More Than Just Lights Strapped to Your Head

The 8 Best Headlamps for Any Adventure

February 10, 2017 Buying Guides By

Keeping your hands free while lighting the trail on your next outdoor adventure is a must. And while that flashlight duct taped to your head might be a wallet-friendly solution, there are much more elegant and functional products out there. When you’re out on the trail at night, whether you planned to be or not, your headlamp becomes the most important part of your kit. You could have the best backpack, or the best hiking boots, but without a headlamp you might as well stay at home. Whether you’re a backcountry skier gearing up for your next heli-skiing trip or just looking to walk the dog at night, these headlamps have you covered.

Nite Ize Inova STS

Most Innovative On/Off Control: Boulder, Colorado-based Nite Ize is known for crafting innovative, outdoor-oriented technologies and the Inova STS headlamp is no exception. The Inova is unique in that it offers a simple touch-activated user interface dubbed Swipe-To-Shine and is also waterproof down to one meter. Swipe-to-shine is an easy interface that works like swiping to unlock your smartphone; one direction for white led, the opposite direction for red. It features one high-power white LED and two red ones to preserve your night vision. Both the red and white LEDs offer five beam modes: high, variable dim, medium, strobe and lockout.

Power Source: 3 AAAs
Max Output: 142 lumens
Max Runtime: 255 hours

Coast FL60

Best Lumen to Price Ratio: Portland, Oregon-based Coast makes some of the brightest and most durable headlamps on the market. The FL60 is one of its latest releases, which pumps out a massive 300 lumens and comes with an IPX4 weatherproof rating. If you aren’t sold on the durability, the FL60 is backed by Coast’s lifetime guarantee.

Power Source: 3 AAAs
Max Output: 300 lumens
Max Runtime: 22 hours

Petzl Actik

Most Reliable: Petzl’s latest headlamp features an easy-to-locate, large push button that toggles the lamp off and on and allows access to a proximity bulb, wider flood light, and a red LED that can operate in solid or strobe mode. The headband comes with a safety whistle attached and can be washed easily after long hikes or runs.

Power Source: 3 AAA’s or Petzl Core
Max Output: 300 lumens
Max Runtime: 80 hours

Black Diamond Icon

Highest Quality: Combining a 500-lumen maximum output with Black Diamond’s durability is a recipe for a great headlamp — thus, the new Icon. If you’re looking for the highest quality at a reasonable price, this is it. IP67 rated, the Icon can be submerged down to 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes and still operate perfectly.

Power Source: 4 AAs
Max Output: 500 lumens
Max Runtime: 200 hours

Princeton Tec Corona

Best Value: When you’re on the last pitch of a snow-covered scramble, you don’t want to worry about your headlamp sliding off of your head. Princeton Tec solves that issue by adding an additional elastic band over the top of the head for added security. The Corona also features eight bright LEDs, which can be lit in a configuration of one, three, five or all eight.

Power Source: 3 AAs
Max Output: 90 lumens
Max Runtime: 70 hours

Fenix HP25R

Most Versatile: Fenix is a well-known flashlight and utility light maker, but it often gets overlooked by people shopping for headlamps. If you are one such shopper, you’ve made a big mistake. The HP25R is a high-powered headlamp with smart features. A dedicated push button for both the flood and spotlights means that you don’t have to fumble through the headlamp’s every setting. A rugged aluminum chassis also helps to shed heat away from your head keeps you cool during extended outdoor activities.

Power Source: 4 AAs
Max Output: 1,000 lumens
Max Runtime: 150 hours

Petzl Nao

Best Technical Innovation: Petzl has long been an innovator when it comes to headlamp technology. Their latest innovation is the Nao. It features reactive lighting that automatically dims or brightens the bulb based on ambient lighting conditions. The Nao also comes readily compatible with Petzl’s proprietary customization software, OS by Petzl, which allows you to custom tune your headlamp to your own specifications from your desktop. You can load your headlamp with a stock profile, or create your own.

Power Source: 2 AAs or Lithium Ion
Max Output: 575 lumens
Max Runtime: 52 hours

Light & Motion Seca 2000 Sport

Brightest: If you ever imagined a headlamp that’s as powerful as the average car headlight, the Light & Motion Seca 2000 Sport is the answer to your prayers. With a blinding 2,000 lumens, the Seca is the perfect headlamp for slaying powder after a long day at the office.

Power Source: Lithium Ion
Max Output: 2,000 lumens
Max Runtime: 6 hours