Whether you enjoy back country hiking and camping, early morning trail running or backpacking, the lack of significant light source can flex its muscle, thus hindering your plans. Headlamps come in handy and provide you the missing light source. All outdoor enthusiasts agree that the presence of a headlamp allows them greater advantages to enjoy their adventure. Small enough to fit in your backpack when not required, headlamps provide that extra boost of lighting. The market for headlamps can be intimidating when selecting one. Here are our Best Headlamps of 2020.

Cover Photo by Nick Fisher on Unsplash

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National Park Obsessed’s Quick Guide to Best Headlamps

Best LED HeadlampBlack Diamond Spot 325

Best Rechargeable HeadlampPetzl Actik Core Headlamp

Best Hiking Headlamp BioLite Headlamp 200

Best Backpacking Headlamp Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Best Ultralight HeadlampNitecore NU25 360

Best Budget-friendly HeadlampPetzl Tikkina Headlamp

Best Camping HeadlampNitecore NU25 360

Comparison Table for Best Headlamp

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 325 / Med: 160 / Low: 6 lumens
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  • Beam Distance: High: 80 / Med: 60 / Low: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens: 325 lumens / 80 meters
  • Average run time: High: 4 hrs; med: 8 hours; low: 200 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Weight with Batteries: 3 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 450 / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 90 / Low: 8 meters meters
  • Max Lumens: 450 lumens / 90 meters
  • Average run time: High 2 hours / Low: 130 hours
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: Includes 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery; compatible with 3 AAA alkaline, lithium-ion or Ni-MH rechargeable
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.4 x 4.7 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 2.8 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Light Output: High: 250 / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 60 / Low: 10 meters meters
  • Max Lumens: 250 lumens / 60 meters
  • Average run time: High 2 hours / Low: 120 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 4.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 3 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 160 / Med: 80 / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 60 / Med: 30 / Low: 10 meters
  • Max Lumens: 160 lumens / 60 meters
  • Average run time: High: 2 / Med: 14 / Low: 60 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 2 AAA
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.9 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Light Output: High: 150 / Low: 4 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 40 / Low: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens: 150 lumens / 40 meters
  • Average run time: High: 2 / Low: 40 hours
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: Lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Dimensions: 2 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.9 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: Turbo: 950 / Eco: 5 lumens
  • Beam Distance: Turbo: 116 / Eco: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens: 950 lumens / 116 meters
  • Average run time: Turbo: 48 min / High: 3 hrs. / Eco: 100 hrs.
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: 1 x 18650 rechargeable lithium ion
  • Dimensions: 3.4 x 1.8 x 2 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Weight with Batteries: 4.9 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: 200 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 50 meters
  • Max Lumens: 200 lumens / 50 meters
  • Average run time: High: 3 / Low: 40 hours
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: USB-rechargeable 700 mAh lithium ion
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.6 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood / Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 400 / Med: 160 / Low: 8 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 100 / Med: 45 / Low: 9 meters
  • Max Lumens: 400 lumens / 100 meters
  • Average run time: High: 5 / Low: 200 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 4 AAA
  • Dimensions: 7 x 6 x 3 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX7
  • Weight with Batteries: 4.25 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood / Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 330 / Low: 5 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 75 / Low: 16 meters
  • Max Lumens: 330 lumens / 75 meters
  • Average run time: High: 3.5 hours / Low: 40 hours
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: USB Rechargeable 900 mAh lithium ion
  • Dimensions: 3.74 x 2.36 x 1.38 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 2.43 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: High: 500 / Low: 50 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 110 / Low: 14 meters
  • Max Lumens: 500 lumens / 110 meters
  • Average run time: High: 50 / Low: 250 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 4 AA
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.5 x 3.9 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX7
  • Weight with Batteries: 8.1 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Light Output: Turbo: 360 / High: 190 / Mid: 38 / Low: 38 lumens
  • Beam Distance: Max: 81 meters
  • Max Lumens: 360 lumens / 81 meters
  • Average run time: Turbo: 30 minutes / High: 5 / Low: 160 hours
  • Rechargeability: Yes
  • Batteries: Built-in 610mAh li-ion
  • Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.4 x 0.2 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IP66
  • Weight with Batteries: 0.99 oz
  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Light Output: High: 200 / Low: 20 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 36 / Low: 9 meters
  • Max Lumens: 200 lumens / 36 meters
  • Average run time: Spot High: 40 / Spot Dim: 130 / Strobe: 130 hours
  • Rechargeability: No
  • Batteries: 3 AAA
  • Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.75 x 1.5 inches
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Weight with Batteries: 3.5 oz

Best Headlamps

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

The Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp provides bright lighting for adventure seekers who get an early start to their day. Not only does it provide quality in low light environments, but it also acts as a guide. As a lightweight headlamp, it provides a good alternative to expensive brands. It’s the newest within the Black Diamond brand.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Light Output: High: 325; med: 160; low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 80; med: 60; low: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 325 lumens / 80 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 4 hrs.; med: 8 hours.; low: 200 hours.
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Weight with Batteries: 3 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: 3 AAA

Pros

  • Price
  • Battery life
  • Brightness

Cons

  • Water can enter battery compartment if submerged
  • Complicated
  • Durability

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

The Petzl Actik Core Headlamp a popular item among hikers, runners and backpackers. Equipped with a rechargeable battery, this headlamp features two beam powers, creating powerful lighting experiences. The built-in red lighting preserves night vision that does not effect the vision of others.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/ Spot
  • Light Output: High: 450 lumens / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 90 / Low: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 450 lumens / 90 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 2 hours / Low: 130 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.4 x 4.7 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 2.8 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: Includes 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery; compatible with 3 AAA alkaline, lithium-ion or Ni-MH rechargeable

Pros

  • Brightness
  • Versatility
  • Rechargeable batteries

Cons

  • Durability
  • Made of rubber
  • Battery life

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp

The Petzl Tikkina Headlamp is an ideal item for campers. As an affordable headlamp, it provides users with reliability and value. There are multiple brightness settings that allow it to operate in different environments and weather conditions. The durability of the headlamp allows for it to be further utilized on helmets and bicycles.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood
  • Light Output: High: 250 lumens / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 60 meters / Low: 10 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 250 lumens / 60 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 2 hours / low: 120 hours
  • Dimensions: 5.3 x 4.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 3 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Batteries: 3 AAA

Pros

  • Value
  • Multiple brightness settings
  • Reliability

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • No red light
  • Low light issues

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 Headlamp

The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 is a lightweight headlamp best suited for backpacking purposes. Compared to other headlamps, it is easy to use and can be tilted for improved usage. The red lighting further allows for the reduction in blinking white light in darker locations.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Light Output: High: 160 / Med: 80 / Low: 6 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 60 / Med: 30 / Low: 10 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 160 lumens / 60 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 2 / Med: 14 / Low: 60 hours
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.9 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: 2 AAA

Pros

  • Adjustable
  • Lightweight
  • Cost effective

Cons

  • Water resistance
  • Durability
  • Brightness

Black Diamond Iota Headlamp

The Black Diamond Iota Headlamp is primarily suitable for low lit camping. It comes with a built-in lithium rechargeable battery and multiple power settings. The included red light feature allows for an enhanced camper friendly environment to offset the powerful LED effect at night. Worth the price compared to other headlamps, its suitable for everyone.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Light Output: High: 150 / Low: 4 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 40 / Low: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 150 lumens / 40 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 2 / Low: 40 hours
  • Dimensions: 2 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.9 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Batteries: Lithium-ion rechargeable battery

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Brightness
  • Ideal for camping

Cons

  • No Red Light Mode
  • Built-in battery
  • Durability

Fenix HL60R Rechargeable LED Headlamp

The Fenix HL60R Rechargeable LED Headlamp is very popular among those who love the outdoors. Quality is displayed in areas that lack significant natural lighting. Lightweight and equipped with rechargeable batteries, it is user friendly and adjustable.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood
  • Light Output: Turbo: 950 / Eco: 5 lumens
  • Beam Distance: Turbo: 116 / Eco: 8 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 950 lumens / 116 meters
  • Average Run Time: Turbo: 48 min / High: 3 hrs. / Eco: 100 hrs.
  • Dimensions: 3.4 x 1.8 x 2 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 4.9 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX8
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: 1 x 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion

Pros

  • Battery life
  • Brightness
  • Rechargeable

Cons

  • Weight
  • Price
  • Red light quality

BioLite HeadLamp 200

Perfectly suited for backpacking and running, the BioLite Headlamp 200 provides a good experience and fit. Offering four lighting modes, 200 lumens are provided through red and white strobe, red flood and white spot. The USB rechargeable battery replaces the need for alkaline battery replacements.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot
  • Light Output: 200 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 50 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 200 lumens / 50 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 3 / Low: 40 hours
  • Dimensions: Unavailable
  • Weight with Batteries: 1.6 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: USB-rechargeable 700 mAh lithium ion

Pros

  • 3D SlimFit technology
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Durability
  • Not waterproof
  • Brightness

Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp

The Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp is ideal for backpacking environments. With 3 LED light settings, emitting up to 400 lumens, this headlamp is the preferred choice. The headlamp requires AAA batteries for optical and constant light output.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood / Spot
  • Light Output: High: 400 / Med: 160 / Low: 8 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 100 / Med: 45 / Low: 9 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 400 lumens / 100 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 5 / Low: 200 hours
  • Dimensions: 7 x 6 x 3 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 4.25 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX7
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: 4 AAA

Pros

  • Brightness
  • Durability
  • Reliability

Cons

  • Headband
  • Not rechargeable
  • Lens disperse light

BioLite HeadLamp 330

The BioLite HeadLamp 330 is best used in backpacking adventures and for runners. For those who have experienced early morning races before the sun rises, the trails can be quite tricky without proper lighting. This headlamp provides multiple light settings and 3D Slimfit technology. The rechargeable batteries eliminate the extra trip to the store for another set. Highly rated, it is worth the purchase.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood / Spot
  • Light Output: High: 330 / Low: 5 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 75 / Low: 16 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 330 lumens / 75 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 3.5 hours / Low: 40 hours
  • Dimensions: 3.74 x 2.36 x 1.38 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 2.43 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: USB Rechargeable 900 mAh lithium ion

Pros

  • Durability
  • Multiple light modes
  • Rechargeable
  • Sweatproof band

Cons

  • Controls
  • Design
  • Lighting patterns

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

The Black Diamond Icon Headlamp is ideal for adventurists who demand the extra power. With multiple settings provided the one-touch activation provides 500 lumens. Red, green and blue lights are included for alternative light settings. A removable battery pack is included that holds 4 AA batteries.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Light Output: High: 500 / Low: 50 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 110 / Low: 14 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 500 lumens / 110 meters
  • Average Run Time: High: 50 / Low: 250 hours
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.5 x 3.9 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 8.1 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX7
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: 4 AA

Pros

  • Removable battery pack
  • RGB colors

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Design
  • Durability
  • Power

Nitecore NU25 360

The Nitecore NU25 360 is considered one of the best headlamps for its versatility. Ideal for hiking, camping, and running, the headlamp contains two separate lights. With a built-in rechargeable battery, it provides multiple light settings from turbo up to low providing up-to 160 hours of output. Dependent on the light mode used, a battery power indicator is provided that can be charged through a USB charging port.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Flood / Spot
  • Light Output: High: 360 / Low: 1 lumens
  • Beam Distance: 81 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 360 lumens / 81 meters
  • Average Run Time: Turbo: 30 minutes; High: 5 hours; Low: 160 hours
  • Dimensions: 2.2 x 1.4 x 0.2 inche
  • Weight with Batteries: 0.99 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: Yes
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IP66
  • Red Light Mode: Yes
  • Batteries: Built-in 610mAh li-ion

Pros

  • Three light sources
  • Battery level indicator
  • USB compatible
  • Built-in battery

Cons

  • Power longevity
  • Weight

Princeton Tec SNAP

The Princeton Tec SNAP is an interchangeable headlamp which can also be used as a flashlight or mounted onto a bicycle. While it can be bulky in weight, it is versatile emitting multiple LED beams. It does not contain a red light mode but still does wonders in camping and outdoor environments.

Specifications

  • Bulb Type: LED
  • Beam Type: Spot
  • Light Output: High: 200 / Low: 20 lumens
  • Beam Distance: High: 36 / Low: 9 meters
  • Max Lumens / Beams Distance: 200 lumens / 36 meters
  • Average Run Time: Spot High: 40 / Spot Dim: 130 / Strobe: 130 hours
  • Dimensions: 2.75 x 1.75 x 1.5 inches
  • Weight with Batteries: 3.5 ounces

Features

  • Rechargeable: No
  • Water-Resistance Rating: IPX4
  • Red Light Mode: No
  • Batteries: 3 AAA

Pros

  • Versatile design
  • Interchangeable headlight/flashlight
  • Magnetic
  • Multiple beams

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • Bulky
  • Not rechargeable

More Information on Picking the Best Head Light

Brightness

Headlamp brightness is crucial depending on your destination or activity. Early morning hiking or back country camping requires exceptional brightness especially in circumstances where natural light doesn’t provide enough. By selecting a headlamp with the extra support will be key in the long term.

LED Types

Flood Light

Flood lighting is superior in camping and up-close work. Where it lacks the distance, it more than will make-up for the output during early mornings or late afternoons.

Spot Light

Perfect for early morning hikes, running activities or dark trails, the spot light is the most powerful of all lighting. Not only does it provide you will distance, but the best quality.

Strobe Light

If your idea of adventure involves being off the grid and miles away from civilization, selecting a headlamp with a built-in strobe light is ideal. Strobe lights act as emergency lights that can provides different speeds.

Red Light

Perfect for camping and in low lighting areas, the red light provides an alternative to blinding white light. Headlamps can offer different settings similar to that of strobe lighting.

Battery

Battery life is crucial, especially in headlamps. Lithium-ion batteries come with most headlamps. Selection is key when selecting yours. Many headlamps will contain a built-in rechargeable battery pack or a pack which can be removed from the headlamp. The last thing you want are AA or AAA batteries taking up space in your pack. Non-rechargeable batteries have shorter lifetime especially while sitting idle.

Weight

Most headlamps weight approximately the same to each other. Higher powered models such as those built for camping will increase the overall weight in comparison to everyday headlamps.

Durability

Durability should always be taken into high consideration. Not all headlamps especially their battery cases are fully water resistant. Head straps can also pose a problem with their durability to stay tight along your forehead. Choose one that not only fits your needs but will have longevity.

Price

Research is key when purchasing. Often the pricier headlamps are claimed to be the best investment, but sometimes that isn’t the case. Headlamps will cost between $20.00 up to $100.00 dollars depending on the brand, quality and the extra accessories included.

Final Thoughts on Best Backpacking Headlamps

Thanks for learning about the best headlight. Make sure to check out some of our other outdoor gear posts:

If you are looking for advice on other types of outdoor gear specific guides:

Here are some other National Park gear you might like:

Pin for Later: Best Hiking Headlamps

Click HERE to find out more about the best headlamps for exploring the great outdoors. best headlamps | best head light | hiking headlamps | best headlamp for hiking | best hiking headlamp | camping headlamp | headlights camping | best led headlamp | best headlight | best rechargeable headlamp | headlamps for hiking | hiking headlamp | best camping headlamp | best headlamps for camping | best running headlamp | hiking lights | best backpacking headlamp | headlamp reviews | waterproof headlamp
Robert was born and raised in Southern California. His developed his love for the outdoors during his youth where he spent his weekends backpacking through the forests of California. A self-taught photographer, he documents his life through the camera with aspirations of owning an online photography store in the future. He has traveled to 40 of the 50 states and 64 National Park Service sites, with the goal to visit them all.

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