Which headlamp to buy is a BIG question, but, we can help you in 5-minutes.
Here are our top selections for best headlamps for different activities – just click one to see the headlamp you’re probably going to want most. There are 2 price-ranges – BUDGET, and BEST. BEST headlamp means you just buy it because there’s nothing better and you can’t risk the light failing at the wrong moment.
Ultra-Running Headlamps- overnight races?
- BUDGET – Petzl NAO 2 with extra 18650 batteries
- BEST – Petzl ULTRA RUSH with ACCU 4 battery, or even lighter option – Petzl NAO+ with extra batteries.
Casual Night Runner – couple of hours in the dark
Hiker or Other Forest Activity Headlamps
- BUDGET – OLight HS2, or H2R , or the Petzl ACTIK CORE – These are great headlamps for hiking or doing anything in the forest. Here’s a new one we reviewed and at a very nice price – Actik Core headlamp.
- BEST – Petzl Ultra Rush with regular ACCU 2 battery, or ACCU 4 for more than 7 hours of bright light. There’s a new Petzl light that is going to be the ultimate light, based on specs. Find it here – DUO S.
Working on Automobile or Machinery in Dark
- BUDGET – OLight HS2, or the Black Diamond Icon will work for close-in work, as will the Actik Core.
- BEST – DUO S gives a great flood beam, and plenty of brightness if you need really strong light. Rather expensive though.
Automobile Emergencies – good for the trunk
- BUDGET – Even the budget option here will be expensive because, you’re talking about your safety – you should have a very good light in the trunk. Petzl NAO+ Plus
- BEST – I go with the Petzl ULTRA RUSH for everything important – where safety is a real consideration. The light is super strong and bright, and gives 7 hours of bright light, more than 30 hours of dimmer light.
Night Skiing Headlamps
- BUDGET and BEST – Petzl ULTRA RUSH You won’t ski into a tree you don’t see with this headlamp – it has a fantastic quality of light. Don’t go cheap during this activity! This one is new in 2018 – Petzl Duo S – and it’s better than the ULTRA RUSH.
Night Fishing Headlamps
- BUDGET – Petzl ACTIK CORE, or the Energizer Hard Case. The new OLight HS2
- BEST – The Ultra Rush would probably be overkill, but if you need one light that gives you the best light for nearly any activity – the Petzl ULTRA RUSH is it. That said, you could get away with a Petzl NAO 2 on your fishing trip and be quite happy about it.
Night Hunting Headlamps
- BUDGET – Fenix HP25R has a strong center spotlight beam that will probably work for you. If not, see the Best entry below.
- BEST – Fenix HL60R has a stronger center beam.
Bicycle Light – street or trail
- BUDGET and BEST – again, just go with the best you can get – so you can see, and be seen. Riding a bike at night is very dangerous, you need the best you can get – the Petzl ULTRA RUSH is it.
Taking Out the Trash
- BUDGET and BEST – Any light found HERE works, you’re best to get one that you can also use for other activities so you don’t buy one cheap light, then another good one for something else.
Reading a Book in a Tent
- BUDGET – The Black Diamond Icon is perfect for this. So is the ACTIK CORE.
- BEST – you might as well have a good headlamp that doubles as a great light on the trail and a book light – right? Check out all of our 12 CHOICES HERE to find one that better fits more activities.
End of the World / GTFO / SHTF / BOB’s (Bug Out Bags) Headlamp?
- BUDGET and BEST – Petzl ULTRA RUSH with ACCU 4 batteries and waist clip, power wire extension. These don’t take batteries, so you should have a generator for charging. Probably, at some point, someone will have a fix for how to use store-bought batteries with the Petzl Ultra Rush headlamp for an emergency. Google it!
SUPER BUDGET HEADLAMP?
We just reviewed the Energizer Hard Case Headlamp. It’s the best headlamp for $30 you’re ever going to find. If you just want a headlamp, or a few of them for the family for camping or hiking at night a bit – you really can’t beat it for a cheap alternative that puts out a nice quality beam and runs on AA batteries. See it here >
Need a great headlamp for something else? Let us know. We’re always looking for new ways people use headlamps. For instance, we use them for finding venomous snakes at night here in Southern Thailand! We use the Petzl Ultra Rush – it has the best quality of light and is super durable. We fall on our heads sometimes. ;P