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Last updated: September 11, 2022
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If you hike throughout a multitude of weather conditions, the best headlamp for hiking should be top of your kit list. An essential piece of gear, these headlamps aren’t just great for hiking purposes but also for those competing in any type of outdoor activity. Such a headlamp can be crucial when you encounter days whereby light quality is poor or for when the night time draws in, and you require increased visibility. They also solve the problem of having to carry a flashlight with you as they allow you access to a range of lighting strengths, all while hands-free.
This review looks at 6 of the best-selling headlamps for hiking that are currently available to purchase on the market. The Ledlenser MH6 ended up being the only best. Focusing our attention on those most essential of features, we highlight the benefits of each model. From factors such as peak beam distance, the number of light colors, battery type and life, to the weight of each headlamp and its ease of use, we’ve picked out those headlamps that guarantee to offer both red and white LEDs for increased practicality for your outdoor events.
The Ledlenser MH6 is the our Editor’s Choice due to its fast focus and crystal-clear visual properties. Incorporated with a patented advanced focus system, this offers the optimal of light transmission and can seamlessly focus on objects near and far. Durable in design, this is a long-lasting headlamp which is also rechargeable. It, therefore, can provide up to 20 hours of light on just one single charge, and the low battery warning light keeps you aware of its level throughout.
Built for the purpose of outdoor activities, this offers both white and red LEDs and an option of three light functions which are also programmable. From power, low power, and defense strobe, the smart light technology included here offers a powerful high performing light throughout its use. Protecting against heavy splashing and rain, the lens is simple to twist to secure an instant light and focus on your intended target area. With a maximum 120-meter range, Ledlenser prides themselves on the quality of craftsmanship that has gone into this most durable of products.
Very light in weight at just 92 grams, the Ledlenser is designed for ease of use and comfort throughout with a wide headband strap which is removable and washable, as well as including a temperature control system throughout to ensure the constant maximum lumen output.
Customers of the Ledlenser MH6 like the option to tilt the light and the ability to immediately focus the beam of the lamp when necessary. Its lightness in weight is also well rated.
Battery life: 2 h (max power mode) to 160 h (max autonomy mode)
IPX rating: IPX4
Warranty: 3-year limited
The PETZL Actik Core is our Best Lightweight Headlamp for Hiking. At a mere 82 grams, this is the lightest of headlamps on the list and therefore fantastic at shining some light on a variety of adventuresome activities. Form hiking and backpacking to mountaineering and cycling, there are two beam patterns here, both wide and mixed, which satisfies the need for some high-performance lighting when outdoors. Offering a maximum output of 95 meters through its 350 lumens, this rechargeable headlamp can give the user up to a staggering 160 hours of single use.
Its beam settings give the user a selection from white LED, low, medium, high, and the additional red LED offers strobe lighting. Located at the core of the light, the control panel has a USB charge port alongside an on and off button which can be accessed with ease. Better still, alongside having a reflective headband, there is also a safety whistle included here, allowing you to call for help should you need to. The red LED aspect ensures that night provision is preserved as well as preventing the possibility of blinding those around you.
If you prefer, you can also choose to use AAA batteries with this unit. A simplistic design of headband with multiple uses, this is available in a choice of black or red and designed by the exploration professionals that founded the company PETZL.
Customers of the PETZL Actik Core highly rate the performance time of this headlamp with it being a really comfortable fit. The red LED mode is also gratefully appreciated by many group hikers!
Why are we impressed?
Powerful beam patterns
Red lighting good for night vision
Long burn time
Rechargeable battery and compatible with AAA batteries
Battery life: 1 h (burst mode) to 200 h (eco mode)
IPX rating: IP66
Warranty: limited lifetime guarantee
The Fenix HL32R is our choice for the Best Headlamp for Night Hiking as it has a perfectly angled wide beam due to its 600-lumen auxiliary red LED headlamp. This makes it the perfect choice for those exploring throughout the darker nights or in those areas where visibility is poor. This red LED offers a constant red light alongside SOS and even red flashing modes which give great peace of mind should you encounter an emergency and need to signal for help. Additionally, this unit offers a white LED as well as covering a peak beam distance of 73 meters.
There are dual switches on this headlamp, located on the top, providing quick access for powering on and off. The ability to cycle swiftly through brightness levels and activate modes by preference is made simple here. With a rechargeable battery built in and an indication level of battery life, there is ample capacity for battery life here without having to refer to separate batteries – the charging cable is included with this purchase.
Dust and water resistant, this boasts a reflective headband and is designed to withstand a variety of both indoor and outdoor elements. At 107 grams, this is lightweight and easy to carry, making it perfect for hiking, camping, and cycling, and is thoroughly practical when storing away into a pouch or accompanying backpack when not in use.
Customers of the Fenix HL32R state that this is an extremely bright light, with the compactable size of it claimed to be almost perfect.
The COAST FL85 is our selection here for the Best LED Headlamp for hiking as it has a multitude of features designed to cope with the great outdoors. A robust and reliable headlamp, it’s water resistant and offers protection of a one-meter drop.
With fantastic workmanship throughout, it provides users with a simple focusing system with just a one twist focusing action, therefore taking you from ultra-view flood beam to the spot beam of a bull’s eye in a matter of seconds. With dual color consisting of white and red LEDs, the red light can be used as a night vision preserver. For added visibility, the reflective strap of this headlamp assures wearers can be seen, and there is also hard hat compatibility with which the clips are included here for. The transmitted light is also on a hinge so you can easily adjust the brightness when you need to.
Offering a total distance of 183 meters maximum, you can expect just over two hours running time on high performance with 13 hours possible when used in low runtime. A lightweight headlamp, this weighs 127 grams and works on three AAA batteries. COAST is known in the industry as designers and makers of products that are tough enough to be trusted when used in the most demanding of circumstances, and the FL85 is indeed no exception here.
Customers of the COAST FL85 are pleased with the beam and brightness of this headlamp, mainly when it’s used on its highest level.
Battery type: AAA alkaline, lithium or rechargeable
Battery life: 250 h (2 lm side light) to 40 h (max mode)
IPX rating: IP67
Warranty: 3-year limited
The Black Diamond Storm is our top pick here. A sound choice, this is a waterproof headlamp that offers you a total of eight different lighting options to see you through not just those darker activities but also when the natural daylight isn’t at its best. Both dustproof and waterproof to one meter below the surface for 30 minutes, this headlamp also offers RGB night vision for improved clarity.
Simple to operate, the inclusion of PowerTap technology here allows you to turn the lamp on or off in an instant, and its memory mode feature can also store your preferred brightness settings for you. Recently updated, this improved version of the Black Diamond claims to offer all the settings you could possibly need from such a device and is the perfect companion throughout all bad weather types and the most grueling of adventures. The powerful cone of light also ensures a long running time with a maximum luminosity of 350ml.
Operating on AAA batteries, it has those all essential green, blue, and red singled powered LEDs which improve night vision while offering dimming and strobe settings, activating without having to cycle through the white mode. As well as strength in proximity and distance modes, you can also access a convenient lock mode here.
Customers of the Black Diamond Storm highly rate its powerful beams as well as its solid construction.
The Black Diamond Spot is the Best Budget Headlamp for Hiking. At a mere 87 grams, this is a simplistic headlamp which aims to just provide you with a practical solution whether you’re hiking, climbing, jogging or even skiing.
Designed as a great all-rounder, this offers both red and white LEDs of which one is a quad power and the other a double power. The red LED also allows you to switch to night vision mode when you need to. With various settings included, you can utilize red night vision, lock mode, dimming, and full strength in distance modes and proximity. Incorporating PowerTap technology, you can also instantly transition between full power and dimmed power with ease. There is also an option to turn this lamp on and off at your chosen brightness without having to revert back to full force each time, because of its brightness memory. This, in turn, saves on your battery power.
Operating this headlamp requires three AAA batteries. This is a lightweight but durable design which claims to be waterproof and will protect against water immersion down to three feet for around 30 minutes. Designed to fit into any backpack type or glove compartment, this is an improved compact design of headlamp.
Customers of the Black Diamond Spot find this to be the best cheap headlamp for hiking and one that works well to offer a good light in a variety of tough weather types. It’s also considered sturdy in design.
What do we love it for?
Very lightweight design
Good all-around headlamp
Excellent night vision through red LED
Good low price
What were we disappointed with?
Simplistic of designs
Things to Consider
Now you’ve had a chance to read through these detailed reviews, we’ve hopefully been able to offer you a clearer idea as to the best headlamp for hiking for your specific requirements. Before you make that final purchasing decision though, why not take a few minutes to look at our additional buying guide? This is the section we have designed to elaborate more on those features we picked out in our reviews above, and it’s here where we explain them in a little bit more detail. This section combined with the above reviews should, therefore, help you select the best hiking headlamp for the money, which will enrich your outdoor adventures every time.
Night hiking: What are the benefits?
Though most people associate hiking with the daytime, there are no rules that say you can’t continue with your hiking adventure well into the night time! Those who partake in night hiking are able to get an entirely different perspective of the scenery around them, as opposed to viewing it during the daytime. For many, when the temperatures reach their peak during the day, it can make hiking extremely uncomfortable; therefore the night time offers more cooling relief. Best of all, when you hike during the night time, you develop a deeper connection with the immediate environment, glimpsing those stars and the moonlight up close and personal, alongside bumping into many of the creatures who rise at this hour! As long as you wear the appropriate gear, take your hiking headlamp with you, and let someone know of your intentions before you head off, a night hike is a fantastic source of inspiration and increases your love of the outdoors immensely.
What are the critical features of an ideal headlamp for hiking?
The most ideal headlamp for hiking should offer the following essential features as standard:
A selection of light settings ranging from low to high
Both red and white LEDs
A good battery life – preferably rechargeable
A simple on/off touch button
A solid construction
A lightweight design
Brightness: Are lumens worth paying attention to?
Though you should indeed pay attention to the lumens in your headlamp, we don’t recommend that you rely on this number when making that final decision. This is just because the measurement of lumens refers to the light energy that is given in any direction. While this is an excellent observation when looking for a lightbulb as such when it comes to a hiking headlamp you need to focus your attention on the quality of the beam instead. Though we reference the lumen details of each headlamp here, we also discuss their ability to offer a concentrated beam. This way, you can be assured you’re getting the right level of light in the necessary direction each time you use it.
Beam distance and optical quality
The range of your headlamp may be a concern if you’re keen on observing as much of the landscape or terrain ahead as you hike. However just because a headlamp claims to offer a sizeable ranging beam distance, this doesn’t automatically ensure it will be of the best quality visually. Therefore, we recommend you confirm that your headlamp states it has powerful and accurate optical quality as well. This will ensure not only a good strength of lighting but an ability to highlight those more intricate of areas, both near and far, and all while doing so in crystal clear clarity. This is something which bad lighting will fail to pick up on each and every time.
Light colors: red is as essential as white
We recommend your headlamp offers both white and red light. Red light can not only be better for those poorer of visibility moments but equally a considerable benefit for the night time. Sometimes, the brightness of white light can cause visual problems and even blind you for a few moments, such is its strength. Having a red light option is therefore considered essential as it allows your eyes to adjust gently and doesn’t startle you or those around you. All the headlamps reviewed here offer white and red lights, with the Black Diamond Storm also offering green and blue.
Battery type and life
Those headlamps that can be charged with a USB port are the more efficient as they don’t require you to buy and carry additional batteries around with you when out and about. You need to be sure that each time you set off though that your headlamp is fully charged so that it can offer you the best battery life when in the middle of nowhere.
For many headlamp batteries the battery life will depend on the setting you select throughout your trip.
Though you can indeed buy those headlamps that rely merely on disposal batteries, this may be a more personal choice. However, if you can’t quite decide on the two, the PETZL Actik Core allows you the option to use both a USB charging option and AAA batteries.
As you’ll be wearing your headlamp on your head, carrying it with you on some long distances, you may want to ensure that it’s incredibly lightweight. The best headlamp for hiking will be one that you barely even notice that you’re wearing, which allows you to get on with the task at hand. Your personal preferences may well decide what weight of headlamp works best for you, but the lightest offered here is the PETZL Actik Core, which weighs in at a mere 82 grams.
A variety of modes and ease of use
All headlamps should be easy to use, and this includes turning them on and off. A hands-free light solution, they are designed to offer the most practicality and guidance without getting in the way of your outdoor activities and therefore need to be useful and simplistic in operation.
It’s also a good idea to select a headlamp that can offer a variety of modes that can be changed according to the immediate environment that you find yourself in at regular intervals.
The Fenix HL32R is an excellent example of a variable headlamp as it offers all the essentials plus additional flashing red lights for SOS, while the PETZL Actik Core offers an extra whistle for increased safety purposes.
Never hang your lamp by the headband when storing
Clean the lenses regularly with a soft cloth
Place it away in a protective pouch after each use
Hand wash the headband regularly
Use decent disposable batteries rather than cheap ones
Be sure to charge your headlamp fully before setting off
A rechargeable battery is ideal for those who use their headlamp a lot as it saves having to buy and indeed carry batteries with you everywhere you travel. However, you will need to ensure that it’s fully charged and will cover your entire trip before you set off, especially if you know you won’t have any means of charging it when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. If you use your headlamp regularly, it would be a good idea to select one whereby you can both recharge the battery and use additional batteries should you ever have to. The PETZL Actik Core is ideal here as it allows you to recharge the battery or insert AAA batteries, as preferred.
Headlamps with a red light allow you to use them when it’s night time, therefore increasing your enjoyment of night hiking. They work by ensuring you get the right setting at a time of the day when your eyes are more sensitive to light. Reducing sensitivity and making sure you aren’t blinded as you would be with a standard white light, red lights also ensures that those around you aren’t blinded when you come into contact with them. Ultimately, the entire concept of using a red light on your night walk is to protect your night vision as best as you can, as this isn’t the time you want to be caught off guard when it comes to your sight.
There is a real difference between a headlamp that offers 300 lumens and one that offers 600 lumens. Lumen is a measure of the light’s brightness – that is, its intensity. Though it is dependent on the strength you require as to where you will be using your headlamp, as a guide, it’s advisable to look for at least 300 lumens in your model to ensure a decent light. If your headlamp is able to offer 600 lumens, it will undoubtedly be much brighter and powerful in its light offering than that of a 300-lumen headlamp.
We hope this review has given you a clearer idea as to the better features of a hiking headlamp, as well as showing you how to select that best model for your specific outdoor activity preferences. We believe that by utilizing both our detailed reviews and additional buying guide, you’ll now feel armed with the best information to hand that will enable you to get that most perfect product.
Our top pick here is the Ledlenser MH6 for its crystal clear light properties and ability to focus instantly. The second choice on our list is the PETZL Actik Core as it’s an excellent lightweight performer that offers two charging options. Finally, we’ve selected the Fenix HL32R as our third pick for its battery run time and the warranty, which is lifetime.
A headlamp for hiking is an excellent investment, with each model reviewed here the best companion throughout all your outdoor adventures.