The Best Headlamps for 2017


Petzl Reactik+

Petzl Reactik+

Even well-planned hikes can end up taking much longer time than anticipated (due to weather, injuries, blocked trails etc.) and to ensure that you don’t end up being stuck in nature in pitch-black, it is crucial that you bring a headlamp in your backpack. A headlamp also gives you possibility for planning activities in the dark, such as taking a run after sunset or simply getting an early before-sunrise start of your hiking trip. Old-school flashlights are not appropriate for hiking, mountaineering or other demanding outdoor activities as they don’t allow you to use your hands while illuminating the surroundings. When you are on the trail you need your hands free in order to do different tasks such as reading the map, getting things out of the backpack and so forth.

Many hikers get confused when faced with the task of buying a headlamp as there are so many different headlamps on the market. In this review we selected the best five headlamps currently available. Our selection includes everything from the simplest headlamps for basic needs to those suitable for tough expeditions in extreme conditions. The qualities that these headlamps have in common are reliability, durability and good value for the money.

This selection was updated on the 16th of March 2017.

1. Buying a Headlamp  – What is important?

Weight:

As a headlamp is carried on the head, it should be as light as possible. We did our best to only select lightweight headlamps – all headlamps listed in this review weigh less than 300 grams.

Battery Life:

A hiking headlamp should function for a reasonable amount of time without needing to have batteries changed or recharged.  Some headlamps are equipped with rechargeable batteries while others use disposable batteries. If you are buying a headlamp that uses rechargeable batteries and plan to use it for long hiking trips in remote areas, check that it also works with disposable batteries – it’s easier to carry additional batteries with you than a (heavy) power bank or a solar charger.

Brightness and beam distance:

A hiking headlamp should provide good brightness and a decent beam distance in various conditions. Our selection consists of headlamps that offer brightness of at least 100 lumens and a beam distance of at least 70 meters.

Water resistance:

As hiking is not limited to dry weather, a hiking headlamp should be water-resistant. All headlamps in this review can withstand heavy rain.

2. The Best Headlamps Review

Best Headlamps

Best Headlamps

  1. Petzl Reactik+
  2. Black Diamond ReVolt
  3. Petzl Nao
  4. Black Diamond Icon Polar
  5. Princeton Tec Remix

Comparison:

Feature/Product Petzl Reactik+Black Diamond ReVolt Petzl NaoBlack Diamond Icon PolarPrinceton Tec Remix
Weight4.1 oz.3.4 oz.6.6 oz.11 oz.2.9 oz.
Weight (Metric) 115 g97 g187 g300 g83 g
Maximum Brightness300 lumens
130 lumens575 lumens200 lumens100 lumens
Beam Distance360 ft.230 ft.442 ft.328 ft.239 ft.
Beam Distance (Metric) 110 m 70 m 135 m 100 m 73 m
BatteryRechargeable Lithium-ion Battery 3 x AAA Rechargeable BatteriesRechargeable Lithium-ion Battery4 x AAA Batteries3 x AAA Batteries
Maximum Battery Life15h300h52 h 250 h150 h
Battery Level IndicatorYesYesYesYesNo
Supports Standard Batteries Yes (3 x AAA Batteries )Yes (3 x AAA Batteries) Yes (2 x AAA Batteries)Yes (4 x AA Batteries)Yes (3 x AAA Batteries)
Bulb Type LED LED LED LED LED
1-Petzl Reactik+

Petzl Reactik+

1. Petzl Reactik+

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Military use
  • Running

 

The Petzl Reactik+ is a very innovative headlamp which in late 2016 replaced the highly popular Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp (still available at some retailers). The Petzl Reactik+ headlamp is perfect for hikers and mountaineers who often spend a night in nature and thus want a reliable and powerful piece of lighting equipment. In comparison to the discontinued Tikka RXP, Petzl Reactik+ features higher brightness (300 lumens compared to Tikka’s 215 lumens), longer maximum battery life (15 hours compared to Tikka’s 12 hours) and Bluetooth which allows you to adjust the headlamp’s beam pattern, brightness and battery burn time from your smartphone (the Petzl app is available for iOS and Android devices). Nevertheless, the beam pattern and brightness can also be adjusted on the headlamp without the app. The Petzl Reactik+ headlamp has a sensor which analyses the ambient light and adjusts the beam pattern and brightness automatically (reactive lighting mode). Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the brightness regulation in relation to battery consumption; the headlamp will adjust itself to achieve the optimal results. However, you can still choose between 3 different battery modes – Max Power, Standard and Max Autonomy. The battery modes come in handy as you can quite accurately predict how long the battery will last; in Max Power mode the battery will last for approximately 2.5 hours, in Standard mode for approximately 5 hours and in Max Autonomy mode for approximately 10 hours. The brightness sensor operates in all three modes. The reactive lighting can also be turned off so that the headlamp provides stable brightness despite the ambient light and surroundings. When the reactive lighting is turned off, the maximum battery life is 15 hours. As the Petzl Reactik+ headlamp features constant lighting technology, the brightness and beam distance don’t decrease when the headlamp is running low on battery. The headlamp is also equipped with a lock feature which is useful when you carry it in a backpack. The Petzl Reactik+ can be used with a night vision device as it is equipped with a red lighting feature. The battery is rechargeable by a micro USB cable but the headlamp also works with disposable batteries (adapter is required). The Petzl Reactik+ might not be the cheapest headlamp in this review but as it offers incredible performance we would recommend it to every outdoor enthusiast.

.

Pros:

  • Reactive lighting
  • Constant lighting
  • Red lighting mode
  • Durability
  • Weight

Cons:

  • Relatively short battery life

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Video

Black Diamond ReVolt

Black Diamond ReVolt

2. Black Diamond ReVolt

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Military use
  • Running

 

The Black Diamond Revolt is a simple but very effective rechargeable headlamp. It doesn’t provide as good illumination as the Petzl Tikka RXP but on the other hand it’s also half the price. The headlamp runs on 3 AAA NiMH batteries which can be recharged with a USB cable. However, the headlamp can also run on 3 disposable AAA alkaline batteries. This is a great feature as it allows you to simply replace the batteries on multiday hiking trips where it might be hard to get access to electricity. Additionally the headlamp features a three-level power indicator which shows the remaining battery life. Illumination is assured by one TriplePower LED, two SinglePower LEDs and two red SinglePower LEDs. The Black Diamond Revolt allows you to switch between 6 different modes – proximity, distance, dimming, strobe, red and lock mode. The red mode can be activated without going through the white modes, thus making the headlamp appropriate also for hunters and military personnel that require a headlamp for concealed use. In addition to that, the headlamp is water- and dirt-resistant. The Black Diamond Revolt is a great product for recreational hikers as well as for more experienced outdoor enthusiasts as it offers great performance for a relatively low price

 

Pros:

  • Battery life
  • Size
  • Weight
  • Battery-level indicator

Cons:

  • Brightness

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Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Backcountry

Video

Petzl Nao

Petzl Nao

3. Petzl Nao

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Military use

 

The Petzl Nao uses state-of-art technology in order to provide hikers, mountaineers and climbers with the best illumination possible. The headlamp can project up to 575 lumens and features reactive lighting technology which automatically adjusts the brightness and beam pattern. The headlamp is equipped with a lithium-ion (USB) rechargeable battery but can also run on two standard AAA batteries. The lifetime of the battery is up to 52 hours when the reactive lighting mode is enabled. In constant lighting mode the headlamp’s battery lasts for up to 8 hours. The supplied lithium-ion battery takes approximately 5 hours to recharge from zero. The battery compartment is placed on the backside thus increasing the balance of the headlamp. However, the battery compartment can also be attached to the belt of your pants or put in jacket’s pocket in order to reduce the weight worn on the head. The headband is equipped with a top strap, so that the headlamp stays firmly on your head during technical activities such as climbing. Furthermore, the Petzl Nao is also equipped with a lock feature and the headlamp’s settings can be configured directly from a computer with OS Petzl software (USB connection). The Petzl Nao is an extremely sophisticated headlamp that meets and exceeds the standards of experienced mountaineers, climbers and hikers.

 

Pros:

  • Battery life
  • Reactive lighting
  • Brightness
  • Detachable battery compartment

Cons:

  • Price

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Best Buy!

Also available at:

REI | Campsaver

Video

Black Diamond Icon Polar

Black Diamond Icon Polar

4. Black Diamond Icon Polar

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Hunting
  • Expeditions
  • Extreme cold conditions
  • Military use

 

The Black Diamond Icon Polar is a very powerful headlamp which can project up to 320 lumens. This product is best for those who need a reliable headlamp for the most severe conditions – from several weeks long hiking trips away from the civilization to expeditions in extremely cold environments. The headlamp features a detachable battery compartment (4 non-rechargeable AA batteries) and thus it allows you to store the batteries in the pocket of your jacket. There they will be warm which will significantly increase their battery life. Additionally it lessens the weight on the headband, making the headlamp much more comfortable to carry. The headlamp is also equipped with a three-level power indicator which warns you when the battery is running out. The battery lifetime is approximately 250 hours in the proximity mode and 75 hours in distance mode. In addition to these two modes, the headlamp also offers dimming, strobe, red and lock mode. The illumination is achieved by one QuadPower and two SinglePower LEDs. The Black Diamond Icon Polar headlamp is best for those who need an extremely rugged headlamp for their intense adventures.

 

Pros:

  • Brightness
  • Battery life
  • Durability
  • Detachable battery compartment

Cons:

  • Relatively heavy battery compartment

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Video

Princeton Tec Remix

Princeton Tec Remix

5. Princeton Tec Remix

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Trekking
  • Mountaineering
  • Climbing
  • Backpacking
  • Hunting
  • Running

 

The Princeton Tec Remix is the lightest and simplest headlamp in this review. Therefore, it’s perfect for recreational hikers and mountaineers who want a reliable headlamp for a good price. The headlamp is equipped with 3 Ultrabright LEDs and one Maxbright LED which together provide brightness of 100 lumens. The top of the headlamp has a large push button switch which allows you to easily turn on the headlamp even when wearing gloves. The 3 AAA batteries can also be changed without a hassle as the door enclosure is located on the side of the headlamp. The headlamp supports proximity and distance mode and runs up to 150 hours without having the batteries changed. The Princeton Tec Remix might not be the most advanced headlamp but as it’s reliable and durable we would recommend it to every hiker who doesn’t want to spend too much money on the lighting gear.

 

Pros:

  • Price
  • Functionality
  • Simplicity
  • Weight

Cons:

  • Brightness

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Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

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3. The most attractive product in the review

Which product is the most attractive?
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