Hiking at night can bring forth a completely new experience. There are hikers who love night hiking because of the empty trails, the moonlight, or the lower temperatures. To ensure that your hiking experience is not ruined by any unprecedented situations, being equipped with a headlamp is of utmost importance. Some hikes may take a longer time, or you may be challenged by bad weather or an accident, etc. Keeping a headlamp handy will help you thrive in such circumstances.
The significant usefulness of a headlamp is seen when you go out for a walk or hike after sunset. Whether you are taking your dog for a walk or hiking with your friends, past sunset, a hands-free headlight is an essential gadget you must possess. There is a myriad of different kinds of headlamps available, and many hikers get perplexed over choosing the best one for them. There are a few things you must definitely look into before choosing a headlamp.
- Headlamp Battery Life
The battery life of a headlamp should be long enough so that you don’t need to constantly replace the batteries while hiking. Batteries come in two types-rechargeable and non-rechargeable. While rechargeable batteries are eco-friendly, they have shorter run times. Disposable batteries are non-rechargeable and work for longer hours but are usually expensive. If you opt for rechargeable batteries, make sure that your headlamp also works with disposable batteries.
- Beam Distance and Brightness
Brightness and beam distance of a headlamp is very important when you go on hikes. A beam distance of at least 80 meters and brightness of at least 300 lumens are good enough for a headlamp. Also, a headlamp may have excellent brightness, but may not have good beam distance, so make sure you balance the two out while purchasing.
- Water Resistance
A headlamp should be water-resistant because you don’t know what situations you may face while hiking. The water resistance level of a headlamp is measured according to the IEC standard 60529. It gives a rating between IPX1 to IPX8. A headlamp that is rated as IPX1 may be resistant to a splash of water, while an IPX8 compliant headlamp may withstand water submersion for 30 minutes.
To make your life easier, mentioned below is a list of the best hiking headlamp with a varied price range. You can choose anyone that suits your budget.
1. Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
The Black Diamond Icon Headlamp is one the most powerful headlamps for hikers, featuring 500 lumens of power, a removable battery pack, and three light modes. For those of you who are looking for a high-output headlamp, this is the pick for you. That’s not all. Along with a wide number of impressive features, the light, and the battery pack are dustproof and waterproof.
The headlamp offers full-strength light in terms of both distance and proximity, and also offers RGB, night, and dimming options. It also comes with a lock mode, thus making sure the headlamp stays off while carrying in a backpack. With just a press of a button, the headlamp can be turned to its full maximum power.
The Icon is IPX6 and 7 compliant, thus making it safe for 1-meter submersion in water for up to 30 minutes. It also does not require any drying out after submersion. It works great for wet and dusty environments.
The batteries of the Icon are non-rechargeable and require four AA batteries in total. The run time of the batteries is between 70 to 175 hours, which is great for long hikes. The construction of the headband is secure, with a head strap that runs across the center of the headlamp for additional support. This makes it perfect for rigorous outdoor activities like hiking.
2. Zebralight H600w Mk IV
The Zebralight H600w Mk IV will give you a great combination of long battery life, brightness, and durability. The price is a little bit on the higher end, but if you can get past the price tag, then you won’t have to ever look for another headlamp again.
The battery life is amazing, with 18650 Li-ion battery lasting for over a week when used in a low-light setting. When used on high lighting mode (a wide and clear shining beam longer than a football field), the battery lasts for 3.1 hours. The level of lightning is regulated the whole time, thus giving consistent lighting over the duration of the battery life. It comes with a 1400 lumens capacity.
The headlamp is waterproof with a submersion level of up to 2 meters, and can easily operate in the most difficult environments. It weighs 4.4 ounces, which is slightly heavier than the average, but its quality and performance surpasses all. The headlamp comes in a bomber metal casing with smooth finishing. This headlamp can be regarded as a “long-term investment” for the avid hikers.
3. Black Diamond Spot 325
The Black Diamond Spot 325, is an ultralight and compact headlamp with a powerful 325 lumens power and is a perfect pick for ultralight hikers. This model is IPX 5 rated, which means that it can withstand water submersion over 1 meter for up to 30 minutes, thus making it suitable for extremely wet environments.
The striking feature about this headlamp is the brightness level memory feature in it. This feature makes sure that when the headlamp is turned off and on again, the light won’t go back to its maximum brightness level. This feature is great for hikers who wish to use the headlamp alongside a night vision device.
The levels of brightness can be adjusted without any hassle, and you will find a wide range of brightness levels. There is also a red light mode for night vision preservation and a strobe light mode. The peripheral light setting in this headlamp makes it easier to perform tasks around the campsite.
The beam distance can reach up to 80 meters when used in maximum brightness. The headband is made of breathable mesh for added comfort and premium durable material. The headlamp runs on AAA batteries and does not come with rechargeable batteries. It has a burn time of 600 hours when on low setting and 65 hours in high mode.
4. Petzl Reactik – Our Favorite
The Petzl Reactik+ is a one-of-a-kind model, loaded with high-end features such as a powerful 300 lumens power with a beam length of 110m. The most significant feature of this model is its reactive lighting mode and the ability to connect to the MyPetzl Light app through Bluetooth.
The technology involved in the reactive lighting mode allows the device to sense and measure the proximity of objects and the ambient light, thus adjusting the beam accordingly. This helps in providing optimal light and efficient battery usage.
By being connected to the MyPetzl Light app, you can adjust the brightness of the beam through the phone rather than pressing buttons on the headlamp. The app will also tell you the percentage of battery left in the device and correlate the beams accordingly.
This headlamp features five different lighting profiles, such as the multi-level activity profile, or the trail running profile, and others. You can even create your own profile through the app. In each profile, you can opt between three beams- Standard, Max Autonomy, and Max Power.
The Petzl Reactik+ runs on rechargeable Li-ion batteries that can be easily recharged using a micro-USB. It has a burn time between 3 to 30 hours, depending on the profile you choose.
5. Black Diamond Storm
True to its name, the Black Diamond Storm is the headlamp you want to pick during challenging conditions such as rain or a storm or both. This all-rounder device is built to last with a powerful 350 lumen bulb that can emit clear, wide, and bright light up to 91 meters. For close proximity lighting, it gives clear floodlights.
The device uses four AAA batteries (usually three are used), making it slightly heavier than average at 4.0 ounces. The device offers excellent battery run time, with 5 hours when used in high mode and up to 42 hours when used in low mode.
The Black Diamond Storm headlamp is IPX 6 and 7 compliant, thus making it fully waterproof and enabling it to operate successfully in extreme weather conditions. It can remain submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. It comes with night vision modes of three different colors- green, red, and white and has eight distinct lighting options. The light of this headlamp works great with NiMH batteries. The battery compartment is sealed and is both waterproof and dustproof.
6. Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
The Petzl Actik Core Headlamp is an ideal choice for outdoor activities like hiking because of its powerful 350 lumens of power and a long battery run time of 160 hours. The attractive feature of this headlamp is its CORE battery. It is a USB rechargeable battery that can be easily recharged using any micro-USB port of standard size. The device is also compatible with standard AAA batteries.
It comes with reflective headbands that become visible when lights fall on it. It also has a whistle attached to it in case of emergency situations. The red light mode in the headlamp preserves night vision and also helps in not blinding other hikers. It allows hikers to get a wide view of the trail before them because of its wide beam settings. There is a dimming feature that allows you to adjust between low light and maximum brightness according to your necessity.
The design of the Petzl Actik Core headlamp is ultralight and compact, thus making it fit easily into your backpack, also making it a good choice for long hikes. The whole construction is sturdy and solidly built, as well as very comfortable to be used under dry conditions. The only drawback of this headlamp is that it is not IPX compliant and hence is not waterproof.
7. Fenix HM65R Headlamp
The Fenix HM65R Headlamp is meant for the toughest of environments, and this headlamp won’t ever let you down. This headlamp can put out an amazingly powerful 1400 lumens of power when both the floodlight and the spotlight are activated. While hiking, switch on the floodlight, and you can easily get a clear sight of up to 60 yards and at a much larger angle. In the case of the spotlight, the beam can reach up to 178 yards and is great for long-range applications. The beam angle can also be easily adjusted up to 60 degrees, thus giving a wide range of views.
This model is IPX 6 – 8 compliant and can withstand a complete water submersion for up to 30 minutes. The device is fueled by both rechargeable (USB compatible) and non-rechargeable batteries. Once the headlamp is fully charged through the USB cable that comes with it, the device can smoothly run for up to 300 hours in low mode settings. There is also a battery level indicator that reminds you when it is time to recharge the device.
The headband has a snug fit, with an added head strap across that allows for high levels of comfort. It is made up of premium highly durable materials, and an ultra-light magnesium alloy. The construct has an all-metal frame, thus making it strong and resistant to impacts up to 2 meters. Overall, the Fenix HM65R Headlamp will give you a great combination of performance, quality, and durability.
An efficient and durable headlamp is a necessity during every hiking trip. When it comes to choosing the best headlamp for hiking, care should be taken in factoring a lot of variables, as mentioned above. The best headlamp for your fellow hiker may be different than what is best for you. Being equipped with a good headlamp will save you from any unknown dangers or any situations you may be stuck at while hiking.
While there are many hiking headlamps to choose from, the best one for you should be comfortable to wear, easy to use or operate, and long-lasting at the same time.