Best headlamps for hiking

What are the best headlamps for hiking you can buy today in 2019? Headlamps are a small piece of equipment that we often overlook in our travel and hiking gear checklists, but are nonetheless very important!

It may seem at first that a headlamp is just a headlamp and any one of a decent quality will do. However, as you start to research and dig, you come to realize that their quality, functionality and performance do vary a lot from a model to another.

Soon enough, you will find yourself spending hours researching and comparing and pulling your hair. Fret not! Luckily for you, you ended up on this page where all the hard work has been done for you.

Just scroll down and you will find out what are the top 6 headlamps of 2019, followed by a buyer’s guide explaining what are the main factors to take in consideration when choosing your headlamp.

So let’s get started!

The 6 Best Headlamps for Hiking of 2019

Fenix HP25R HeadlampOur Top Pick

I will tell you straight away that in spite of its slightly higher price tag, it is my favorite. The Fenix HP25R is a high quality headlamp that will do well in virtually any situation.

It lets you choose between 4 levels of brightness and a red light mode to preserve night vision, as well as an eco mode and a turbo mode so you can decide to either get the maximum amount of light possible or preserve your battery life as much as possible.

Another really great feature is that you can choose between 2 different light beam shapes. A spotlight beam is great for spotting wildlife for example, whereas the floodlight beam, as its name suggests, is great for flood the place with light and is great for hiking or caving.

It is powered by a rechargeable battery that you can recharge anytime via USB. In my opinion, this headlamp ticks all the boxes, and it is my top pick.

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 183 g / 6.5 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 1000 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 178 m / 204.5 yards
  • Night vision mode: Yes
  • Waterproof grade: IPX6
  • Power supply: rechargeable battery
  • Burning time: 1.5 hours (turbo) to 96 hours (eco)

Pros

  • High quality and durable
  • Very bright
  • Spotlight and floodlight beam modes
  • Turbo and eco modes
  • Red light mode for night vision
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • 4 light modes
  • Rechargeable battery (USB)
  • Battery level indicator

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as others
  • Battery life is a little short in turbo mode
  • A little more expensive

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

The Black Diamond Storm is a very solid and durable headlamp ready for the toughest adventures! Completely waterproof, it can remain under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. It is powered by 4 AAA batteries – which can feel bulky at times – but the main drawback is the lack of rechargeable battery.

It offers 8 different light modes (and remembers which mode you were using the last time, when you switch it on) and red, blue, green colored light for night vision.

Using the brightest mode, this headlamp boasts a luminosity of 350 lumens, casting light up to 85 meters (93 yards) for 22 hours.

 

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 110 g / 3.88 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 350 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 85 m / 93 yards
  • Night vision mode: Yes
  • Waterproof grade: IPX6
  • Power supply: 4 AAA batteries
  • Burning time: 22 hours (high) to 120 hours (low)

Pros

  • Very solid
  • Very bright
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • 8 light modes
  • Red, green and blue light vision modes
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No rechargeable battery included
  • No separate button for night vision modes

Slonik Rechargeable Headlamp

The Slonik Rechargeable Headlamp is another solidly built headlamp made of aluminum and certainly doesn’t feel cheap and fragile (in spite of its affordable price!).  This dual-LED headlamp is capable of emitting a powerful 1000 lumen light, with a 200 meter (220 yard) light beam.

It is powered by a battery that can easily be recharged by USB in 2 hours. You are always able to get the amount of light required for any situation, with 5 different light modes – but unfortunately there is no red light for preserving night vision. The battery gives you between 3.5 and 8 hours of light, depending on the light mode you are using.

If you don’t care about the red light, this is definitely a good and affordable option that will last you many years.

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 119 g / 4.19 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 1000 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 200 m / 220 yards
  • Night vision mode: No
  • Waterproof grade: IPX6
  • Power supply: rechargeable battery
  • Burning time: 3.5 hours (high) to 8 hours (low)

Pros

  • Very solid – built with aluminum
  • Very bright and powerful light beam
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • 5 light modes
  • Rechargeable battery (USB)

Cons

  • No night vision mode (red light)
  • Battery life can feel a bit short in high luminosity mode

Olight H1R Headlamp

The Olight H1R is the rechargeable (via USB) version of the Olight H1 headlamp, which saves hassle – and money – not having to constantly buy new batteries.

This lightweight and very compact headlamp is also the one with the highest waterproofing grade on this page; it can be submerged under 2 meters of water and still work normally. It can also withstand shocks extremely well and feels almost unbreakable.

When buying this headlamp, you get to choose between a cool white light and a neutral white light. The first one is a little harsher and gives good contrast, while the second one feels more like the sunlight and is good in foggy conditions. What you should choose is entirely a matter of personal preference.

The headlamp offers 5 different light modes from very dim to turbo, but no night vision mode.

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 51.5 g / 1.82 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 600 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 72 m / 79 yards
  • Night vision mode: No
  • Waterproof grade: IPX8
  • Power supply: rechargeable battery
  • Burning time: 80 min (turbo) to 6 days (lowest)

Pros

  • Very lightweight and compact
  • Good resistance to impacts
  • Totally waterproof and dustproof
  • 5 light modes
  • Rechargeable battery (USB)
  • Can choose between cool white and neutral white light

Cons

  • No night vision mode
  • Light beam distance quite shorter than others

Energizer Vision Headlamp

The Energizer Vision LED headlamp is available in 5 different versions, from 2 light modes and 100 lumens max luminosity, to 6 modes and 400 lumens. I will describe here the most powerful one, as I feel it is the most adapted to hiking adventures and travel in general.

The 6 light modes include a super bright 600 lumen mode as well as night red and green light modes, and an emergency strobe. It is a strongly built headlamp that can take shocks. As for the waterproofing, it is able to function normally under the rain but it is the headlamp with the lowest waterproofing grade on this page.

It is powered by 3 included Energizer AAA batteries, but no rechargeable battery. A useful feature is the low battery alert, so you don’t find yourself with no light by surprise all of a sudden.

To sum up, a solid, lightweight and affordable headlamp that may not boast the incredible performance of some other headlamps but still has everything you need, if you can do without a rechargeable battery.

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 105 g / 3.7 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 400 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 80 m / 87.5 yards
  • Night vision mode: Yes
  • Waterproof grade: IPX4
  • Power supply: 3 AAA Energizer MAX batteries
  • Burning time: 2 hour (high) to 50 hours (low)

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Good resistance to impacts
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • 6 light modes
  • Red and green night vision modes
  • Low battery alert

Cons

  • No rechargeable battery

Petzl Actik Headlamp

Petzl is one of the big names when it comes to headlamps and other outdoor gear and you can expect a very good quality, durable product.

The Petzl Actik is a powerful 300-lumen headlight that was designed for the outdoors with a good battery life and able to function just fine under the rain – but maybe lacks a rubber seal around the battery compartment.

The headlamp comes with 3 batteries. It is compatible with the CORE rechargeable battery, but unfortunately it is sold separately.

The Petzl Actik has 3 white light modes and one red light mode that preserves night vision. The 3 white light modes enable you to either focus on your immediate environment (10 m / 11 yards) or what is happening in the distance (90 m / 98.5 yards), or somewhere in between.

Overall, not the most spectacular headlamp but does the job pretty well and offers all the required features for hiking and other outdoor activities.

 Quick Specifications

  • Weight: 92 g / 3.2 oz
  • Light source: LED
  • Max luminosity: 300 lumens
  • Light beam range: up to 90 m / 98.5 yards
  • Night vision mode: Yes
  • Waterproof grade: IPX4
  • Power supply: 3 AAA batteries
  • Burning time: 60 hours (high) to 260 hours (low)

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Good build quality
  • Waterproof
  • 4 light modes with focus & wide beams
  • Red light night vision mode
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Rechargeable battery sold separately
  • No separate button for red light mode

Frequently Asked Questions

What are lumens and what do they mean? What about the light beam?

Simply put, lumens are the measure of the amount of light that is emitted by a source (i.e. the LED on your headlamp). It describes how bright the light source is.

But be careful, to effectively know how bright your headlamp is you also have to take in consideration the beam width (if the light is concentrated on a spot or more spread out) and distance (how far the light is projected).

If you want a headlamp for hiking or caving, you might like better a wider beam; if you want to spot wildlife in the dark, you may want a tighter and longer beam of light.

What are The Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Headlamp for Hiking?

Even though a headlamp might look like a fairly simple piece of gear, it is still worth taking a closer look at a few factors before deciding which one to buy – to make sure you effectively get the best equipment possible and avoid disappointments.

 

Weight: A first aspect to look at is the weight of the headlamp. Granted, it’s never going to be super heavy but sometimes a few extra inches and the weight of the batteries is enough for the headlamp to feel a little bulkier than it should.

 

Ease of use: Believe it or not, nowadays some headlamps are getting a little confusing in the way they work, with many different modes and buttons that need to be pressed for a long time / a short time or pressed a certain number of times to eventually get to the desired mode. Better stick to something simple.

 

Power supply: This is an important point. You basically have the choice between normal batteries and rechargeable batteries.  Normal batteries are powerful and tend to last longer, but it also means you will have to keep spending money on buying new batteries- without even talking about the environmental issues with disposing old batteries…

Rechargeable batteries free you of this hassle but they tend to need to be recharged more often and last less time. You just need to get into the habit of recharging your headlamp fully every time you plan to use it. Some newer models can be recharged by USB which is really convenient, especially when you are traveling!

In my opinion, rechargeable batteries are the best option, but again it depends on your personal preference and your habits. Are you OK with recharging your headlamp like you do with your smartphone? Or do you prefer to just put batteries inside and don’t bother until they die out?

If you travel/hike with a power bank like I do, then it really makes sense to choose a rechargeable battery.

 

Night vision mode: You may or may not need this feature, but I think it is always good to have it. The purpose of such modes is to preserve your night vision.

Imagine you are outside in the dark, stargazing for example, your eyes gradually got used to the dark luminosity and over time you are able to spot more and more stars, even the dimmest ones. It takes about half an hour to reach this state.

Then you suddenly need to find something in your bag: you turn on your light and boom! Instantly, your night vision is gone! After you turn off your light, your eyes will need to go through the entire process again to re-attain night vision.

That’s where a night vision mode comes in handy. By using a dim red or green light instead of a normal white light, you can look for your stuff in your bag and preserve your night vision.

It is useful to have a specific button for night vision because if you first need to go through the powerful white light modes before getting to the red light mode, it’s quite useless! Your night vision would be damaged already.

As for the colors, red is traditionally used, but we see more and more some green lights too. Honestly, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference, both are fine and work well at preserving your night vision, if the light is dim.

 

Waterproofing: If you are using your headlamp for hiking, you will inevitably get caught in the rain someday (unless you only hike in the Atacama Desert or something). Thus, a headlamp should be able to work under all kinds of conditions, including under the rain.

See the next question for more details.

What are Waterproof Grades and What Do They Mean?

You may have noticed that in the reviews above I am referring to some weird codes to describe how waterproof the headlamps are.

These “waterproof grades” actually are IP codes (International Protection Marking codes) which determine the degree of protection against intrusion they offer. Let’s take a look at 5 of them:

IPX4: Headlamps with an IPX4 grade can take splashing water such as light or moderate rain without being damaged.

IPX5: Headlamps with an IPX5 grade are able to work under heavier rain (they resist water jets with some pressure).

IPX6: Headlamps with an IPX6 grade can take water jets of water with stronger pressure. They are able to work under a heavy downpour without being damaged, but cannot be immerged.

IPX7: Headlamps with an IPX7 grade can be immerged in water up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

IPX8: Items with an IPX8 grade can be immerged in water deeper than 1 meter and for more than 30 minutes (depending on the manufacturer’s goal).

Most headlamps nowadays have at least an IPX4 grade and are able to withstand rain without any problem. But some can withstand being immerged (IPX7 or even IPX8), which can be a good thing if you accidentally drop it in the water, and it is more reassuring if you find yourself under a really heavy downpour.

However, also bear in mind that any humidity that can’t go in, can’t go out either. If for some reason humidity ends up getting trapped inside the lamp, the more waterproof it is, the more difficult it will be to get rid of it.

At the end of the day, I would not be too particular about the waterproof grade of the headlamp as long as it is at least IPX4 – it will be able to work under the rain. Then it’s a matter of personal preference – if you know you have a strong tendency of dropping your gear in water, for example 🙂

Why Don’t You Show Any Prices on This Page?

Prices vary all the time, and it would be difficult to keep everything up to date at all times. For each headlamp, I provide a link to the product page for you to quickly check the price of the headlamp you like best.

In any case, I only show headlamps that are affordable and offer good value for money.

How Did You Choose Your Top Pick?

My top pick is the headlamp that offers the best compromise between price and functionality, the best value for a reasonable amount of money.

It is only my subjective opinion, that’s why I am showing 6 different headlamps here, for you to compare and decide which one you like best and is more adapted to your specific needs.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this article! Here you have the 6 best headlamps for hiking that we have selected for 2019. It’s not easy (if not impossible) to find a headlamp that is absolutely perfect, but I believe the headlamps presented here do a really great job and tick many boxes.

No matter which one you end up choosing, you can be confident that you’re making a great choice and you will be well equipped for amazing night hiking.

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If you purchase an item on Amazon through the affiliate links in this page, this website will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps us keeping this site ad-free, and it helps you say thank you if our content is useful to you 🙂

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