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Rechargeable battery via micro USB cable. Up to 40 hours of light per charge. Moisture-wicking headband. Featherweight. Flood, spot, and red light settings. Slim, flat design with no abrasion points for comfortability. Available in 4 colors.
Only 3.5 hours of light with the brightest setting.
Long-lasting battery life up to 10 hours, powered by AAA batteries. Super-bright LED beams, with white and red light modes. Adjustable headband and 45-degree angle tilting. Bright illumination helpful while camping, hiking, or working in tight, poorly lit spaces.
Not entirely waterproof. Plastic piece from headband rests on your forehead and can become uncomfortable after wearing for awhile.
Get full control with 4 lighting options, including white spotlight, white floodlight, spot and flood, and red night-vision mode. The head strap is comfortable and breathable. Runs on 3 AAA batteries, which are included.
Some users find the adjustable pivot stiff to change.
USB recharging provides 10 to 30 hours of light. Multiple light modes in both white and red to suit various environments. Equipped with resistant outer coating layer and a 45-degree swivel. Headband is adjustable to suit different ages and sizes.
There's no indicator for when the battery is getting low, it just dies suddenly.
Features 8 different lighting modes and a single long-press off-function for convenience. Shock, weather, and water-resistant. Motion Sensor Mode turns the lamp on or off with a waving motion of your hand.
Some complaints of only getting a few hours' worth of battery life from charging.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Headlamps allow you to illuminate directly in front of you while keeping your hands free, making them the perfect tool for outdoor sports or repairs in tricky places. Most modern headlamps use long-lasting LEDs, which provide excellent light and use bulbs that are unlikely to expire any time soon.
The right LED headlamp for you depends on the task at hand or when you will use it most. Running requires a lightweight and comfortable model that can illuminate longer distances. A headlamp for hiking should have excellent battery life and should be sufficiently water resistant. The brightness of a headlamp determines the distance of the beam and how strong it is in foggy or humid weather. Some models have different brightness modes, which can help you to adjust your vision in dark environments since you may not always want the brightest light possible. The brightness of LEDs is measured in lumens, which indicates the overall light output. Brighter isn’t always better, especially if you are using your headlamp in a very dark environment.
An LED headlamp can serve as your backup light or your primary light source, and it’s also a good tool to keep around for emergencies. Models can vary greatly in their design and features, but our buying guide will help you make an informed decision and find the right headlamp for your needs.
Rather than watts, the brightness of LEDs are measured in lumens, which indicates the total light output of the LEDs. Most headlamps will have somewhere between 200 and 300 lumens, which should be sufficient for most tasks. The brightest LED headlamps offer up to 1,000 lumens or more. While a brighter headlamp may be a tool you need for foggy conditions, this also means the batteries will drain faster.
A brighter LED does not necessarily have farther reach, as some LEDs have a wider beam that distributes the light over a large area. A more focused beam is better suited to tasks like hiking or running when long-range visibility is a must.
Many manufacturers list the maximum beam distance, which may be as high as 600 feet or more.
Take the manufacturer’s claims with a grain of salt. An LED may technically offer over 100 hours of runtime, but it will grow dimmer as its energy depletes. To ensure you purchase an LED headlamp with sufficient power, read to get an idea of the actual amount of time the LED provides decent light.
LED headlamps vary in their durability, comfort level, and beam modes. You should consider your specific needs to find a headlamp that checks all the boxes without paying extra for features you won’t use.
A headlamp should rest comfortably on your head without straining your neck or slipping. It should come as no surprise that activities like rock climbing, running, and hiking require the lightest headlamps possible. More powerful headlamps tend to be heavier, while lower-powered headlamps may weigh 2 ounces or less.
In addition to the weight of the lamp itself, the material and adjustability of the straps can determine how comfortably a headlamp rests on your head. The best straps are made of soft elastic that keeps the lamp from sliding around. A hat can mitigate an uncomfortable strap if the strap is large enough to fit over it.
The more powerful the LED, the more frequently the batteries will need replacing. Most headlamps take AA or AAA batteries or watch batteries.
Some LED headlamps may use a rechargable battery. This offers the advantage of using your headlamp over long periods without having to purchase batteries, though it does run the risk of running out of power when you are far from an outlet or USB port.
Many headlamps feature several different light modes, allowing you to adapt to different situations.
Strobe modes are primarily used for signaling and can be helpful when seeking aid in an emergency.
Low, middle, and high brightness modes allow you to save energy when you don’t need the extra light, or give your headlamp a boost when you need it.
Red light mode allows you to see in the dark without blinding yourself. This may seem counterintuitive — you would think a darker environment calls for more light, but if you use a higher brightness setting, your vision will become limited to the area in the beam’s focus, reducing your peripheral vision. Red light mode allows you to see clearly for a short distance while maintaining peripheral vision.
There are two types of red lights: a white light with a red filter, and true red LEDs. Red LEDs are the best option and cause the least strain on your eyes.
Look for models with a red light button or a way to switch to red light without first turning on a blinding white light.
While less expensive LED headlamps may only have one beam option, the best models have focused and flood modes.
Focused mode allows you to illuminate a smaller area, often at a greater distance. This is also a good option when you are trying not to disturb those around you.
Flood mode widens the beam to reach a larger area, often at a shorter distance.
Many LED headlamps are water resistant or waterproof. This allows you to safely use your headlamp in light to heavy rain. In some cases, you may even be able to submerge your headlamp for short periods. Be sure to check the maximum depth of waterproof headlamps.
Also known as drop resistance, impact resistance measures the height from which a headlamp can be dropped and survive the fall. Some manufacturers do not list a specific distance. If toughness is a must-have, look for a headlamp with a specific impact resistance distance.
Inexpensive: Basic LED headlamps for $10 to $30 are a good option for a backup light or simple tasks like navigating a campsite at night. Despite the low price, some headlamps in this range offer 1,000 lumen LEDs. Battery life is often short, however, and they often lack features like beam focusing or different light modes.
Mid-range: Mid-range LED headlamps between $30 to $60 may have rechargeable batteries and often have different light modes and focusable beams.
Expensive: For $60 to $120 are the most durable LED headlamps, designed for tasks like rock climbing, skiing, or spelunking. They often boast high-lumen LEDs with high beam distances. In addition, they may be water resistant or waterproof and are often shock resistant.
Some LED headlamps are designed to be compatible with bike helmets, spelunking helmets, or hardhats. These often have a third strap that goes over the top of the helmet to prevent the headlamp from slipping.
Try not to look at people while you are wearing your headlamp to avoid blinding them with the light, or look for a headlamp that flips up and down so you can easily redirect the beam without having to fumble for the power button.
Familiarize yourself with the buttons before you take your headlamp on a long trek. This is particularly important if you will be in cold weather, as the buttons can be difficult to access with gloves on.
Q. Why are LEDs the bulb of choice for headlamps?
A. LEDs are lightweight, drop resistant, and energy efficient. In addition, they have far longer lifespans. Even if one bulb does fail, nearly all headlamps use several bulbs.
Q. Can sweat damage the LEDs or the battery pack?
A. It’s possible, but unlikely. If you are concerned about sweat damaging the electronics, look for a water resistant or waterproof model.
Q. Can rechargeable batteries be used in models that accept AA or AAA batteries?
A. You should check the manufacturer’s specifications, but in most case rechargeable batteries will work.
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