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Updated June 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Black Diamond Equipment
Spot 350 Headlamp
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Customer Favorite
Bottom Line

Easy to use design, plenty of light, and the ability to hold a charge, this is a great choice for anyone looking for a basic headlamp.

Pros

Headlamp can shine up to 350 lumens and features adjustable light settings. Headlamp additionally stores the last used light setting so you don’t have to click through them all again. Displays battery power so you know when it’s running low.

Cons

Buttons are small and must be pressed hard. Can be challenging to use buttons with gloves on.

Best Bang for the Buck
DEWALT Headlamp for Jobsites
DEWALT
Headlamp for Jobsites
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

A high-quality headlamp that’s made from a reliable brand name works great and boasts great features.

Pros

Built-in motion sensor allows for light to be turned on and off by the wave of a hand. Features a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 24 hours and allows for the light to shine up to 200 lumens. Has a hard exterior that can survive a drop.

Cons

The motion sensor is sensitive and can be triggered easily by accident.

Princeton Tec ByteTactical Headlamp
Princeton Tec
Byte Tactical Headlamp
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

This option offers 2 different light settings with red light for close-range night vision and white light for a brighter view.

Pros

An all-around solid choice for a basic headlamp. With 200 lumens, it will keep your night well-lit for up to 58 hours without needing new batteries. With the option of 2 light settings, this model is ideal for cyclists or hunters who want to see in the dark.

Cons

Doesn’t offer long-range vision and is best for lighting up immediate surroundings.

Coast HL8R 800lm Rechargeable Pure Beam Focusing LED Headlamp
Coast
Rechargeable Pure Beam Focusing LED Headlamp
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Best for Everyday Use
Bottom Line

Easy to use design and moderate lumen amount of 800 allows this light to shine over 200m and is great for casual use.

Pros

Intuitive twist dial easily allows users to adjust the light beam and features a strong battery that lasts up to 6 hours when fully charged. This headlamp can also be powered by batteries as a backup power source.

Cons

Headlamp can feel heavy and straps may need to be tightened periodically when wearing for long periods of time.

Energizer Rechargeable LED Headlamp
Energizer
Rechargeable LED Headlamp
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Easiest to Use
Bottom Line

Comes equipped with 7 different light settings and shines at up to 400 lumens.

Pros

The water-resistant design makes this ideal to use even in rainy weather. The option of red or green light makes it great for hunters or hikers who don’t want to shine a bright white light, revealing their location. Rechargeable via USB cord. The battery status light shows when it's fully charged.

Cons

Battery life is less than others, despite the rechargeable battery feature. Other users recommended having a portable charger nearby.

HOW WE TESTED

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.

30
Models
Considered
89
Consumers
Consulted
24
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for best headlamps

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.

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If you plan to wear the headlamp for an extended period of time, look for a comfortable fit. Heavier headlamps tend to bounce around more on your head than lighter headlamps. A headlamp that uses AA batteries weighs more than a headlamp that uses AAA batteries.

Uses for headlamps

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 camping

  • 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.”

Determining brightness requirements

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.

Up to 100 lumens

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.

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Did you know?
Some headlamps offer the ability to work underwater for brief periods of time.
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100 to 250 lumens

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.

More than 250 lumens

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.

"For nighttime activities where you must move fast, such as cycling or running, a higher lumens setting is best."
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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 with multiple brightness settings allow you to conserve battery power on the lower settings.

Headlamp battery types

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.

Alkaline batteries

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.

Rechargeable batteries

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.

Watch batteries

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.

"Headlamps that use alkaline batteries typically need three or four AA or AAA batteries at once. For long-term savings, consider a headlamp that takes rechargeable batteries. In most cases, rechargeable batteries render a longer headlamp lifespan than alkaline batteries."
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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.

Headlamp prices

Under $35

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.

$35 to $75

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.

$75 and higher

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.

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Did you know?
More than half the headlamps costing $75 and up use rechargeable batteries, offering above-average battery life. These also tend to offer great versatility like wide beams, narrow beams, and red LED light.
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“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.

  • Lumens

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+.

  • Battery Life

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.

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Some headlamps include a focusing ring that allows you to adjust the width of the light beam for different tasks.

Headlamps FAQ

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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