12 Great Headlamps We Still Love!

Best Headlamps 2017 Buyer's Guide
Petzl Ultra Rush – the best headlamp for general use – everything from camping, reading a book, to running flat-out down a rocky mountain trail. Expensive, but unbeatable for herping.

Below are some of our older headlamp highlights showing 12 of the top headlamps that are still good today if you can find them new.

If you haven’t seen it yet, this is our 2022 BEST HEADLAMPS GUIDE >

Want One of the World’s 12 Best Headlamps for Work? Running? Hiking? Caving? Herping?
You want the details about the headlamp you’re buying because you’re making a significant investment. On this page we have heaps of details and links to full reviews of the 12 best headlamps as rated by independent poll (us).

So you are in a GOOD PLACE! Let’s Get Started!

[Last Updated: 8 June 2022]

Some Top Headlamps

We looked at the top criteria to figure out which are the best headlamps for 2017 and 2018, and we put all the information for you below. If you don’t see a headlamp that you’re looking for, have a look at what we have listed here because we really think we’ve got the best of the best on this list!

Headlamp Index (click one)

2017 Headlamp Comparison Chart for 12 Headlamps

See Our 12 Best Headlamps in a Comparison Chart (click) >

1. Petzl Ultra Rush | A Top Headlamp but Expensive!

Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp, the best headlamp 2017.
Stylish, and incredible light beam quality in the Ultra Rush 2017!

One of the top headlamps to buy for Professionals at Work, Camping, Trekking, Herping, Biking, for most people who can afford it, will be this ultra-bright though manually controlled Petzl Ultra Rush headlamp (E52 H). It is one of the newer technology lights on the market, and Petzl has over a 30-year history of creating original and quality headlamps.

If you haven’t yet heard of this brand, you’re about to because they took five of our top spots on this list! We weren’t even sure whether to rank the ULTRA RUSH or the NAO+ PLUS as #1 because they’re both so good, but a little different, and a big difference in cost.

Really – the RUSH is the best unless you’re using it for running. So, we called the NAO+ Plus the best RUNNER’s Headlamp. 😛

The Ultra Rush really shines in situations that require constant lighting, with instant-on power on standby. Oil platform workers, and those working on wind farms, or others scaling heights to do their jobs – use this headlamp because, quite frankly – it just works, and it’s the best there is unless you have Petzl or some other top company custom-make the perfect headlamp for you.

The ULTRA RUSH has been discontinued by Petzl. The NEW headlamp to take it’s place is the PETZL DUO S. See it HERE >

In addition to professional uses, it just whacks the competition for battery life – giving 38 hours low-light use – perfect for construction work, camping, fishing, trekking, climbing volcanoes, etc. Because the Petzl Ultra Rush is built so solidly and has two batteries in its ACCU 2 battery pack (E52 ACW), it is best for applications in which you’re not moving too fast. Meaning, horseback riding is going to bounce this headlamp all over your head.

Petzl Ultra Rush beam lighting up python and herpetologist in the field about midnight.
We take the Petzl Ultra Rush headlamps everywhere we go while looking for snakes in Asia. Here’s Alex Gillard with a massive 4-meter long python we found on the side of the road. You can see the focus of the beam is center-biased and bright. Alex is 10 meters away here. This is level 2 of 4 levels of brightness.

You probably won’t want to run with it either, at least not fast. Some do anyway because they want the quality of light this headlamp puts out. I read a review from a trail runner who ran his fastest time down the mountain with this headlamp because the light quality is amazing – it’s just heavier than most would prefer.

Ultra Rush Technology

The Ultra Rush is built very solidly. It’s tough. You won’t break it unless you launch it off the top of a mountain. I think if you fall on it, you’d have to hit it just right to crack one of the lenses on the front. They’re strong. The guy who established the brand, Ferdnand Petzl was a pioneer in caving and climbing. He made the first Petzl headlamp in 1981!

The Ultra Rush is super-bright – cranking out 760 lumens at the top power setting for up to two hours. The second brightest setting is 430 lumens and you’ll get that level for 5 hours. That’s really bright. If you need the light just for walking, you’ll have 38 hours of juice at 65 lumens – which is more than adequate lighting. Most people who buy this light will want something SOLID, BRIGHT, and LONG BATTERY LIFE. The PDF mentions – “Excellent resistance to falls, impacts, and crushing.” Sounds good, right? I’ll certainly be using my Petzl’s into 2018.


This is a top-of-the-line headlamp from one of the best manufacturers of headlamps in the world. Thousands of professional runners, climbers, and workers on oil platforms and other rigs and boats in the middle of the ocean, use the Ultra Rush and have used Petzl headlamps over the last 40 years. There are good reasons why!

Activities the Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp is Best For

  • Biking – Best on 3rd or 4th setting for lighting up the trail.
  • Camping – from low 65 lumens to 760 max, there isn’t much you couldn’t do.
  • Hunting – best on low setting, or high for spotting to 170m.
  • Skiing – on high setting, you’d have 2 hours of very bright 760 lumens!
  • TrekkingHiking – with 2 – 38 hours battery life, you probably won’t need more than this headlamp.
  • Working – construction, boats, farm, heavy industry.

Activities Petzl Ultra Rush is Not So Good For

  • Cave exploration – spelunking – the beam is too tightly centered.
  • Running – it’s just too heavy for most people. You can get around this by purchasing the waist pack kit with cable. You can use with the ACCU 2 or ACCU 4 battery, taking the weight of the battery off your head and putting it on your waist.

Petzl Ultra Rush Headlamp PROS

  • 6 Super bright LED beams
  • Round light footprint – evenly lit, biased toward center
  • Waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes
  • Great battery life for all but the highest setting (2 hours)
  • All manual settings
  • Good for almost any activity

Ultra Rush CONS

  • Not so good for runners – a bit heavy
  • Expensive – but built to last

The ULTRA RUSH has been discontinued by Petzl. The NEW headlamp to take it’s place is the PETZL DUO S. See it HERE >

2. Petzl Nao+ Plus | Best Runners Headlamp and Best Semi-Affordable Headlamp

Best running headlamp 2017 - Petzl Nao+ Plus
For running and active sports – you cannot beat the Petzl Nao+ Plus 750 lumens light!

If we hadn’t decided to increase the cost limit for our Top Headlamps List, the Petzl Nao+ Plus headlamp (E36 AHR 2B) would have been our #1 Recommendation. As it is, it’s very close in capability to the Ultra Rush, but it’s lighter and has some other benefits you can find in the Pros and Cons table below. Ultra-runners and other people who are weight-sensitive and want a lightweight unit will appreciate the Petzl Nao+ Plus headlamp without a doubt.

Before buying a number of the newer headlamps for our 2017-2018 list, I used the Petzl Nao (2) headlamp for over a year. The Nao+ Plus is the new model and they’ve increased the brightness over time, and also gave the Nao+ Bluetooth connectivity so you can create custom lighting profiles from your smartphone (Android and Apple). Petzl appears to have slightly tweaked the RLT algorithm so it nails most lighting situations, saving, even more, battery than the older model. The new battery model is E36200 2B. If You Want a WELL-BUILT, DURABLE, BRIGHT, AUTO ADJUSTING LIGHT – the Petzl Nao+ Plus headlamp is probably for you.

Reactive Lighting Technology (RLT)

The Petzl Nao+ top line of headlamps comes with Reactive Lighting Tech which senses the environment and automatically adjusts the light beam output to match. RLT saves precious battery juice to extend battery life beyond what most headlamps can provide on just one 2600 mAh 18650 rechargeable battery.

There are dozens of climbers and running professionals on the Petzl Team, including Kilian Jornet – the world’s best ultrarunner, Tony Krupicka, and Sebastien Chaigneau. Three champions. There are 1000’s of other Petzl users, you can see them lined up at the start of every ultra race around the world that includes an overnight section. When you buy a Petzl, you’re in the company of world-class athletes.


Excellent build quality, beam shape and quality of light combined with Reactive Lighting Technology makes the Petzl Nao+ Plus one of the top headlamps in the world. All of the headlamps on this page are highly recommended for specific uses, this light covers more activities than the others. Grab One!

Activities Petzl Nao+ Plus Headlamp is Best For

  • Biking – on 3rd or 4th setting will be best results.
  • Caving – recommend you set up the MY PETZL LIGHT application on your phone and custom program the Nao+ to give the max duration of time at the brightest possible output for cave exploration/spelunking. Also recommend you bring spare batteries, and even better – a spare headlamp!
  • Camping – perfect for any need.
  • Hunting – Not great for spotting far in the distance, but for close needs – works well.
  • Running – perfect beam shape, color balance, and size of the beam for trail or street running.
  • Skiing – on 3rd or 4th highest brightness setting – best results.
  • Trekking – Hiking – great for walking!
  • Anything!

Activities Petzl Nao+ is Not So Good For

  • Sitting on a shelf.

Petzl Nao+ Plus Headlamp PROS

  • Reactive Lighting Technology saves battery!
  • Lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use
  • Customizable Lighting Profiles
  • Round light footprint – evenly lit, bias on center
  • Red Light on Reverse for easy visibility
  • Water resistant in heavy rain
  • Good for almost any activity

Petzl Nao+ Plus CONS

  • Max 750 lumens Only Available in RLT Mode
  • Battery replacements are expensive ($60-80), but really, these are the most reliable 18650 batteries I’ve ever used.

The Petzl NAO PLUS is one of our ALL-TIME Favorite headlamps. See if they’re available HERE >

3. Petzl Nao (Nao 2) | Best Budget Runners Headlamp

Petzl Nao Headlamp (Nao 2) for runners or other outdoor activities.
Tried and True. The Nao 2 offers reliable performance, bright lights, and for a reasonable cost.

Over one year of use and this Nao headlamp (E36 AHR) is still cranking! I don’t notice a difference in battery life from the first day to now, I still get over 90 minutes at maximum power on the manual setting. Max power with this light is probably as much as you will ever need, but the other two headlamps above put out some extra light if you need it.

The Petzl Nao – we also call the ‘Nao 2’ because it’s the 2nd edition but with the same name (Nao). This headlamp is ideal for hiking, camping, running, biking, climbing trees to get coconuts, whatever you’re doing! Right now you can get this headlamp for around not much over one-hundred dollars, which is a substantial discount off the price before the new model (Nao+) came out.

One of the Top Headlamps for Years and Years

Last year, the Petzl Nao (2) was listed as our best-rated headlamp – and it would have been the same story this year, but Petzl came out with the new Nao+ Plus, an amazing Ultra Rush, which both improve on a couple things with the Nao. The Nao was the ultimate light for me as I used it for finding venomous snakes in Thailand’s humid rainforest over 250 times in 2016 and over 200 times in 2017. In 2018 we’ve had bad weather so far, but anxious to get out there!

Then I also did some night runs on my favorite mountain trail – and at both of these activities, this Nao+ headlamp excels. If you are conflicted about which headlamp to buy – the Nao+ Plus might seem like too much money. Even the Nao, you may not be sure you want to spend that much. You may be looking at the Petzl Reactik+ or one of the other headlamps and wondering if one of them can suffice. I strongly suggest you get one of the Nao headlamps.


My advice is to just buy the Nao. It really is still my favorite because it provides everything I need, and does it daily without a problem. It’s a nice feeling to use a product for a year and never once have to worry about it working or not. Ferdnand Petzl created a company I’ve grown to love. Their products are exceptional.

Activities Petzl Nao is Great At

  • Biking – slow, not full out Gonzo on the downhills. Get the Ultra Rush above for that.
  • Caving – if you need for caving, you’re better off with the Nao+ Plus above.
  • Camping – great for camping – all uses!
  • Running – light and great beam for street or trail running. Used by some top ultra trail runners in the world.
  • Skiing – not fast, but slow skiing – yes, good for this.
  • Trekking – Hiking – yes!
  • Almost anything!

Activities Petzl Nao Headlamp is Not So Great At

  • Fast activities – biking, skiing, rollerblading, skateboarding, kite surfing, hang gliding, etc.
  • Hunting – the center beam strength is probably not enough for what most hunters would like for spotting game far off.


  • Reactive Lighting Technology saves battery!
  • Lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use
  • Round light footprint – evenly lit, bias slightly on center
  • Water resistant in heavy rain
  • Good for almost any activity
  • Price is dropping because new model (Nao+ Plus) is available


  • Max 575 lumens Only Available in RLT Mode
  • Battery replacements are expensive but are exceptionally reliable.

SORRY, we could not find this discontinued headlamp online any longer.

HERE is a great replacement, better in every way. Promise. (SWIFT RL PRO)

4. Fenix HL60R | Runner-Up Best Running Headlamp

Fenix HL60R headlamp is a great all-around headlamp from a company known for quality headlamps.
The Fenix HL60R has a very powerful beam, is lightweight, and waterproof to 2 meters.

The FX-HL60R headlamp popped up on our radar a couple of times during our search for the top headlamps of 2017. At first, we glanced over it because in the past all Fenix was putting out were bad beam patterns that personally, I had no use for. Then, most of the Fenix models were using the 18650 batteries and they are very hard to get overseas. Fakes abound. I was really excited to see this headlamp has a decent beam pattern and power, lightweight, and all for a very reasonable price! The Fenix HL60R is going to be primarily for walkers or runners at night.

HL60R’s Strong Beam and Good Battery Life

Though the beam has one shape and doesn’t offer a spotlight or true wide-angle flood beam, many people will love the quality of light the Fenix HL60R puts out. The beam has a small, soft beam biased toward the center and weak light on the sides.

The beam footprint is round. Not only that, but the beam can get as bright as 920 lumens for as long as 48 minutes. Now, that’s with the supplied Fenix 18650 battery rated at 2600 mAh. There’s no reason you can’t buy additional batteries to extend the length of time you have light.

For that reason, some people will find the HL60R to be the perfect light for them because it has bright light, moderate to long battery life with extras, and Fenix is a durable brand, though, from China, it is a stable product that has been around for nearly 10 years now.

One problem with this light is that it gets very warm, causing foreheads to sweat. Not ideal for running, though some use it for that.

Activities Fenix HL60R Headlamp is Best For

  • Biking – ok, but tight beam. Biking slow, OK!
  • Caving – a nice wide flood light!
  • Camping – all uses!
  • Hunting – great spotting light – with a beam that will show eye-shine at 300m.
  • Running – slow running, OK!
  • Trekking – Hiking – sure!
  • Almost anything!

Activities HL60R is Not So Good For

  • Seems to be capable of anything! It does get very warm, so if you’re in a hot environment, you’ll want a Petzl lamp for your head.

Fenix HL60R Headlamp PROS

  • 950 lumens max – Super bright! + Red beams
  • Lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use
  • Great battery life and cheap replaceable 18650s or CR123A
  • Round light footprint – slight center bias
  • Waterproof to 2 meters deep for 30 minutes
  • Good for almost any activity
  • Price is reasonable

Fenix HL60R CONS

  • Max lumens of 950 is only available for 48 minutes
  • No auto mode or custom profiles


5. Petzl Reactik+ Plus | Best Lightweight Headlamp

Petzl Reactik+ Plus headlamp with Reactive Lighting Technology.
A great all-around light with Reactive Lighting Technology, the Petzl Reactik+ Plus is lower priced and full of technology.

We’ve used the model that came before this Reactik+ Plus (E95 HMI – coral; E95 HNE – black) and it was brilliant. This new model improves upon the Tikka RXP considerably with longer battery lifetimes, brighter beams, and Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone – using the My Petzl Light application for Android or Apple. Beam strength in auto-mode (RLT) is 80 lumens at low, 170 on medium, and 300 lumens at the brightest. On manual mode, it takes a hit and is at 30 – 100 – 200 lumens on those settings.

Runners and Campers Rejoice

The Petzl Reactik+ Plus headlamp with Reactive Lighting Technology is ideal for runners and campers alike. It really is good in just about any situation you could think of at the campsite. Reading a book. Setting it up as a tent light hanging from the center pole. Red light for saving battery and not waking anyone up.

A shaped beam which is perfect for running straight ahead or walks on trails. Great for fishing too. I can’t see any sort of downside for either of these two uses, though trail runners might want another light that gives a bit of a wider beam to show hazards. Plenty of ultra-runners use this light too – so, it’s just a preference of mine for a wider beam like the Nao or Nao+ Plus.

Activities Petzl Reactik+ Plus is Best For

  • Biking – slow
  • Camping – all uses!
  • Running – yes, there are still ultra runners who use this light. Will need extra batteries to go all night on high power.
  • Trekking – Hiking – yes!

Activities Reactik+ Plus is Not So Good For

  • Cavingnot bright enough.
  • Hunting – the center beam strength is not strong enough for spotting.
  • Skiing – beam is probably not strong enough unless skiing slowly

Petzl Reactik+ Plus Headlamp PROS

  • Reactive Lighting Technology saves battery!
  • AAA battery option with separate battery case
  • Lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use
  • Bluetooth enabled for Custom Lighting Profiles
  • Water resistant in heavy rain
  • Good for many activities

Petzl Reactik+ Plus CONS

  • Max 315 lumens only available in RLT mode
  • Not as easy to use as Petzl Nao line
  • Light not nearly as bright as some of the other top headlamps

This Headlamp is older and we cannot find new ones any longer. But, THAT’S OK because there is a replacement we have for you that is FAR BETTER IN EVERY WAY.


6. Petzl Tikka RXP | Lightweight General Use

Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp with Reactive Lighting Technology is great for camping, fishing, hiking.
Great for anyone who needs a head-torch for outside sometimes – whether camping, fishing, or just walking in the backyard to take the garbage out.

Along with the Nao 2, I used the Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp (model E95 RC) on my night wildlife field herping expeditions, probably over 200 trips in a year. The quality of beam put out by this headlamp is not really close to the light from the Nao series, the Tikka has more of a person-shaped beam.

They developed it this way for running because it really shows the vertical area well – and lights up the path. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal for nighttime wildlife tours, but for anything else related to camping, sure, you can’t go wrong with one of these, or the Reactik+ Plus headlamps.

Affordable and Moderately Bright Light

Though this headlamp is ranked 6th on our list of the Top Headlamps for 2017-2018, it is really a nice lamp for the small amount of money you’ll pay for it in 2018. We are keeping it and will use it this year along with some of our other new lights, and we have no doubt, it will perform!

If you are looking for a beginners headlamp and you don’t need it for much, maybe occasional outside walks or camping – get this one and see how it works for you. If money is no object, I’d suggest the Petzl Reactik+ Plus or the Nao+ Plus, also excellent headlamps!

Activities Petzl Tikka RXP Headlamp is Best For

  • Camping
  • Running
  • Trekking – Hiking

Activities Tikka RXP is Not So Good For

  • Biking – not bright enough for anything but very slow biking at night.
  • Caving – beam too weak.
  • Hunting – the center beam strength is not strong enough
  • Skiing – beam is not strong enough unless skiing slowly

Petzl Tikka RXP Headlamp PROS

  • Reactive Lighting Technology saves battery!
  • AAA battery option with separate battery case
  • Lightweight, durable, comfortable, easy-to-use
  • Water resistant in heavy rain
  • Inexpensive now that the new model (Reactik+ Plus) is available

Petzl Tikka RXP CONS

  • Max 215 lumens only available in RLT mode
  • Not as easy to use as Petzl Nao line
  • Light not nearly as bright as some of the other top headlamps

This Headlamp has been DISCONTINUED.

The SWIFT RL PRO is our suggestion. You’ll LOVE IT.


7. Fenix HP25 | Best Long Beam Headlamp

Fenix HP25 headlamp with strong center spot beam.
This Fenix headlamp has a center spot beam which reaches over 500 feet. Good if you need it…

With two separately controlled Cree bulbs, the Fenix HP25 has some functionality that some of the other headlamps just don’t offer. On the right side of the unit (user’s perspective) is the spotlight beam which has 3 levels of brightness.

A quick half-second push turns the beam on and off with the button on the top right of the headlamp. The spotlight beam is super-strong and stays pretty tight even at 100 meters (yards) distance.

Max distance you can see is over 550 feet. If you need to be able to spot something far away – like dogs running at you, for instance, this headlamp can be a great tool to have on your head. The left side beam is a flood – very wide, almost 180° spread. This beam has 20 brightness levels, ideal for walking or reading.

The beams can be used together – which really brightens up the area. Note – this beam has a strong center beam when both flood and spot are activated, it is very intense. I’ve had these Fenix lights for almost 2 years now, and they’ve NEVER let me down. I’ll be using them in 2018 too!

Separately Controlled Cree Spot and Flood Beams

Quite a few 2017-2018 headlamps have dual and even more Cree beams to blend flood and spot to give a really nice effect. Plus, on some of the units like this Fenix HP25, the beams can be controlled separately, to give the best mix possible – all on manual settings. The manually controlled spotlight beam on the HP25 is brilliant.

If you want a very strong center spotlight beam, with 3 levels, this could be your light. You can easily see well at 100 meters (yards) at the highest brightness setting. The flood beam by itself has 4 adjustable levels, and the turbo mode is good for running on a non-technical trail. Combine the two in any combination you wish – 20 settings in all.

Activities Fenix HP25 Headlamp is Best For

  • Camping – any use!
  • Hunting – 300m spotting distance
  • Running – OK, the beam is tight. Other headlamps would be better.
  • Walking – great!

Activities HP25 is Not So Good For

  • Biking
  • Caving
  • Skiing

Fenix HP25 Headlamp PROS

  • Bright center beam for spotting
  • Flood and spot beams individually controllable
  • Powered by 4 AA Batteries or Rechargeable
  • Good in heavy rain
  • Price is reasonable

Fenix HP25 CONS

  • No auto-mode or Custom Profiles
  • Very bright center beam, not gradual drop-off
  • Somewhat heavy – the 4 AA batteries weight it down.

The next group of headlamps is easily affordable. We are including these because we know not everyone can spend $150+ on a headlamp. These are solid affordable options for you!

8. OLIGHT H25 Wave | Bright, Great Battery

OLIGHT H25 Wave headlamp and waist-pack battery with 800 lumens for camping, running, caving.
A new find in August 2017 – from a friend in the Netherlands. This is the USA made headlamp which is very bright, cheap (compared to Petzl), and seems to be very high quality. Anxious to do a full review of this one!

Lumens Output: 800 max (updated for 2017) for 5 hours.
Weight: 443 grams (15.6 oz.)
Max Beam Distance: 212 meters (696 feet)
Positives: Very bright. Well made. Diffuse flood is good for some applications. Cool shut-off with a wave of your hand.
Negatives: Mandatory battery waist pack – cannot wear on the head.

This is a new brand for us, and we are anxious to give it a full review. I’ve used my friend’s Wave H25 headlamp for a night of looking for wildlife in the Thailand rainforest, and it was really good. I am very impressed and so happy to find the brand. They have a number of other headlamps as well, and flashlights (torches). See MORE OF THEM HERE – OLight Headlamps Available NowOLight headlamp inventory available to buy now..

OLight is a company based out of Georgia, USA. It is refreshing to see a price on these headlamps that is less than the defacto standard – Petzl brand from France. Already, I’m calling OLight headlamps a great alternative because the price is so different for specs that are so similar.

OLight H25 Wave headlamp specifications chart.
The Wave H25 is a high-performance headlamp, with great build quality and a great price.

At less than $$ for this headlamp (and sometimes as low as $), this is a remarkable light that appears built to last. It has an aluminum frame for the CREE Beam, power, and infrared sensor on the front of the lamp. It has strong straps and a well-made battery pack. Get this, the battery pack even has an external USB 2.0 charging output port – so you can charge your phone for it in emergencies! Really well thought out.

I’ll have a full shoot-out for this Wave H25 vs. Petzl Ultra Rush in a couple days. I just need to borrow my friend’s light and put it through the paces. It’s a good deal and worthy of inclusion on our list. The focusing beam works OK, it can be helpful in the case of needing to see further in a spot beam type spread. Of all the headlamps Coast has, this one is probably the one we’d purchase.

So, to review – the positives are the price; the very bright flood beam; the build quality; battery life; the instant on/off with a swipe of your hand in front of the beam, and the external power jack for USB 2.0 charging capability.

The OLIGHT H25 Wave is ideal for night running, hiking, exploring, wildlife tours, bicycling, cave exploration (spelunking), or working on your car or in your home in dark areas. This light is highly recommended, and we are picking up two of them for ourselves this week.

9. Coast FL85 | Super-cheap, Bright

Latest 2017 Coast FL85 headlamp with focus beam and 615 lumens brightness.

Lumens Output: 615 max (updated for 2017)
Weight: 128 grams (4.5 oz.)
Max Beam Distance: 183 meters (600 feet)
Positives: Bright enough for nearly all applications and the focusing ring, though gimmicky, works moderately well.
Negatives: Build quality less solidly built than Petzl or Fenix. Battery went quickly in high mode. The lamp gets a bit hot.

Specs chart for Coast FL85 headlamp, this is the latest 2017 edition.
Coast FL85 specifications.

The Coast brand headlamps are from Oregon, USA, and have been around for a few years. I’ve used their FL85 headlamp for a test while out in the field and thought it was good enough for average use scenarios. Nothing where you’re going to be putting your life on the line. This is what my mom would buy to keep in the house for when the power shuts off.

This is an inexpensive light – it’s a good deal and worthy of inclusion on our list. The focusing beam works OK, it can be helpful in the case of needing to see further in a spot beam type spread. Of all the headlamps Coast has, this one is probably the one we’d purchase.

The weight is not balanced – all weight is forward, so using this headlamp for running or even jogging is out. Mountain biking? Nope. Something slow and deliberate… yes. Stock up on AAA batteries for this unit, and if you need it for something important, you might be kicking yourself for not buying a more expensive Petzl brand headlamp instead.

10. Black Diamond Icon – Best Update

Black Diamond Icon headlamp, 2017 model.

Lumens Output: 500
Weight: 230 grams (8.1 oz.)
Max Beam Distance: 125 meters (410 feet)
Positives: Bright light and decent waterproofing standard
Negatives: Design

Black Diamond Icon headlamp specifications chart for 2017 model.

While some review sites are hailing this as the K-bar of headlamps, it really is barely capable of handling what we’d throw at it here on night herping trips and trail running. Finally Black Diamond is swinging the bat with this latest attempt. They jacked-up the lumens output to 500 lm, and that’s about the minimum you’d need for use on a motorbike, motocross bike, or other serious applications. For the price, around $, it’s probably not the best choice. Unless you like Black Diamond lights, and have used them in the past and found them to be all you need.

The design of this unit, like all BD’s – is just nothing like Coast or Petzl, or even the Chinese brand – Fenix. Still, it’s a light that can handle most tasks, but if you’re going to be lugging around that weight on your head, shouldn’t you really have a PETZL instead?

11. Coast HL7 Headlamp | Useful Focusing

Coast HL7 Headlamp 2017

Lumens Output: 285
Weight: 125 grams (4.4 oz.)
Max Beam Distance: 119 meters (390 feet)
Positives: Balance of unit on head, intuitive controls
Negatives: Battery life

Coast HL7 headlamp specifications chart.
Coast FL85 crucial specifications.

Less bright and yet more balanced and better designed than the Coast FL85 mentioned already, this headlamp is probably the one that most people will buy and be happy with over a couple of years. Unless you need more powerful light beam for something like riding your bike or running or looking for wildlife in the forest, this headlamp will probably suit you fine.

The adjustable beam focus could be helpful for people needing to spot deer or something long-range. The Fenix HP25 above, does it better, but the HP25 is having some availability issues, and you’d be fine buying the Coast – made in the USA, vs. the Fenix from China.

Battery life is not stellar, and it relies on AAA batteries. If you can deal with that, this headlamp may fit your purposes.

12. Fenix HP25R | Cranks 1,000 Lumens

Fenix HP25R headlamp, 2017 model.

Lumens Output: 1,000 (burst); 350 (high)
Weight: 278 grams (9.8 oz.)
Max Beam Distance: 187 meters (614 feet)
Positives: Two separate beams – one flood, one spot. Super bright. Many combinations.
Negatives: Heavy, and battery is gone in a puff of smoke!

Fenix HP25R headlamp specifications chart.
Chart of HP25R headlamp lighting modes and battery life expectations.

We have a number of Fenix lamps mentioned already, but it wouldn’t be right not mentioning the newer HP25r – the successor to the hugely successful HP25. These are made by a Chinese company which crushed the competition for years in the low-end headlamp space. It wasn’t until the last five years that Coast, Black Diamond, came into the mix. So, Fenix lights are bright, durable, and have some crazy-high lumens rating. This headlamp cranks 1,000 lumens for a brief burst. That’s like sunlight. Its high rating is 350 lm, and that makes more sense for a lot of activities. Still, it’s good to know you have the power of the sun on-tap.

Headlamp Buyer’s Guide Extras

The Technology of Headlamps

Headlamps have changed a lot since the early 1980’s when Ferdnand Petzl was making tungsten headlamps for climbing.

How to Decide on the Right Headlamp?

The best way to figure out which headlamp you need as you look to purchase, is to reverse engineer it. First – figure out what activities you’ll need your light for. Camping? Non-technical trail running? Road running? Skiing? Mountain biking? Spelunking? Some people need a light for many varied uses, and there might not be a headlamp that does EVERYTHING. Which criteria are you willing to compromise on? Battery life is probably a good compromise because you can always buy more batteries. It can get expensive, but if you find a headlamp that does everything you need, but the battery life isn’t up to par – you should probably just bite the bullet and grab an extra battery too.

Beam Characteristics

Petzl Ultra Rush flood beam is great for photos at night on low setting.
Petzl Ultra Rush flood beam is great for photos at night on low setting. We trust these headlamps with our LIVES.

What kind of beams will you need – and how bright – will be the next questions. If you’re hunting, you’ll want a strong center spotlight beam like provided on the Fenix HP25. If you will be reading at night in your tent, or want a tent light, you can be fine with the Petzl Reactik or Reactik+, or the HP25.

The Nao series is best for runners and those who want a light unit with bright light for a long time – hours. If you’re exploring caves, you probably want a Nao+ or Ultra Rush – or two of them to give you redundancy so you’re not stuck without light at some point. If you want a headlamp to strap on your bike occasionally, the Ultra Rush is great for that.

What About the Shape of the Light Pattern?

You may not have even thought about it yet, but the shape of the light cast is one major factor that you’ll need to take into account when choosing your headlamp.

The shape you want depends on the activity you’re doing. For looking for wildlife in the rainforest and on the road, the Nao series or the Ultra Rush works perfectly for me. The beam is bright in the center and gradually gets lighter on the sides.

The beams have a nice width to them. The Petzl Reactik+ beam is vertically oriented a lot more than the other headlamps. It’s for running short distances at night – and gives nice coverage of the area in front of you, but little coverage of the sides – where you don’t need it so much.

The Fenix HP25 gives a great wide flood and a very tight center spotlight beam. The reason the Ultra Rush got our top beam of 2017 and will surely be one of our top headlamps in 2018, is that it has 6 LEDs which are finely tuned to give a really nice quality of light – it lights up the area in front of you brilliantly.

It doesn’t cover very wide, and nor does it make the center too bright. It’s just a nice implementation of a lot of light looking generally forward – and it’s great for most applications.

Maximum Brightness Levels:

  • Fenix HL60R – 950 lumens for 48 minutes. Very tight beam though!
  • Fenix HP25 – 360 lumens for 90 minutes.
  • Petzl Reactik+– 300 lumens on auto-mode (brief bursts) and 200 lumens for 3+ hours.
  • Petzl Tikka RXP – 220 lumens on auto-mode (brief) and 170 lumens for more than 3 hours.
  • Petzl Nao (2) – 575 lumens on auto-mode (brief) and 330 lumens for 100 minutes.
  • Petzl Nao+ Plus– 750 lumens on auto-mode (brief) and 430 lumens for 120 minutes.
  • Petzl Ultra Rush – 760 lumens for 120 minutes or 420 lumens for 300 minutes. BEST BEAM SHAPE AND QUALITY, BY FAR. Highest price too! I have one of these and love it so much, I just ordered 2 more!

Reactive Lighting?

Do you need really long battery life, and are you willing to sacrifice a light pattern with constant brightness level? The Reactive Lighting Technology by Petzl was created to save battery and provide great lighting when you need it. Petzl has definitely succeeded – and their lights with RLT are definitely some of the best on the market. Personally, we feel they are the gold standard by which we judge other headlamps. RLT is not a gimmick, it works for most activities.

Three Headlamps with Reactive Lighting Technology:


If you’re going on an extended trek across mountains in Nepal or the Rockies, you’ll want to have either an excellent solar charger to charge your batteries, or you’ll want to stock up on AA or AAA batteries to provide you ample light over that long time-frame. Here are the battery options for the top headlamps listed above:

  • Fenix HL60R – One Fenix 18650 rechargeable battery, or two CR123A store-bought batteries.
  • Fenix HP25 – Four AA batteries – store-bought or rechargeable.
  • Petzl Reactik+– One proprietary rechargeable lithium-ion, with optional AAA battery pack.
  • Petzl Tikka RXP – One proprietary rechargeable 1800 mAh lithium-ion, with optional AAA battery pack.
  • Petzl Nao (2) – One proprietary rechargeable lithium-ion 18650 battery. Can take optional AAA batteries for emergency lighting (reduced brightness).
  • Petzl Nao+ Plus– One proprietary rechargeable lithium-ion 18650 battery.
  • Petzl Ultra Rush – One proprietary ACCU 2 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack with two 2600 mAh 18650 batteries. Can also upgrade to ACCU 4 for twice the run-time.

See Our Headlamp Battery Replacements List HERE >


Headlamps are not really made for underwater use, though of course there are diving lights that can be used for that purpose. Headlamps maximum water resistance is at a depth of around 2 meters for 30 minutes. Any of the headlamps above will do well in a hard rain. Here are the ratings…

  • Fenix HL60R – IP 8. Two meters deep for 30 minutes.
  • Fenix HP25 – IP X6. Powerful water jets for 3 minutes. (Very hard rain for 30+ mins.!)
  • Petzl Reactik+– IP X4. Hard rain splashing for 10 minutes.
  • Petzl Tikka RXP – IP X4. Hard rain splashing for 10 minutes.
  • Petzl Nao (2) – IP X4. Hard rain splashing for 10 minutes.
  • Petzl Nao+ Plus– IP X4. One proprietary rechargeable lithium-ion 18650 battery.
  • Petzl Ultra Rush – IP 67. One meter deep for 30 minutes.

Headlamp Brand and ModelMax. Lumens BrightnessMax Battery Life at # of Lumens3 Activities Headlamp is Best For?Check Price (click to see)
Petzl Ultra Rush headlamp thumb image.
Petzl Ultra Rush
76038 hours at 65 lmnUltra Running; Biking; CampingCheck
Petzl Nao+ Plus headlamp thumb image.
Petzl Nao+ Plus
75015 hours at 320 lmnAny running; Camping; FishingCheck
Petzl Nao  headlamp thumb image.
Petzl Nao 2 (2015 model)
57512 hours at 40 lmnAny running; Camping; FishingCheck
Petzl Actik Core headlamp thumb image.35015 hours at 30 lmnStreet running; Camping; HikingCheck Price
Petzl Tikka RXP thumb image.
Black Diamond Icon
50040 mins at 500 lumensRunning; Hiking; CampingNot avail.
OLight h25 Wave headlamp thumb image.
OLight H25 Wave
80024 hours at 60 lmnCaving; Hiking; HuntingCheck
OLight h25 Wave headlamp buy link.
Fenix HP25 headlamp thumb image.
OLight HS2
4002.5 hours at 400 lumens constant lightRunning; Camping; FishingNot avail.
Fenix HP25R headlamp thumb image.
Fenix HP25R
1000150 hours at 4 lmnHunting; Camping; HikingCheck
Fenix HP25R headlamp image buy link.
Fenix HL60R headlamp thumb image.
Fenix HL60R
950100 hours at 5 lmnHunting; Camping; FishingCheck
Black Diamond Icon headlamp thumb image.
Black Diamond Icon
500175 hours at 4 lmnCamping; Street Running; FishingCheck Price
Coast HL7 headlamp thumb image.
Coast HL7
28570 hours at 4 lmnCamping; Hiking; FishingCheck
Coast HL7 headlamp image buy link.
Coast FL85 headlamp thumb image.
Coast FL85
54017 hours at 75 lmnCamping; Hiking; Street RunningCheck
Coast FL85 headlamp image buy link.
OLight H2R Nova23001 minute at 2,300 lumens then 100 minutes at 750 lumens.Running; Cycling; SkiingCheck Price
Energizer Hard Case Headlamp thumbnailEnergizer Hard Case Rugged3253+ hours at 325 lumensCamping; Fishing; RunningCheck Price
Petzl DUO S11005 seconds at 1100 lumens then 3.5 hours at 700 lumensRunning; Cycling; SkiingNot avail.
Petzl MYO370 hours at 170 lumens constant lightingRunning; Camping; Fishing

We hope this page helped you choose one of the best headlamps!

If you haven’t seen it yet, this is our 2022 BEST HEADLAMPS GUIDE >

Vern Lovic

(Headlamps101 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and we receive a commission on purchases made through some links on this page. The price you pay is not affected at all by whether you buy through our links or direct from Amazon.)