Best hiking headlamps: If there is one thing that all hikers and avid know and understand, it is the importance of an excellent hiking headlamp. Such a headlamp is marked by the fact that it is lightweight, easy to use, and also extremely bright, with some being waterproof and immunes to falls and other trauma. If you are looking for the best hiking headlamps 2018, you have come to the right place. We have personally tested the items on this list and have provided their advantages and disadvantages.
When it comes to the best hiking headlamps, you must remember that they can not only be used on hiking and camping tours, their hands-free illumination can also be used under many other circumstances. They can be used in the HVAC industry as well as by people who have to work in limited visibility areas. While you can first check out the list of the top hiking headlamps, we have also provided the buying guide just below.
5 Best Hiking Headlamps 2018 to Boost up Your Trekking Experience
Here we present a compact list of some of the best hiking headlamps of 2018 which you should check out if you’re planning for any trekking/hiking later this year for sure. We have made this list after studying some of the top rated hiking headlamps that are currently available for direct purchase. Let’s get started!!
Petzl – REACTIK+ Headlamp 300 Lumens, Bluetooth Enabled
Petzl is one of the foremost manufacturers of hiking and camping gear. The Reactick+ is one of their most recent launches. As the name mentions, this headlamp is capable of providing 300 lumens of brightness. A lumen is a unit of brightness and the thumb rule is that the more lumens such a device is capable of emitting, the brighter it is. The Reactik+ is capable of providing the proprietary Reactive Light Technology which can automatically dim the light and adjust the brightness depending on how much the user needs. The 300-lumen brightness is the maximum.
We did not take it for camping, to be honest. We took it for cave diving, and it worked beautifully. Many readers will know that the Petzl Reactik+ was introduced in 2016 to substitute for the Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp, a fan favorite. One of the added features was the Mixed Beam technology which saved energy and power consumption by using the light from the primary light source and then by adding a light sensor. Being extremely energy efficient, the new headlamp can offer up to 17 hours of backup compared to the Tikka RXP.
As is obvious, the headlamp is armed with Bluetooth and this technology controls the device’s beam pattern and the brightness, as well as the battery burn time. An app which is available on Android and iOS phones control these attributes. Needless to say, these same attributes can also be adjusted manually with the controls located on the headlamp itself. One of the best features of the device is the presence of a rechargeable battery, 1800 mAh Lithium-Ion battery, which also comes with an integrated USB port so that it is recharged easily and on-the-go.
The headband is washable and adjustable, depending on the user. A washable headband is a feature which is common to many entries on this list. The headband is composed of two parts and can be detached. In case you want to conserve your battery, you have three options to choose from: Max Power, Standard and Max Autonomy, the last option being manually adjustable. Choosing any of these battery settings will also let you know how much energy you are consuming and how long the battery will last. The runtime is 2.5 hours in the Max Power mode, 5 hours in the Standard mode, and 10 hours in the last available mode. Incidentally, the brightness sensor works in all the three modes.
The headlamp also has IPX4 rating making it immune to water splashes, but we do not recommend that you go scuba diving with it. Given that it has a red light feature, it can also be used as a night vision device. The fantastic lock feature makes it easily portable in a backpack, where it won’t go off unnecessarily consuming extra battery power. Overall, a must-have for any hiking and running enthusiast.
- Long lasting battery life with adjustable brightness.
- Night vision usage possible.
- Bluetooth-equipped and with rechargeable batteries.
- Lightweight and splash resistant.
- The price tag might prove to be slightly offputting.
- The mobile apps that control the Petzl Reactik+ need overhauling.
- REACTIVE LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY: headlamp automatically adjusts brightness to the needs of the user, offering a maximum of 300 lumens
- ENERGY EFFICIENT: enjoy a longer burn time as the headlamp beam automatically adjusts brightness to the user's specific needs
Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp
Another familiar in this field is the Black Diamond brand which has recently launched its ReVolt headlamp, replacing the older models. It is the lightest headlamp ever manufactured by Black Diamond. This device too can shed a maximum of 300 lumens of light and even in pitch dark conditions, can be a handy accessory. It also offers added features and is more waterproof when compared to its predecessors.
The first thing that struck us when we used it (on a dark camping trail in Wyoming) was the proprietary Programmable Brightness Memory which will remember the level of brightness that was first set by the user and will continue to stay on that level until programmed otherwise. The headlamp comes with three rechargeable AAA batteries and will accept any standard Alkaline or Lithium batteries. There is a catch, however: the company packs three Black Diamond AAA batteries which can be recharged via the USB point. However, only these Black Diamond batteries are rechargeable; the rest will not be recharged in the same manner, such is the way the headlamp has been programmed. This is a major letdown.
Onboard is the double power Red LED which is useful in low-light conditions as night vision. This mode does not put too much stress on the battery and also has proximity and strobe settings. These settings are of massive help when the eye is struggling to see in the darkness. Given that the device can also run on three standard AAA batteries, it is ideal for long distance hikes and camping trips when one is far removed from electricity sources.
When you tun the headlamp on, you will see a three-level power meter which denotes how much power the battery currently holds. This feature is very useful out in the wilderness. While being used for hiking and other allied recreational uses, the light emitted is borne out of one TriplePower LED, a single DoublePower LED, as well as a DoublePower Red LED, all three of which can be controlled can be controlled manually. That said, we found that the light emitted is a bit low compared to the Petzl entry, although it is rated for 300 lumens.
Lastly, when on hikes and camping, the BD ReVolt, which is one of the best hiking headlamps of 2018, will ot disappoint. This model also has the lock feature which prevents it from being activated accidentally. Lightweight and agile, this is easily a very good buy at the price it is being offered.
- Bright and adjustable light.
- Night mode has proximity and strobe settings.
- Programmable brightness settings.
- Durable, as evidenced by our use and many user’s testimonies.
- Rechargeable battery support limited only to batteries manufactured by Black Diamond. Standard rechargeable batteries not supported.
- Splash resistance could have been better.
- One Triple Power LED and 1 Double Power LED can combine to emit up to 300 lumens
- One Double Power Red LED for night vision has proximity and strobe settings
- Low-profile design uses three Black Diamond AAA Rechargeable Batteries or standard alkaline or lithium batteries
Petzl Nao+ Headlamp 750 Lumens, Bluetooth Enabled
Another quality product from Petzl, the Nao+ is different from the previous entry in the sense that it boasts a higher light output and also has proprietary reactive lighting technology, which can automatically change the luminosity and the shape of the beam depending on the brightness as the situation changes. When we were trekking with this item, we were greatly helped by the constant lighting feature which helps in maintaining a steady level of light when in use.
The Petzl Nao+ comes with an impressive 750 lumens of light, making it one of the brightest headlamps. The device is also controllable via Bluetooth as well as by the MyPetzl Light app, which can be used on either Android or iOS platforms. The device also has a 2600 mAh Lithium-Ion battery that can be recharged via a USB port; while being charged, a port charge indicator will glow.
We cannot say that this device does not have good battery life; it can deliver 15 hours of service when in the reactive lighting mode while, at the same time only 8 hours of light when being used in direct or constant lighting mode. To increase the balance of the device, the battery compartment has been placed on the rear of the device. However, in case you want to go for running, you can also attach the battery compartment to your pants. It can also be kept in the jacket pockets; in both instances, the battery life will slightly increase as the ambient temperature will be high. During physical and challenging activities, the headband armed with a strap will be of great use. This is definitely one of the best hiking headlamps of the year.
Like most of the other comparable headlamps, this one too has a lock feature which makes for easier carrying. When using it, we found it was extremely technologically sophisticated, as it detected ambient light very quickly and adjusted the emitted light accordingly.
- Detachable battery pack.
- Constant and reative lighting options
- Great battery backup
- Ideal for demanding physical activities.
- MyPetzl Light app could have been designed better.
- Bluetooth functionality leaves a lot to be desired.
- LONGER BURN TIME: Enhanced visual quality, and reduced to a minimum manual intervention, thanks to the REACTIVE LIGHTING technology. The luminosity and shape of the beam to be adjusted automatically via a brightness sensor to optimize battery life.
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
Black Diamond has yet another entry in this list in the form of the Storm headlamp. Elegantly designed yet compact and very lightweight, this device is ideal for hiking beginners. It is capable of projecting 350 lumens of light which makes it a decent buy. It is also ideal for those users who would want to use it without a rechargeable battery as the Storm is powered by standard AAA batteries.
Aided by a single Quad Power LED as well as one Double Power white LED, the Storm also boasts Red, green and blue (or RGB) Single Power LEDs. These are meant for night vision and they also have dimming and strobe settings. One good thing that we would like to state here is the fact that they can be activated without cycling through white mode, which saves time and energy.
Black Diamond claims that the 4 AAA batteries that power the device are capable of lasting up to 120 hours when being used in the lowest setting while they will last for 40 hours when set in the highest power consumption mode. Onboard is the proprietary PowerTap technology, something that means that the brightness of the headlamp can easily be adjusted by simply tapping on the side of the helmet. A total of eight different lighting modes are available including proximity, distance, and dimming, as well as strobe, as well as the mandatory red, green, and blue. The lock function to safeguard it against accidental lighting is also present which helps in transporting the device.
The best feature of all is the fact that this device is capable of withstanding submersion in water 30 meters deep for up to one minute. It also has a great dustproof nature. A must-have for those who go to the most remote places; just make sure to carry enough batteries with you.
- PowerTap mode allows for instant brightness adjustment
- Very powerful light and comparatively lower battery consumption
- Great waterproofing and dustproof nature
- Does not support rechargeable batteries
- 4 AAA batteries make this device a bit bulky
- 1 Quad Power LED and 1 Double Power white LED emit up to 250 lumens on max setting
- Power Tap Technology allows fast transitioning between full and dimmed power in order to momentarily increase illumination in distance and proximity
Black Diamond Spot Trekking Headlamps
One more item on this list of the best hiking headlamps of 2018 from Black Diamond, often called BD, is the Spot. On this list, the Spot is definitely the lightest and the easiest to use and a personal favorite of many professional campers and hiking specialists. It is capable of emitting 300 lumens of light thanks to the presence of one Quad Power LED beside a single Double Power white LED. Both of them then combine to form this light.
Being light in weight also means that the headlamp will also be ideal for usage by runners. Do not be fooled by its light build and the tiny size, however; it can pack quite a punch thanks to the 80-meter beam spread. To conserve battery power, the Spot has its own brightness memory feature, which lets you enjoy a pre-set light output without having to adjust the brightness manually. This being so adjustable a device, it can also be used inside a mine where the users have to make sure that they are carrying light devices.
Like its bigger cousin, a bit further up on this list, the Spot also boasts the proprietary PowerTap technology, which is ideal when one is climbing or trekking along with a heavy backpack. The Spot runs on 3 AAA batteries and can be programmed for use at night too. Like most of the other headlamps on this list, the Spot also has a battery level indicator (which is handy for situations where the user does not know how much longer the battery is going to last) while the lock feature helps in making it foolproof.
Last but not the least, this device may not have the most advanced headlamp features aboard but it will certainly please the more budget conscious users who would like more bang for their buck. It is considerably lighter than many comparable devices but does not compromise on quality in any manner. For further proof, do remember that the device does have the IPX4 water-resistance rating.
- Excellent light quality
- Adjustable in many respects
- Price-wise, it is pretty attractive
- Ease of use is great.
- Some users have complained of poor build quality
- One Quad Power LED and one Double Power white LED emit 300 lumens
- Settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red night-vision and lock mode
- PowerTap Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
Best Hiking Headlamps of 2018 Buying Guides
When it comes to the best hiking headlamps, certain criteria must be kept in mind before one arrives at a purchase decision. Some of the most important ones have been mentioned below for you.
What will be it used for (Click to Enlarge)
What a headlamp is being used for is something that needs to be taken into account. For example, there are various different types of headlamps which are meant for a variety of purposes. Think of the purpose which you are going for. An ideal example is the weight of the device. If you are going for a trek down caves where visibility is poor and there are several twists and turns, you need to have one with an adjustable headband. In case you are going for a long trek, a lightweight headlamp comes recommended. How much beam area you need and how strong the light beam depends on where you are taking it.
A headlamp vs a Flashlight and a Lantern (Click to Enlarge)
Headlamps are essential because the headlamp is maneuverable, can be charged at regular points of time, and is adjustable. If you feel that the area you are going to is easy to climb, a flashlight just might make the cut. A lantern will help you on a camping trek. Headlamps are greatly beneficial when the users go to areas which require a lot of manual/physical activity, where hands-free light sources are necessary. Just because other people are using a headlamp does not mean that you will need to use it too. Think before you act.
Brightness/Lumens (Click to Enlarge)
How bright a headlamp is important in the sense that the brighter the headlamp is, the more useful it is. Choose the headlamp which boasts the maximum number of lumens, which is the universal measurement of light. However, a headlamp’s lumen levels depend on the brightness that is emitted in only one direction; it might not be the light emitted in a single direction. Buy a headlamp which has a lumen output is somewhere between 50 and 500 lumens. The problem is that the brighter the lamp is, the more rapidly the batteries are extinguished. This might just prove to be the Achilles’ heel of many users; they will need to carry spare batteries making their backpacks heavier.
Battery life and Battery Pack (Click to Enlarge)
The perfect headlamp will not burn through batteries like a lawnmower through a backyard. While most of the modern headlamps run on disposable AAA batteries, there are companies like Petzl which offer their own rechargeable battery packs. This comes handy when the user finds a power outlet. Chances are that many areas will not have any power outlets at all where the users will have to AAA batteries. Buy a headlamp which runs on all manners of AAA batteries; some companies offer recharge capabilities only on their own battery packs.
Water Resistance/IPX (Click to Enlarge)
While it is true that there are no completely waterproof batteries, it is also true that if a headlamp is IPX7 or IPX8 certified, it will be able to stand longer submersions in water. While the IPX7 certification means that it can withstand one meter of water submersion for 30 minutes, the IPX8 is more durable. Most headlamps have IPX4 or IPX5 certification. Hence, choose wisely.
Red Light Feature (Click to Enlarge)
Most modern headlamps nowadays boast of having a red light feature which helps maintain your night vision. Once turned on, it will not disturb your campmates either. Since the white light robs your night vision while constricting your pupils, it is best to have this feature onboard.
Fit/Stability/Balance (Click to Enlarge)
Since a headlamp is meant to be worn on the head, it should be a snug fit without stretching or irritating your scalp. It should be stable with the battery pack ideally located on the rear of the device. Remember that the larger the battery pack is, the bigger the headlamp becomes. It is thus essential that the device you buy be a mix of all the good qualities that make up a quality headlamp. Choose a model with an extensible strap, one that is made preferably out of cotton so it soaks up any sweat. Most importantly, do not be swayed by the brand name itself; many not-so-famous manufacturers also produce decent headlamps.
When buying one of the best hiking headlamps 2018, consider the warranty period that it comes with. Any device that has less than 3 years of warranty is not recommended. This list of such devices is constantly updated, so do keep us bookmarked.
- 5 Best Hiking Headlamps 2018 to Boost up Your Trekking Experience
- Best Hiking Headlamps of 2018 Buying Guides