Whether you’re an early-morning runner or prefer to head out in the evening, a headlamp is a small yet important piece of gear – not just to see your way in the dark, but also to be visible and stay safe on the road (just like reflective gear).
For your own peace of mind, you want a headlamp that you know is going to be perfectly suited for your needs. To help you sift through the options, we’ve compiled a list of the best headlamps available, so that you can 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.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Best Overall Headlamp for Running
1. Black Diamond Spot 325
If you’re looking for a lightweight, sleek headlamp that gives you a wide variety of options, the Black Diamond Spot 325 is it. This newest update is lighter, brighter, and smaller. Even though it’s more compact, it still provides 324 lumens of light.
Thanks to a redesign, you’ll easily be able to find the on/off button and switch between difference modes – proximity and distance lighting as well as strobe or red night-vision. Plus, if you happen to turn off your headlamp for some reason, the Brightness Memory will remember your last used setting, so you don’t have to worry about messing with the headlamp every time you turn it on.
Finally, this headlamp has been designed with adventuring or running in mind. It’s waterproof so you can handle any rain. The multi-faceted optical lens helps to save battery life, so you won’t have worry about the light dying as much. Plus, the housing indicates remaining battery life, so you can be prepared when you do need to replace the batteries.
- Sleek design
- Bright and lightweight
- On/off switch is easy to find
- Comfortable head strap
- Mode switch button is a little small and hard to find sometimes
- Some issues with battery life
Brightest Headlamp for Running
2. Black Diamond Icon
According Black Diamond, the Icon is “what other headlamps aspire to be.” If you’re looking for the brightest headlamp out there, the Icon is the one to get. It pumps out 500 lumens with two bright LEDs, allowing you to see up to 360 feet into the darkness ahead of you.
Plus, there are other options like red, green, and blue night vision, and dimming options to suit whatever needs you might have. If you tend to run or hike in extremely cold weather, you’ll appreciate the removable battery pack with longer cable, which will allow you to stash the battery in a pocket to preserve battery life if the temperature drops.
Finally, you won’t have to press many buttons to work this headlamp, as it’s a one-touch activation, and after start-up displays a 3-level battery life meter for 3 seconds. You can submerge the headlamp for a full 30 minutes up to 1 meter (or 3 feet) deep, and your waterproof Icon will still function just fine.
- Great battery life
- Nice, wide beam
- Comfortable to wear
- Amazingly bright
- Powerful headlamp
- Too many features, if that’s possible
- Can be a little heavy for trail runs
- Can hum when it starts up
Best Rechargeable Headlamp
3. Nathan Neutron Fire RX Headlamp
With the Nathan Neutron Fire RX Headlamp, you won’t ever have to worry about carrying extra batteries to replace dead ones, because it runs on an internal rechargeable battery. Plus, if you are a runner and need an ultra-light headlamp, this is the perfect one for you, as it’s lightweight and provides a steady 160 lumens of LED light (and up to 200 lumens in boost mode).
In addition, you can choose from red, green, or blue color options on the side strobes, and the entire head strap is made of reflective material, for added visibility. And since it’s so light and low-profile, it will be comfortable to wear for longer runs.
Finally, with the five lighting modes (low, medium, high, boost, and strobe), you’ll be sure to have whatever visibility you need. Plus, it’s water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about a little bit of rain.
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Multiple lighting modes to suit your visibility needs
- Even the lowest setting is plenty bright
- Can have difficulties charging
Best LED Headlamp
4. Petzl Actik
With the Petzl Actik, you have a wide variety of white/red LED settings available to you, meaning that you can select the perfect light, whether you’re getting your shoes in the tent in the early morning, or running on a deserted mountain road at night. Plus, the lightweight, compact design means it’s perfect for an active lifestyle.
You’ll be easily seen with the reflective headband, which also features an emergency whistle for rescue situations. In addition, you’ll have the option of improving night vision with the red LED bulb for a softer color, which also protects the low-light vision of the people you are with.
Finally, you can use either AAA or LR03 batteries or a CORE rechargeable battery (sold separately). This gives you flexibility to choose the batteries that are going to be the best fit for your running needs.
- Great features at an incredibly affordable price
- Amazing brightness and battery life
- Flexible to aim
- Rechargeable battery option
- Easy to access
- Not waterproof
- Short lifespan
Top Waterproof Headlamp
5. Black Diamond Storm 375
As the name implies, the Black Diamond Storm 375 will get you through any storm, as its sealed housing can withstand 30 minutes of immersion in 1 meter (3 feet) of water. But you’ll get more than just that. The PowerTap technology allows you to instantly transition from full 375-lumen light to dimmed power, depending on how much illumination you need.
In addition, the brightness memory ensures that you’ll stay on the same setting you had previously chosen every time you switch your headlamp back on. Thus, if you’ve found the perfect setting for an evening run, you won’t have to re-find it every time.
Finally, you’ll love the multiple settings that let you choose brightness and color, including strobe, red, green, and blue night-vision. You’ll also have the option of full-strength in proximity and distance modes, and lock mode as well as a regulated constant light output for whatever setting you choose.
- Good, comfortable size
- Great light output
- Durable and rugged
- Excellent powertap feature
- Will occasionally jump to the lowest setting without touching it for battery setting
- Slightly complicated to use and may be a little heavy for runners
Best Value Headlamp
6. Black Diamond Cosmo 225
If you’re looking for a headlamp that isn’t going to cost a lot of money but is nice and lightweight, you can’t go wrong with the Black Diamond Cosmo 225. In addition to its multifaceted optical lens design, you get a variety of settings: proximity and distance modes, strobe, dimming, red night vision, and lock mode to prevent the headlamp from accidentally turning off.
And you don’t have to worry about annoying the people around you if you decide to use the red night vision mode, as you can activate it without cycling through the white mode. Plus, it has dimming and strobe modes to suit whatever need you have.
The sleek, low-profile design emits 200 lumens of light with the added benefit of being waterproof up to 1 meter (3 feet) of water for 30 minutes. You can’t go wrong with this headlamp.
- Reasonable price
- Nice and light
- Well-built with many features
- Great dimmer function
- Variety of settings for everything from trail running to reading
- Could have a little extra padding on the headlamp itself to make it more comfortable
- Can be hard to feel mode switch button
- Electronics are sealed, but battery is not
Top Trail Running Headlamp
7. Petzl Nao+
If you’re looking for a headlamp that isn’t going to be like any other, the Petzl Nao+ is the one for you. Not only is it extremely bright, but the features available to you are extensive. For example, the reactive lighting technology will automatically adjust the brightness and beam pattern, which will optimize the battery for a longer use time. Plus, you won’t have to handle the buttons as much.
Similarly, you can customize your headlamp with the MyPetzl Light app by selecting your beam pattern, burn time, and brightness. You can also check the remaining burn time and adjust it and the brightness. The app allows you to create up to 4 lighting profiles to suit different activities.
You won’t have to worry about comfort, as the adjustable headband feels good and keeps the headlamp stable on your head. The belt kit accessory for the Nao+ allows the rechargeable battery to be moved to a waist belt so that it isn’t so heavy on your head, and can be kept warm in winter.
Finally, the rechargeable battery offers universal charging with a micro-USB port, a charge indicator, and a Bluetooth activation, so you can easily charge it anywhere. If you’re looking for the epitome of innovative technology, the Nao+ is the way to go.
- Crazy amount of light
- Reactive technology allows the headlamp to automatically adjust to different settings
- Extremely innovative headlamp
- Adaptive light technology is finicky in the winter
Best Value Trail Running Headlamps
8. Black Diamond Revolt
You’ll get a full load of features for a great price with the Black Diamond Revolt headlamp. With the option to use either alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable batteries, you’ll be able to experience a powerful 90-110 lumens of light that throw a beam up to 70m.
This flexibility allows you to use backup alkaline batteries if you don’t have a place to recharge. Or, use the NiMH batteries that can be charged via micro-USB cable (without removing them from the headlamp!) from any USB power source, including a solar panel, laptop, or car power port.
With the dimmer switch, you can select whatever light output you need for the task at hand. Use the red LEDs, which can be activated without cycling through the white mode, to preserve night vision.
The 3-level power meter shows how much battery life is remaining, so you’ll never have to wonder. Finally, the lock mode prevents the Revolt from accidentally being turned on while in your backpack, saving you precious battery power.
- Reliable, rechargeable headlamp
- Extremely bright
- Comfortable fit headband
- Doesn’t bounce or move when you run
- Adjustable brightness and battery level indicator are great
- A lot of features
- Some waterproofing issues with rubber door on charging port
Most Versatile Headlamp
9. Amphipod Versa-Light Max Headlamp
Maybe you’re looking for a less traditional headlamp. If so, you should consider the Amphipod Versa-Light Max headlamp, which you can clip onto anywhere. It adds red or white visibility, either in strobe or solid light.
On the boost-mode brightness, you’ll experience 160 max lumens while the regular ultrabright solid mode provides 80-lumen brightness. You’ll have an intense white and red solid beam with flashing modes thanks to 6 bright LEDs (4 white/2 red).
Finally, you’ll never have to worry about replacing batteries thanks to the rechargeable USB design, which will give you 4.5-9 hours of use per charge, depending on the mode used. Red “charging” and green “charged” indicator lights let you know the power status before you head outdoors. And it’s moisture-resistant, so you don’t need to worry about light rain or splashes.
- Bright and very visible
- Sweat and waterproof
- Lightweight with a secure attachment clip
- Poor battery life
Lightest Running Headlamp
10. Petzl Bindi
The Petzl Bindi is ultra-light at 35g and can fit into the palm of your hand. It is ideal to use for everyday activities around town or for camping trips. The headband is an easily-adjustable elastic cord, and you can also wear it around your neck.
Even so, its max power is an astounding 200 lumens. You won’t be able to keep it at that power for hours and hours, but you have the flexibility to put it on that brightness when needed. There are two additional brightness options as well as a red light mode.
Thanks to the micro USB port, you can easily charge the Bindi, and you don’t have to worry about any accidental switch-ons thanks to the two lock features.
Finally, if you do accidentally drain the Bindi battery quickly, it has a unique white light reserve mode that will continue to burn for 90 minutes at 3 lumens. That’s enough light for motorists to easily see you, even if it won’t light your way.
- Easy to wear around your neck
- Very lightweight
- Light is not nearly bright enough
- Battery life is not so great