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Best Headlamps for Running in 2022

 

Whether you’re an early-morning runner or prefer to head out in the evening, a headlamp is a small yet essential piece of gear. And it’s not just to see your way in the dark but also to be visible and stay safe on the road (just like reflective gear).

You want a headlamp that you know will suit your needs. To help you sift through the options, we’ve compiled a list of the best headlamps for running to figure out which one is going to be best for you.

Maybe you live in the middle of nowhere, so you want a really bright headlamp. We’ve got you covered. Maybe you live in Seattle where it always seems to be raining, so you need a waterproof headlamp. Yep, got that too. Or maybe you love to run on trails but are on a budget and can’t spend a lot of money. You’ll find a headlamp for that, too.

Our top choice is the Black Diamond Spot 350. It has an evenly lit beam of close to 288 feet in length, intuitive button controls, and a comfortable headband that can be worn for a long time without discomfort.

Read on to see our list of the best running headlamps.

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Black Diamond Spot 350

 

  • Even beam
  • Battery life indicator
  • Comfortable headband
Check Price

 

Black Diamond Cosmo 300

 

  • Lightweight with a slim profile
  • lighting modes can easily dim
  • Adjustable strap
Check Price

 

Nathan Neutron Fire RX

 

  • Five lighting modes
  • Side LED strobes
  • Adjustable angle
Check Price

Best Overall

1. Black Diamond Spot 350

This headlamp is intuitive, comfortable, easy to use, and suitable for a wide variety of situations.

What We Like

The Black Diamond Spot 350 has a low-profile, lightweight design—just 3 ounces—that’s easy to wear while you run.

Just two buttons make the use of the headlamp quite intuitive. The larger one turns the headlamp on and off, dims the light when necessary, and starts the strobe.

You can cycle through 3 modes with the small button—white beam, peripheral white, and red light. You can use them in flood mode, spot mode, red light night mode, and strobe for emergencies or to let others see you while conserving battery.

Whatever mode you need, the light has a max output of 350 lumens. At its brightest in spotlight mode, the beam reaches 288 feet, illuminating more than enough space to see what’s coming.

Brightness Memory is a handy feature that reverts the headlamp back to whatever the last setting was when you used it.

The PowerTap feature allows you to go from fully powered to dim with just a double-tap on the side of the casing. This is handy if you need to dim or brighten in a hurry.

It uses AAA batteries instead of rechargeable. You can get close to 4 hours of use out of the batteries at full power. Depending on how long you want to run, you may need to carry extra.

At its lowest power—6 lumens—you can get 200 hours, but it won’t light your way effectively for running.

While it’s not the brightest headlamp on this list, it’s the best all-around and ideal for runners.

Why We Like It

This headlamp is small but mighty. It has more than enough lumens for use while running. It’s also extremely comfortable and lightweight to wear, with a battery life that should last a long time even on the brightest mode.

What’s New

The newest model is 25 lumens brighter than the previous one. The top buttons were also redesigned to make them more user-friendly.

PROS:

  • Even beam of nearly 288 feet in length
  • Battery life indicator
  • Comfortable headband keeps the light in place
  • Intuitive button control

CONS:

  • You’ll need to carry extra AAA batteries with you on long runs
 

Top Value

2. Black Diamond Cosmo 300

Black Diamond makes excellent headlamps, and the Cosmo 300 is no exception. Its bright beam and friendly price make it our choice for best value headlamp.

What We Like

This headlamp also throws out 300 lumens of power on its maximum setting, more than enough to illuminate your way no matter where you’re running.

The high power beam reaches up to 242 feet ahead of you, while the lowest setting will light up about 26 feet in front of you.

It’s simple to cycle through the modes using the small top button. These include distance mode (high power), proximity mode (low power), dimming, strobe light, and red night vision mode.

All of these lighting modes can dim on the go so that you can get the right amount of light for the situation.

There’s also a lock mode when the headlamp isn’t in use. This prevents the headlamp from accidentally turning on while in a bag or pocket.

On 3 AAA batteries, you should get around 4 hours of light and up to 200 on the low mode. However, there’s no way to tell when your batteries are running low, so carry extras with you.

This little headlamp is also IPX8-rated, which means it’s fully waterproof and can withstand heavy rain, splashes, and even being submerged.

An adjustable headband allows you to get a perfect fit, and it’s comfortable enough for many hours of use in one sitting.

Why We Like It

The Black Diamond Cosmo 300 is an excellent headlamp for those on a budget. It’s affordable, offers plenty of light, and has a good run time. It’s also lightweight and slim, so it won’t feel heavy as you run.

What’s New

The Cosmo 300 got a small boost in brightness, from 250 lumens in the Cosmo 250 to 300 in this model. It also has a newly designed body that’s more compact.

PROS:

  • Choose from wide beam, spot beam, or red light option
  • Lightweight with a slim profile
  • All lighting modes can easily dim
  • Adjustable strap allows for the perfect fit

CONS:

  • Doesn’t have a battery LED indicator
 

Best Rechargeable on a Budget

3. Nathan Neutron Fire RX

If you’re on a budget but want a rechargeable headlamp, we recommend the Nathan Neutron Fire RX. It’s lightweight, illuminates well, and comes in at an excellent price.

What We Like

This compact headlamp is an excellent choice for those who want a rechargeable headlamp that won’t cost a fortune!

It runs off a USB-rechargeable battery. You can charge it directly from your laptop or wall charger.

This light is less intense than the others, but it still offers an effective 160 lumens on maximum power.

Aside from the LED lights, you can also choose to use the red, green, or blue strobe lights on the sides of the headlamp.

This helps others to see you in low light as well. It works with the reflective material around the headband to provide 360-degree visibility.

The only downside is that the more you tilt the headlamp down to illuminate closer to your feet, the bouncier it becomes because of the weight of the battery.

Why We Like It

The Nathan Neutron Fire RX is affordable, has good run times, and is easily rechargeable, removing any worry you may have about batteries on the go.

PROS:

  • Five lighting modes
  • Side LED strobes with 3 different color options
  • Adjustable angle lets you point the beam in your preferred direction
  • Easy to operate while you’re on the go

CONS:

  • The headlamp bounces more the more it’s tilted downwards
 

Best Lightweight Headlamp

4. Petzl Bindi

This headlamp is exceptionally compact and lightweight, and has a bright beam and rechargeable battery.

What We Like

The Petzl Bindi is small, powerful, and extremely lightweight. It weighs just 1.2 oz, so you’ll hardly notice it while running.

It’s a rechargeable headlamp, using a micro-USB to charge. The battery meter gives you a simple indication of how much power is left before running out.

The maximum power of this light is 200 lumens. It has a red light and a white light mode. You can choose from 3 intensity settings on the white mode.

It will give you about 2 hours of use on its highest setting, which is less than most others. On medium, you can get 3 hours of use. The red light will give you around 30 hours on low-intensity and 200 on strobe.

The headlamp has both a digital and a physical lock mechanism to ensure that it doesn’t get switched on by mistake when not in use.

This headlamp is so lightweight because of the headband, which is a thin elasticated cord rather than a proper band. Some people may find this annoying – but it’s a personal preference.

Why We Like It

The Petzl Bindi is exceptionally lightweight and compact. No matter how fast you want to run on roads or technical terrain, you’ll hardly notice wearing it.

PROS:

  • Extremely lightweight at 1.2 oz (35 g)
  • Features a white light reserve mode
  • Easy to make one-handed adjustments
  • Two locks prevent accidental activation

CONS:

  • The battery capacity is smaller than most
  • No dimming function or beam focusing function
 

Brightest Headlamp

5. Black Diamond Sprinter 500

If brightness is what you need, the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 is one of the best headlamps for running when it’s fully dark!

What We Like

The Black Diamond Sprinter 500 gives off 500 lumens of light on its strongest setting – almost twice that of the previous version.

One of the best things about this headlamp is that it’s rechargeable via micro-USB, but you also can use 3 AAA batteries if you’d prefer or as a backup.

The headlamp is well-balanced, with the light in the front and the battery at the back to prevent bouncing. A red light at the back also offers extra safety and visibility.

A wraparound headband design offers maximum stability. There’s a removable strap on the top if you want more support.

The single-button design is easy to use to scroll through various settings. PowerTap technology allows you to instantly dim any light by tapping on the side of the compact unit.

It does take a long time to recharge. But you can use standard batteries if you are in a hurry (or in the midst of a long ultra).

Why We Like It

The Black Diamond Sprinter 500 is bright enough to light your way but without an increase in weight. We like the rechargeable battery backed up with standard batteries.

What’s New

The Sprinter 500 is almost twice as powerful as its predecessor.

PROS:

  • Bright, even beam distance up to 150 feet
  • Features PowerTap Technology which allows for quick adjustments
  • Flashing row of red taillights on the back increase visibility
  • Comfortable, bounce-free headband

CONS:

  • This headlamp can take 4 to 5 hours to fully charge
 

Best Multi-Beam

6. Petzl Actik Core

If you need a headlamp with more than one beam option, we recommend the Petzl Actik Core. It’s compact and versatile enough for any adventure!

What We Like

The Petzl Actik Core gives you the choice of two beam patterns—flood or mixed. Combine this with 450 lumens and various brightness levels, and you have a versatile headlamp suitable for many situations.

There’s also a red light mode, which might not be helpful for running but it’s excellent for seeing what’s happening around you without blinding others, for example, if you’re getting ready to go for a run in a group.

The headlamp comes with a rechargeable battery, but their HYBRID design allows you to use AAA batteries if you want. You can also carry AAA batteries as a backup.

Choose your brightness and light color easily with a single push button. There’s a lock function to prevent it from being pushed accidentally while the headlamp isn’t used.

You can also detach the headband for washing, and the headlamp is compatible with several different mounting accessories that allow you to use it while wearing a helmet or as a bike lamp.

Why We Like It

This handy headlamp has two different beams to choose from, making it ideal for any late-night outdoor adventures. It’s also compatible with various mounting accessories for hands-free use.

What’s New

The updates to the Actik Core are subtle but helpful. A new locking mode has been added, the brightness increased, and it’s 0.5 oz lighter.

PROS:

  • Choose between two beam patterns
  • Three brightness settings with a red light that has strobing capabilities
  • Hybrid battery gives you two battery options
  • Easy to use even if you’re wearing gloves

CONS:

  • This headlamp is slightly expensive compared to others in its class
 

Top Waterproof Headlamp

7. Black Diamond Onsight 375

If your running routes take you through waterfalls, puddles, or there’s just a chance of heavy rain during your run, then you may want to consider the Black Diamond Onsight 375 headlamp.

What We Like

The Black Diamond Onsight 375 is a fully waterproof headlamp, with a rating of IP67. This means it is completely submersible and resistant to dust.

On the maximum setting—Route-Finder Mode—the light gives off 375 lumens. Climbing Mode offers 300 lumens and a wider, softer beam.

PowerTap technology is built-in to easily switch between the two modes on the go by tapping the side of the unit’s housing.

You can use three AAA batteries—included with purchase—or a rechargeable Li-ion battery sold separately. They should last for 3 hours on the highest setting, 26 hours on medium, and 100 hours on low.

A perforated headband dries quickly and conforms to your head’s shape for a comfortable fit.

Other handy features include Brightness Memory, which reverts to the last brightness you selected, and a digital lock function that prevents it from being accidentally activated.

Why We Like It

This headlamp is entirely waterproof and can even handle being submerged. With a perforated headband, it also dries quickly if it gets wet. You can take this headband on many adventures safely!

PROS:

  • Lightweight, waterproof housing
  • Easy to switch between the two beam configurations
  • Perforated headband dries quickly
  • Two different battery options

CONS:

  • This headlamp has no red light option
 

Best for Trail Running

8. PETZL NAO+

Trail runners need a headlamp that is robust and lights their way. The Petzl NAO+ is a rugged headlamp, ideal for taking on the trails.

What We Like

The Petzl NAO+ is a heavy-duty headlamp ideal for taking on the trails. The beam is bright, and it utilizes Reactive Technology to give you the best lighting at all times.

Reactive Technology changes the length and width of the beam and the brightness based on how close things are to it. This change ensures that what’s in front of you is always in your view.

This allows for hands-free, automatic adjustment that keeps you safer on the trails and saves battery as the light dims when you don’t need the brightest setting.

However, you can switch this feature off and use constant lighting mode if you want.

Download the MyPetzl app and you can use a customized beam pattern and create your own specific lighting profiles. You can also access 4 extra built-in lighting profiles.

Thanks to the minimalist design and even weight distribution, the headband is extremely comfortable. While the lamp is on the front, the battery pack rests at the back, distributing the weight evenly.

You can also buy an “extension kit,” which allows you to clip the battery to your belt or elsewhere for convenience.

Why We Like It

The Petzl NAO+ is quite robust and offers a large variety of lighting options through the app. Reactive Technology also makes running the trails much easier and saves battery life.

What’s New

The new NAO+, unfortunately, doesn’t have the option to use AAA batteries as a backup, which the old version did.

But it does have 200 more lumens, an extended battery life, a red safety strobe, and multiple adjustable modes through the MyPetzl app.

PROS:

  • Reactive Technology allows for hands-free adjustments
  • Customize light settings in the MyPetzl Light app
  • Multi-beam lighting can be used in unison or independently
  • Can recharge the battery using any USB source

CONS:

  • You can’t use AAA batteries, which the old model could
 

Most Versatile

9. Black Diamond Revolt

The Black Diamond Revolt is a versatile headlamp that works well in almost any situation. It’s durable and easy to use.

What We Like

The Black Diamond Revolt is a robust headlamp. With 350 lumens of power, it’s enough to light up just about any road or trail.

Brightness Memory and PowerTap technology make it easy to get the correct settings at the tap of a finger.

No matter what you need, there’s a setting for you. Proximity and distance mode settings, red night vision mode, dimming features, and a strobe are all included.

Being IPX4, this headlamp can easily handle rain, so there’s no need to worry about being caught in a storm.

One of the most versatile things about this headlamp is that it can run either on the rechargeable battery pack or on 3 AAA batteries.

It also has a battery power indicator, which shines a different color to indicate the battery life left.

In addition, it has a slightly different battery meter. This indicates a problem with the battery, for example, if it’s not correctly in place or overheating.

Why We Like It

Whatever you might need a headlamp for, the Black Diamond Revolt can help you with it.

It’s storm-proof, gives you different lighting options, has two battery choices, and comes with a handy and comprehensive battery power meter.

What’s New

The Revolt has been redesigned for better output and increased user-friendliness. It now features 350 lumens on max power.

It also has a second switch used for lens selection. The battery power meter is also new.

PROS:

  • Features a battery meter and battery power indicator
  • Can use either the USB-rechargeable battery pack or 3 x AAA batteries
  • Dimming capability helps extend battery life
  • IPX4 storm-proof rating for use in harsh conditions

CONS:

  • You will need to remove the plastic tab on the battery before using
  • The battery door latch breaks easily
 

Best Clip-on Headlamp Combo

10. Amphipod Versa-Light Max Headlamp

This headlamp can be used in various ways, a headlamp being just one of those ways! It clips onto a strap or any other part of your clothing, like a hat brim.

What We Like

This light is small and features only 160 lumens of power, but it’s still more powerful than you might expect. You can choose between full power or half power.

It weighs just 1.3 oz, so you can clip it anywhere and it won’t feel like it’s on the way. Clip it to your waistband, your collar, a backpack strap, or anywhere else where it points ahead of you.

But you can also use the headband, which offers a comfortable and personalized fit.

It has a white and a red beam with solid or flashing modes. You can expect up to 1.5 hours of run time on solid mode and up to 5 hours on flashing mode.

The only downfall is that the headlamp can’t tilt once it’s clipped onto something. This makes fine-tuning it to shine where you want a bit hard.

Why We Like It

This light may be small, but you can clip it to anything to light your way, which is extremely handy. You can still use it as a regular headlamp, too, if you wish.

PROS:

  • Can clip directly onto your shorts, running belt, or headband
  • Adjustable headband for a personalized fit
  • Recharges using a micro-USB cable
  • Weighs just 1.3 ounces

CONS:

  • The beam can’t be tilted
 

Most Comfortable

11. Biolite Headlamp 200

Comfort is key when wearing a headlamp, and we’ve chosen the Biolite Headlamp as our most comfortable choice.

What We Like

The weight of this headband contributes to its comfort because at just 1.7 oz you’ll hardly notice it on your head.

There’s hardly any bounce when you’re running with such a light weight. It also doesn’t feel like it’s pulling on the headband.

The headband is soft and easy to adjust. You can tighten it adequately without it cutting into your skin.

This battery will last about 3 hours on 200 lumens, the brightest setting. If you press and hold the button, the light will dim, which will help to increase battery life.

You’ll find white and red solid light modes and strobe lights for both.

Why We Like It

This headlamp is very light and has a soft, comfortable headband that stays easily in place. You’ll find it comfortable on your head as you run as it also doesn’t bounce.

PROS:

  • Soft headband stays in place with zero-bounce
  • Consistent, bright beam up to 164 feet
  • Adjust the angle by tilting the light
  • Choose from 4 beam modes

CONS:

  • No rear red light function
 

Buyer’s Guide – Headlamps for Running

Lumens

Headlamps can range from 15 lumens upwards. However, the best headlamps for running should be from 200 lumens or higher to provide enough light to see where you are running.

Beam Type and Brightness

Most headlamps also offer various modes that change the beam.

A spot light focuses a small area of very bright light. Its opposite is a flood beam, which illuminates a wider area but is less bright.

You should also have flash or strobe modes, that will use less battery. These won’t light your way, but they’ll alert cars and trucks that you are there.

Most headlamps will also offer different brightness levels—low, medium, high. Some even have red light modes.

Beam Distance

Consider the distance of the beam when comparing the best headlamps for running.

A longer beam will allow you to see more of what’s in front of you, but it is also likely to run the battery down faster.

Runtime

Make sure you know how long the headlamp is expected to run on a charge.

This will be different for every headlamp, every mode, and every beam type, so you will need to consider which you’re likely to be using the most.

Knowing this, you can estimate if you need to carry extra batteries on your run or if you need to switch modes at a later stage to conserve battery.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of the headlamp will depend on the headlamp and the batteries.

Consider the weight of the headlamp before buying, as a heavier headlamp may start to feel like it’s weighing you down after a few hours on the road.

Water-Resistance

Look for a number beginning with the letters “IP” or “IPX#. This is an indication of the water-resistance of the headlamp.

IPX4 means the headlamp can withstand splashing, so it should be suitable for light rain. IPX7 is the ideal number to see, as it means it can handle being submerged for 30 minutes, so it will be fine in heavy rain.

Power Source

Some headlamps run on AA or AAA batteries, while others have a rechargeable, built-in battery. Headlamps with rechargeable batteries may also have an external battery pack that can be added for long runs.

It will depend on your preferences as to which one is better for you. If your headlamp is battery-powered, you may need to carry extras with you in case they run out while you’re on the road.

If your headlamp is rechargeable, you can recharge the batteries before each run to ensure that they last. You can also carry a portable power bank with your mini-USB charger if you need to recharge.

Additional Features

Some headlamps come with a dimmer feature or an automatic brightness adjustment system. This can help to conserve battery life.

You ideally want a headlamp with a tilting function so that you can aim it to the perfect spot for you.

A locking feature will prevent the headlamp from accidentally turning on and running the battery down while it’s in a bag or pocket.

FAQs

Are Headlamps Good for Running?

A high-quality headlamp is an invaluable part of your kit for outdoor adventures, running included. Whether you want to go for a midnight run in your neighborhood or a night trail run, a headlamp is a must.

How Many Lumens Is Good for a Headlamp?

You can get headlamps in multiple different brightness levels—lumens. You should be aware that the higher the lumens, the lower the run time as the light burns brighter.

A good mid-range number is 300 lumens. You can get away with about 150 lumens if you don’t need your way illuminated but want to be seen by others.

Are Rechargeable Headlamps Worth It?

Rechargeable headlamps can be convenient. Instead of carrying extra batteries with you in case your batteries run out, you can simply charge the battery before every run to sure that you have enough battery.

If you are going for a very long run, you can take a portable power bank and charge it on the go. Depending on your needs, a rechargeable headlamp can be well worth it.

What Are the Benefits of Headlamps?

A headlamp provides an easy, hands-free way to see and avoid any obstacles ahead of you on the road or trail in dimly-lit conditions.

The headlamp also serves a similar purpose to reflective gear. It helps others see you on the road, whether motorists or other runners.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

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