Headlamps

Headlamps

A man using his best camping headlamp at night

Best Headlamps of 2018

The main advantage of using a headlamp is of course having hands free illumination. Finding your way around camp and inside your bag after dark can be a difficult task if not properly illuminated. Trail running and after dark hiking are also great reasons why you should own a headlamp. But just wanting to have hands free illumination is not the only aspect to be examined when searching for the best headlamp. Brightness levels, LED type, battery type and lifespan, weight and comfort of straps are all keys factors to consider. While many people get confused when attempting to purchase a headlamp, we decided to make order in things and test what we think are the best headlamps of 2018.

Black Diamond Spot

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Lumens: 300.
Weight: 3.1 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 80m.
Pros: Good brightness and quality for its price.
Cons: Limited waterproof.

The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is one of the best on this list in terms of value for money.  A strong 300 lumen will fit anything from dawn patrols to an all night trail running. Lighting options consist of a strong QuadPower LED, a softer proximity and a red LED around camp. The lighting options “remembers the last light you had on, which is a convenient feature. Downward and upwards angles are satisfactory and provide pre-set angles.

The headlamp is not waterproof, which is fine except Black Diamond claims it is. Our water test was not successful. It would withstand heavy rain but not up to 1 meter for 30 min as claimed.

Petzl – ACTIK CORE

Petzl - ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Petzl – ACTIK CORE Headlamp

Lumens: 350.
Weight: 2.9 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 95m.
Pros: Good brightness and quality for its price.
Cons: Straps have limited adjustment.

The ACTIK CORE is by no doubt impressive. 2 white LED lights produce 350 lumens along with rechargeable batteries. The batteries life span is about 7 hours using standard power while using 3 AAA batteries. Easily suitable for running, cycling, mountaineering, backpacking and camping. For military use the black color is more suitable. The ACTIK CORE is a hybrid, being able to use rechargeable battery via a USB cord. Another nice feature is an emergency whistle that might help repel unwanted visitors that stroll in your camp. No doubt that the ACTIK CORE is one of the highly recommended headlamps in the list for this low to medium price range.

Although the headbands are very comfortable we found them to be limited in terms of adjustability.

Black Diamond Storm

Black Diamond Storm
Black Diamond Storm

Lumens: 350.
Weight: 3.9 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 85m.
Pros: Lots of features, super bright and comfortable.
Cons: One button only for multiple lighting options.

The Black Diamond Storm might possibly be the winner of this list. Equipped with all of your lighting needs: Full power for proximty and distance modes, dimming option for the camp area, strobe, and 3 night vision colors. The light is perfectly sealed for real waterproof (Can withstand submersion of up to one meter for 30 minutes). A nice feature of the Black Diamond is its lockout mode, which prevents the headlamp from turning on while inside your pack. 4 AAA batteries should last for approx 120 hours.

While we had to struggle to find a con here we can point out that for its multiple lighting options (8 in total), one button is just not enough.

Black Diamond Icon

Black Diamond Icon
Black Diamond Icon

Lumens: 500.
Weight: 8.1 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 110m.
Pros: Very powerful and durable.
Cons: Might be heavy.

The Black Diamond Icon is amazingly powerful and bright. The LED spotlight emit 500 lumens that will make your neighboring tents to go blind. Very reliable and durable – sustained hits seem to have little to no impact on it. The plastic quality seems to be better on this headlamp than the previous versions. There are some reports of a humming noise while using the white light and not the colored ones. Battery life is excellent which is good considering its powerful light.

When you pack heat like a tank don’t be surprised that you weigh like one. Its power comes with a “heavy” price. If you are looking for a powerful light and don’t mind the weight, this is the one for you.

Coast HL7 Focusing

Coast HL7 Focusing
Coast HL7 Focusing

Lumens: 100-800.
Weight: 4.4 oz for the 285 lumen reviewed.
Max Beam Distance: 119m.
Pros: Strong light and well balanced head strap.
Cons: Focus ring is a bit stiff.

Coast did a terrific job with the HL7 Focusing. The light is strong and bright, along with focusing option it works like a charm. The focus ring allows adjusting from flood light to spot light – A great addition to any headlamp. Easy and simple to use as there are no various light modes to cycle through. The hinged, tilting head feature makes adjusting the vertical angle very easy. On the back of the headlamp is an easily reached lever that controls the light output from low to high.

The focus ring can be a bit stiff at times, a fact that doesn’t make the the Coast HL7 Focusing any less good than what it is.

Petzl Nao

Petzl Nao Headlamp
Petzl Nao Headlamp

Lumens: 750.
Weight: 6.5 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 140m.
Pros: Highly advanced light and super cool look.
Cons: Technology needs to be polished.

The biggest question with the Petzl Nao Headlamp is whether the technology justifies its high price tag. The reactive technology makes the light adjust its beam according to the distance to the object, thus removing the need to constantly switch between light options and reduces the energy output. The NAO comes with a mobile app that stores data and save preferred settings. Magnificently powerful, the NAO produces a 750 lumens light, suitable for the highest of demands. To the top it all the NAO looks and feels super cool.

While the upside of the NAO is its technology, its also its slight downside – Not yet perfected to its promise, it seems to fail at times to deliver the wanted result.

Black Diamond Sprinter

Black Diamond Sprinter
Black Diamond Sprinter

Lumens: 200.
Weight: 3.7 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 50m.
Pros: Good for runners.
Cons: Only good for runners.

Black Diamond has designed a good for trail runners, general users such as hikers, backpackers and campers will not be so satisfied. The maximum beam distance and the strong beam it emits along with the battery balanced at the back, makes it ideal for trail runners. For safety, a rear red light has been added and if running through downpours, the Sprinter is fully waterproof.

A lack of a close range beam makes it not suitable around camp. It seems like the Black Diamond Sprinter has some battery life issues.

Princeton Tec Vizz

Princeton Tec Vizz
Princeton Tec Vizz

Lumens: 205.
Weight: 3.2 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 80m.
Pros: Nice set of features.
Cons: Has battery issues.

The Princeton Tec Vizz features a powerful 205 lumen spot beam for distance, flood beam and 2 red ultralight LED for close range. With an IPX7 waterproof rating, the Vizz performs well on that aspect. Good weight and comfortable to wear at night while wondering around looking for more wood or just rummaging around your backpack.

It seems like the main aspect that was neglected is the battery life. Some report batteries running out after a couple of hours of use.

Loyalfire 3 XML-T6

Loyalfire 3 Headlamp XML-T6
Loyalfire 3 Headlamp XML-T6

Lumens: 80.
Weight: 11.7 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 80m.
Pros: Cheap.
Cons: Cheap.

The Loyalfire 3 Headlamp XML-T6 is the cheapest on this list, currently under $20. Some cool features on include a motion sensor that detects movement and activates automatically. The IPX 4 rating means it is protected from splashes of water from all angles. The adjustable focus seems to be working well and and an easy to use switch flips between 8 lighting modes. Overall considering its price, its a bargain for the budget traveler.

Its upside is also its downside. Materials don’t seem to be built to last. On the other hand, it’s so cheap that once it’s broken you can simply purchase a new one.

Petzl – ULTRA RUSH BELT

Petzl - ULTRA RUSH BELT
Petzl – ULTRA RUSH BELT

Lumens: 760.
Weight: 1 lb. 1.4 oz.
Max Beam Distance: 170m.
Pros: Amazing light and long battery life.
Cons: Heavy and expensive.

The Petzl – ULTRA RUSH BELT is equipped with an admirable strong light. The beauty of it all is that the light’s performance doesn’t decrease as the batteries run dry and reserve mode is activated. The ACCU 4 ULTRA Lithium-Ion remote rechargeable battery offers additional light time. A rotating button is used for selecting different lighting modes and is easy to use.

By far its the most expensive on this list. If you are looking for top quality without regards to weight you’ll be more than satisfied with the investment.

 

Make sure to complete your camping gear set by viewing our guides for best: