What you need to look for before you buy the best camping headlamps
If you go out camping in the wild, you will realise how important your headlamp could be. Those of us who like to hike at night agree that a headlamp is a must-have item. You do not want to keep flopping in the dark, trying to find your way around the campsite. When you want to buy a headlamp, the wide range of choices you will have might seem to be too overwhelming at first. This guide will help you choose the best headlamp that will be suited to your specific needs.
The beam distance and pattern
Beam distance is the length (usually in meters) that your headlamp light can reach. Naturally, if you are out camping in the woods, you will need a headlamp that has a higher beam distance. It enables you to see further in your surrounding and this is a very important aspect if you are hiking or running at night. Headlamps come with two main beam patterns.
The flood pattern casts a wide beam of light over your campsite. You are able to see much further and in a larger radius with this beam pattern. Normally, many headlamps that have a flood beam also have a feature that allows you to reduce the light brightness to suit whatever activity you may be doing.
The focused/spot beam is essential for when you want to focus your light on one area. This is important when doing chores around the campsite as it is able to give you more light over a longer distance.
What kind of activities do you usually engage in at night while camping? Some of us prefer a relaxed evening reading a book in our tents while others prefer going out for a night run. Depending on the activity and level of activity, choices of headlamps may vary.
For instance, if you go out kayaking or canoeing at night, you will need a headlamp that is bright enough and waterproof as well. When running, hiking, or rock climbing at night, you can choose a headlamp that fits comfortably on your head, hands-free.
Shopping by weight
Headlamps weigh different and you should choose one that syncs with whatever activities you will be doing at the campsite. For instance, if you will be engaging in a lot of physical activities, you might want to consider buying a headlamp that is not too heavy. Make sure that it fits snugly and comfortably on your head. It can be a real bother to have the lamp bouncing up and down on your head as you run. Most headlamps weigh between 2 ounces to not more than 15 ounces.
Lightweight options may sound great but they usually do not pack as much power as the heavier ones do. However, they work well for whatever purpose you have in mind, as long as you operate under their runtime. Nowadays companies are coming up with better designs to allow heavier headlamps to stay put with straps on your head. If you are looking to use the lamp for extended periods of time, a heavier, stronger lamp might be a better fit for you.
Shopping by brightness and light mode options
Most headlamps offer you at least two brightness options: high and low brightness. Others go a level extra to offer you so many variations and options, giving you absolute control over the kind of brightness you want. Some also contain a red light, which works great when you want to do things around the camp but does not want to disturb other people.
The high mode offers the highest level of brightness and its good if you will be exploring very dark places. However, this mode will surely drain out your battery if you keep it on for too long. The low option gives you just enough light to see your very immediate surrounding. It’s a good mode when you are taking a short walk and want to illuminate just a few steps along your way. Other headlamps also offer a medium option which as the name suggests, gives just enough light, not too bright and not too shallow.
The level of brightness in a headlamp is determined by the number of lumens the lamp has. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter will the lamp be.
Battery type and run time
Most headlamps are powered by the standard AAA or AA batteries. This is a handy feature as it means that whenever your light goes out, you can just pop in these replacement batteries and you will be good to go in a minute. There are lamps that use rechargeable batteries as well and these are good because they are re-usable. Just make sure you have a way to charge them because if you do not and the battery drains out, you will be having a pretty much nonfunctional headlamp.
The best options are the headlamps that come equipped with both rechargeable capabilities and the capacity to use standard batteries. They give you more power options and guarantee you do not have to worry about the lamp going off as you can switch between these options as you see fit.
Many headlamps will list their running time when the batteries are fully charged. This is an important feature because it allows you to plan your activities accordingly to prevent cases of the headlamp dying out when you need it most. It’s an indication of how many hours your batteries are going to last depending on the different light modes you will use. Naturally, the high mode setting will drain these batteries much faster.
Waterproof, kid-friendly and other features
Waterproof headlamps are critical if you will be heading to camp in bad weather conditions. In some cases, the weather changes unexpectedly and it would not hurt to be well prepared in advance. Not all headlamps are kid-friendly and when you are heading to camp with your kids, explore those that are kid-friendly.
Other features you may consider include the tilt and position of the battery. For instance, some headlamps place these batteries at the back of the head to reduce the strain on your forehead. Tilt allows you to move the lamp at an angle to fit your lighting needs.
Top 10 Best Camping Headlamps
When you go camping, you always try to look for innovative ways to make your life easier in the woods. Headlamps allow us to be hand-free to do operations around the camp or in the running trails.
They come in a variety of options and it can be tough to decide which one to buy for your next camping trip. Choices may vary from one person to another, depending on the purpose for which you need the headlamp. In this article, we sample our best picks for headlamps you can use the next time you venture into the woods.
Quick Comparison table
|1.||Petzl Actik Core Headlamp||4.7||AAA/ CORE Rechargeable||450||5.6 oz|
|2.||Fenix HL60R 950 Lumen headlamp||4.5||Li-ion rechargeable||950||10.4 oz|
|3.||Black Diamond Spot headlamp||4.6||AAA||300||5.0 oz|
|4.||Princeton Tec Apex Pro||4.0||Lithium Rechargeable||550||9.9 oz|
|5.||Vont ‘Spark’ Headlamp||4.8||AAA||200||3 oz|
|6.||The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160||4.5||AAA||160||4 oz|
|7.||The Biolite 330 Lumen Headlamp||4.7||Rechargeable||330||4.2 oz|
|8.||Pretzl Tikkina||4.8||AAA/Rechargeable||300||4.0 oz|
|9.||The Slonik 1000 Lumen headlamp||4.6||Rechargeable||1000||4.1 oz|
|10.||Lighthouse Beacon (Outdoor Pro)||4.4||AA||1000||5.6 oz|
1. Best rechargeable headlamp
Price: approx £35
Batteries: Rechargeable/AAA batteries
Weight: 5.6 oz.
The Good: Light-weight, rechargeable and very bright
The Bad: Battery drains fast on high beam and the price could be better.
The Petzl Actik Core Headlamp is constantly rated as one of the best camping headlamps out there and for good reason. The long-lasting rechargeable battery puts other lamps to shame. You can easily charge the lamp via USB. It has a 450 maximum lumen output, ensuring that your light stays bright enough without dimming till the end.
The AAA batteries’ compatibility gives you options. When you cannot charge the main lithium battery for some reason, you can still pop in 3 AAA batteries and you are good to go. It’s an important tool for close detail lighting around the camping site.
2. Most bright headlamp
Price: Approx £70
Batteries: Li-ion Rechargeable
Weight: 10.4 oz.
The Good: Very bright with 5 modes and a red light
The Bad: Its heavy and pricey
If you are looking for more brightness, consider going for the Fenix HL60R 950 Lumen headlamp. The wide beam spans to 116 meters, and the battery power can last close to 100 hours. The headlamp is relatively waterproof, meaning you do not have to worry about it dying on you if you are exploring high-altitude and wet areas.
Charging is done through a micro-USB and the battery is easily removable, allowing you to replace it with a fully charged one quickly. This is one headlamp that will come in handy for all your hands-free operations in and out of your camping site.
3. Best budget-friendly headlamp
Price: Approx £30
Weight: 5.0 oz.
The good: Light-weight, good for its price
The Bad: Non-rechargeable and not ideal for close detail lighting
A good, budget-friendly headlamp that is popular among outdoor lovers is the Black Diamond Spot headlamp. It is a pretty simple headlamp, with a single button for all its operations. However, it is a perfect companion when you are heading out for your running/walking escapades. The 300-lumen brightness is enough the illuminate your path and surrounding for a long time.
Although it has been meshed up to be water-resistant, the battery component is still exposed. This means should the lamp fall in the water, you will still need to open the battery compartment and let the batteries dry out to avoid corrosion.
4. Best headlamp for cold weather
Price: Approx £80
Weight: 9.9 oz.
The good: Waterproof, light-weight, bright.
The Bad: Replacing the batteries is expensive
The waterproof housing on this headlamp is a game-changer for people who go camping in winter or extreme weather conditions. The lamp has been designed with professional runners in mind and the overhead strap keeps it in check as you run in the dark.
You do not have to worry about it breaking down or the light dying on you soon. When you are using a spot high brightness module, you get a beam of up to 122 meters with a 4-hour run-time. This is the brightest and you still have 4 more light modes to choose from. It can survive immersion in water for up to 1m for 30 minutes.
5. Best Headlamp for Hunting
Price: Approx £12
Weight: 3 Oz
The good: Bright, light, practical, long-lasting
The Bad: Non rechargeable
Campers who love venturing into the bush to hunt will fall in love with this headlamp. The long-lasting battery (allowing over 90 hours of life) gives you the chance to stalk and wait-out your prey without worrying about light dimming or going out.
You have 7 modes, which are important in controlling the amount of light you need when you need it. The 45 degrees’ tilt prevents your neck from straining too much and the sturdy but comfy, water-proof design makes this light the preferred choice of many hunters and the police forces.
6. Best headlamps for kids
Price: Approx £14
Weight: 4 Oz
The good: light-weight, easy to use, long-lasting, water-proof
The Bad: Not too bright. It cannot light up the whole campsite.
Kids are adventurous and they love playing around the campsite at night. The headlamp you should get for them should be comfortable, strong, and almost indestructible. If it can crash, chances are that it will. The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 was designed with kids in mind. It has elastic, breakaway straps that make it a breeze to put on or off.
The water-resistant feature comes in handy when you are camping in the cold, or when the weather changes unexpectedly. They are lightweight and comfortable, allowing the kids to go about their business without the lamp getting in their way.
7. Best Overall Camping Headlamp
Price: Approx £55
Weight: 4.2 Oz
The good: Great price for its functionality
The Bad: No option for Alkaline battery as a backup
This is one headlamp that checks almost every box we have used to sample camping headlamps. It’s a simple, well-designed, and sturdy headlamp. The designers incorporated 3D technology to ensure that the headlamp has a slim-fit style on your head without compromising on comfort.
The batteries are rechargeable via USB and with a guaranteed running time of 40 hours. The strap is made of a fabric that wicks your moisture and keeps your body cool and dry all the time. This is a headlamp that is ready to go for anything you have in mind when camping.
8. Best headlamp for running
Price: Approx $30
Weight: 4 oz
The good: Light-weight, comfortable
The Bad: You have to purchase the rechargeable battery separately
Runners, joggers, and hikers love spending some time doing their thing at night. To keep yourself safe, you need a headlamp that can light up the running trails and your surrounding effectively. You also need a lamp that does not keep slipping down your face every time you take a step.
The Petzl Tikkina would be a great headlamp to carry with you when you are doing your running. With 300 lumens, it lights up your path effectively, throwing wide beams with the white and red color options available. Its light-weight and comfortable to wear.
9. Best headlamp for reading at night
Price: Approx £70
Weight: 4.1 oz
The good: Long lasting, bright enough with several light modes
The Bad: To guarantee full functionality and make the lighting last long, you need to fully charge the lamp first.
There might not be much activity going on at night in your campsite, especially if you are in a place where they have noise restrictions. It would be a good idea to indulge in a good book. Although many of the headlamps reviewed here would also work well as reading lamps, you might need to have a dedicated lamp for reading if you do it often.
The Slonik 1000 Lumen headlamp is a perfect reading lamp. You have several light modes to prevent straining your eyes. You dim or brighten as you see fit.
The batteries are long-lasting, allowing you to read throughout the night if need be, without asking to be recharged. You get a 90 degrees swivel angle with this lamp as well and the brightness is enough to allow you to do other things around the camp.
10.Best Headlamp for spot lighting
Price: Approx £26
Weight: 5.6 oz
The good: Very bright, zoomable
The Bad: Bulky, not easy to store
When you have the lighthouse beacon, you might not need to carry a flashlight with you. The headlamp is super bright and it has some innovative designs that make it very practical.
For instance, the light has a magnifying glass, creating a wider beam and more brightness. You can also zoom in or go wide depending on your preferences. It is also water-resistant.