What are the best headlamps for backpacking in 2021. With so many to chose from I narrowed the choice and here is a review of the best headlamps.
Whether you’re thru hiking, backpacking or cycling, the ability to see in front of you is imperative. As long as you’re kitted out with a lightweight headlamp, you’ll be able to see exactly where you’re going and what you’re doing, all hands free.
With 360 lumens of light this headlamp is superbright.
This light also offers high-CRI lighting, which basically means that you can more easily identify an object’s color when the light is on it. Something that would normally be very difficult to do in the dark.
The main light throws light out to about 80 plus yards in front of you, which is great for night hiking.
In addition to the main light, there are also 2 other lights to choose from – an auxiliary white light with the high CRI, or an auxiliary red light. The Red light is great for around camp, reading maps at night or inside huts at night as it help you to better retain your night vision.
And when attached to the adjustable headband, it still weighs less than 2 ounces, making it very comfortable to wear.
You don’t have to bother with remembering to pack batteries because the headlamp is completely rechargeable and it’s compatible with any USB power source. Plus there’s a handy low battery power indicator.
I used the Petzl Tikka headlamp for 6 years as my go to headlamp when thru hiking and bicycle touring.
This lightweight headlamp has been with me on the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Te Araroa Trail.
It has also been part of my Bicycle Touring Gear List as I cycle from Alaska to Ecuador.
I’m a big fan of this headlamp. There are 3 lighting levels to choose from, low, medium and high. The high level it can throw out a very generous 300 lumens, which is bright enough for most situations.
There’s also a red light which can be used instead of the white to help preserve your night vision. Great for around camp so as not to annoy other campers.
One good thing about this ultralight headlamp is the choice of colors. . And the headband features a phosphorescent reflector which can really help you to find it in the dark.
The Petzl Tikka comes with 3 AAA batteries already included but it is better to spend some extra money and get the battery pack called the CORE rechargeable battery. It charges in about 3 hours and saves spending loads of money on batteries in the long run. Just get the CORE rechargeable battery!
The Petzl Tikka runs up to 120 hours on a full charge but that is on the low light setting. It is a lot less on full power but still enough for a week long hiking trip with lots of battery to spare.
It’s also very lightweight at just 82 grams. It has water resistance rating of IPX4 which means it is water resistant but not waterproof. Don’t drop it in water.
Got to love the 5 years warranty, just in case.
Almost perfect for
Water resistant IPX4
Use AAA or rechargeable batteries
Very lengthy 5-year guarantee
The CORE rechargeable battery is sold separately but highly recommended
This is the cheapest headlamp in this review but cheap does not equal crap. Despite the price this budget headlamp works well at a fraction of the cost of the name brands. Want the best budget headlamp? Keep reading.
First up, this headlamp comes in several different color options, including some rather bold and funky designs.
There are 3 brightness settings, low, medium and high. and on high it’s super bright, and can light the distance ahead for up to 50 meters. It also has a red light to preserve your night vision, and an SOS mode, which is exactly what you want in an emergency.
It’s water resistance rating comes in at a very nice IPX5. It can take a splash of water but not be submerged in water.
It takes three AAA batteries, which come included in the box, so you can start using it as soon as the box arrives. The batteries can power it for a full 45 hours when on the low setting.
Great Lifetime warranty and 100% money back guarantee.
Another popular headlamp from Petzl. If you’re looking for stealth in your headlamp, then this would be the one to go for.
Essentially the only difference between the Tikka and the Tactikka is the choice of color, camo, matt black or desert.
If you are hiking, fishing or hunting at night then the red light and dull colors might be a better choice. And the bright refective headband on the Tikka is replaced with the dull non reflective colors on the Tactikka..
When you need more than the red light there are 3 light settings, low medium and high and a strobe setting. The high setting puts out 300 lumens.
We love that it comes with 3 AAA batteries already included, which means you can start using it the day the box arrives. And it comes with mounting accessories so you can attach the headlamp to a helmet.
Just like the Petzl Tikka, the Tactikka includes 3 AAA batteries but get the CORE rechargeable battery. It charges quickly and has more than enough power for a week long trip in the backcountry.
Petzl have a great 5 years warranty. This is the best lightweight Headlamp for fishing and hunting.
Another ridiculously cheap budget headlamp that is worth a look.
I can see why it’s so popular. It has a lot going for it. It has very high water resistance, and not only will it continue to work in the rain, but it will even work in the snow! It’s also shock resistant so it can take a drop.
There are 7 different lighting modes, including red to preserve your night vision, and strobe light for emergencies.
The lightweight strap is very comfortable and can be adjusted to fit adults and children. This is one of the best headlamps for kids.
These headlamps are very affordable price. In fact you can buy these in a pack of two, and it will still cost less than one higher end headlamp. Did I mention these are the best budget headlamps for kids.
They run on 3 AAA batteries, which are very easy to get hold of. And on a full charge, it has a run time of around 45 hours on the low setting. This shortens to 3 hours on the highest setting.
Comes with a 1 year warranty which is not as good as all the other lightweight headlamps in this review.
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Light can pivot 45 degrees
Includes red & strobe lighting
Works in the rain and snow
Best Headlamp for children
Batteries not included, but at this price it’s not a big deal.
The Black Diamond Storm 400 is the best waterproof headlamp in 2021. With an IPX67 rating that means it is waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes and completely waterproof.
It also has one of the best light beams as it comes with both a wide and narrow beam.
Most headlamps offer red light in addition to white light, but this also offers the choice of green or blue light. I can see the advantage of blue light, which is a great color for nighttime but I’m not so sure I will use the green very often. It also has a strobe light if needed in an emergency.
The Black Diamond Storm uses 4 AAA batteries which is more than most of the other headlamps that use 3. This makes it heavier at 4oz (110grams). The extra battery increases the life of the headlamp to 5 hours in the high mode.
The Black Diamond Storm 400 is the best waterproof headlamp for backpacking 2021.
IPX67 waterproof and dustproof
Has adjustable brightness
White, red, blue & green light
5 hours of use on the high setting
Headlamp doesn’t swivel
Premium product at a premium price
A bit heavier than the other headlamps due to the extra battery
Here are some of the Headlamps that are not in this review but are still super awesome. Some are being reviewed at the moment and will be added to the list above very soon.
Petzl Actik Core – The Petzl Actik Core is my current headlamp is the current headlamp that I use. A massive 450 lumens and a rechargeable battery that charges via a micro USB Port. Review coming soon.
Black Diamond Spot 350 – The Black Diamond Spot 350 is super bright and great battery life but like all Black Diamond there is no rechargeable option.
Knog Bilby 400 – The Knog Bilby 400 has a unique design that is rechargeable via a USB port, is waterproof and built into a silicone strap. Review coming soon.
Lightweight Headlamps Buyer’s Guide
As promised, here’s your buying guide.
What is the best headlamp on the market?
It’s super hard to pick out THE best headlamp on the market.
I would say that any one of the Lightweight Headlamps I’ve shown you would be an excellent choice.
Just scan through the pros and cons in the reviews and you’ll be sure to find one that best meets your needs.
Light Output and Brightness
Light output is measured in lumens, and the greater the number of lumens, the further you will be able to see in front of you (in white light).
But it’s important to note that the number of lumens does not necessarily describe how bright the light is going to be. You also need to consider how focused the light is. A strongly focused beam looks far brighter than a more diffuse beam.
You might decide that at times you will want a wide beam of light, and other times want a more focused beam. In which case you should look for a headlamp with an adjustable beam.
You may also like the sound of a beam that you can swivel, so that it points forward as you walk, or points downward as you check out a map or GPS device. But these sorts of headlamps aren’t always as lightweight.
We also talk about lumens in our FAQ section later on.
Comfort: Headband Size, Weight and Material
Ideally, you want your headlamp to be so lightweight and comfortable that you could even forget you’re wearing it. That’s a given.
But you also need to think about the size. Headlamps are mainly aimed at adults which is understandable. But even adults can differ in head size. The best kids headlamps usually have a smaller headband and are usually made with bright colors.
So if in any doubt about size and fitting, it’s best to get a headlamp with an adjustable strap. Especially if you intend to take turns on wearing it.
And for comfort, it’s best to get a headlamp that will feel secure, such as an elastic one, but won’t chafe your skin.
You can either get yourself a rechargeable headlamp, or one that takes batteries.
Apologies if you feel like I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s important so I’ll say it. If you go for a rechargeable headlamp, you should look into how long the battery lasts on a full charge before you buy.
But if you know you aren’t going to be able to charge it up, perhaps on a camping trip, then you may decide it will be easier to work with a headlamp that takes AA or AAA batteries. That way you can easily pack spares.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many lumens are good headlamps?
Most of the time, 100 to 150 lumens is enough for most kinds of activity.
But, if you’re trying to find your way back to someplace in the middle of the night, then you would be better off with something twice as bright, at about 300 lumens.
You can get brighter if you prefer.
What headlamps do the military use?
If you’re looking for a tactical headlamp, then we would hands down recommend our number pick the PETZL, TACTIKKA Stealth Headlamp with 300 Lumens…
As the name suggests, it’s a great headlamp to have at hand when stealth is required, perhaps while hunting or fishing. And it’s quite unique with its hybrid setup, which means you can use it with regular batteries if the rechargeable battery runs out of charge.