The best headlamps (we tested!)

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Which Headlamp Should You Choose?

A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Headlamps you can buy

When it comes to headlamps, there are plenty of options available. Our question to you today is “Which headlamp should you choose?” This isn’t a question we ask often, but it’s a question we’re frequently being asked. There are a lot of headlamps on the market, and it’s difficult to know which ones are worth your money and which ones are worth skipping. To help answer this question, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the best headlamps. Since we reviewed a couple hundred flashlights and headlamps, we know a thing or 2 about this topic.

Don’t trust me? Read one of our reviews!

Best budget headlamp

The first thing you should consider is the price. You should spend enough money on a headlamp so that it will be useful to you but not so much that it doesn’t fit into your budget. Here are a few we recommend for no more than $40. This will allow you to pick a headlamp that you won’t be disappointed with, because we know what we are talking about, and you stay within budget. Keep in mind that we don’t recommend the cheapest (and likely junk) headlamps you see on eBay or Aliexpress.

Sofirn SP40

Sofirn SP40 holding
A LOT of headlamp for the priceNo moonlight mode (below 1 lumen)
Comfortable head strapBuying local is more expensive than directly at Sofirn
Good range of included accessoriesNo magnetic tailcap
Low voltage protection (to protect the battery)Micro USB charging instead of USB-C
Only 104 grams with an 18650 battery inserted

Here are some of the things we found during the review. Want to know more? Read our Sofirn SP40 review.

The headband fabric is very soft and sits nicely on my head. Now, I don’t have the smallest head in the world (605mm/23.8” around where the strap will go), but the straps are at maximum length on my head, and it fits – there will be some out there who may have some issues with this, but I’d say that the number of people that will have issues with the headband will be quite small.

The Sofirn SP40 has an inbuilt Micro USB port for charging; as it uses a standard 18650, you can also remove it and charge it in a normal charger.

Best best lightweight headlamp

Do you want a lightweight headlamp so that it won’t feel like a burden to wear? A lightweight headlamp can be great for extended periods of time, and won’t cause trouble from wearing it for too long. The best lightweight headlamps typically weigh no more than two ounces (excluding the headband).

The weight of your headlamp doesn’t affect the battery life. But lightweight headlamps tend to have smaller batteries. So, if you’re looking for a headlamp that will last for many hours on max output, you’ll need to look for something that’s using a 18650 or 21700 battery. You should also consider the size of the headband of the headlamp. The best headlamps have adjustable headbands that you can tighten or loosen to get the best fit. But fortunately, that’s about every good quality headlamp on the market.

Fenix HM50R v2

Fenix HM50R v2 in hand
Fenix HM50R v2 runtime 1 hour
Plenty brightBattery capacity is low (that’s why it’s so lightweight)
Smooth beamZigzag output pattern (which is hard to notice in person)
Includes a lithium-ion rechargeable battery
Red light available for extra safety
Max beam distance over 100 meters/yards
Can also be used without head strap

From all the flashlights and headlamps we reviewed, there was only a handful that we can call lightweight. 1 of them is the Fenix HM50R v2, a tiny ultra lightweight headlamp with 700 lumens (we measured 706 lumens at turn on).

If you are looking for a lightweight headlamp, you know that battery life is going to suck. At least, it’s going to suck when you compare it to bigger headlamps with bigger batteries. But you probably area looking for a featherweight headlamp because you only need it briefly. If so, the Fenix HM50R v2 might be what you are looking for.

If you want the brightest headlamp with the longest runtimes, sorry, but you won’t find one under 5 ounces (or about 150 grams) including the headband. In that case, check out our other recommended headlamps in this article.

Not that the Fenix’s runtimes are bad, not at all. But they aren’t at high output. The lowest mode can run for more than 38 hours… at an output of about 10 lumens. So yes, that’s a great runtime, albeit at a low output.

All in all, definitely check out our Fenix HM50R V2 review, even if you’re slightly interested.

Best headlamp for camping

When looking for the best headlamps for camping, you’ll want to consider a couple of different things. First, you’ll want to consider the type of camping you’ll be doing. Because you’ll need to know the battery life of the headlamp. Most camping headlamps you get at Walmart & the like, don’t show how many lumens it can sustain for a longer period of time. That’s why we do all the runtime tests in our reviews.

Depending on the type of camping you’ll be doing, you may want a headlamp that uses an 18650 or a 21700 battery. Once again, the higher capacity of the battery, the longer the battery life is, and the higher output it can sustain. So skip all the 3AAA headlamps you see at Amazon if you want max output and max battery life.

Armytek Wizard C2 PRO MAX

armytek wizard on helmet
runtime test
2 different UI menusNeed to get used to UI
Very brightMostly wide beam (no throw)
Very smooth beam
A high capacity battery is included
No proprietary battery
Magnetic charging (more waterproof)
100+ meters/yards of throw distance in Turbo 2
The lowest output mode can run for weeks
Includes many accessories for biking, hiking, and more

I admit I wasn’t a big fan of the UI at first, but it grew on me while reviewing it. The Advanced menu is really cool, but at first, it may not make too much sense. You basically have 3 solid output menus in 1. Meaning, you have a specific Firefly mode group with 3 outputs. You have the Main mode group with 3 outputs, and then you have Turbo mode group with 2 outputs. You can switch between them if you know how the UI works. If you don’t read our review (or the manual) it may be a bit complicated.

Oh, and if you like strobe, you even get a special group for that one as well.

In terms of output, Armytek claims 4,000 lumens as the highest output (in Turbo 2), but I wasn’t able to achieve that. My copy got just under 3500 lumens at turn on.

With a 5,000mAh battery, you can get runtimes of up to a couple of days in Firefly modes. I already measured almost 24 hours in Main mode 2… so yeah, you’ll be good for many days in FireFly modes, for sure. Great headlamp for camping and hiking.

The Best Headlamps for Hiking

The best headlamps for hiking are the ones that you can use in all types of weather, have multiple output modes, and long battery life. A headlamp with larger buttons (for changing modes etc) is ideal for use in inclement weather. Next, you’ll want to consider the beam or width of light produced by the headlamp. The wider the beam of light produced, the safer you will probably feel. If the beam is too tight, your eyes may start to feel sore. Plus, it is great for various lighting conditions since your eyes don’t need to keep adjusting. If you’ll be hiking primarily at night, also consider a warmer temperature LED. That means a lower CCT (4000K or lower) instead of a blueish white beam (5000K+). Another great choice would be 2 light sources, with 1 for close up, and 1 for farther away. But in that case I’d recommend having a regular flashlight with you as well.

For the best versatile headlamp, the one with a wider beam that produces about 500 lumens or more is ideal. You don’t really need thousands of lumens while hiking. That’s another story for riding a bike. At higher speeds, you want to know what’s coming up.

The aforementioned Armytek Wizard C2 PRO MAX is also a great contender.

Olight Perun 2

Olight Perun 2 attached to cap
Olight Perun 2 runtime high
Max output of 2,500 lumens (we measured 2,700)Proprietary charging
Great sustained outputs (Medium straight for 19 hours)Only 1 LED option available (no warm white etc)
Beam distance up to 183 meters / 200 yardsLittle bit big (due to the battery type)
Easy to use UI
Great build quality

Olight is in the grand scheme of options usually a safe bet. They make great flashlights with very good regulated drivers. That means that they stay at a higher output throughout their battery life than most of their competitors.

The Perun 2 is yet another great Olight. Below are some parts were taken from our review. If you want to know all the details check out our full review here:

Overall, the headband configuration works well as long as you’re comfortable with right-angle lights where the LED is positioned on one end of the light vs being centered. Right-angle lights tend to work better for medium to far-distance tasks. Like every Olight I’ve ever held, the Perun 2 feels really solid and well built. The machining is very clean and everything feels thought out and well executed. Good attention to quality.

The Perun 2 has a proprietary magnetic charging port on the tail. This model uses the MCC3 charging cable which is capable of up to 2 amps.

If you get the light at Olightstore, don’t forget to use our unique coupon 1lumen for an extra 10% off.

Best headlamp for running and jogging

Like any runner, you’ve probably cursed the darkness at least once. Think about it: If you run at night, chances are you are running through dark streets, parking lots, or even forests. You don’t want just any headlamp, you want the best. Besides the safety issue, you want something comfortable, lightweight, and with great battery life. Of course, battery life depends on the distance you run.

We reviewed many brands, including Olight, Nitecore, Thrunite, and many, many more. We don’t particularly focus on jogging lights, but from all of the ones we reviewed, below you can find our recommendation.

Nitecore UT27

Nitecore UT27 attached to 1lumen cap
Nitecore UT27 runtime test
Warm & cool white LEDOutput is lower than bigger headlamps
2 beam options: wide and spotThe hinges of the battery door are relatively weak
Can be used with 2 types of batteries
Great combination of lightweight and battery life
The lithium battery has a built-in USB-C port for charging
Nice for jogging, hiking and running

I kind of felt in love with this headlamp. It’s so small and lightweight, that it’s not cumbersome to use, unlike some of the larger headlamps that will grow your neck muscles. Nitecore built a proprietary 1300mAh battery that helps to keep the weight down, specifically for the UT27, but you can also use 3AAA batteries if you want to. That’s great, even for long trail runs.

Battery life and output are great for the size of this headlamp, considering that it’s only 73 grams (2.59 ounces) including the battery and head strap together. That’s amazingly light for what you get.

We measured the output at 564 lumens in turbo mode, and 442 lumens in spot mode. And that’s another great feature of this headlamp. 2 beam options; 1 for spot (throw) and 1 for wide (flood). Both beams use a different emitter, namely a warm white for throw, and a cool white for flood.

Want to know more details? Check out our Nitecore UT27 review.

Wrapping Up: The Best Headlamps

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for the best headlamps, you have to consider your needs. What type of camping will you be doing? How long will you use it? Do you you need to charge batteries? What are the weather conditions? What are the activities?

The best headlamp for you? It depends….

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