Best headlamps for night hiking
If you plan on hiking in the dark, you’ll need a bright and reliable headlamp. A headlamp will keep you on the trail and help you notice any obstacles in your path, like tree roots or rocks.
A rechargeable headlamp is also helpful at camp at night. It provides enough light to set up a tent, read a book or cook a meal. However, not all headlamps are created equal.
Important features for rechargeable headlamps
The brightness of a headlamp is measured in lumens. The higher the lumen rating, the brighter the headlamp beam. When hiking in a dense forest or on cloudy nights, you’ll likely need a brighter headlamp. Those sporting a lumen rating between 200 and 400 usually suffice for night hiking.
Burn time determines how long you can use your headlamp before it needs a recharge. Battery life can vary by brand and model, but using lower light settings will almost always provide longer battery life than headlamps used at their maximum brightness.
Those on long-distance hikes or thru-hikes will want a headlamp that won’t add too much extra weight to their pack when not in use. Lightweight headlamps are also more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, as they put less stress and pressure on your head and neck.
The best rechargeable headlamps will feature adjustable brightness settings, as well as both a spotlight and floodlight feature, which illuminate broad areas or more specific spots on the trail. Some headlamps even offer a red light mode, which is meant for night hiking or camping without disturbing others. Strobe effect lighting modes can come in handy when trying to signal others in emergency situations.
You never know what type of weather conditions you’ll encounter when out on the trail, so it’s important to choose a headlamp that is water-resistant.
Top 9 rechargeable headlamps
Under 300 lumens
The most compact and minimalistic headlamp on our list, this Petzl headlamp weighs just over 3 ounces and takes up minimal space when stored in your pocket or pack. With 200 lumens and a beam distance of 36 meters, night hikers will have no trouble seeing the landscape ahead.
When used on its lowest setting, this headlamp can provide up to 20 hours of continuous light before needing to be recharged. The Black Diamond Sprint also sports a brightness memory feature, letting you easily return the brightness to your desired setting.
Under 400 lumens
At 300 lumens, this lamp allows night hikers to have a clear view of any uneven or rough terrain. While the Tikka headlamp can be powered by three AAA batteries, it can just as easily use the rechargeable Petzl CORE battery, which you’ll need to purchase separately.
Biolite rechargeable headlamps are designed to sit flat against your forehead for a more comfortable fit, while the band itself wicks away moisture to prevent excess sweating. With up to 40 hours of burn time on its lowest setting, you won’t need to recharge the battery often. The adjustable front panel even lets you focus the beam according to the terrain or environment.
This hybrid Black Diamond headlamp can be operated by a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery or AAA batteries. The low profile design won’t feel bulky or heavy on your head, while the PowerTap feature makes shifting between brightness modes simple and quick.
The IPX4 water-resistant rating will keep this headlamp protected from rain and damp conditions. Featuring several preset lighting modes and a red light mode perfect for camping, this lightweight Petzl headlamp is a smart hybrid option for hikers who want both a rechargeable and battery-powered option for their trek.
Affordable and powerful, this 400-lumen Energizer headlamp utilizes seven individual lighting modes for a variety of outdoor scenarios. It even has a green-light mode for enhanced night vision.
Designed to be both bounce and slip-resistant when hiking or running on bumpy trails, this Biolite headlamp won’t slide around on your forehead. The maximum 750-lumen output of this trail-running headlamp creates an extra bright field of vision for the darkest nights. The convenient 30-second max brightness button can provide an extra, quick burst of light.
The max 1000-lumen turbo mode is a unique feature of this Coast headlamp. Compatible with both rechargeable and disposable alkaline batteries, you’ll have a backup option when heading out into the wilderness at night. Another unique aspect is the magnetic clip on the rear of the headlamp, allowing you to attach it to most metal surfaces, turning it into a multi-use device.
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