Whether you’re a night-time runner, camper, hiker, or any other outdoor enthusiast, a headlamp is a must-have safety tool. With this useful piece of gear, you’ll never be caught in low-light conditions. Your headlamp will light up your path in the dark, serving as an emergency light.
Fortunately, there is a wide array of options when it comes to buying a headlamp. With so many overwhelming choices, it's obvious to feel confused and end up making a wrong selection.
But given that a headlamp is a critical safety tool, you need to pick a reliable and best headlamp. So, you can have more fun after dark while staying safe.
In this blog, we’re going to make your search easier by discussing criteria for the best headlamps for features, comfort, long battery life and a waterproof headlamp.
Let’s explore together:
#1 Brightness: Lumens You Need
When it comes to buying headlamps, the first thing that comes to our mind is how bright the lamp is. And the light output depends on the number of lumens. Higher lumens mean brighter light.
Most mid- to high-level headlamps hover in the 200-350 range. This should provide sufficient beam type as well as light output for common everyday uses. But if you’re looking for an ultra-bright headlamp, then look for around 900+ lumens.
It’s important for buyers to know that manufacturers advertise their products by their max lumens. But people generally use lower brightness settings for low light output to save battery life.
We encourage you to scale back the bright beam of a headlamp according to the purpose. Still, the brightest headlamp often needs more or larger batteries, regardless of the lumen count you’re using. This can make your brightest headlamp a little bulkier and heavier outdoor gear.
#2 Hours of Battery Life
Of course, you want a headlamp with prolonged hours of battery life. The battery power spec mentioned on the packaging can serve as a helpful indicator of hours of battery life. But it's not foolproof. Various factors, such as temperature, brightness, strobe use, impact battery power.
It’s also important to know that some headlamps provide near-constant brightness throughout their lifetime. On the other hand, the majority of headlamps lag in brightness as their battery life dwindles.
These days, many manufacturers provide better clarity on the specs of the battery pack with a chart that lists runtime by lumen level as well as the max beam distance.
You can always increase the number of hours of battery life by adjusting the brightness of your headlamp as and when needed. For example, if you notice any wild animals around your camp, consider using the highest setting.
Use the lowest setting to organize your tent from the inside on your camping trip. Fortunately, most headlamps feature a battery life reader so that it’s always in check.
#3 Rechargeable vs. Single-Use Batteries
These days headlamps with rechargeable batteries are ruling over standard batteries. It's because rechargeable headlamps mostly use a lithium battery, making them great for long-distance efforts. So, you don't need to lug an extra battery pack.
The rechargeable battery option has now become an affordable pick. Such headlamps often come with a battery indicator around the battery compartment. So, you can know when it's time to recharge your battery before it drains out, leaving you in the dark. Most of these are USB rechargeable batteries.
What’s more, rechargeable batteries save the item weight you may have to lug around a large battery pack of AAA. You’ll enjoy consistent brightness levels with one charge, increased versatility, and higher lumen ratings with the rechargeable option.
In addition, there is no need to deal with multiple extra standard batteries with a rechargeable headlamp.
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with things like alkaline batteries, disposable batteries, flood lights, etc., to make sure you buy a brighter light as per needs.
#4 Lighting Modes
You'll find many headlamps that enable users to scroll through different lighting modes as per their needs. A spot or beam of light is a long, narrow beam of concentrated light. It’s suitable when you’ve to peer into the dark trees.
A proximity light spreads the wide beam across a wide area. Some headlamps come with both a proximity and beam light, each with a pre-set brightness.
#5 Beam Color
Headlamps often feature multi-color LEDs, and the most common lighting options are red, green, blue, and white. These colors also affect the light quality when you are on backpacking trips.
This is one of the most common lighting options. Red-colored headlamps are perfect for preserving your night vision. It’s because the red light doesn’t oversaturate your rods, and they still work when you turn off the light. In fact, red light is considered to be better than other options.
It's because red light lets you keep a super-low profile and reduces glare. It’s also clinically proven to improve your peripheral vision by filtering the light’s wavelength.
It’s better for wildlife, and it keeps bugs away because they can’t see it. So, this is a nice feature of red lamps, making them an excellent choice for hunting headlamps because of max output you want.
Dim blue light is rarely seen in headlamps because this color of light may not help you clearly track your trail miles. So, it's not perfect for trail runners. It’s because S-cones absorb the long wavelength and reflect shorter. So, it’s often considered best as mood lighting, and less as outdoor lighting options.
Headlamps with white light are perfect for seeing the most detail. But white light modes can be painful and blinding for humans exposed to it. So, this is a less visible light, making it another less common lighting options.
Green light modes provide easy visibility at dim settings for an outdoor gear. It’s because M- and L-cones are sensitive to green and yellow light.
#6 Waterproof Headlamp
When you're on an outdoor adventure, you might be exposed to rain, dirt, sand, or snow. So, you need waterproof gears, including a waterproof headlamp so that your gear doesn’t get destroyed in water or snow.
Look for a product with water resistance rating - IPX rating - as one of the lamp's special features. Even with this feature, the headlamp should be available at a reasonable price. So, don't forget to check your product for waterproof rating.
Also, you want a product with excellent cold-weather performance when you're in cold conditions. For this purpose, rechargeable headlamp batteries perform better as the mercury drops because these can withstand cold temperatures, unlike alkaline batteries.
Bonus trustworthy gear advice: Even if your headlamp outperforms in all weather conditions and has a waterproof rating, you should store your headlamp in a warm place, like in clothing in your larger battery pack, in cold conditions. This can help save your headlamp's battery life for long periods of time, making it an essential outdoor adventure gear.
#7 Strap Style
When it comes to strap styles, you want a comfortable headlamp with durability as a handy feature. We recommend you choose a headlamp with an adjustable strap for your perfect gear.
For example, NightBuddy™ 230º LED headlamp is outfitted with an adjustable smooth headband. The adjustable headband makes this compact headlamp perfect for any head or helmet size.
Moreover, this is an all-around strong headlamp. This handy feature offers a snug and secure grip, keeping your lamp, whether you're one of the night-time walkers or trail runners as their favorite headlamps.
When choosing a headlamp, don’t forget to consider your choice for activities. Not all lamps are created to be equal and for every purpose. So, choose the one with specs, lumen counts, strap style, and light modes that elevates your overall experience with outdoor activities.
Also, you need a waterproof headlamp that can withstand rain, water, and snow. So, headlamps also make one of the best gifts for travelers.
Hope this guide helps when it comes to headlamp gear picks.
Q1. What is the lumen count for a good headlamp?
Lumen counts for headlamps often ranges between 25 to 1400+ lumens. Typically, 300 lumens are considered for everyday use. In case you need the brightest light, your headlamp's lumen count can reach above 900.
Q2. What should I look for in a running headlamp?
In general, running headlamps should have minimum 200 lumens on its high setting. Lamps with 300+ lumen are considered perfect for trails and starless nights.
Q3. Is red light better than white light?
Yes. As mentioned above, headlamps with red lights are better than white lights. Red light improves the peripheral vision and keeps bugs away. It also improves alertness and covers a wide area with its beam.