The 9 Best Headlamps of 2022, Tested by TripSavvy

Petzl's Actik Core is our favorite for its long battery life and usability

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Best Headlamps
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Why limit your adventures to daylight hours? Headlamps allow us to get out there and keep exploring despite the darkness. This essential item is perfect for camping, hiking, running, mountain biking, and more. With the aid of this handy device, we get to do it all while having our hands free. These convenient illumination tools are ever-evolving, with USB and battery charging options and exceptional lumen outputs that help improve our overall outdoor experiences. From budget-friendly headlamps that do the trick to lightweight luminaries, there’s a headlamp to meet every adventurer’s needs.

Here’s to sunrise photography missions, sunset hikes, twilight campsite cooking, working in low-light conditions, and simply seeing where we’re going. These are the tried and true best headlamps currently on the market for 2022.

Best Overall: PETZL Actik Core Headlamp

Petzl headlamp

Courtesy of REI

What We Like
  • Simple design

  • Long-lasting battery

  • Very bright

  • Rechargeable battery

What We Don't Like
  • A little more expensive

A classic, lightweight powerhouse, the Petzl Actik Core ticks all the boxes you might need for all-around adventuring and practical usage. It comes out of the box ready to rock, with an easy set-up, and while it’s minimalist in design, there hasn’t been any skimping on comfort level. Three brightness levels and classic red light settings give the lamp versatility for any situation. The dual battery option with HYBRID concept technology allows USB charging and a set of AAA batteries as a solid backup.

This portable headlamp is a fantastic tool for more adventurous pursuits like backpacking, hiking, camping, running, and something more low-key like walking the dog or getting around the house during a power outage. Bonus: Additional mounting accessories make it easy to attach this headlamp to a helmet or bicycle. The one-button operation makes this a straightforward but effective lamp that can’t be beaten in pretty much any situation you throw it into.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 450 | Beam Distance: H: 90 meters, M: 45 meters,  L: 8 meters | Average Run Time: H: 2 hours, M: 8 hours, L: 130 hours | Weight: 2.65 ounces

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: BioLite HeadLamp 200

BioLite HeadLamp 200

BioLite

What We Like
  • Very comfortable

  • Versatile

  • Easy to use

  • Rechargeable

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life

  • More expensive

This headlamp is a solid all-around choice for a twilight jog to a weekend camping trip. Although it’s a little pricier than its similar counterparts, the comfort level and extremely lightweight design are unmatched, making it a justifiable option. The moisture-wicking band keeps all of the plastic off your head while also being ideal for any active movement where you might sweat. The battery life might not be the best, but the rechargeable micro USB battery makes it easy to keep it going the distance. This headlamp is ideal for runners that stick to less technical surfaces since it’s not the brightest, but it’s so lightweight that it won’t bounce around; you just might forget you have it on.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 200 | Beam Distance: H: 50 meters, L: 8 meters | Average Run Time: H: 3 hours, L: 40 hours | Weight: 1.75 ounces

BioLite 200 Headlamp
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Budget: Petzl Tikkina Headlamp

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp

Courtesy of Rei

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Simple design

  • Long battery life

  • Detachable + Washable strap

  • Water-resistant

What We aDon't Like
  • Non-rechargeable unless you purchase the extra battery

Very approachable in price and easy to use, the Petzl Tikkina offers a solid bang for your buck. Designed with versatility in mind, the Tikkina has the potential to be your go-to, all-around excellent headlamp. With the batteries tucked in, it’s still a lightweight option. Although it doesn’t come with a rechargeable battery, it’s worth purchasing as a backup to utilize the built-in ‘Hybrid concept’ technology.

This allows for both the AAA batteries it comes with and a USB chargeable battery to be used interchangeably. Packing that much battery will render you almost unstoppable. Another add-on that climbers and cyclists might want to consider is the mounting hardware to attach the headlamp to a helmet for the ultimate hands-free adventure lighting. The affordability allows a little wiggle room for purchasing these add-ons without splurging too much.

We were blown away by how long the battery lasted while testing this headlamp. Petzl claims a five-day run time on the headlamp's lowest setting. But our tests saw it lasting past seven days. The upshot: You don't need to get spendy for a high-quality headlamp.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 250 | Beam Distance: H: 60 meters, L: 10 meters | Average Run Time: H: 2 hours, M: 9 hours, L: 120 hours | Weight: 3 ounces

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best for Kids: Black Diamond Equipment Wiz Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment Wiz Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Long-lasting battery

  • Color changing light

  • Water-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • Difficult to tilt light for kids

  • Non-rechargeable

With a vibrant spectrum of dimmable, color-changing choices, this headlamp isn’t just practical; it’s fun. Change from purple to blue and green quickly with a button press. Compact, with a simple-to-use strap adjustment, it comes in three different color combinations. The headlamp is fairly kid-proof, even down to the battery area, as it needs a special tool for opening.

Drops, spills, and putting it on upside down shouldn’t stop it from working well. One of the coolest features is the automatic shut-off after 2 hours to avoid wasting those included AAA batteries. Whether camping outdoors, reading in the dark, or constructing an epic indoor fortress, kids will love using this handy little headlamp for their big adventures.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 30 | Beam Distance: H: 20 meters, L: 5 meters | Average Run Time: H: 5 hours, L: 60 hours | Weight: 2 ounces

Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Best Ultralight: Petzl Bindi Rechargeable Headlamp

Petzl Bindi Rechargeable Headlamp

Amazon

What We Like
  • Minimalist design

  • Secure strap

  • Weather resistant

  • Rechargeable battery

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life

  • Lumen strength

So lightweight that it fits in your pocket, and the lock function will prevent it from turning on in there, too. The Petzl Bindi is for runners and those who need to pack ultralight. The Bindi's weight and size make it the best option for anyone starting pre-dawn missions or extending outings past dark. We used it over the first couple of miles of a marathon and then had no problem stashing it and carrying it the remaining 24 miles.

The flexible tilt and slim, adjustable cord-style band allow for wearing the headlamp around your neck and atop your head. It will stay on your noggin, too, as you navigate the running trails. The micro USB cable keeps in line with the minimalist design for the handy rechargeable battery and eliminates the need to carry those pesky spare alkaline batteries. Three lighting modes and the additional option for red illumination make this lamp ideal for diverse situations, from backpacking to tent reading.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 200 | Beam Distance: H: 36 meters, L: 2.5 meters | Average Run Time: H: 2 hours, L: 50 hours | Weight: 1.2 ounces

Petzl Bindi
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Splurge: BioLite 750 Lumen No-Bounce Headlamp

BioLite HeadLamp 750

BioLite

What We Like
  • Long battery life

  • Comfortable

  • Rechargeable

  • Weather-resistant

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bulky with the back piece

  • More expensive

Fitting more into the luxury headlamp category, the BioLite HeadLamp 750 is a powerful light worth the extra cost for those in need of a long-lasting battery. It stands the test of time on lengthy backpacking trips with the included micro ‘run-forever’ USB cable and an additional battery device. Although it’s a little heftier in weight, most of it is in the back, so it’s very comfortable to wear. The moisture-wicking material of the band is a welcome feature, too, particularly for very active users. The burst mode is helpful and extremely bright, shining all 750 lumens for 30 seconds when you need it. That said, almost all of the combined eight light settings are dimmable, allowing you to customize the illumination to your needs at the moment. This headlamp's flexible tilt is suitable for almost anything, from mountain biking to ultra-running. Once you get the hang of all the features of this lamp, it’ll quickly become a go-to item in your adventure kit.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 750 | Beam Distance: Burst: 130 meters, L: 15 meters | Average Run Time: H: 2 hours, L: 150 hours | Weight: 5.3 ounces

BioLite 750 Headlamp
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Best for Hunting: Coast FL85R Headlamp

Coast FL85R Headlamp

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Long battery-life

  • Brightness

  • Rechargeable

  • Light distance

What We Don't Like
  • Heavy and bulky

  • More expensive

This rugged headlamp is known for its bright beam and nifty twist focus to transition between flood and spot beams, allowing for a tailored illumination focus. The rechargeable battery and option for backup AAA batteries make for more prolonged use time. This headlamp is ideal for those who need a bright light that casts long distances but don’t necessarily mind some extra weight. Due to its hefty feel, it’d be best to take it on a fishing trip, hunting expedition, or mountain biking trail for optimal use, particularly with the hinged beam for various angling abilities. Alternatively, working in a garage or shop would be where this headlamp would come in handy. While it may not be the most comfortable option, the light brightness and distance it provides are perfect in certain conditions.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 700 | Beam Distance: H: 200 meters, L: 70 meters | Average Run Time: H: 1.75 hours, L: 8.5 hours | Weight: 16 ounces

Coast FL85R Headlamp
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.

Best Dimmable: Princeton Tec Vizz

Princeton Tec Vizz

Princeton Tec

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Brightness

  • Dimming ability

  • Light distance

What We Don't Like
  • Button is tough to use

  • More expensive

To have optimal control over the brightness of your headlamp light source, the Princeton Tec Vizz is a solid contender. The ‘Maxbright LED’ is precisely that—very bright. The ability to adjust this to your liking by holding down the button for whatever activity you're doing is a bonus. A wide swivel of the light angle is fantastic for working in low-light conditions. The individual control button is a little stiff out of the box, making it tricky to operate. Take this headlamp out for walking the dog, hiking, or camping. Rain? No problem. This headlamp gains extra points with its waterproof design and will keep your path illuminated even in wet conditions.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 420 | Beam Distance: Spot H: 79 meters, Spot L: 25 meters
Average Run Time: Spot H: 4 hours, L: 54 hours | Weight: 3.2 ounces

Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Best for Brightness: Fenix HL60R USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp

Fenix HL60R Headlamp

Amazon

What We Like
  • Brightness

  • Both rechargeable and regular battery options

  • One-switch operation

  • Eco-mode

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Charging flap difficult to close

  • More expensive

Light the way with the Fenix HL60R, a powerhouse multi-purpose headlamp for brightness. Although it falls into the luxury category, the rugged, waterproof design and capabilities make it worth it. This headlamp is very user-friendly, with five different LED settings, a rechargeable battery, and the ability to shut it off without cycling through all of them. Despite being a little heavier, it’s surprisingly comfortable, too. The 160-degree tilt adds excellent flexibility to the lamp’s usage, and the battery life is fantastic on the lower light settings. Turbo is only meant to be used for a short time, and it should be noted that the light can get very warm in that mode. This rugged headlamp is prepared to do everything, from high altitudes to underwater ventures.

Max Light Output (Lumens): 950 | Beam Distance: Turbo: 116 meters, H: 76 meters, M: 46 meters, L: 27 meters, Eco: 8 meters | Average Run Time: H: 3 hours, L: 29 hours | Weight: 4.3 ounces (excluding battery)

Fenix HL60R
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Final Verdict

We love that the Petzl Actik Core (view at REI) is highly user-friendly and gets the job done with ultimate brightness and beam distance while also being comfortable. The classic design blends with modern upgrades like the rechargeable battery, offering headlamp users the best of both worlds. Oh, and it’s not too bulky either. We highly recommend the Petzl Tikkina (view at REI) for its simplicity and amazing battery life for those looking at a budget option.

Product Selection

We chose products for this list based on our previous experience and knowledge of headlamps and headlamp brands, internet research, and prioritizing diversity in uses and price points. We started with a list of about 20 headlamps and then tested the nine above.

How We Tested

We've been testing some of the included headlamps for years (like the Petzl Bindi and Petzl Tikkina). Others we have been testing over the past few months. Testing included running, mountain biking, hiking, alpine touring and skiing, backpacking, garage work, backyard campfire building, and during power outages. We left each headlamp turned on to test battery life until the headlamp's battery died. To test comfort, we wore the headlamps during activities; we also just left them on our heads for hours while working.

Testing headlamps
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

What To Look for in a Headlamp

Lumens 

The most important feature to look for when researching which headlamp to buy is the light output, measured in lumens. Depending upon what you plan to use your lamp for, there are numerous options for the amount of light each one emits. For instance, anything above 50 would be appropriate for late-night walks with your dog, but you will want something higher (at least 200 lumens) if you're tackling a technical running or hiking trail. If you’re doing an activity like cave exploring, you may need upwards of 500 lumens. Most lamps have different light settings or the ability for dimming, so ultimately, it’s best to choose yours by the maximum lumen output you might need, as you can always work down from there based on what activity you’re doing.

Comfort

The comfort and security of your headlamp will play a key role. You’ll want to find a lamp that fits securely on your head and won’t jiggle loose when being active while also having one that doesn’t dig in or hurt from wear. Check out the headband strap to make sure it adjusts easily and stays at the tightness level you pick. Inspect to see if it’s designed to have fabric between your forehead and the light's plastic to avoid any unnecessary rubbing or irritation. Weight falls into this category, too, as you may not want something heftier on the front of your head or that takes up too much space in your pack. If possible, look for a lamp that weighs under 7 ounces, as most fall in between 3 and 7 ounces. Ideally, the goal is to purchase a headlamp that you will forget you’re even wearing.

Distance

In addition to brightness, the light beam distance is also a crucial aspect to consider. Check out the headlamp’s specs to see the various distances (usually in meters) that each setting can cast the light. Prioritize whether you need a flood beam, which has a broader cast of light but isn’t as strong, or a spot beam, which will provide more focused, powerful lighting, though covering less surface area. Some headlamps offer both of these options that can be accessed with a click of the button and dimming to tailor your lighting needs. Distances can range anywhere from 5 meters to 200 meters, but the higher settings will quickly impact battery life.

Battery Life

Another critical spec to investigate is how long your lamp’s burn time is when fully charged. In addition to the battery life, look at whether the headlamp has a rechargeable battery with an included micro USB cord, standard alkaline batteries, or both. A rechargeable battery is an excellent option for easy charging without carrying around extra batteries all the time. It also adds to the overall battery life of your headlamp if you bring along an external, portable battery pack that you can plug into if needed. Headlamps that offer both options blend technology in an ideal way, prolonging the battery life by having the standard batteries to rely on in a pinch. Run times vary, but generally, look for headlamps that will last for at least 2 hours on high and at least 15 to 20 hours on low settings. 

An excellent in-between is using rechargeable batteries. We love Pale Blue Earth Batteries for rechargeable batteries and used them throughout testing for this list.

Best headlamps
TripSavvy / Nathan Allen.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Are headlamps water-resistant or waterproof?

    Weather can be fickle and unpredictable when enjoying the outdoors, so having a headlamp that can withstand the elements can be crucial. Although not every lamp is waterproof, most are, at the very least, weather-resistant. This is shown in IPX ratings (Ingress Protection + no dust). The lower the rating, the less water-resistant the headlamp is. Most fall between IPX-4 to IPX-7, with the lower end able to handle splashing, rain, and snow. The higher-end allows the lamp to be completely submerged.

    IPX-7 and IPX-8 ratings say that the lamp is completely waterproof and can be held underwater up to 3-feet deep for half an hour without ruining the electronic components. Typically most hikers and campers can get by with the weather-resistant IPX-4 to IPX-6 rated devices.

  • Do I need a strobe or red-light setting?

    Do you need a strobe or red-light feature? It depends. Almost all headlamps come with a red-light setting to avoid blinding your fellow campers with a bright light. It also doesn’t drain your battery since it requires less power.

    The strobe setting on headlamps is meant to act as an SOS alert (short flashes of light) or beacon (longer flashes of light) for safety purposes. It can also be used in defense against a potential attacker or animal encounter, allowing you to get away.

Headlamp testing
TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Lauren Breedlove is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and gear tester in Saratoga Springs, NY. She travels and explores the outdoors frequently, hiking, kayaking and canoeing, and photographing, from far-flung locations around the world to her backyard. From sunrise photography missions in the Adirondacks to capturing the northern lights in Alaska, headlamps have come in handy in her work. She used her own previous experience and testing in the field to try out these headlamps in varying conditions and ventures.

TripSavvy's Outdoor Gear Editor, Nathan Allen, also helped test for this roundup. He has been using and wearing headlamps for decades. He currently rotates through Petzl's Bindi, Petzl's Tikkina, and BioLite's 200.

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