BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Camping & Outdoors

Best headlamp


Whether you're jogging at night or setting up a tent at dusk or reading a book in bed, there are times when it just isn't practical to be holding a flashlight. For those situations, you'll want a headlamp. A headlamp can illuminate an area while keeping your hands free so you can do what needs to be done.

You'll want to look for a headlamp that fits comfortably and offers sufficient light. Our top pick, the Energizer IPX4 Rechargeable LED Water Resistant Headlamp, is a powerful, rechargeable headlamp. To learn more about this model and what to look for in other quality headlamps, keep reading.


The three most important factors that you need to consider before purchasing a headlamp are the unit's brightness, focus, and operating modes.


Typically, a headlamp that is around 300 lumens is sufficient. Brighter may be useful in certain situations, but the brighter your headlamp is, the faster it will deplete the battery. Also, your eyes may have trouble adjusting to a light that is too bright and you may develop tunnel vision — not being able to see anything outside of the beam — which could be dangerous if you are using the headlamp for an activity such as running.


Depending on your activity, sometimes you may want a beam that is more tightly focused while other times you will want to have the broadest swath of light possible. It is best to get a headlamp that offers both of these options so it can serve you in a larger capacity.

Operating modes

The two main operating modes on most headlamps are low and high. Some models may offer a wider range of settings or a dimming function. A strobe mode is important because it can be used to signal others that you need help. A red-light mode is useful because it allows you to see while preserving your natural night vision.


Following are a few other important elements to consider.


Straight ahead is not always where you need to see. It will come in handy to be able to angle and tilt the focus of your headlamp in whichever direction you desire.


If you will be using your headlamp outdoors, it needs to be weather-resistant, so it will last you a long time.


Even if you are not using your headlamp while engaged in vigorous physical activity, you will still appreciate a model that is durable and impact-resistant so it can last.


You will likely be wearing your headlamp for extended periods of time. In order to have the best user experience, you will want a model that is lightweight, evenly balanced, and comfortable.


Headlamps start at a little over $10 for a generic model that is designed for occasional use and simple tasks. In the $30-$60 range, you will find headlamps that are more adaptable to your specific situation. If you need a heavy-duty headlamp for use in harsher environments, you can easily spend over $100.


Q. What is the difference between watts and lumens?

A. Essentially, watts is a measure of energy and lumens is a measure of brightness. For example, an old-fashioned 100-watt incandescent light bulb produces 1,600 lumens, but it only takes 22 watts for an LED to produce the same 1,600 lumens.

Q. How bright is a lumen?

A. Following are a few examples to help you better understand lumens: one candle is 12.57 lumens, a 40-watt light bulb is 450 lumens, a 640-watt light bulb is 800 lumens, a 75-watt light bulb is 1,100 lumens, and, as noted above, a 100-watt light bulb is 1,600 lumens.


Top headlamp

Energizer IPX4 Rechargeable LED Water Resistant Headlamp

Our take: A powerful USB rechargeable headlamp with a number of features that give the unit an impressive flexibility.

What we like: This water-resistant headlamp is 15 times brighter than an LED light and comes with a Smart Dimming technology.

What we dislike: No low battery warning, when it goes out, it goes out.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Top headlamp for the money

BioLite HeadLamp

Our take: An ultra-thin, lightweight headlamp that is designed for the active wearer.

What we like: Headband’s moisture-wicking fabric offers a firm, no-slip fit. Adjustable and dimmable light features spot and flood settings to provide greater versatility.

What we dislike: Controls are small and close together, which can make it a little difficult to  make adjustments.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon

Worth checking out

PETZL’s Actik Core Headlamp

Our take: Lightweight, powerful headlamp designed for individuals with an active lifestyle.

What we like: Rechargeable headlamp offers 350 lumens at its highest setting and has two light patterns to increase versatility. The red lighting can be used to help preserve the user's night vision, and the unit features a reflective headband for added safety.

What we dislike: For some users, this model might not offer enough bells and whistles to justify the higher price.

Where to buy: Sold at Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: