While most people use them for hiking or camping, there are so many more uses for a headlamp these days, especially if you own a farm or a plot of land that you have to tend in poorly lit conditions. For the most part, choosing a headlamp shouldn’t be too hard, seeing how they’re mostly required to meet the same standards that flashlights have to meet. Unlike flashlights, however, headlamps have to also be lightweight and easy to wear.
After taking into consideration everything the market has to offer at this point in time, we put together a list of the ten best headlamps money can buy for you to look at.
Best Headlamps for Hiking – Reviews
10SureFire Minimus Variable Output LED Headlamp
Although popularly acknowledged for their standard bike lights, SureFire also produces remarkable trail lights. With the STS model, for instance, the brand showcases a 280-lumen headlamp that is more than just affordable but amazingly convenient and easy to operate. STS boasts a wonderful swipe-to-shine interface which functions quite like your typical iPhone. How? Simply slide your finger just across the headlamp’s top and it turns on.
9Nathan Neutron Fire
For just half what most headlamps cost, you can own a wonderfully designed and light headlamp from Nathan. Looking at their Neutron Fire, it is correct to assume that they designed it with an underlying objective to suit runners. This 115-lumen Nathan model is extremely light weighing a meager 3.1 ounces. Moreover, this low profile headlamp it is powered by 2 standard AAA batteries not to mention being remarkably waterproof.
8Black Diamond Storm
Black Diamond is the ideal depiction of the momentous strides that headlamps have taken over the years. Although it is moderately priced, it surprisingly produces 250 lumens either from a typical proximity beam effective in characteristically close quarters and or a typical spotlight effective when you are moving on the trail. What’s more, it comes with a battery meter which accurately indicates the level of ‘juice’ remaining in your main power source-AAA batteries.
Next on our list is the Petzl e+LITE headlamp model. Amazingly, although it weighs just under an ounce, it still effectively manages to produce 50 lumens. Due to its compact, lightweight design, this headlamp can be worn with ease in almost any setting, not to mention how easy it is to store and carry around. Furthermore, it also comes with an accompanying whistle in its headband making it a worthwhile investment.
For anyone that is looking to find the brightest available light to conduct serious pursuits, the Petzl Nao+ is exactly the headlamp model you need. Why it offers an exclusive 750 lumens when at full power. In addition, it is accompanied by a rechargeable rear battery pack that also boasts a simple flashing light. Similar to its compatriot model, Reactik+, it also assesses the available amount of light from your surrounding and subsequently adapts and adjusts accordingly. What’s more, its beam pattern can also be customized through their brand app-Petzl’s app.
5Apex Extreme by Princeton Tec
Effectively build to suit cold weather conditions courtesy of its energy pack, Apex Extreme is a standard headlamp as far as its construction goes. It has a considerable 200-hour burn time not to mention an effectively bright output of 350-lumens. In addition, its 8-AAA battery packed is well designed to allow for easy portability. It can easily fit in the pocket and or can even be strapped to the chest. As aforementioned, it suits cold weather since its energy pack (with an insulated cover/case), can subsequently be clipped in close proximity to the body to boost battery life.
4Solite 250 EX by Light and Motion
Imagine a headlamp that would as also double as a bike light or even work as a flashlight. This is exactly what you get with the Solite 250 EX headlamp. It is typically a 3-in-one accessory that can be converted from a simple flashlight to a headlamp and even to a bike light. This is all dependent on your preferred headlight mount. This headlamp is powered by one rechargeable battery and puts out a moderately bright 250 lumens.
Portland-based Coast is well famed for their relative bulker 800-lumen headlamp. Nonetheless, with their new FL85 model, Coast perfectly achieves a balanced lumens-to-weight ratio. What’s more, this particular model, which is powered by three standard AAA batteries produces a 540-lumen beam. Moreover, this 8-ounce rugged package is conveniently waterproof and is accompanied by a lifetime manufacturer (Coast) warranty.
Petzl Reactik+ is a rechargeable headlamp by design. It offers 300 lumens that manifest in an exclusive beam pattern that you can subsequently tailor through their app-MyPetzl Light app. This headlamp allows you effectively adjust and tailor your beam to match your needs-by making it either dimmer or brighter-courtesy of the subsequent amount of light around you. Better yet, it has a nice, distinctive touch allowing you to program the headlamp to blink and flash Morse code.
1Black Diamond Astro
Black Diamond takes affordability to a whole new level with their Astro headlamp. Although it is cheap enough to match a typical knockoff headlamp, it produces a wonderful 150 lumens. What’s more, its characteristic compactness (2.4 ounces) allows it to function as a reliable backup to your typical main lamp. It also benefits from a surprisingly sturdy construction that allows it to withstand an awful lot of abuse before showing any signs of damage. While there might be other more technologically advanced headlamps out there, this one is without a doubt the best you can get in this price range.
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Types Of Headlamps
You always want to make good use of both your arms when you’re out camping or hiking and a reliable headlamp can help you tremendously in this regard. Finding yourself off-guard in the backcountry somewhere after dark is never a pleasant situation, especially if you have someone with you that you’re responsible for. So packing a headlamp should be an absolute necessity whenever you’re going on camping or fishing trips, but which one? As we are about to find out, there are different types of headlamps to choose from and they all have unique capabilities.
Floodlight – Headlamps equipped with floodlights offer a wide floodlight projection, a large beam at one or more dim settings that can help you a lot in certain situations. For instance, this kind of light is perfect in close-proximity situations like preparing meals or looking for stuff around your campsite. With a dim setting, you will also avoid causing any discomfort to anyone else in the campsite when you’re looking straight at them.
Spotlight – With spotlights, you get a wide beam of light to help you see far into the distance, yet less comfortable when looking at things up close. Interestingly enough, once you pass a certain price tag, almost every headlamp becomes a spotlight by virtue of how strong most high-end headlamps can be. With a quality spotlight, you can expect to make sense of things up to 100 meters in front of you in pitch black.
Red light – Some headlamps, not all though, offer a red LED light mode as an option. The reasons for a red light all surround search-and-rescue situations or moments when you need to make yourself seen at night. Another reason for using a red light is to preserve night vision, which is particularly useful when star-gazing due to how long it takes your eyes to get fully adjusted to the dark.
Waterproof – Pretty self-explanatory really, waterproof headlamps can be submerged underwater without the risk of damaging the lights or the batteries. Although most waterproof headlamps are rather expensive by most standards, it should still be seen as a worthwhile investment in the long run. You can check and see the exact waterproof standard of any headlamp by looking for an IPX rating, with 4 being the most common and 7 being a rating that guarantees its 100% waterproofing.
Just because you can’t afford a high-end headlamp doesn’t mean you should settle for anything less than the bare minimum. Performance-wise, most headlamps past a certain price tag can be expected to perform well under most conditions. Even so, there are clear characteristics you should look for when buying a headlamp, including lumens, beam distance, battery run-time, construction type, and comfort. While you may not be able to find a headlamp that balances all these specifications to the desired standard, you should still be able to get a decent headlamp as long as you do your research.
Lumens – Most manufacturers include a ‘lumens’ capacity for their headlamps, which is supposed to determine just how bright a certain headlamp can be. This output, however, can sometimes only be reached with new batteries, so try to be a bit skeptical with any headlamp that advertises more than 90.
While it does give you a measure of what the output might be, it might not help you too much when the battery gets a bit drained. It also doesn’t help that many headlamps do not use the proper optics to enable them to actually project that light in the desired direction. In fact, the actual light beam is sometimes much more distorted than it should because of an improper optical configuration, meaning that although it does meet the required Lumen rate, the actual light beam is all over the place.
Beam distance – Similar to lumens, the beam distance a headlamp is capable of achieving depends on the optics of the device and how full the batteries are. In essence, beam distance should incorporate both the brightness of the light and the ability of the lens to project and focus that light into a beam.
While it doesn’t really tell you if the optics are of a required quality, the advertised beam distance definitely shows you what the headlamp should be able to project in normal situations. We should point out at this point that manufacturers tend to overstate their product’s beam distance by about 10% on average, so try to use your own judgment in this regard.
Battery run-time – Last but not least, one should always consider a headlamp’s battery run-time when buying one because it more or less tells you how long you can use the headlamp on a single charge. Again, it isn’t uncommon for manufacturers to sometimes overstate their product’s power drainage, so take their advertised run-time with a grain of salt. Even so, a headlamp’s advertised run-time should tell you a lot about how long a headlamp can last you on a single charge, even if it’s not 100% certain.