Last Updated: October 2, 2020

The 10 Best Headlamps in 2020

A headlamp is one of the most useful tools you can own. They are handy around the house and, of course, while you’re having fun in the great outdoors. From checking a leak in the loft, looking for wiring in a dark cupboard, walking a riverbank looking for a night fishing spot to cooking on a camping stove, a headlamp lets you see what you’re doing while keeping your hands free.

They’re an essential tool for life in the outdoors, not only do they assist with the day to day tasks but they can also get you out of trouble. They’ll help you set up when arriving late to a camping spot, signal for help when you need it, and generally keep you safe whilst being active in the dark. 

Our Top Picks

There are hundreds of different headlamps available on the market and when it comes to buying one, the choices are a bit overwhelming. Not to worry, we have done the hard work and brought together the best headlamps around and put them in this handy review, just for you. 

Top Product Overview

PETZL, ACTIK Headlamp, 350 Lumens, Active Lighting, Black
  • It's very bright for great vis
  • The battery life is excellent
SEE ON AMAZON →
Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp Citrus One Size
Best Of The Best
  • Excellent battery life
  • It tells you your battery life in a display
SEE ON AMAZON →
Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 Headlamp Azul One Size
  • It's very, very light and compact
  • It's very affordable
SEE ON AMAZON →
PETZL - TIKKINA Headlamp, 150 Lumens, Standard Lighting
  • It's very affordable
  • Very simple and easy to use
SEE ON AMAZON →
BioLite HeadLamp 200 (Midnight Grey)
Best For Being Active
  • Super light and comfortable
  • Fully rechargeable
SEE ON AMAZON →
PETZL - ACTIK CORE Headlamp, 450 Lumens, Rechargeable, with CORE Battery, Black
  • Fully rechargeable with the included CORE battery
  • It's very bright with a super strong beam
SEE ON AMAZON →
Snap Headlamp Kit
Best For Cyclists
  • Can be used as a lantern
  • Comes with a bike mount, great for cyclists
SEE ON AMAZON →
Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output - White, Red, High CRI - Lightweight USB Rechargeable Headlamp (Black)
  • Super light and compact
  • Fully rechargeable and affordable
SEE ON AMAZON →
Fenix HM50R 500 Lumens Multi-Purpose Compact LED Headlamp Flashlight, Rechargeable Battery Plus Additional Rechargeable Battery & LumenTac Battery Organizer
  • Great for use in icy conditions
  • Can be used with rechargeable/non-rechargeable batteries
SEE ON AMAZON →
Ledlenser, MH10 Lightweight Rechargeable Headlamp with Rear Light, High Power LED, 600 Lumens, Outdoor Series, Backpacking, Hiking, Camping
  • It's exceptionally bright
  • Fully rechargeable to save you cash on batteries
SEE ON AMAZON →

Best Headlamps


Petzl Actik

PETZL, ACTIK Headlamp, 350 Lumens, Active Lighting, Black

The Petzl Actik is a great headlamp that comes with most of the qualities you might want or need whilst being in the outdoors at night.

The headlamp features multiple modes, from red-lighting so you keep your night vision to proximity, strobe, standard, max power, and max autonomy. There is an option for any situation and the intelligent modes give you a long battery life and performance lighting, so the beam won’t weaken as the batteries do.

The Petzl Actik runs on either three AAA’s or a rechargeable CORE battery that’s sold separately. This is really useful as if your rechargeable battery dies on the wilderness you can simply pop in some fresh AAA’s to keep you going.

The only downsides are that there is no locking mechanism, so it could turn on by mistake in your backpack, and that it’s not fully waterproof, so be careful if using it in heavy rain or at sea.

Overall it’s a very rugged and dependable headlamp that’s great for any situation.

Pros

  • It's very bright for great vis
  • The battery life is excellent
  • The light doesn't dim as batteries wear out
  • Super easy to use
  • You can use rechargeable batteries

Cons

  • You can't lock it to save battery
  • It's not fully waterproof

Product Information

  • Weight: 3.2 oz
  • Lumens: 350lm
  • Beam distance: 262 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 120/2 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Best Of The Best

Black Diamond Spot 325

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp Citrus One Size

The Black Diamond Spot 325 is one of the most sophisticated headlamps around and has made a name for itself amongst outdoor enthusiasts. It’s bright LED light and extremely long battery life make it super dependable and efficient.

It comes with a multitude of modes from red-light and strobe to proximity and distance. The great thing is that you can manually adjust the brightness in each mode, to get the exact lighting you need and it’ll also remember your last brightness setting, so you don’t get a night vision blowout when turning it on the next day.

The battery life is pretty amazing on the Black Diamond Spot 325. At full power, you’ll get 4hrs of extremely bright light, while at low power you’ll get 200hrs, all from just 3 AAA’s. We also like that the AAA’s give you the option to have some fresh backup batteries in your pack, in case your rechargeable AAA’s die out.

Outside of all of its amazing features, it’s also comfortable, light, waterproof, and has a locking mechanism to ensure it doesn’t turn on or off by mistake. We think it’s one of the best headlamps around and comes in at an amazing price.

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • It tells you your battery life in a display
  • Bright and comfortable to wear
  • Waterproof for use on boats or in heavy weather
  • You can lock it so it stays off/on
  • Great price

Cons

  • Can be tricky to work out the different modes

Product Information

  • Weight: 3 oz
  • Lumens: 325lm
  • Beam distance: 272 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 200/4 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Best On A Budget

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 Headlamp Azul One Size

The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 is made to be one of the lightest headlamps around. It’s very similar to the Spot 325, but almost half the weight.

The weight reduction does mean it uses fewer batteries, just two AAA batteries which in turn reduces the battery life and the power of the beam.

Like the Spot 325, the Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 has all the modes you might need, from red-light and proximity to distance, dimming, and strobe. You can also use proximity and strobe in the red-light mode, super handy, and you can set it quickly without going through the white light modes and blinding everyone or attracting attention.

The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 is also super comfy while on your forehead, is waterproof when submerged to 1.1m for 30 minutes, has a locking mechanism, and is overall very high quality and affordable.

If every gram matters to you on the trail, or you’re looking for something light, dependable, and affordable, this will cover most situations and is a great choice.

Pros

  • It's very, very light and compact
  • It's very affordable
  • Super comfortable to wear
  • Waterproof for adverse conditions
  • It locks to ensure it stays on/off

Cons

  • Different modes can be a bit tricky to work out
  • A bit dimmer than others with a low battery life

Product Information

  • Weight: 1.9 oz
  • Lumens: 160lm
  • Beam distance: 197 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 60/2 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Petzl Tikkina

PETZL - TIKKINA Headlamp, 150 Lumens, Standard Lighting

The Petzl Tikkina is a simpler more affordable option as far as headlamps go and is an ideal choice for kids or if you’re looking for something basic.

It has a few modes for proximity and distance which are changed through a single button and offer differing brightness but there is no red-light or strobe mode. This is enough for your basic needs and ideal as a backup too.

It runs on 3 AAA batteries or the CORE rechargeable that’s sold separately. The batteries can last up to 220 hours on the lowest light mode, which is a huge amount of lighting time.

You do sacrifice quite a lot for its simplicity though; it’s a bit dimmer than others, not waterproof, has no locking mechanism, and you sacrifice some mode as we discussed.

Overall it’s very affordable and great for kids thanks to its simple design but there are much better ones in the same price range.

Pros

  • It's very affordable
  • Very simple and easy to use
  • Has a solid battery life
  • Compatible with rechargeable CORE battery

Cons

  • Not many modes
  • It's a bit dimmer than others
  • Not waterproof
  • Doesn't lock on or off

Product Information

  • Weight: 3.03 oz
  • Lumens: 250lm
  • Beam: 196 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 220/2 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Best For Being Active

BioLite HeadLamp

BioLite HeadLamp 200 (Midnight Grey)

The BioLite HeadLamp is made for active users and is dubbed as being so comfortable that you’ll forget you’re wearing it. It’s ideal for runners and anyone who loves to be active in the dark, this is one of the lightest headlamps in the review.

It comes with four modes; white + dim, red + dim, white strobe, and red strobe. More than enough options for any occasion. The ‘bio’ part of the name may get you thinking it’s environmental and it is thanks to the in-built rechargeable battery. It’s charged via USB and the small battery used is what helps bring the weight down. 

The battery does give you a solid beam but it runs out a lot faster than others. It can only manage 40 hrs on low and 3 hrs on high which is adequate for most situations, but be sure to carry a battery pack or solar charger with you on camping expeditions.

Overall a great headlamp for active people.

Pros

  • Super light and comfortable
  • Fully rechargeable
  • Comes with a locking mechanism
  • A good number of modes

Cons

  • It has a short battery life
  • It's not fully waterproof

Product Information

  • Weight: 1.75 oz
  • Lumens: 200lm
  • Beam: 164 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 40/3 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Petzl Actik Core

PETZL - ACTIK CORE Headlamp, 450 Lumens, Rechargeable, with CORE Battery, Black

The Petzl Actik Core is very similar to the Petzl Actik which featured at the beginning of the review. The main differences are that this one weighs a bit less, comes with a rechargeable battery, is a lot brighter, and has a shorter battery life.

It’s a great choice for those of us who need a strong flood or spotlight. The 450 lumens make this headlamp one of the brightest in the review with one of the longest beams. If you need to spot things at night or work in search and rescue, this may come in very handy.

It comes with all the modes you’d expect from red to strobe and they’re easy to navigate between. And like the Actik has performance lighting, so your beam doesn’t weaken with the batteries.

The only downsides of the Petzl Actik are the shorter battery life, it’s not waterproof and that it’s a bit expensive.

Overall, if you need a brighter beam and want the choice of rechargeable or AAA batteries in one headlamp, the Petzl Actik is a great choice.

Pros

  • Fully rechargeable with the included CORE battery
  • It's very bright with a super strong beam
  • It uses performance lighting
  • Easy to use
  • Has a locking mechanism

Cons

  • It's pretty expensive
  • Battery life is shorter than most
  • It's not 100% waterproof

Product Information

  • Weight: 2.8 oz
  • Lumens: 450lm
  • Beam: 295 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 130/2 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Best For Cyclists

Princeton Snap

Snap Headlamp Kit

The Princeton Snap is one of the most versatile headlamps on the market and can be used for a lot more things than just having it strapped to your head.

The Snap has been designed so that you can remove the lamp from the head strap and use if for other things. It comes with a bike mount and a carabiner mount, so you can clip it on your handlebars or hang it to use it as a lantern. It’s also magnetic at one end, so you can, for example, clip it to your car while changing a tyre.

As a headlamp, it’s a bit bulky on your forehead but once you’re used to it, there are a few modes to choose from, but it does lack a red-light option. It comes with a good beam and a pretty good battery life too. It has the longest output on max lighting of 40 hours, so if you need full light for long periods of time, this is a good bet.

Overall, a very versatile headlamp that’s ideal for cyclists or use as a backup.

Pros

  • Can be used as a lantern
  • Comes with a bike mount, great for cyclists
  • Good battery life
  • Very affordable
  • It's magnetic for attaching it around the house

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky as a headlamp
  • A bit dimmer than others
  • Lacks a redlight mode
  • No locking mechanism

Product Information

  • Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Lumens: 200lm
  • Beam: 118 ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 130/40 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Nitecore NU25

Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output - White, Red, High CRI - Lightweight USB Rechargeable Headlamp (Black)

The Nitecore NU25 is feature-filled, super light, and very affordable. Weighing just over an ounce without the strap, it’s quite incredible what this little headlamp has packed inside it.

It comes with 10 modes across both red or white light and here are some of it’s most noticeable features. It comes with a high CRI auxiliary light for working closely in the dark, turbo mode to give 360 lumens of power when you need it (also in SOS or beacon mode), high, medium, low white light modes, and two different red light modes. It’s got it all. 

The NU25 is fully rechargeable via a micro USB port, is impact resistant and waterproof. The only drawback is the battery life, which does down quite fast compared to others.

Overall an awesome, affordable headlamp with a lot to offer. Just be sure to bring your battery pack along too.

Pros

  • Super light and compact
  • Fully rechargeable and affordable
  • It's quick to charge, no waiting around
  • Waterproof for use in adverse weather
  • It's impact resistant
  • It tells you the remaining battery life
  • It has a locking mechanism

Cons

  • The wide beam can be blinding to others
  • Low battery life compared to others

Product Information

  • Weight: 1.8 oz
  • Lumens: 360lm
  • Beam: 266ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 160/5 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Fenix HM50R

Fenix HM50R 500 Lumens Multi-Purpose Compact LED Headlamp Flashlight, Rechargeable Battery Plus Additional Rechargeable Battery & LumenTac Battery Organizer

If you’re looking for a super bright, durable headlamp that performs well in cold conditions, then the Fenix HM50R is a great choice.

It can produce a beam of 860ft with its 500 lumens, making it ideal for spotting and searching in the dark. Plus it’s made to survive pretty much anything thanks to its durable metal housing, impact resistance, and waterproof design.

It comes with a rechargeable battery but also accepts CR123A instead of AAA batteries.  This allows it to operate in temperatures down to minus 40 F. The big single button system also means it can be easily used with gloves on. If you love to camp in the winter, this might be the choice for you.

The only drawback are the lack of strobe and red-light settings and that the batteries can be hard to find. Overall though, an excellent heavy duty headlamp for those who like to take the outdoors to the extreme.

Pros

  • Great for use in icy conditions
  • Can be used with rechargeable/non-rechargeable batteries
  • Extremely bright and durable
  • Waterproof for adverse weather conditions
  • It tells you how much battery you have left

Cons

  • Batteries can be hard to find
  • There is no red light or strobe setting
  • It can be difficult to navigate between modes
  • You can't lock it to ensure it doesn't come on by mistake

Product Information

  • Weight: 2.8 oz
  • Lumens: 500lm
  • Beam: 860ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 148/14 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

Ledlenser MH10

Ledlenser, MH10 Lightweight Rechargeable Headlamp with Rear Light, High Power LED, 600 Lumens, Outdoor Series, Backpacking, Hiking, Camping

If a powerful beam is what you need them the Ledlenser MH10 is a good place to start. It comes with 600 lumens of power that make it ideal for use in caves and the like and it has a great battery life for a rechargeable.

The MH10 comes with some handy modes like low power, power, and defense strobe, but unfortunately no red light mode. When using each of the modes you simply charge the ring adjustment to focus in or widen the beam. A handy feature. It’s also very simple to navigate through all the different functions.

The MH10 is very bulky and the heaviest of all the headlamps at 5.6 oz, plus it’s not waterproof either. If you want something super bright, then this is a good choice, otherwise, we feel there are better and less expensive options in the review.

Pros

  • It's exceptionally bright
  • Fully rechargeable to save you cash on batteries
  • Simple to use the different modes
  • Great battery life for a rechargeable

Cons

  • It is quite expensive
  • It's very heavy and bulky on your head
  • Not fully waterproof
  • Missing some modes and doesn't lock

Product Information

  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Lumens: 600lm
  • Beam: 492ft
  • Battery Life, Low/High: 120/10 hrs
SEE ON AMAZON

What To Look For In A Headlamp

Lumens

Lumens measure how bright a light is and it’s a good starting point for working out how bright your light is going to be. They only measure brightness though and not the quality of the beam, so there are some other factors to consider when thinking about how bright your light will be.

If you are looking for a very bright headlamp, then look for a large number of lumens. But you must also check the beam distance to see how well the light is used.

Beam Distance

Beam distance is all about the ability of the lens to the focus the beam. The longer the distance the better the lens, and when a good lens is combined with a lot of lumens, you have a very powerful headlamp.

So when thinking about how much light you want from your headlamp, look at both beam distance and lumens, to get your overall answer.

Battery Types

There are only two types of batteries we’ll look at here, rechargeable and non-rechargeable. Some headlamps use one or the other whilst some can use both.

Rechargeable batteries are certainly the more eco way to go and we highly recommend this. They do give you a lower battery life though and this may be an issue if you’re spending a lot of time in the woods.

Non-rechargeable batteries last a lot longer, especially if you choose lithium batteries and not alkaline. It’s also very useful to be able to swap out mid-trip, and always know you’ll have light when you need it, rather than thinking about when you need to charge your headlamp the whole time.

Our recommendation is to choose a headlamp that uses both or invest in some rechargeable AAA’s, that way you’re being eco whilst having the backup option of a fresh pack too.

Battery Life

You’ll see in the info section of each product, there is a low/high battery life figure. These numbers correlate to the amount of time the batteries will sustain light on either high or low mode. It’s worth considering, especially if you spend weeks on end out in the wilderness, as a long battery life will come in very handy.

Weight

Weight is important, as you’ll be wearing this on your forehead and if it’s heavy, it will be uncomfortable. Our advice is to work out what power, battery, battery life, and features you want and then buy the lightest headlamp that covers all of them. This way you are sure to get a winner. Try to stay around the 3 oz mark or under.

Durability

Your headlamp will most likely be subjected to some harsh conditions. Either being bashed around in your backpack or getting wet in the rain, you’ll want it to survive.

Almost all of the headlamps (Black Diamond, Petzl or otherwise) in the review are water-resistant but not all are waterproof. If you plan on being a bit harsh with your headlamp, choose a waterproof option.

Modes

All the headlamps in the review come with a few modes to choose from and you’ll need to decide which ones you want. It’s best to have them all;

Red light – for nighttime chores and saving you night vision

Strobe – for being visible to others

High – for focussing in

Low – for wide proximity lighting

Price

The headlamps in the review range from $25 to $65, not much difference there and it’s our advice to simply get the one you want without worrying too much about the price. If you are on a budget, have a look below to find out what our best on a budget choice is.

Our Favourites

Here are our top choices from the review.

The best of the best is the Black Diamond Spot 325. This Black Diamond headlamp is comfortable, waterproof, and very intelligent across all its modes, plus it has an amazing price too.

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp Citrus One Size
  • Brightness Memory retains the last brightness setting, to reduce high-beam, night-vision blowouts. Peripheral lighting setting provides close-range illumination for gear sorting or in-camp tasks. Adjustable elastic band with breathable, mesh ventilation. Multi-faceted Optical Lens Settings:• Full strength in proximity mode.• Full strength in distance mode.• Dimming.• Strobe light.• Red light for night-vision preservation.• Lock mode. Lumens:• High: 325&
  • The Black Diamond® Spot 325 Headlamp packs the brightness of a beefy lamp into a low-profile light that's packed with variable lighting features to handle all the needs of your low-light to full-night hikes and climbs.

The best headlamp on a budget and one of the lightest is the Black Diamond Spot Lite 160. This ultralight and comfortable headlamp from Black Diamond gives you all the lighting modes you’ll need for most situations, plus its waterproof and super comfortable. It’s pretty hard to beat.

Sale
Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 Headlamp Azul One Size
  • When every gram matters on your trek through the mountains, feel confident in the lightweight yet robust performance of the Black Diamond® Spot Lite 160 Headlamp.
  • Small, lightweight and low-profile design with tiltable housing.

The best headlamp for being active in is the BioLite HeadLamp. It’s super light and fits so comfortably, that it’s ideal for running and bouncing around in the wee or late hours.

BioLite HeadLamp 200 (Midnight Grey)
  • A headlamp so comfortable, you'll forget you're wearing it. This headlamp delivers excellent fit, versatile lighting modes, and USB rechargeability so you can leave the disposable batteries behind. It's time to try a headlamp you'll keep on your head and not around your neck.
  • Four light modes: White + Dim , Red + Dim, White Strobe, Red Strobe

The best headlamp for cyclists and bike-packing is the Princeton Snap. It’s been designed to be removable from the head strap and neatly clips into the included handlebar bike mount. So you can go from riding to setting up camp with the same headlamp.

Sale
Snap Headlamp Kit
  • A Must Buy Item.
  • Built To Last.