Best Headlamp for Hiking

In this article, we take a look at the best headlamp for hiking on the market. Hiking headlamps are an essential addition to any hikers’ kit. Many hikers find themselves in dark conditions, or conditions of low light, and therefore need a reliable light source.

Even if you don’t hike during the night, a headlamp is good for camping. You can use it for reading, finding things in your pack, and stumbling to the toilet.

Hiking headlamps can also be used for other outdoor sports, such as mountain biking and climbing.

Best Headlamp for Hiking Reviews

Here are our top picks – the best headlamps for hiking, camping, and backpacking:

1. Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 160
  • Maximum Distance: 60m
  • IPX Rating: 8
  • Batteries: 2 AAA (included)
  • Weight: 1.9oz

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  • Lots of different modes
  • Affordable
  • Very lightweight
  • Very waterproof
  • Suitable for trail running


  • The buttons can be a little irritating and hard to use

A great headlamp option for those seeking something lightweight, this model is robust, waterproof, and hardy without much mass. It’s also small, which is nice for pack size. This features the following modes: proximity, distance, strobe, dimming, and red light for night-vision.

The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 is perfect for hiking, due to its lightweight build, but it can also be used for camping and the like. It’s also suitable for trail running, but it might slip off on particularly heavy trails. It’s also very affordable! It’s a little clumsy to turn on and off because of the small buttons, but there aren’t many other flaws here.

2. Biolite No-Bounce Rechargeable Headlight


  • Maximum Lumens: 330
  • Maximum Distance: 74m
  • IPX Rating: 4
  • Batteries: Rechargeable, via Micro USB
  • Weight: 2.4oz

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  • Very clever design, which sits flush to the head
  • Very lightweight
  • A decent amount of waterproofing
  • Very good headlamp for trail running
  • Moisture-wicking band
  • Great if you want a rechargeable headlamp


  • The buttons are a little too small
  • Slightly uneven lighting pattern
  • Not the best battery life

Another excellent lightweight option, this reaches a good distance and has a great maximum lumens level. The design is very intelligent – it lies almost flat against your head instead of clunkily bouncing around. This design is great for not bumping the headlight into rocks and other surfaces when you’re moving around.

This model offers five light modes: dimmable spot, flood, spot+flood, strobe, and red light for night vision. This one is an excellent choice for trail running, because it doesn’t bounce around, and it stays flush to the head. The price point isn’t the best on the market, but it’s not excessively expensive. The lighting pattern is a little uneven here, and the buttons are somewhat small and fiddly. The battery pack is also a little poor compared to some others on this list.

3. Black Diamond Spot Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 325
  • Maximum Distance: 80m
  • IPX Rating: 8
  • Batteries: 3 AAA, included
  • Weight: 3oz

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  • A very good lamp at this price range
  • Good versatility
  • Breathable headband


  • The buttons are a little annoying
  • Narrow beam of light
  • Not the best battery life

Not as lightweight as others on this list, but it’s still light enough to be an excellent all-rounder. There are six modes here: proximity, distance, dimming, strobe, lock mode, and red night-vision. The elastic head fitting is made from breathable mesh, which is fairly efficient at reducing sweating while hiking.

The price point is fairly good. For this price point, you won’t find many lamps that perform better than this.

While the beam distance is decent, the beam of light is a little narrower than some might like.

Moreover, the battery doesn’t last long. The button panel on this a little annoying – they’re so small that it’s hard to discern the buttons from one another.



  • Maximum Lumens: 150
  • Maximum Distance: 55m
  • IPX Rating: 4
  • Batteries: 3 AAA, included – but can also be used with a rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 1.6oz

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  • A brilliant lamp for this price range – if you want something good, basic and affordable, this might well be the best pick
  • Three different distance modes
  • Very lightweight
  • One of the best rechargeable headlamps


  • A little bulkier than some others
  • There’s nothing fancy about this, but that’s expected at this price range

If you want something reliable and affordable without being too fancy, this is one of the best on the market. For the price point, it has excellent range and is very lightweight.

It comes with three different distance modes, making it super versatile. There are no fancy light settings here, but it’s an excellent, reliable starter headlamp. It’s a little bulkier than some people might like.

5. NITECORE NU32 Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 550
  • Maximum Distance: 124m
  • IPX Rating: 6
  • Batteries: Rechargeable – it comes with a charging cable
  • Weight: 3.5oz

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  • Very powerful, with high lumens range and a long distance range
  • Sticks to the head very well
  • Decent battery life


  • Not good for trail running
  • Doesn’t have the best durability

A real heavy-duty affair, if you want a very bright light with a great range, this is an excellent choice. It’s excellent for navigating in very dark conditions.

Offers four brightness settings, floodlighting, CRI LEDs designed for closeup tasks, and a night vision mode. The battery life is pretty good, and the robust strap keeps the headlamp in place solidly. Because of the bulk of this one, it’s not a great option for trail running. This one also doesn’t have the best durability.

6. PETZL – ACTIK Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 350
  • Maximum Distance: 95m
  • IPX Rating: 4
  • Batteries: Can be used with either 3 AAA batteries or a separately-sold rechargeable battery
  • Weight: 3.2oz

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  • A good all-rounder
  • It’s small and compact and sits comfortably close to the head.
  • Decent battery life


  • Not good for trail running
  • A little delicate compared to others on this list – not good for clumsy or rough hikers.

This offers good all-round illumination. The lamp sits close to the head, which makes it less bulky and cumbersome than others on this list, while the lumens range and distance range are good mid-range performers. Settings include max autonomy, standard, max power, proximity, and strobe mode. There’s also night vision here.

It comes in three different color options. Overall, this lamp offers good versatility along with a decent performance. It’s a little more delicate than some others on this list, so it’s not for use in the harshest of conditions – or while trail running.

7. Princeton Tec Quad


  • Maximum Lumens: 45
  • Maximum Distance: 35m
  • IPX Rating: 8
  • Batteries: 3 AAA batteries, included
  • Weight: 3.4oz

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  • An excellent basic headlamp
  • The button is very easy to find and use
  • Rugged and durable


  • Quite big
  • Pricey, considering its performance

We’ve included this here as a great example of a basic headlamp. This doesn’t have the power and range of others on this list, but it’s an excellent choice for something more rudimentary. The battery lasts long and it offers decent versatility.

This comes with three separate power modes and a flashing mode. This has a great clickable button, so it’s easy to use when you’re wearing gloves or when you’re a little disoriented. Many other manufacturers don’t pay much attention to this issue, so this is a big plus point here. It’s rugged and durable, but it is bigger than most others on this list. Considering its average performance, this is pricey.


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  • Maximum Lumens: 500
  • Maximum Distance: 80m
  • IPX Rating: 8
  • Batteries: 1 700mAh rechargeable battery, included
  • Weight: 2.8oz

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  • Very robust and rugged.
  • Comes with four brightness modes
  • Sits close to the head
  • Good battery life


  • It’s a basic build – but that said, it does all the basics well

This headlamp comes with a lifetime guarantee, which is an indication of how rugged and robust it is – this really is a strong model, great for harsh conditions. This comes with four separate brightness modes, a floodlight, and a spotlight.

It also sits very close to the head, so it’s not too clunky and it’s good for trail running. The battery life here is pretty good. The build is basic and non-fancy but that’s the only flaw here.

9. Zebralight H600w Mk IV Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 1400
  • Maximum Distance: 121m
  • IPX Rating: 8
  • Batteries: Rechargeable
  • Weight: 4.5oz

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  • Very sturdy and hardcore
  • Six lighting levels
  • The highest lumen range and the highest distance on this list
  • If you want something super-bright and super-strong, this is your pick


  • Heavy
  • The battery isn’t included
  • Very expensive compared to some others on this list

If you want the brightest, farthest-reaching headlamp, this is it. It’s a high-performance model that has a huge lumen rating along with a very impressive reach. It’s also super robust and sturdy, making it perfect for hardcore trips.

It comes with six lighting levels but no night-vision setting, so it’s not great for campsite use (though the lowest light level shouldn’t seriously interfere with anyone’s sleep). It’s the most expensive item on this list, but it’s worth the outlay considering how rugged it is. It’s a little heavy compared to others on this list and the battery pack isn’t included.

10. LED Lenser MH10 Headlamp


  • Maximum Lumens: 600
  • Maximum Distance: 150m
  • IPX Rating: 4
  • Batteries: 1 AAA battery (included) – but can also be used with rechargeable batteries.
  • Weight: 5.6oz

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  • Excellent performance in terms of both lumens and range
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable


  • Heavy
  • Very Expensive

This has three settings: low, mid, and high. The switch on this one is easily accessible, which sets it slightly apart from some others – many headlamps have annoyingly user-unfriendly switches.

It also has a rear light, so you can be seen from behind. This could be useful when trail running. The battery life here is very good. It’s very heavy and very expensive compared to most other headlamps.

Headlamp for Hiking Buying Guide

Hiker wears a headlamp

If you’re new to the headlamp game, you might not know what to look for. (A hiking headlamp is also a great gift for the hiker in your life) Here are some things to be aware of:

Beam Distance

If you want to use your headlamp for navigation and trail-finding, you want a headlamp that has a good beam distance. If you only want to use your headlamp for accessing your pack, finding camp toilets, and reading a book, beam distance doesn’t matter so much.

It’s important here to remember that, the brighter and longer the beam, the bigger the drain on battery life.


Man holds a hiking headlamp

Every single ounce of pack weight makes all the difference.

A heavier headlamp also feels heavier when it’s on your head. And if you’re wearing it for a while, that’s not a pleasant feeling.

Headlamps can range from anywhere between 1oz to 15oz, so there are huge differences across the market.


You need to make sure your headlamp is comfortable. If it isn’t, you won’t enjoy having it on your head! This is especially important if you’re planning to use your headlamp for long-term night-time hiking.

If you’re buying online, make sure you go for one that’s reputed for being comfortable.

Straps and comfort

Female hiker uses a headlamp

Most headlamps come with one strap that goes around the circumference of the head. Others also include a strap that runs across the head for extra security. This can be useful, but it’s only really necessary for trail running or other similarly-intense types of exercise.

Can I Use A Headlamp For Running?

Runner wears a headlamp

Yes, but you should only use certain types of headlamp when you run. If you’re looking for a lamp from this list that you want to use for running in addition to hiking, go for a lightweight headlamp with good weight distribution and good visibility.

Remember too that this list is largely a collection of headlamps which are good for hiking!

Brightness – How Many Lumens Do I Need In A Headlamp?

Obviously an important consideration. Again, it depends on why you’re using your headlamp. If you are using the lamp as a navigational device in the dark, you want at least 200 lumens.

If you just want something basic and rudimentary for camping and reading, anything from 25-150 should be enough.

It’s important here to note that headlamps often offer more than one type of illumination. These can include:

  • Beam: this is the standard lighting state and the longest shaft of light offered by the particular lamp. A beam is typically a long, narrow shaft of light. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘spot’. As mentioned, beam distance can play an important role.
  • Floodlight: this setting casts a wide, but shorter, net of light in front of the lamp. A floodlight is better for making things clearer, in comparison to a beam.
  • Colored light: some headlamps offer blue, green, and red light, which can be softer. These are good for night-time bathroom trips, as they aren’t as harsh to the eyes. They’re also good for reading, as they don’t disturb fellow campers as much as bright white light. Generally speaking, a red light mode is better for reading. Red light is also used for night vision. Blue light is good for seeing through the fog (and reading maps). Greenlight can be used for hunting.
  • Strobe lights: these are useful in emergencies, as they draw attention.

Water Resistance And Cold Weather Performance

It’s important that your torch can fight against at least mild weather conditions.

Water resistance is rated on an IP scale. IPX0 offers no water protection at all. IPX8 can withstand prolonged water immersion. Anything of IPX4 or above should be capable of handling rain and snow, which is all most hikers need.

Most torches can withstand cold weather, but many batteries can’t. Traditional alkaline batteries aren’t great at working in the cold, so if you’ll be using your torch in cold conditions, opt for lithium batteries – or a torch with a rechargeable battery pack.

It’s also important to note that cold weather drains all types of batteries quicker than warmer weather, even when the lamp isn’t being used. For that reason, you should keep your headlamp somewhere warm, such as inside a pair of thermal socks, or next to the heat of your body.

What Are My Battery Options With A Headlamp?

Most headlamps run from AAA batteries, which can be either lithium or alkaline. These typically slide into the back of the headlamp.

Other headlamps have a separate rechargeable battery. These can be a little pricier, but more reliable.

Other torches offer a hybrid between the two for a really reliable, foolproof approach.

Headlamp Battery Life

All headlamps have stated battery life. This battery life is a good indication of how your headlamp will perform. But be aware that this stated battery life is how long your lamp will perform in optimum conditions, at the lowest light setting, so the figure can be misleading.

For this reason, we haven’t listed statistical battery life information in our reviews. Instead, we’ve simply commented on whether or not the battery life is good or bad.

You should ensure that your battery life will be longer than the amount of time you’re going to be spending in the darkness – you don’t want to be stranded without sufficient light.

The best thing you can do to preserve battery life is to only use the light you need to use. When digging around in your backpack, for example, you don’t need to be blasting the light at the headlamp’s maximum light output.

Our top pick is the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp. It’s an excellent all-rounder. It’s lightweight, it’s reliable and you won’t find better at the price point. For a good mid-range headlamp, it’s the best on the market.

But whichever headlamp you pick from this list, they’re all great quality. Your next favorite headlamp is somewhere among them!

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