiking a rocky mountain at dawn with a headlamp

Flashlights are nifty devices that allow you to see when there’s not enough natural light to illuminate what you want to look at.

But most flashlights have a weakness: You have to hold them!

Sure, this isn’t a problem most of the time. However, it gets tiring holding a flashlight for a while, and when you’re holding an item with both hands, holding a flashlight is incredibly awkward, at best.

The solution is to get a headlamp.

A $5 headlamp from your local department store may be fine around the house, but if you’re going to venture into the wilderness, you’ll want something better — something more comfortable, more powerful, waterproof, and long lasting.

Thankfully, most of the best headlamps, whether for hunting or camping, are not terribly expensive.

So, what are the best headlamps? We reviewed the best of them.

 

The 10 Best Headlamps of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews

  1. Best for Hunting #1: Petzl TACTIKKA+ RGB 350
  2. Best for Hunting #2: Streamlight BuckMasters Trident
  3. Best for Running: Black Diamond Sprinter
  4. Best for Hiking: Black Diamond Spot 325
  5. Best for Camping: COAST HL7
  6. Best Rechargeable #1: Petzl ACTIK CORE 450
  7. Best Rechargeable #2: Black Diamond ReVolt
  8. Best LED: Petzl NAO+
  9. Brightest: Fenix HM65R
  10. Best Waterproof: Black Diamond Storm 350

 

CategoryBest for HuntingBest for HikingBrightest
ProductPetzl TACTIKKA+ RBG 350
Petzl TACTIKKA+ RBG 350

Black Diamond Spot 325
Black Diamond Spot 325

Fenix HM65R
Fenix HM65R

Weight3 ounces3 ounces3.42 ounces
Maximum Lumens3503251400
Maximum Distance90 meters80 meters163 meters
Maximum Battery Life260 hours200 hours300 hours
Batteries3 AAA or CORE3 AAA18650 Rechargeable or 2 CR123A
WaterproofingIPX4IPX8IP68
CostCheck Price
Check Price
Check Price

 

1. Best Headlamp for Hunting #1: Petzl TACTIKKA+ RGB 350

Petzl TACTIKKA+ RBG 350

Specs

  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 350
  • Maximum Distance: 90 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 260 hours
  • Batteries: 3 AAA or CORE
  • Waterproofing: IPX4

Overview

We’ll start with perhaps the best headlamp for hunting: the Petzl TACTIKKA+ RGB 350.

TACTIKKA is Petzl’s “tactical” series that’s optimized for stealth. The TACTIKKA+ is the upgraded version. RGB means that it can give off red, green, or blue light, in addition to bright white light.

The TACTIKKA+ RGB has five main modes, two of which apply to red, green, or blue light, for a total of nine modes. White can be used at maximum power — 350 lumens — down to six lumens. It’ll only last two hours at maximum power, but the three AAA batteries are easily replaced.

Red, green, or blue light can be used in proximity mode for 60 hours at two lumens of power, or strobe mode for 400 hours. This last mode can be seen 700 meters away, though it won’t help you see much!

What makes the TACTIKKA+ RGB good for hunting isn’t just the stealthy design that comes in black, woodland camo, and desert colors. It’s the RGB mode.

Green light supposedly doesn’t spook animals such as deer. Red is good for visibility at night without hurting your night vision, and many people find blue light great for tracking blood in the dark.

Pros

  • Battery lasts all night
  • Great for nighttime hunting
  • Red, green, and blue color modes

Cons

  • Fairly expensive for a headlamp

Recommendation

The Petzl TACTIKKA+ RGB 350 is a long-lived, reasonably durable headlamp that helps you track down animals in the dark then follow their blood trails.

 

 

2. Best Headlamp for Hunting #2: Streamlight BuckMasters Trident

Streamlight BuckMasters Trident

Specs

  • Weight: 5.5 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 80
  • Maximum Distance: 126 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 63 hours
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Waterproofing: IPX4

Overview

The Streamlight BuckMasters Trident headlamp is purposefully designed to be a hunting headlamp.

It has four LEDs. The central LED is a high-power white LED for seeing far away in the dark. Three green LEDs sit above the white one and are individually weaker. You can use all three at once for navigating in the dark or you can use only one green LED when you don’t need much light.

The green light is good for navigating a dark forest without washing out all the details. Game animals tend to react less to green lamps as well, so nighttime hunters will be more successful with the BuckMasters Trident than with a white-only headlamp.

It also includes an over-the-head strap for more comfort.

However, the BuckMasters Trident is an older-style headlamp. This means that it’s on the heavy side and weighs almost six ounces. Also, it’s not very powerful and does not have the best battery life.

However, it’s half the price of the TACTIKKA+ RGB!

Pros

  • Easy to use with gloves
  • The green light is good for not alerting animals to your presence

Cons

  • Not very powerful
  • Relatively heavy

Recommendation

The Streamlight BuckMasters Trident is a white and green light LED headlamp that’s good for hunters on a budget.

 

 

3. Best Headlamp for Running: Black Diamond Sprinter

Black Diamond Sprinter

Specs

  • Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 200
  • Maximum Distance: 50 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 42 hours
  • Batteries: Rechargeable
  • Waterproofing: IPX4

Overview

People who run in the early morning or late evening often have to contend with the darkness.

The Black Diamond Sprinter is an excellent choice for runners due to several features. Most notably, it has a taillight!

This taillight is a red LED on the rear of the band that can be turned on for running in the city or turned off for trail running.

A top strap keeps the headlamp secure whether you’re running on the sidewalk or down a mountain.

And the single white LED has an oval throw pattern that gives you a wider-than-average field of view and ample warning time to avoid running into a stop sign or bear.

The battery is a built-in lithium-ion battery that recharges over USB in under five hours. Unfortunately, it cannot be replaced with disposable batteries.

If you’re caught in the rain, the Sprinter is IPX4 rated to keep out storms. Just don’t fall face-first into a lake by accident!

Pros

  • Beam is optimized for urban runners
  • Rear red LED strobes for safety

Cons

  • Rechargeable battery not replaceable

Recommendation

The Black Diamond Sprinter is a good choice for runners interested in safely exercising during the dark, whether in a civilized or a wild environment.

 

 

4. Best Headlamp for Hiking: Black Diamond Spot 325

Black Diamond Spot 325

Specs

  • Weight: 3 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 325
  • Maximum Distance: 80 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 200 hours
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Waterproofing: IPX8

Overview

The Black Diamond Spot is one of Black Diamond’s most popular headlamps, and the 325 is the upgraded version.

The 325 refers to the maximum lumens available, which is more than powerful enough for most uses. You’ll get a maximum of four hours of burn time at that power. The medium power is 160 lumens, which may be more powerful than necessary for a mid-range power mode.

There’s also a red-light mode available so you can move in the dark while preserving your night vision.

This headlamp is available in nine different colors, which is great if you like to accessorize.

Two buttons control the lights, though the smaller button is hard to find, and the big button isn’t the most responsive.

There’s no cross strap, but you can add your own.

The Spot is IPX8 waterproof, so it can survive being submerged under one meter of water for 30 minutes.

Pros

  • Good power for traversing the wild after dark
  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • The buttons can be awkward to use
  • Medium power is a bit too powerful for some people

Recommendation

The Black Diamond Spot is a good array of power, lightness, and weatherproofing that’s not expensive enough to make you cry if you break it on a boulder.

 

Black Diamond Spot 325 is also available at:

Bass Pro

Cabelas

 

5. Best Headlamp for Camping: COAST HL7

COAST HL7

Specs

  • Weight: 4.4 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 305
  • Maximum Distance: 127 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 85 hours
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Waterproofing: Water Resistant

Overview

The COAST HL7 is neither the most powerful nor the most advanced headlamp produced by COAST. However, it has the best value, and it is a great choice for camping.

Many headlamps are designed to be functional at both long ranges and up close by having different modes. The COAST HL7, however, has a focusable beam. Just rotate the light’s bezel to get light where you want it!

The power switch is similarly easy to use. In fact, there’s a dimmer switch so you can adjust the light output to fit exactly what you need without washing out your view or burning through batteries.

There are versions available that have rechargeable batteries or are more powerful. However, the cost rises significantly, so the HL7 is still my favorite for campsite use.

Pros

  • The battery pack sits on the back of the head, counterbalancing the light’s weight
  • Can attach to hard hats
  • Dimmer switch
  • Focusable beam rather than discrete modes

Cons

  • The battery pack sits on the back of the head, which annoys some people

Recommendation

The COAST HL7 is a variable headlamp that can be adjusted more than any other brand’s headlamp. This makes it great for camping and for tradesmen, such as plumbers.

 

 

6. Best Rechargeable Headlamp #1: Petzl ACTIK CORE 450

Petzl ACTIK CORE 450

Specs

  • Weight: 2.6 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 450
  • Maximum Distance: 90 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 160 hours
  • Batteries: CORE or 3 AAA
  • Waterproofing: IPX4

Overview

Not all rechargeable headlamps are created equal.

The Petzl ACTIK CORE is designed for action. Many of Petzl’s headlamp models can be supplemented with their CORE rechargeable battery, but the ACTIK CORE actually comes with one.

It’s rechargeable over USB and can be replaced with AAA batteries if your light burns out in the field.

The ACTIK has a multi-beam design that can function as a flood light or a hybrid for longer range. There’s also a red LED that can be used when you’re traveling in a group and don’t want to blind each other.

The ACTIK weighs under three ounces, making it perfect for wearing over a long period of time. The headband is secure and comfortable, so this is a good headlamp for the bouncier outdoor sports, such as trail running and mountaineering.

The only iffy aspect of this headlamp is that it’s not much brighter than the ACTIK 350 model that preceded it, despite having 100 more lumens on paper.

Pros

  • Compatible with mounting accessories
  • Reflective headband
  • Very lightweight

Cons

  • The ACTIK 450 is only slightly brighter than the ACTIK 350
  • Somewhat expensive

Recommendation

The Petzl ACTIK CORE is a great rechargeable headlamp for anybody who engages in movement-based outdoor sports.

 

 

7. Best Rechargeable Headlamp #2: Black Diamond ReVolt

Black Diamond ReVolt

Specs

  • Weight: 3.4 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 300
  • Maximum Distance: 80 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 300 hours
  • Batteries: Black Diamond Rechargeable AAA Batteries
  • Waterproofing: IPX8

Overview

Note: The specifications don’t match up between various websites. The specs shown above are from the manufacturer’s website.

The Black Diamond ReVolt is a cleverly named headlamp that comes with Black Diamond’s proprietary rechargeable diamonds. They can be charged via USB while still installed in the headlamp but can be swapped out for normal AAA batteries if necessary.

Don’t expect to be able to charge any old rechargeable AAA in this headlamp, though. Only Black Diamond’s batteries work this way.

However, you won’t get full power without using nonrechargeable alkaline batteries. Also, full power isn’t quite as powerful as you’d expect, since it comes from two LEDs working together.

A helpful feature is the Brightness Memory, which remembers the power level you last used so you don’t blind yourself whenever you turn on this headlamp!

Pros

  • Double power red LED
  • Luminosity stays consistent over a longer period of the battery’s lifespan
  • Recharges Black Diamond’s batteries while installed in the headlamp

Cons

  • Does not function at full power with rechargeable batteries
  • The light doesn’t travel as far as other headlamps putting out similar luminosity

Recommendation

The Black Diamond ReVolt is less expensive than the Petzl ACTIK CORE and isn’t the brightest headlamp, but it is still more than enough headlamp for most people.

 

Black Diamond ReVolt is also available at:

Basspro

Cabelas

 

8. Best LED Headlamp: Petzl NAO+

Petzl NAO+

Specs

  • Weight: 6.5 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 750
  • Maximum Distance: 140 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Batteries: 3100 mAh Proprietary Lithium-Ion
  • Waterproofing: IPX4

Overview

All the other headlights mentioned are basically lights on your head. Why not try something fancy?

The Petzl NAO+ is a whizz-bang headlamp with advanced features I bet you didn’t know could fit into a light above your face.

For starters, the NAO+ has a brightness sensor that can automatically regulate the output and provide constant lighting.

You can set the NAO+ for either maximum autonomy or maximum power, in which case you’ll get a blazing 750 lumens lighting your path out to 140 meters (for a short period of time, but still).

The NAO+ also connects to your smartphone, both Android and iPhone, via Bluetooth. Through the MyPetzl Light app, you can customize many aspects of the headlight, including:

  • Beam pattern
  • Brightness
  • Burn time

The app also has backpacking, trekking, mountaineering, and trail running profiles preinstalled.

The headband is also technologically advanced, and many people find it to be the most comfortable headlamp headband they’ve worn. You can also add a top strap for further security if necessary.

The problem?

A single NAO+ is as expensive as a family’s worth of other headlamps.

Spare batteries alone are more expensive than most headlamps. (ASIN: B01GFPMBP0)

Pros

  • Automatically adjusting brightness
  • Connects to the MyPetzl Light app
  • Custom beam pattern
  • Flashing-red taillight
  • Unique, comfortable, and stable headband

Cons

  • Spare batteries are more expensive than most headlamps
  • Short battery life
  • Very expensive

Recommendation

The Petzl NAO+ is the ultimate headlamp, though it has a short burn time and is quite expensive.

 

 

9. Brightest Headlamp: Fenix HM65R

Specs

  • Weight: 3.42 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 1400
  • Maximum Distance: 163 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 300 hours
  • Batteries: 18650 Rechargeable or 2 CR123A
  • Waterproofing: IP68

Overview

Though most headlamps seem to hang around the 200-500 lumen area, there are a few notable exceptions for when you must light up an entire dark room.

The Fenix HM65R is an extremely bright headlamp beloved by those who delve into total darkness. It has a 1000-lumen spotlight LED and a 400-lumen floodlight LED that combine to produce a 1,400-lumen blast of light that can light your view up to 163 meters away!

That light is powered by an included proprietary 18650 rechargeable battery that can be charged over USB. You’d think this would weigh the headlamp down, but it’s surprisingly light thanks to the magnesium alloy body. The electronics are also triple sealed to keep out construction debris and rain.

There are two annoyances, though.

The buttons are protected from accidental presses with an overhanging shield. This also means that you have to tilt the light down in order to access the control buttons.

Also, it won’t take standard 18650 batteries. You can use CR123As, though.

Pros

  • Comes with a rechargeable battery
  • Extremely powerful, with a long viewing distance
  • Respectable burn time (except when using turbo mode)

Cons

  • Magnesium alloy is easily dinged up
  • Expensive
  • You have to tilt the light to use the controls

Recommendation

The Fenix HM65R is an expensive choice but it’s an excellent hands-free option for people who need to work in the total dark, such as spelunkers and construction workers.

 

 

10. Best Waterproof Headlamp: Black Diamond Storm 350

Black Diamond Storm 350

Specs

  • Weight: 3.9 ounces
  • Maximum Lumens: 350
  • Maximum Distance: 85 meters
  • Maximum Battery Life: 120 hours
  • Batteries: 4 AAA
  • Waterproofing: IP67

Overview

The Black Diamond Storm is a headlamp designed for rough weather conditions and for search-and-rescue efforts.

Most waterproof headlamps are just waterproof but aren’t tested against dust ingress as well. The Black Diamond Storm is rated for both with its IP67 rating, which shows that it’ll handle storms better than an IPX-rated headlamp.

The current version can output up to 350 lumens, 100 more than the previous model. It’s also been redesigned to light up your periphery better. Oddly enough, the Storm 350 is cheaper than the old version of the Storm!

The Storm is also a capable hunting headlamp because it also includes red, green, and blue LEDs for preserving night vision, not spooking game, and following blood trails. You can use them without cycling through the white modes.

There’s also a strobe mode in case you get lost and need to signal potential rescuers.

Pros

  • Good for gentle outdoor sports, hunting, and inclement weather
  • Solid construction
  • Rated for both dust resistance and waterproofing

Cons

  • Moderate vision length and burn time

Recommendation

The Black Diamond Storm 350 is a well-built headlamp that’s durable, dustproof, and waterproof, making it a great headlamp to use when the weather turns nasty.

 

 

Why Should You Choose a Quality Headlamp?

man with headlamp in a cave

Light is such a simple thing. We take light switches for granted indoors and most people time their outdoor excursions based on when night falls.

However, almost everybody who ventures into the wild regularly has a story about getting caught after dark, and some hobbies and jobs require you to venture into a pitch-black area, whether natural or manmade.

Light is more than handy in these times. In fact, it can save your life.

This is why flashlights are so often recommended for EDC kits, vehicle emergency kits, and hiking supplies.

Flashlights have a weakness, though. You have to hold them in order to use them or prop them into position and hope they don’t fall over.

This is where headlamps come in handy.

runner with headlamp ties his shoes

They sit atop your head, just above your face. When you turn your head left, the light follows where you’re looking. If you want to read a map, you can just angle the light downward — no need to fuss with a map in one hand and flashlight in another.

However, cheap headlamps don’t hold up worth a darn. There’s nothing quite like dealing with a flat tire on the side of the road in rural Wisconsin and finding out that your emergency headlamp won’t turn on!

That happened to me, once. I carry a high-quality headlamp now, and it’s never failed me.

Good headlamps will also be waterproof, if not weather resistant. Who knows when a storm will hit? You don’t want a bit of rain at midnight to darken your light. Otherwise, why not just wear a candle?

A good headlamp will light your way in the dark for several nights in a row or even help you stalk game.

 

How to Choose a Headlamp

headlamp held upclose

Buying a headlamp seems easy, right?

Well, even the cheapest headlamp on the above list is miles ahead of most headlamps you’ll find at a department store.

However, you’ll enjoy and get more use out of the headlamp if you buy one that matches up with how you want to use the light.

For example, if you’re a hunter, then you won’t see as much success with a white-only headlamp as you’ll see with an RGB headlamp.

It’s wise to look at several considerations when you’re shopping for a headlamp.

  • First of all, when and where are you going to use it?
  • Are there any specific features that call out to you?
  • Do you really need as many lumens as possible?

Let’s narrow down your choices by looking at the answers to these questions in detail.

 

Purpose

The number one aspect that can make a headlamp a great choice or a horrible choice is the intended purpose.

As you can probably guess by now, a model that makes for a good running headlamp does not make for a good hunting headlamp.

 

Emergencies

headlamp held on top of dining table

If nothing else, you should have a good headlamp in your kit for emergency use. Probably several — one in each vehicle, and one or two at home for easy access if the power goes out.

Cheap headlights suffice for home emergencies (unless they’re so bad they sag and the light constantly falls down), but you’ll want something more durable for your car or truck.

That’s because vibration kills cheap electronics, and vehicles constantly vibrate as you travel down the road. This is what killed my first emergency headlamp.

Thankfully, all the headlamps listed above are durable enough to not fail for this reason.

Black Diamond headlamp LEDs are bedded using resin, which makes them practically immune to stress from vibrations. They’re also not expensive and have good waterproofing, so they’ll always turn on for you when you need to check the car’s engine bay in a driving downpour.

 

Hunting

hunter lit by a headlamp in the woods

Hunting has, perhaps, the strictest requirements when it comes to buying the right headlamp.

The main reasons for this are animals, specifically their vision and their blood.

Even daytime hunters may end up looking for red spots in the night after a deer runs off, so always be prepared to have a good light with you.

Different hunters prefer different colors for following a blood trail during the night. The four main colors used for this are white, red, green, and blue, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

White light is good for lighting up an area as accurately as possible. However, it can easily wash out small details, such as a tiny red splatter of blood.

Red light doesn’t interfere with night vision as much as other colors. It’s also the color of blood, which can make the trail pop out. On the other hand, it’s harder to discern details with red light.

PETZL ACTIK CORE RED
Petzl Actik Core Red

Green light can make the blood look black. To some people, this makes the blood “pop out” of the surrounding brush. However, foliage is green as well, and can obscure what you need to see.

Blue light is also good for making blood turn black and stand out against the background.

The best advice is to have access to all those lights so you can swap between them to give the blood a better chance of standing out.

Green light is also less likely to make animals notice you and run away in the dark. This is more of a concern for nighttime hunters who aren’t using night-vision devices.

 

Casual Outdoor Activity

camper eating with headlamp in pitch black

By “casual outdoor activity,” I mean camping, running, and other cases where your life won’t be on the line if your headlight goes out.

The best headlamps for casual outings tend to be headlamps with a wider flood to improve your peripheral vision. This reduces the spotlight effect and makes it easier to navigate in the dark.

You also won’t need as much power, since it’s likely other people will be around you. A lower-power light is good for not blinding them. Red light is even better.

Also, runners will appreciate a red strobe LED on the back. This flashing red light will warn motorists and bicyclists that you’re there, helping prevent fatal collisions.

 

Technical Sports

man in a narrow cave path with headlamp

Technical outdoor sports include caving, climbing, mountaineering, and trail running.

If your headlamp fails when you’re two-thirds of the way up the cliff after dusk, well, I hope you’re climbing with a partner who has a flashlight!

Any headlamps for these activities should be rugged and durable, with good weatherproofing characteristics. It’s also a good idea for them to be able to take spare batteries, even if they have a rechargeable battery.

 

Work

man wearing a hard hat with headlamp on

If you’re working in the dark, then you’ll want a powerful headlamp that can throw light wide and far.

Battery capacity will be less of a concern since you’ll likely (but not always!) have access to replacement batteries.

Also, see whether your work will reimburse your purchase. This can let you buy a better headlamp than you’d be willing to pay for on your own.

 

Features

Almost all headlamps have several standard features. Many add additional features to entice your eye.

Look for the chart required by the ANSI FL1 Standard. This is the table that shows lumens, run time, and distance all in one go. It’s not on every store page, but any good headlamp manufacturer will have it on the package or product manual.

You won’t ever get the maximum burn time with the maximum power, so this chart helps you discern whether the headlamp will work how you want it to.

 

Brightness

man lighting his path with headlamp

Brightness is the most enticing number manufacturers put on their headlamps, but it’s also the most misleading.

If a light is advertised for 350 lumens, that means the light puts out a combined total of 350 lumens. It doesn’t necessarily mean that one headlamp will be brighter than a headlamp with fewer lumens.

That’s because adding a flood LED’s output to the throw LED’s output won’t help the throw LED’s light go any farther.

Look more at the distance than the lumens when you’re trying to get a headlamp usable at longer ranges.

 

Battery Life

headlamp battery indicator

The more lumens a headlamp is putting out, the more power the LED is drawing, and the less burn time you’ll have.

The maximum battery life is given for the lowest continuous setting. Strobing the light will help the battery last much longer but is annoying to work with at best.

The longest-lasting setting can be under 10 lumens, which may not be enough power for your intended purpose.

Most headlamps cannot survive for an entire night on high. Look at medium or low to see if the headlamp can stay on long enough for your purposes.

 

Battery Type

Fenix charging cable and battery upclose

Rechargeable batteries are nifty devices that save you money and time because you don’t have to buy handfuls of AAA batteries and swap them out occasionally. Plug the headlamp in when you’re at home or base camp (solar chargers work well) so your headlamp is good to go for another night.

But what if the headlamp’s rechargeable battery dies in the middle of the night anyway?

I favor headlamps with rechargeable batteries that can be removed and replaced with standard AAA batteries.

You shouldn’t need to swap in the standard batteries, but you’ll be able to in an emergency.

Keep an eye out for oddly sized batteries too. You might want to only purchase a headlamp that takes CR123A batteries if you’re already going to be carrying some spares for another piece of equipment.

Maintaining battery similarity with your other gear will ease logistics and help you to carry less spare gear.

 

Fit and Comfort

hunter geared up with headlamp

Most headlamps are mounted to an elastic band that goes around your forehead and the back of your head.

This is fine — most of the time.

But this concentrates the weight on the front of your head. Even if this is comfortable, it can still cause the headlamp to bounce out of position if you make some strenuous movements.

If you’re going to be active in the outdoors and move around more than at a walk, then you want a headlamp with a top strap, also called a cross strap.

This additional piece of elastic helps hold the weight of the headlamp and keep it in the right position. They’re more common on more expensive headlamps and can be overkill if you’re not making strenuous movements.

 

Durability and Waterproofing

trail runners by the mountain at the break of dawn

A good headlamp will hold up to the rigors of the outdoors.

You don’t necessarily need a diving headlamp for your light to survive the rain. IPX5 is generally good enough.

However, if you’re going to rely on this headlamp and want it to weather storms, then you want a higher IP rating. IPX7 or IPX8 are preferred.

Both of those ratings cover submersion in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, which should be enough to handle whatever the storm clouds can throw at you.

It’s also a good idea to get a well-made headlamp where the electrical components are protected by a tough case and don’t rattle around. Otherwise, electrical connections will eventually break, and you’ll be left in the dark!

 

Top Brands

Black Diamond Equipment

 

Black Diamond Equipment logo

Black Diamond is a brand many people who ascend mountains know about.

The brand is based out of Holladay, Utah, and focuses primarily on climbing and skiing equipment. They also produce clothing for men and women and make gear usable for running, riding, and mountaineering. They make some hunting gear, too, such as the headlamps reviewed above.

Black Diamond Equipment started in Ventura, California as Chouinard Equipment. It became Black Diamond Equipment after some troubles caused a bankruptcy and acquisition by the Clarus Corporation.

Today, Black Diamond is known best for its safety equipment. Pitons, cams, crampons, helmets, carabiners, and more items of safety gear are produced by Black Diamond. Naturally, this includes headlamps.

Though other brands are more specialized when it comes to lights, Black Diamond has a wide array of high-quality headlamps to suit many different users. While not Black Diamond’s expertise, the brand still makes a good product they are willing to stand behind.

To this end, all lighting products (that includes headlamps!) are warrantied for three years from the date of purchase. They build the LED bulb into the housing using tough resin, so the light is unlikely to come loose or burnout, as can happen with LED lights attached using filament.

All in all, Black Diamond Equipment produces quality but relatively inexpensive gear that can help keep you safe whether you’re climbing a mountain or going for an early morning run.

 

Streamlight

Streamlight logo

Streamlight is one of the most respected flashlight manufacturers. Their flashlights are used by the military, firefighters, and even NASA.

The company itself has bounced around various cities in Pennsylvania since it was established in 1973.

Part of why Streamlight is so well known and regarded is how the company works with the customers to iterate on and improve the products. Streamlight representatives go where their flashlights are being used to make sure that they hold up under real-world conditions.

Therefore, Streamlight doesn’t make big claims about their products’ features without having the experience to back up those claims.

This is why firefighters grab Streamlight flashlights when they need to search a burned-out building. It’s also why the military attaches Streamlight weapon lights and laser illuminators to their rifles.

All Streamlight products have a lifetime warranty that covers most of the product’s materials. The electronic parts, however, are only warrantied for two years, which is still a respectable amount of time.

Batteries and incandescent bulbs are not warrantied; however, Streamlight’s lights often have user-serviceable batteries and bulbs.

Their LEDs are covered under the warranty.

Streamlight has also partnered with Call2Recycle to help eliminate electronic waste and keep the toxic materials found in many batteries out of landfills and the environment.

 

Petzl

Petzl logo

Petzl is another manufacturer of technical climbing gear, though they also focus on safety under the mountain too. Cavers and spelunkers know Petzl’s products to be high quality and durable, even if you accidentally knock your head against a cavern wall.

Most of Petzl’s products are designed for “verticality” and help you climb up a mountain or down a cave. The company is also well known for its headlamps, which are considered by many people to be the best in the world.

The company also innovates when it comes to headlamp technology, as evidenced by the NAO+.

But Petzl doesn’t just focus on hobbyists. They also produce many products for professionals, especially those who work high above the ground. They also integrate much of what they learn from one aspect of the business into the other.

The company is based in France and engages closely with climbers in the Alps to ensure the products work well. In fact, there’s a group known as the Petzl Team, who push the boundaries of both human achievement and the company’s innovation.

In fact, the Petzl Team has broken world records! Lynn Hill, from the team, was the first female climber to set and ascend a 5.12+ climbing route. She also climbed the Nose, one of the routes up El Capitan, in under 24 hours, a record that stood for 12 years!

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson learned to walk in the mountains and has spent much of his life exploring the outdoors. He is equally at home in the woods, at the range, or on the gunsmithing bench, and loves to build guns almost as much as he enjoys shooting them. His travels have taken him to the four corners of the United States. Though his favorite hunting spot is in Alaska, Kansas deer taste better.

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