Don’t get caught in the dark without the best hiking headlamp by your side. Whether you plan to be out on the trail well after dark or not, a hiking headlamp is a must for every hiker. The problem is, how do you find the best headlamp? That’s where we come in. We’ll navigate you through the process of buying a hiking headlamp as well as shine a light on the best hiking headlamps so you can get back to the trail in no time!

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Quick Answer - The Best Hiking Headlamps

  1. Black Diamond Spot 325
  2. Petzl Actik Core
  3. Fenix HM50R
  4. Petzl Tikkina
  5. BioLite Headlamp 330
  6. Princeton Tec Apex
  7. Petzl Nao+
  8. Black Diamond Icon
  9. Black Diamond Spot Lite 160

 

Comparison Table - Best Hiking Headlamp

PictureNameWeightRun TimeOutput CapacityBeam DistancePriceRating
Black Diamond Spot 3253 oz. (with batteries) 4hrs./200hrs. (High/Low)325 lumens80 meters$4.7
Petzl Actik Core2.8 oz. (with batteries)2 hrs./130hrs. (High/Low)450 lumens90 meters$$4.3
Fenix HM50R2.2 oz. (with batteries)2 hrs./128 hrs. (High/Low)500 lumens80 meters$$4.8
Petzl Tikkina3 oz. (with batteries)2 hrs./120 hrs. (High/Low)250 lumens60 meters$4.6
BioLite Headlamp 3302.43 oz. (with batteries)3.5 hrs./40 hrs. (High/Low)330 lumens74 meters$$4.7
Princeton Tec Apex10 oz72 hrs./150 hrs. (High/Low)550 lumens120 meters$$$4.3
Petzl Nao+6.5 oz1.5hrs/12hrs. (High/Low)750 lumens140 meters$$$3.7
Black Diamond Icon8.1 oz.50hrs./250hrs. (High/Low)500 lumens110 meters$$$3.8
Black Diamond Spot Lite 1601.9 oz. (with batteries)28hrs./60hrs. (High/Low)160 lumens60 meters$4.4
UCO Air1.6 oz.1hr./5hrs. (High/Low)150 lumens47 meters$4.2
PictureNameWeightRun TimeOutput CapacityBeam DistancePriceRating

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Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Headlamps for Hiking

Black Diamond Spot 325

Specs
  • Battery Life: High - 25 hr, Low - 180 hr
  • Beam Distance: 80 meters
  • Lumens: 300
  • Output Capacity: 325 lumens
  • Run Time: 4hrs./200hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 3 oz. (with batteries)
  • IPX Rating: IPX8
Features
  • Waterproof
  • Brightness Memory For On/Off At Chosen Brightness
  • Red-Night Vision

BEST FOR: BACKPACKING

When it comes to weight and performance, the Black Diamond Spot 325 outshines the competition in its price range. Weighing in at 3-ounces, this hiking headlamp has all the features you need for a backpacking trip. 

To start, the Black Diamond Spot 325 can shed light on 80 meters worth of trail, which is plenty of light to guide your way. At the click of a button, you can go from high to dimming mode or shift over to one of the other modes like the red light to preserve your night vision. Either way, you can still return to your previous mode of choice after you turn the headlamp off. Waterproof and compact, this headlamp is built for adding up overnight miles on the trail.

Petzl Actik Core

Specs
  • Battery Life: High – 2.5 hr, Low – 15 hr
  • Beam Distance: 90 meters
  • Lumens: 300
  • Output Capacity: 450 lumens
  • Run Time: 2 hrs./130hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 2.8 oz. (with batteries)
  • IPX Rating: IPX4
Features
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Detachable Reflective Headband
  • Water-Resistant

BEST FOR: BATTERY HYBRID

The Petzl Actik Core delivers solid performance at a reasonable price. Packing 450 lumens worth of radiant light into 2.8-ounces, this headlamp is efficient yet lightweight. 

The flood and mixed beam pattern come in several brightness levels along with red light mode. This allows you to adjust between a flat or concentrated light source as well as light strength so you choose your visibility. When you’re not lighting your path, plug the headlamp into a USB port and charge the core battery in as little as 3-hours. No USB access? This headlamp is also AAA battery compatible.

Fenix HM50R

Specs
  • Beam Distance: 80 meters
  • Output Capacity: 500 lumens
  • Run Time: 2 hrs./128 hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 2.2 oz. (with batteries)
Features
  • Rechargeable
  • Waterproof
  • Dust-Proof

BEST FOR: SHORT FORESTED HIKES

Equipped with 500 lumens worth of light, the Fenix HM50R can go from dim to blaring when you need it most. Turn it on turbo mode and use the super bright light to gather your trail bearings. Then, when you’re ready to hike, you can utilize the high or medium mode while low gives you ample light to rummage through a pack. 

Easy to use and adjustable, you can simply tilt the headlamp to get the perfect angle of light. While the rugged and waterproof body is built to handle trail conditions, this headlamp comes with a few spare parts just in case so you never have to worry about going without a light.

Petzl Tikkina

Specs
  • Battery Life: High - 60 hr, Low - 220 hr
  • Beam Distance: 60 meters
  • Lumens: 150
  • Output Capacity: 250 lumens
  • Run Time: 2 hrs./120 hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 3 oz. (with batteries)
  • IPX Rating: IPX4
Features
  • Easy To Use
  • Water-Resistant
  • Affordable

BEST FOR: BUDGET

Petzl has been in the headlamp business for over 30 years. Featuring everything from classic to specialized, there’s something in their headlamp product line for everyone. For the budget hiker, we recommend their Petzel Tikkina. 

The Petzl Tikkina offers three lighting modes at the push of a button. With 250 lumens worth of light, it’s bright enough to light the trail and set up camp at night. Although this model doesn’t come rechargeable, it is compatible with Petzl’s proprietary rechargeable battery so you can swap that out if you’d like. Easy to adjust and water-resistant, this headlamp is a viable option for the headlamp user looking for an affordable price.

BioLite Headlamp 330

Specs
  • Beam Distance: 74 meters
  • Output Capacity: 330 lumens
  • Run Time: 3.5 hrs./40 hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 2.43 oz. (with batteries)
Features
  • Multiple Modes
  • Slim
  • Moisture-Wicking Headband
  • Bounce-Free Design For Secure Fit

BEST FOR: SECURE FIT

The slim design of the BioLite 330 has an attractive look about it that stands out among the competition. The product of a Kickstarter campaign, the lightweight BioLite 330 fits flush to your forehand to optimize comfort and light direction. This way you can focus on the trail in front of you rather than an annoying bouncing headlamp. 

Featuring five modes, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from when encountering varying terrain. Charge up the battery and get ready to tackle the trail. You’ll have up to 40 hours worth of running time which is more than you’ll need to hike at night.

Princeton Tec Apex

Specs
  • Battery Life: High - 72 hr, Low - 150 hr
  • Beam Distance: 120 meters
  • Lumens: 350
  • Output Capacity: 550 lumens
  • Run Time: 72 hrs./150 hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • IPX Rating: IPX7
Features
  • Powerful
  • Super Long Running Time
  • High Visibility Range

BEST FOR: EXPERIENCED NIGHT HIKERS

Pitch black nights are where the Princeton Tec Apex shines brightest. If you’re going to be doing overnight hikes on long-distance backpacking trips, this is the headlamp you’ll want lighting your path. 

The Princeton Tec Apex can output up to a stunning 550 lumens at 120 meters. Power like that is best suited for the extreme outdoor adventurer. The additional headband gives you a secure fit while the LED bulb offers 5 different brightness levels. This headlamp is also waterproof so you can push through the night even when conditions take a nasty turn.

Petzl Nao+

Specs
  • Battery Life: High – 1 hr 30 min, Low – 15 hr
  • Beam Distance: 140 meters
  • Lumens: 750
  • Output Capacity: 750 lumens
  • Run Time: 1.5hrs/12hrs. (High/Low)
  • Waterproof Type: IPX4
  • Weight: 6.5 oz
  • IPX Rating: IPX4
Features
  • Bluetooth Compatible
  • Extremely Bright
  • Rechargeable
  • Lock Mode To Save Battery

BEST FOR: TECH SAVVY HIKERS

Don’t let poor visibility slow you down. The technologically advanced Petzl NAO+ emits a powerful light that adjusts to your surroundings. 

Whether you’re examining the trail or searching through your pack, this headlamp will automatically adjust the brightness and beam pattern according to your focal point. This means you can operate hands-free while saving battery life. The Petzl NAO+ also features Bluetooth so you can use a phone app to customize your headlamp settings.

Black Diamond Icon

Specs
  • Beam Distance: 110 meters
  • Output Capacity: 500 lumens
  • Run Time: 50hrs./250hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 8.1 oz.
Features
  • Removable Battery Pack
  • Dustproof And Waterproof
  • Red/Green/Blue Night Vision Modes

BEST FOR: HARSH WEATHER

Black Diamond features some of the highest-rated headlamps on the market. For the hiker in need of some serious performance, consider the Black Diamond Icon. Waterproof, dustproof, and powerful, the Black Diamond Icon is designed to handle harsh trail conditions. 

This headlamp features one of the highest headlamp beam distances at 110 meters with a strong 500 lumens worth of light. It also offers red, green, and blue night-vision along with 2 strobes and multiple distance modes. When not in use, stash the removable battery pack in your pocket to preserve battery life by keeping it warm.

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160

Specs
  • Beam Distance: 60 meters
  • Output Capacity: 160 lumens
  • Run Time: 28hrs./60hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 1.9 oz. (with batteries)
Features
  • Lightweight
  • Easy To Adjust
  • Waterproof

BEST FOR: MINIMALIST HIKERS

If you’re the type to ditch all the fancy features for a streamlined design, you’ll appreciate the Black Diamond Spot Lite 160. This super lightweight headlamp skips the bulk and narrows down your light beam options to concentrate all the power on a single LED light. 

With the activation of a single button you can find which mode suits you best between the high, dimming, strobe, and red-night vision mode. With a long running time, you’ll find the light output at 60 meters is plenty for a late or early morning hike.

UCO Air

Specs
  • Beam Distance: 47 meters
  • Output Capacity: 150 lumens
  • Run Time: 1hr./5hrs. (High/Low)
  • Weight: 1.6 oz.
Features
  • Stylish Design
  • Super Lightweight
  • Soft, Adjustable Strap

BEST FOR: CASUAL USE

Featherweight construction and stylish design are what make the UCO Air Headlamp so attractive. At 1.6-ounces (batteries included), it gets down to the basics to deliver sufficient light on short hikes. 

The UCO Air offers two modes, white LED and red night vision, which is best for casual use. With a running time of 5 hours max, this headlamp is better suited for shorter hikes where you’ll be back at camp or the trailhead not long after dark. If you’re looking for an occasional headlamp at an affordable price, this is a suitable option.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A HIKING HEADLAMP

COST

When you’re determining how to choose a headlamp, there are a plethora of features you’ll encounter. As these features add up, so does the cost.

If you plan on using your hiking headlamp for a short amount of time during dawn or dusk, you may find the less expensive options suit you just fine. On the other hand, if you’re a long-distance backpacker who plans on doing a lot of night hiking, you’ll probably benefit from a more expensive headlamp.

 

WEIGHT

A few ounces may not seem to make a difference, that is until you’re carrying it on your head. How light or heavy your headlamp will be is all a matter of use and preference. If you’re looking to hike fast and light, a lighter option will be in your favor. For casual use, you’re likely to be wearing your headlamp less, so a heavier option that shines more brightly or lasts longer may be right for you.

 

AVERAGE RUNNING TIME

Do you plan on hiking at night for long distances? Or would you rather be back at the trailhead by dusk? Your hiking headlamp will be the light that guides you, so you’ll want to ensure you have ample light for the trek. The average running time of your light should be long enough to last you the length of your hike before needing to recharge.

 

BEAM DISTANCE

Beam distance is relative to the use of your headlamp. A far beam distance can be useful in backcountry navigation. You can use it to scan your surroundings and find things off in the distance like trailheads. A short beam distance is more useful for rummaging through your pack or shining light on objects in your immediate area. A combination of both works best. However, keep in mind the further your beam goes, the faster it depletes the battery in max mode.

 

BRIGHTNESS

Most hiking headlamps come with a variety of modes that alter how bright your headlamp gets. This typically ranges from a high to dim setting. The maximum brightness you need your headlamp to be will vary according to use.

For instance, if you plan on using your headlamp at dusk, you won’t need an incredibly bright light compared to hiking in pitch black. However, it’s good practice to plan ahead in case of an emergency. In this case, we recommend a hiking headlamp bright enough to handle the dark once the sun has gone down.

 

FIT

Nothing is more annoying than a hiking headlamp that needs constant readjustment. Before deciding on a hiking headlamp, make sure it fits comfortably and securely enough for the activity for which you’ll be using it.

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

LUMENS

Unit of measurement representing the brightness of light omitted. This will tell you how bright a hiking headlamp is.

FLOODLIGHT

Wide light that does not go a very long distance.

SPOTLIGHT

Focused light that can be used for long distances or rummaging through your pack.

RED NIGHT VISION

This is the best color to preserve our eyes at night because our eyes are less sensitive to red light. Red light also minimizes the attraction of pesky insects to your headlamp (and thus your head).

BLUE NIGHT VISION

Blue light helps see through fog as well as read maps at night while preserving vision.

GREEN NIGHT VISION

This is a popular light used in hunting because it doesn’t disturb wild animals and helps to preserve vision.

 

 

READ MORE

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One Response

  1. Karl Thiele

    You should have reviewed the Fenix HL60r for your head lamps.

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