Best headlamps for camping and backpacking in 2021

best headlamp for camping

Why do I need a headlamp when I have an alternate light source like a flashlight or a lantern? That is a common question you may end up asking yourself or other when the discussion comes around buying a headlamp.

To make it absolutely clear, a headlamp scores over a flashlight by allowing you hand free operation. Imagine needing to climb a tree or a slope with just one hand while you struggle with your other hand to maneuver your flashlight. Be it throwing some much-wanted light while reading a book, illuminating your jogging trail or your surrounding or cooking some dinner, a good headlamp is the gear of choice in such a situation.

But, which are the best headlamps in the market for camping, backpacking, hunting and other outdoor adventures?

In this article, we take a look at some of the best headlamps for camping and backpacking and the factors to consider while picking the most suitable headlamp for your needs. Read On!

Best headlamp comparison list

Some of the best headlamps for camping, backpacking and other outdoor adventures are listed below:

Vont Spark LED Headlamp2 headlamps combo.
200 lumen, 200 feet.
1.83 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.

Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp130 lumen, 200 feet.
2.4 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.

Shining buddy headlamp110 lumen, 100 feet.
2.6 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.
Vitchelo headlamp168 lumen, 110 feet.
3.17 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.
Foxelli headlamp280 lumen, 120 feet.
4.37 oz.
1800 mAh Li-Ion Rechargeable battery.
GRDE Zoomable headlamp1800 lumen.
4.80 oz.
2 x 18650 rechargeable batteries.
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp130 lumen, 200 feet
3.08 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.
Petzl - TIKKA XP Headlamp180 lumen, 250 feet.
3.88 oz.
3 x AAA batteries.
Fenix HP25R USB Rechargeable Headlamp1000 lumen, 350 feet.
6.49 oz.
1 x 18650 rechargeable battery or 2 CR123A lithium batteries.
Nitecore HC60 USB rechargeable Headlamp1000 lumen, 380 feet.
4.94 oz.
1 x 18650 rechargeable battery.
Zebralight H600 Mk III Cool White Headlamp1300 lumen, 400 feet.
4.4 oz.
1 x 18650 rechargeable battery.

Which are the best headlamps for camping and backpacking and what our top picks are?

Vont Spark LED Headlamp Flashlight: Best headlamp combo for camping and backpackingVont 'Spark' LED Headlamp Flashlight (2 PACK) Super Bright Head Lamp Suitable for Running, Camping, Hiking, Climbing, Fishing, Hunting, Jogging, Headlight

If you are in the market for a high-quality headlamp combo that you and your partner can use not only for camping and backpacking but also for everyday running, then you will find the Vont Spark Headlamp combo a perfect choice.

The Vont Spark Headlamp combo features two high-performance, portable and lightweight Spark headlamps. These headlamps feature a high-quality, drop-resistant ABS plastic construction with an adjustable headband strap. It weighs a mere 1.82 ounces (52 grams) without the batteries and 3 ounces with the batteries – making it also perfect for activities like running and jogging.

Each headlamp is equipped with proprietary vLEDs which offer super bright illumination of around 200 Lumens at an ergonomic 45-degree tilt. The light beam is strong and can easily cover a distance in excess of 200-220 feet. The headlamp offers seven light modes – Low, Medium. High and Strobe main LEDS and Low, SOS and Strobe side LEDs. Switching between modes is easy with a single button press.

With respect to the water-protection, the Spark Headlamp is rated at IPX5, which means you can use it in almost all weather conditions including mild to heavy rains(except submersion) – a big plus indeed. If you want a higher water protection, you can check out the IPX6-rated Vont Tron LED Headlamp from the same manufacturer.

Each Spark Headlamp is powered by 3 AAA batteries which can last up to 90 hours – almost twice as much as other headlamps in the category. The batteries are, however, not included and you will have to purchase them separately.

Like other high-quality lighting products by Vont Innovations, the Spark headlamp is backed by a lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects, so you can put it to everyday use without worrying about its durability.

For its high performance and value-for-money quality, the Vont Spark LED Headlamp Flashlight is Editor’s pick for the best headlamp combo for camping and backpacking.

Black Diamond Revolt : Best all-purpose headlampBest headlamp - Black Diamond Revolt Headlamp, Denim

The Black Diamond ReVolt headlamp is a lightweight, high performing headlamp from the worldwide leader in outdoor gears. It has one triple power LED, two single power white LEDs and two single power red LEDs which can emit light at a maximum output of 130 lumens over a distance of 200 feet. The settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red night vision and lock modes.

It runs on 3 x AAA batteries – rechargeable or alkaline. The rechargeable batteries are included with the pack, though you would get better performance with alkaline batteries. The battery life of ReVolt is one of the best in its class. One of the best features of ReVolt is the three-level remaining battery life indicator, which indicates the remaining battery life when the headlamp is turned on.

The headband of the ReVolt is extremely comfortable and comes in 5 vibrant colors – Spectrum Blue, Vibrant Orange, Matte Black, Titanium, and Ultra White. The buttons on the headlamp are decently sized, making it easy to operate the mode when mounted.

The ReVolt headlamp is rated IPX4, meaning it provides decent protection from splashing water, though you may have to protect it in heavy rains.

Like all other lighting products by Black Diamond, the ReVolt headlamp is backed by a three-year warranty against manufacturing defects – a testament to the all-purpose quality it offers.

For all these reasons, the Black Diamond ReVolt headlamp is Editor’s choice for the best all-purpose headlamp.

Vitchelo bright – Best lightweight headlampBest headlamp - VITCHELO V800 Headlamp Flashlight

The Vitchelo bright is a super bright headlamp allowing beam distance of up to 110 meters. It has both a red and white light mode with separate buttons for each light type for easy operation. It runs on 3 x AAA batteries and 3 Duracell batteries are included in the pack.

The elastic headband is soft and comfortable as well as adjustable. It is super light and weighs just 3.2 ounces(90 grams). The beam angle is adjustable up to 45 degrees and is great for sprinting, running and camping.

The Vitchelo bright is rated IPX6 which is great for use in heavy rains and is ideal for an outing in any climate.

For all these reasons, the Vitchelo superbright headlamp is our editor’s pick choice for the best lightweight headlamp.

Shining Buddy headlamp – Value pick for the best headlampLED Headlamp Flashlight

The Shining Buddy is a great option for its price. It has 4 settings of high & low beam along with red beam and flashing.

It runs on 3 x AAA batteries and comes with 3 Duracell batteries in the pack.

It is ultra lightweight at just 2.6 ounces (73.7 grams without the batteries) and the band is adjustable. The bulb is rated at 110 lumens. This headlamp is IPX5 rated which is water resistant against jets of water. Ideal for outdoor activities in heavy rains.

For the price, this is a great headlamp for your camping need. For these reasons, the Shining Buddy is our value pick for the best headlamp for camping and backpacking.

How to pick the best headlamp for camping and backpacking?

Technically speaking, a headlamp is like any other electronic light source consisting of a bulb and a power source, mounted on a headgear. So when it comes to picking the best headlamp, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Light output
  • Beam distance
  • Battery used
  • Battery life
  • Water resistance
  • Size and Weight

Light output

Light output of a bulb is the measure of how much light is being emitted by the bulb. It is measured in lumens. For normal visibility, a light source of 30 lumens is enough.

When picking a headlamp, you should pick one that has enough output on a low setting so that you can preserve battery as well. The higher setting you use, the faster your battery depletes. So finding the sweet spot between light output and battery consumption becomes all the very important.

Most manufacturers offer anywhere from around 100 lumens for headlamps such as Shining buddy and Black Diamond Revolt to as high as 1800 lumens for options such as GRDE Zoomable.

A headlamp with an output between 100 and 200 lumens is more than enough to be considered good for most outdoor activities. However, if you are into caving and wilderness hunting, you can consider higher output choices such as the Nitecore HC60 and Zebralight H600 Mk III Cool White.

To summarize, decide on the light output that you need depending upon your preferred outdoor activity and illumination requirements before picking the best headlamp for your needs.

Beam distance

Beam distance is a measure of the distance to which the light can illuminate an object. It is measured in distance – meters or feet. Simply put, if a lamp has a beam distance of 50 meters, then it can illuminate an object if it is less than or equal to 50 meters. Anything greater than that, the visibility will be affected.

The ANSI Standard effectively defines a useful level of light as the maximum distance at which the light source will produce 1/4 lux of light. Beam distance and light output are not directly proportional to each other. So a higher light output doesn’t necessarily mean that the beam distance will also be higher.

Beam distance is accomplished by the reflector and the lamp’s optics. A good reflector and a quality optics and direct the light beam and throw it to a farther distance.

Most manufacturers exaggerate both the light output and the beam distance of the headlamp, often it is some percentage less than what is advertised. Still, our top picks offer excellent beam distance and are hence a suitable choice for overnight excursions.

Type of battery and battery life

A headlamp is a portable gear so it uses some sort of lightweight power source. Most headlamps either use a 2 AA or 3 AAA batteries. Some headlamps also use rechargeable batteries, but we recommend that, unless explicitly supported, you should avoid using rechargeable batteries on the headlamps as you might not get enough battery life.

When selecting a headlamp, it is much better to opt for one that uses fewer number of batteries to reduce wastage and harm to the environment. If a headlamp uses 2 AA batteries instead of 3 AAA, it is a greener choice. This is one factor where rechargeable headlamps score big – the environment impact and disposal requirements are less and such headlamps are more eco-friendly.

The life of the battery is directly proportional to the usage of the headlamp. A bulb with a higher lumen will consume more power. Also operating the lamp on full beam mode can consume more power. The life of the battery depends on your usage pattern. Like we discussed earlier, a higher lumen bulb is just an exaggeration and most people will never need that much power. Make a smart decision between lumens so that you get the optimal life out of your batteries.

Check the type of battery and battery life before pulling the plug on the best headlamp for your needs.

Water protection

Headlamps are just not intended for use in the warm of dry weather. Also, there is no guarantee that the weather will always stay as how it was when you started your camping trip. Snow or rain is common and as such, they are designed to be water resistant. Also, since they rest higher on your head, chances are that they tend to get more exposed to water.

Most of the headlamps we listed come with an IPX rating. An IPX rating of 4 or higher is preferred. IPX4 means that the gear is tested by splashing water on it from all directions. An IPX7 rating means your gear will be waterproof up to a depth of 1 meter or 3 feet.

Always buy an IPX rated headlight, so that you get good life out of your gear.

Size and Weight

Headlamps are portable gears and are designed to be lightweight. You cannot image lugging a quarter pound of weight on your head. Most headlamps are a little over 3.5 ounces (100 grams), and some tend to be a little heavier. But they are designed to disperse the weight evenly to not make them feel bulkier.

The lighter the headlamp, the less stressful it will be on your neck. The bulk of the weight is at the front towards the bulb and that is where the batteries are also located.

Check the overall size and weight of the headlamp before picking the best option for your requirements.

Batteries and chargers for headlamps

Duracell - Coppertop AAA Alkaline Batteries - long lasting, all-purpose Triple A battery for household and business - 16 Count

The batteries are probably one of the most important items for your headlamp. Always go with standard alkaline batteries such as ones by Energizer and Duracell to get maximum life and output.
Most of the rechargeable headlamps listed above come with their own batteries. However, if you are looking for replacement batteries and charger for your headlamp, you can consider the following options:

Final thoughts on the best headlamp

A headlamp is an essential camping gear which should be part of your camping gear checklist. Choosing a good one is more than just walking into a store and picking the first available option, it involves considering the weight, the battery type and life, the light output and beam distance and the durability of the product.

In this review, we listed some of the best headlamps in the market for camping and other outdoor adventures. We also listed the factors to consider before picking the best headlamp that will become part of your camping gear.

We hope you found this guide useful and will help you pick the best headlamp for your next outdoor excursion. Until next time, happy camping!

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Featured image credit:Pierce Martin

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