Best Headlamps of 2022: Hands-Free Lighting for Your Next Camping Trip

Family wearing headlamps


Any list of the best camping gear is incomplete without headlamps. Sure, you could always use a regular flashlight or lantern on your next camping trip, but headlamps have some distinct advantages.

For one, they keep your hands free so you can wash your camp dishes, set up your tent, or handle any other needed camping tasks once it gets dark. without needing to adjust your lighting Plus, a quality headlamp often lasts longer than most traditional flashlights.

Camping headlamps are also lightweight, comfortable to wear, and harder to lose than regular flashlights. Many campers and backpackers keep them around their necks at night so they don't have to fumble around in their tent looking for a flashlight when nature calls in the middle of the night.

Whether you're heading out for serious backpacking adventures or you're just getting into car camping, a top-rated headlamp is worth adding to your camping arsenal. Fortunately, you're in the right place to learn more about choosing a good headlamp and about finding some of the best headlamps on the market right now.

So, let's light ‘em up!

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The Best Headlamps - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall - Petzl Bindi Ultralite Headlamp

Petzl Bindi Ultralite Headlamp

SPECS

  • Size: 2" x 2" x 2"
  • Weight: 1.2 oz.
  • Max lumens: 200
  • Distance: Up to 36m
  • Power source: 680 mAh rechargeable battery (included)
  • Burn time: Up to 50 hours
  • Type of strap: Adjustable cord
  • Modes: Proximity, movement, distance, red light
  • Waterproof: IPX4 (resistant to water splashes from any direction)

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In addition to being one of the lightest headlamps around, the Petzl Bindi Ultralite Headlamp is also reasonably affordable. It's versatile enough to be used for hiking, camping, running, canoeing, or just about any other outdoor pursuit you can imagine.

This ultralight headlamp sports four different lighting modes and comes with a rechargeable battery. It also boasts two lock functions to prevent it from accidentally turning on in your pocket or your hiking pack.

It's designed to be adjustable on your head, but can also be worn comfortably around your neck. When worn around your neck, the LED can be tilted upwards to make it easier to see what's in front of you.

What We Like

  • It's super lightweight and affordable
  • The adjustable cord won't lose elasticity over time
  • It's less bulky so it can be worn around your neck when you climb into your camping tent

What We Don't Like

  • The adjustable cord may pinch hair or head more than a traditional headband
  • Only has a two-hour run time on max power

BUY: Petzl Bindi Ultralite Headlamp

Best Rechargeable Headlamp - Ledlenser MH11 Rechargeable Headlamp

Ledlenser MH11 Rechargeable Headlamp

SPECS

  • Size: 5.91" x 3.35" x 4.72"
  • Weight: 6.3 oz.
  • Max lumens: 1000
  • Distance: Up to 320m
  • Power source: Rechargeable lithium ion batteries
  • Burn Time: Up to 100 hours
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband with over-the-top strap
  • Modes: Boost, high, medium, low, red light
  • Waterproof: IP54 (weatherproof(water and dust resistant)

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If you're looking for a rechargeable headlamp that very well might last for a decade or more, the Ledlenser MH11 is a solid choice. While it's on the expensive side, it's also more durable and offers more features than most of the other headlamps on this list.

Those features include multicolored LEDs and an advanced focus system that allows you to adjust the beam from a widely fo cused spotlight to a narrowly f ocused beam for long-distance visibilityvisibility. The headlamp also connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can make adjustments and save settings without having to fumble with the light’s tactile controls.

It also recharges via a magnetic cable and includes technology to automatically adjust the light output according to the lighting conditions. This isprevents the the annoying glare at sunrise and sunset. And did we mention it offers a boost mode at 1,000 lumens? That'sT nearly twice the max lumens of the closest competitor on this list!

What We Like

  • Comes with a metal clip to provide multiple fastening options
  • Offers multicolor LEDs in red, green, and blue
  • It's rechargeable and includes a battery status indicator

What We Don't Like

  • Pricier
  • It's a bit bulky

BUY: Ledlenser MH11 Rechargeable Headlamp

Best Running Headlamp - Black Diamond Sprint 225

Black Diamond Sprint 225

SPECS

  • Size: 3.3" x 1.75" x 1.5"
  • Weight: 2 oz.
  • Max lumens: 225
  • Distance: Up to 42m
  • Power source: Rechargeable lithium ion batteries
  • Burn time: Up to 20 hours
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband
  • Modes: Full-strength, dimmed, strobe
  • Waterproof: IPX4

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Whether you are big on trail running or just like to get out on the roads near your house a few times a week, a running headlamp is smart when the sun isn't at its full height. It even features a triple-LED battery meter to help you ensure you don't run out of juice in the middle of your next run.

The flood LEDs on this headlamp are designed to light up the trail or road immediately in front of you, but the light can be dimmed if you aren't using it to spot upcoming obstacles. It offers Brightness Memory to remember the last light mode you were using when you turned it off.

The Spring 225 is also equipped with a multifaceted optical lens that makes it more efficient than previous designs. That lens is what allows it to provide plenty of life and run time, despite its lower lumen rating.

What We Like

  • Low-profile design with a three-hour charge time (via USB)
  • Vari-width headband is designed to stay in place on intense runs
  • Allows you to adjust LED brightness with the tap of a finger

What We Don't Like

  • Lower lumen rating
  • Shorter beam distance

BUY: Black Diamond Sprint 225

Best Headlamp for Hiking - Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

SPECS

  • Size: 5.51" x 5.12" x 1.77"
  • Weight: 33 oz.
  • Max lumens: 3350
  • Distance: Up to 8080m
  • Power source: Rechargeable core battery and compatible with AAA batteries
  • Burn time: Up to 400 hrs
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband
  • Modes: Max, sstandard, eeco, r, red nnear, s, strobe
  • Waterproof: IPX4 (weatherproof

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For those hikes when you want to get an early start or might not be getting back to the trailhead until after dark, the Petzl Actik Core headlamp should be in your pack.

This headlamp offers a mix of flat and concentrated light that makes it easier for you to perceive the depth of upcoming objects when you're moving down the trail. It also offers a red light mode for reading in your tent or washing the dishes without ruining your eyes' night vision.

It also includes a strobe feature and the ability to run for up to 400 hours, depending on the mode. The headlamp's low weight also means it doesn't add unnecessary pounds to your hiking backpack on long-distance treks.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and affordable
  • Versatile selection of beams
  • Eco mode to conserve battery power

What We Don't Like

  • Core battery is only good for a year or 300 charging cycles
  • No rubber seal on the battery compartment

BUY: Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Best Camping Headlamp - BioLite 330 Headlamp

BioLLite 330 Headlamp

SPECS

  • Size: 3.94" x 2.36" x 4.72"
  • Weight: 2.4 oz.
  • Max lumens: 330
  • Distance: Up to 75m
  • Power source: Rechargeable battery
  • Burn time: Up to 40 hrs
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband
  • Modes: Spot, flood, spot flood combo, red, strobe
  • Waterproof: IPX4 weatherproof

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BioLite makes a lot of cool gear for hiking and camping, but their 330 headlamp is an affordable addition to any camper's arsenal. It's rechargeable via an included micro-USB cable, so you won't have to worry about stocking sorry about staying stocked up one extra batteries.

The headlamp also features a reflective strip on the headband to increase your visibility in low light settings. Plus, it includes easy-adjust clips for quick size changes and a locking button to prevent it from accidentally turning on when it's stored away with the rest of your camping gear.

What We Like

  • The articulating bezel to help you angle the beam
  • Easy to adjust the size of the headband
  • Moisture-wicking strap for comfort on hot days

What We Don't Like

  • Headband may stretch over time
  • May be susceptible to corrosion in humid environments

BUY: BioLite 330 Headlamp

Best Headlamp for Fishing - Ledlenser MH10 Rechargeable Headlamp

Ledlenser MH10 Rechargeable Headlamp

SPECS

  • Size: 8.07" x 4.53" x 2.76"
  • Weight: 5.6 oz.
  • Max lumens: 600
  • Distance: Up to 150m
  • Power source: Rechargeable lithium ion batteries
  • Burn time: Up to 120 hrs
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband
  • Modes: High, medium, low
  • Waterproof: IPX4 (weatherproof

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Ledlenser's MH10 is the little brother of the MH11. It makes a. Its waterproof rating and ingress protection rating make it great fishing headlamp. Not only is it protected against splashing water, but it also boasts a high degree of protection against dust and dirt ingress.

This headlamp also features a red tail light to keep you visible from all angles when you stay out fishing past dusk or get started before dawn. The light itself is mounted on a pivoting mechanism, which allows you to adjust the beam angle as needed.

You'll also enjoy a front switch on the top of the headlamp for easy on-off and added color filters for various uses. Finally, this headlamp comes with a detachable battery case that allows you to take only the battery in for recharging and leave the rest of the headlamp securely in your backpack.

What We Like

  • Focus system to go from a wide spotlight to a narrow, concentrated beam
  • Temperature control to prevent overheating
  • Transportation lock prevents accidental use

What We Don't Like

  • It's on the heavier side
  • It's larger than most

BUY: Ledlenser MH10 Rechargeable Headlamp

Best Budget Headlamp - Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp

Black Diamond Astro 300

SPECS

  • Size: 4" x 3" x 2"
  • Weight: 2.65 oz.
  • Max lumens: 300
  • Distance: Up to 55m
  • Power source: AAA alkaline batteries (included); compatible with Black Diamond 1500 mAh rechargeable battery (not included)
  • Burn time: Up to 140 hrs
  • Type of strap: Adjustable headband
  • Modes: High, medium, low
  • Waterproof: IPX4

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If you're looking for a cheap headlamp as a beginner or for the kids, the Astro 300 is an excellent option. This lightweight headlamp is easy to use and won't break the bank if you only use it during the camping season.

It features Brightness Memory that recalls the setting you were using when you last turned it off and reverts back to that setting the next time you power it up. Plus, the varying brightness levels allow you to extend the headlamp's run time when you don't need a really bright output.

One problem with many headlamps is getting turned on when they're being stored in your backpack or pocket. That's why Black Diamond included a lockout feature that prevents those accidents and preserves your headlamp's battery life.

What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Multiple battery/power solutions
  • Lockout feature to prevent accidental use

What We Don't Like

  • No red light mode
  • Requires buying/carrying backup batteries or purchasing separate rechargeable battery

BUY: Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp

How to Choose a Headlamp

Headlamp selection isn't overly complicated, but these are the most important factors. In some respects, you can prioritize these factors according to your preferences to find the right headlamp for you.

Lumens

A lot of people look at a headlamp's max lumens rating and assume that more is always better. While a higher lumens rating generally means a stronger light and more visibility, it also reduces a headlamp's run time.

You're better off looking at the specific lumen rating for each lighting mode and the corresponding run time for that mode. That will give you the best idea of how much light a headlamp will provide in various settings, as well as how long it'll last before needing to be recharged or having the batteries replaced.

Rechargeable vs. AAA Batteries

Most headlamp brands use rechargeable batteries these days. They eliminate the need to carry extra batteries with you, as long as you keep your headlamp fully charged before each trip.

The problem with rechargeable headlamps on extended backpacking trips is the inability to charge them if you're not carrying a portable battery bank. That's why some long-distance hikers still rock a headlamp powered by AAA batteries.

That said, the weight of carrying a compact portable battery bank can sometimes be less than the weight of all the batteries you'd need to complete your trip. That's a calculation you should make before selecting the best headlamp for your needs.

Light Modes

Having multiple light modes will give you flexibility when using your headlamp in various settings. Most people don't enjoy being blinded by a super bright headlamp when they simply ask you to pass the S'mores supplies to the other side of the campfire.

That's when a low light or even a red light mode comes in handy, but more lighting modes just mean more versatility in general. For what it's worth, a headlamp with a red light mode is also good for preserving your night vision, as it takes your eyes less time to adjust back to the natural light from a red light than from a brighter LED.

Weight

At the end of the day, you'll have to be comfortable with the weight you place on your head. It's different from carrying a regular flashlight around, but most headlamps are reasonably lightweight to minimize the added annoyance.

If you're only using your headlamp for car camping or RV camping, you probably won't notice the difference between three and six ounces. If you're backpacking, mountaineering, or engaging in other activities that require you to carry the weight around even, those extra ounces add up quickly.

Additional Considerations

Some of the other features that we look for in the best headlamps include the level of water resistance, the ability to regulate its light output, and whether or not it can be tilted to different angles.

Water resistance is measured by ingress protection ratings (IPXX). The first number after IP denotes ingress protection against dirt and debris and the second represents moisture protection. The maximum rating on this widely used scale is a 6 for both dust and moisture protection.

A headlamp that offers regulated output generally conserves battery power better than others. It also reduces glare and unnecessary light output depending on the external lighting conditions.

Finally, the ability to tilt your headlamp may or may not seem like a big deal to you.

When you're using it a lot, however, it may become the difference between straining your neck or having to periodically constantly adjust your LED's angle by hand.

FAQs About Headlamps


Now that you're familiar with some of the best headlamps out there, let's address some common questions about top-rated headlamps.

How many lumens do I need for my headlamp?

Most campers and hikers will do fine with a headlamp with 300 lumens. More lumens will provide more brightness and usually longer beam distance, but more lumens also lead to decreased run time.

What is the highest quality headlamp?

There are many headlamp brands out there these days. For your money, brands like Petzl, Black Diamond, BioLLite, and Ledlenser are consistently producing some of the highest quality headlamps on the market.

Are headlamps worth it?

Absolutely! While the best headlamps can cost more than a traditional flashlight, they are worth it because they are compact, long-lasting, lightweight, and can illuminate your campsite while keeping your hands free to cook, clean, play the guitar, or do anything else you like to do when you go camping.

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