Extremely durable and reliable. Comes with an impressive array of features and a selection of powerful and bright LED lights.
Designed more for distance rather than close-up illumination.
Soft, adjustable band is comfortable and stays put. Comes with 3 AAA batteries. LED light bulbs have a maximum brightness of 175 lumens.
Somewhat limited compared to other Black Diamond models, but performs according to its price.
Rechargeable battery. Up to 40 hours of light per charge. Moisture-wicking headband. Lightweight. Flood, spot, and red light settings. Slim design. Available in 4 colors.
Only 3.5 hours of light with the brightest setting.
USB charge port. Reflective headband. 160 hours of light per charge. Low, medium, high, and red strobe beam settings. 95m max beam distance. Available in black and red.
Using the maximum brightness setting will drain its battery far more quickly.
Wearing a flashlight on your head frees up your hands for other tasks. You can wear a headlamp when you’re jogging at night, walking the dog in the evening, or when you’re cleaning the dark corners of your basement. They’re invaluable for mechanics and construction workers who need to work in poorly lit areas, and they have sport uses too, like rock climbing and spelunking. Or, they can be used to add a focused light for close up hobbies, like needlework or knitting.
We’ve picked a selection of affordable and comfortable options that are versatile for a range of uses. Make sure the one you choose is sturdy enough for its intended use and has enough brightness and focused light for your needs.
For more insight on which model to pick, check the BestReviews shopping guide, where we go into depth with key information about what a potential buyer should look for in a headlamp.
If you’re wondering whether you really need a headlamp, consider the versatility these devices offer.
A headlamp can come in handy in situations like the following:
When cleaning dark areas
When cycling, running, or walking the dog at night
During vehicle repair
When conducting home repairs
In the event of a nighttime emergency
“Headlamps are good for everything,” says Amy. “It’ll end up being one of the most useful tools around your house. It’s basically a hands-free flashlight, and who doesn’t want that? The uses are truly endless.”
Even during daylight hours, Amy says that a headlamp is a valuable safety device.
“I always keep my headlamp on me, even on day hikes, because I don’t know what might happen,” she says.
“It’s best to be prepared. You don’t ever want to be caught in the middle of nowhere in the dark.”
Headlamp manufacturers denote the brightness of their lights in lumens. The term is commonly used to indicate the brightness of all kinds of lighting, including light bulbs and flashlights. The more lumens a light has, the brighter it will be.
The following list contains some of the ranges of lumens required for common tasks.
A brightness of 100 lumens works well as a camping night light. This level of illumination is also ideal for performing home repair tasks or while walking in the moonlight.
If you’re working or hiking outdoors on a night without moonlight, a mid-range setting of 100 to 250 lumens works well. If you’re performing particularly precise tasks in a dark area of your home, this brighter option could serve you well.
Any task that involves moving fast at night requires an extremely bright headlamp — especially if you need to keep your eyes on the terrain below. Biking or running at night works best with a high lumens setting. And drivers will also see you better at night if you’re walking or running with a bright headlamp on.
Some headlamps offer more than one brightness setting. A lower setting conserves battery power, so if a dimmer light does the job adequately, use that setting to save your battery.
“The higher the lumens, the more energy consumed,” Amy says.
She adds that a higher lumens count does not necessarily equal a better headlamp. “It’s more important to look at how the lamp focuses and directs the light to best utilize the lumens.”
Headlamps are portable; you’re not tethered to an electrical outlet by a cord. Instead, headlamps run on a few different types of battery power.
Small-diameter AAA batteries are the most common type you’ll find in headlamps. Manufacturers prefer them, as they don’t weigh down the lamp very much. However, some headlamps run on AA battery power. Most devices require three or four AA or AAA alkaline batteries at a time.
Some headlamps contain rechargeable batteries similar to those found in a smartphone or digital camera. You simply plug the headlamp into a USB cable when not in use to charge the battery. These rechargeable batteries should continue to work through dozens of charges, but you may need to purchase replacements at some point.
A small handful of today’s headlamps run on the power of flat, round watch batteries that look like coins. However, you’re more likely to find headlamps that run on alkaline or rechargeable battery power.
Some headlamp manufacturers list the maximum battery life based on full-power lumens. Others base battery life measurements on the lowest lumens setting.
Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on a manufacturer’s estimated battery life to predict the life of your headlamp batteries. It varies from model to model, and no market standard exists.
As a general rule, however, you can expect several hours of battery life at full-power lumens. And if you often use a lower brightness setting, you could easily receive triple that battery life — or more.
The smallest headlamps fit this price point. Such headlamps usually carry a maximum brightness rating of less than 250 lumens.
Most inexpensive headlamps require AAA or watch batteries rather than rechargeable batteries.
The mid-range headlamps on the market offer lumens ratings in the 200 to 400 range. Some use rechargeable batteries with above-average battery life results, but most take AAA or AA alkaline batteries. And most mid-range headlamps allow for two or three different brightness settings.
The priciest headlamps deliver the highest brightness ratings, running anywhere from 400 to 1,000 lumens or even more. Such headlamps also offer multiple brightness settings. This allows you to use a lower lumens setting when appropriate to conserve battery power.
“Obviously, as with all gear, you should look for something made well that will be long-lasting and dependable,” Amy says.
“In my opinion, you should buy something that offers wide and narrow beams as well as a red-light mode. A headlamp with a single-beam option may be slightly cheaper, but you’ll wish you had all three for versatility while using it. You’ll probably end up ditching it and buying the three-beam version instead.”
The factors listed below can affect price.
A headlamp with a higher number of lumens costs more than a headlamp with a lower number of lumens. Expect to pay the most for a headlamp with a lumen measurement of 500+.
The longer the battery life, the higher the price. Additionally, headlamps that use rechargeable batteries cost more upfront than those that use alkaline batteries.
Maximum Light Beam Length
Headlamps that produce longer light beams generally wear a higher price tag.
Q. What types of lighting does my headlamp offer?
A. A modern headlamp features an LED bulb. Within the LED, the headlamp produces some different types of light.
Most headlamps offer a narrow beam of light that works over a long distance.
Some also offer a floodlight setting in which the headlamp spreads the light over a wider area.
Some headlamps include a red LED. This is great for times when you want a type of light easier on your eyes.
Q. How important is a headlamp’s weight?
A. Even the slightest weight difference can alter a headlamp’s comfort factor. A heavier headlamp definitely becomes more noticeable the longer you wear it.
Headlamps that weigh three to five ounces are common, but some weigh as little as one ounce, and some weigh nine ounces or more.
A heavier headlamp is more likely to bounce up and down on your head during running or hiking.
Q. What are some of the best brand names in headlamps?
A. By sticking with well-known brands, you’re more likely to end up with a quality product. What’s more, it’s easier to find replacement parts for a product from a popular brand. The best manufacturers of headlamps include Black Diamond, Fenix, GRDE, InnoGear, Northbound Train, Petzl, Princeton Tec, and Wsky.
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