Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best headlamp for running 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated December 1, 2019
Best headlamp for running of 2018
There’s a product for every kind of user on the list of affordable options below. Check them out and decide which one suits you the best to splurge upon. Based on customer reviews and my own experience with the cowboy method I’ve found the best 3 headlamp for running on the market. If you’re scouring the market for the best headlamp for running, you’d better have the right info before spending your money.
Test Results and Ratings
№1 – USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp Ultra Lightweight Comfortable Super Bright Waterproof Head Torch Perfect for Running
Why did this headlamp for running win the first place?
The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing!
Why did this headlamp for running come in second place?
This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
Why did this headlamp for running take third place?
The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built.
headlamp for running Buyer’s Guide
Why You Need a Running Headlamp
As a runner, you have probably found yourself running at night or in the early morning hours. Running when the sun isn’t up is a great way to prevent heatstroke and dehydration. Running at these times also means fewer cars on the road to contend with. Running in the dark can be dangerous. The biggest danger to running in the dark is you are not easily seen. And you cannot see where you are going. A running headlamp lights up the path in front of you and allows you to be seen by approaching traffic. Running headlamps are better than flashlights as they provide you with a hands-free option.
You want a running headlamp that is going to perform as you need it to. Performance is linked to features. What features you need to look for depends on how you need the headlamp to perform. If you are going to be outdoors in various elements you want something will work in wet or dry weather.
Consider the style of batteries the headlamp uses. Rechargeable batteries don’t require you to purchase extra batteries, but you have downtime when they need to be recharged. Ordinary alkaline batteries require you to carry spare batteries around or go without your headlamp until you can purchase new batteries. If you opt for ordinary alkaline batteries find a headlamp that uses AA or AAA, as they are the easiest to find. Operating time and settings also need to be considered when looking at batteries.
The Petzl NAO is the ideal choice for runners who are looking for an adjustable headlamp that provides optimal comfort. The NAO headlamp uses a rechargeable 2600 mAh Lithium-ion battery complete with a USB port for convenient recharging. Using any USB charging cable a full recharge takes hours. The Petzl NAO is also compatible with ordinary alkaline batteries. The NAO offers reactive lighting that automatically adjusts the light output from to 57lumens based on the user’s needs.
Although we feel the Petzl NAO is the best trail running headlamp it does have a slight drawback in terms of battery life. If you are in need of a trail running headlamp that offers an extremely long battery life, check out the Black Diamond Icon. If you opt for the longer battery life you need to know the Black Diamond Icon is heavier than the Petzl. The Black Diamond is also not as comfortable as the Petzl to wear for extended periods of time.
Black Diamond Ion
Runners who want something simple, but powerful find the Black Diamond Ion an excellent choice. The double powered LED is encased in a modern housing unit. The housing is attached to a simple elastic band that can be adjusted for a secure fit. The Black Diamond Ion is powered by two AAA lithium standard alkaline batteries. With an IPXrating, the light can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. Even if water does seep into the battery compartment the light will still work but will need to be dried out entirely.
Users will find that the Black Diamond offers a range of output modes. The Black Diamond can be used on full power of 100 lumens or dimmed down to as low as lumens. The Double Power LED features a strobe and distance mode. The headlamp also features a single red LED used for night vision. Each mode is accessed via a touch-control; you will not find any switches with the Black Diamond Ion.
Black Diamond Sprinter
Runners from all around prefer the Black Diamond Sprinter. The Black Diamond Sprinter is so comfortable and lightweight you hardly notice it is there. The Sprinter also comes with an added safety feature that impresses most runners, a small flashing red light. The flashing red light is located at the back of the headlamp. The taillight can be turned on or off depending on if runners need added visibility.
The Black Diamond Sprinter is an all-weather light that utilizes a TriplePower LED to emit up to 200 lumens of light. The Sprinter offers three settings: full power, strobe, and dimming. The light emitted is regulated to ensure constant brightness regardless of setting used. The Black Diamond Sprinter comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to hours with a hour recharge time.
A great waterproof option
A headlamp can make running safer, but when you go to buy one, you may notice that they all look the same. To make it easier for you to find the right headlamp, we’ve compared and reviewed the best-selling models to find ones that meet our strict quality criteria.
Once upon a time if you had a head torch the chances are it was the Petzl Zoom, there wasn’t really much alternative. Things have moved on and nowadays the choice isn’t so simple: there’s Intelligent Lighting, Reactive Lighting, Regulated Output, USB Rechargeable and Programmable torches to consider.
Burn Time Testing
So I timed how long it took for all the torches to go from fully charged to going out. The regulated torches retained their brightness before switching off suddenly whereas the unregulated ones gradually dimmed as the batteries drained.
All torches were tested on full power with the exception of the UniLite, RXP, Verso, Nao and the Trail Elite (the rationale being that with these torches the user would only use maximum power occasionally and that having the torch on a lower setting, comparable in brightness to the others would be a more useful test).
Each manufacturer states the brightness measured in lumens but all torches have slightly different beam shape, spread and tint so the best test is to see what the beam actually looks like in the dark. For comparison I photographed each torch on its highest power and widest beam using the same exposure and aperture.
Cover the Windshield
Always Be Packin’ “I keep a scraper in the car all year round so I’m never caught off-guard,” Holland says. Case in point: Last August, she was camping in the far north and woke up to frost on her windshield. She was thankful her scraper was in its usual spot on the floor in the back seat. It’s good advice, because even if you’re in a temperate spot, weird weather patterns can roll through.
Many manufacturers are now treating their down with hydrophobic compounds that certainly make them better at dealing with moisture (more on that later). But at the end of the day, synthetic insulation is king at staying warm when wet, since it won’t lose its structure, even if it isn’t quite as good at retaining heat. Legendary alpinist Steve House obsesses about traveling light expeditions, but will add ounces—sometimes pounds—of excess weight to his kit by bringing synthetic jackets and sleeping bags. “If I’m going to be overnight or on an expedition, I am going to go synthetic,” House said. He used a synthetic Patagonia Das Parka to guide in places like Denali and Chamonix since the nineties, long before he was sponsored by the company.
There are plenty. Due to the fact that down is a bi-product of the of the goose and duck meat industry, and given that the vast majority of the down manufacturers are using is from far away places like China and Eastern Europe, it’s extremely difficult to keep track of how those ducks and geese are being treated before and during their slaughter.
Some materials companies (like synthetic insulation pioneer Primaloft) have combined synthetics with down in an effort to create a best of both worlds combo of warmth, weight, and water-repellency. This method involves actually intertwining hydrophobic-treated down with synthetic fills. The jury’s still out on these types of fills, and I haven’t used very many of them myself.
The headlamps in this guide are not recommended for mountain biking (you need something brighter) or hunting, nor are they appropriate for military purposes, tactical use, or rescue (you need something with colored LED lights, and color temperature might matter, too). And they are not the right choice for caving, diving, or underwater photography (you need something seriously waterproof).
How we picked and tested
Safety lights will usually have at least one constant lighting mode, in addition to multiple flashing modes. They also offer higher levels of side visibility; so you can be seen at junctions by pedestrians and other road users.
Lezyne Strip Drive Pair 300/150 is the perfect bike light set, for when you want to be seen on the road.
On the rear, a bright safety light will allow other road users to see you from a good distance. Similar to commuting lights, using the flashing mode, and doubling up on these lights, will make you even more visible.
Exposure Trace Pack – Trace & TraceR with Handlebar and Pos features the TraceR – one of our brightest rear lights.
Bicycle lights for off-road riding
Riding a bike off-road, at night, offers a whole new dimension to your experience! Those familiar trails will feel like adrenaline-inspiring new routes, as they look a whole lot different under the cover of darkness.
As a bare minimum, you want a powerful bar mounted front light, ideally with an output upwards of 1000 lumens. These off-road specific lights will have a wider beam pattern too, so they can illuminate the whole of the trail in front of you.
High powered off-road lights feature the ability to “toggle” down the light level; so you can light up the world on those technical descents, but reign back the power, and conserve battery life, on those long uphill drags.
Exposure Maxx-D Mkis one of the most powerful, and most popular off-road specific front bicycle lights.
In addition to a bar mounted light, a helmet mounted light with a narrower beam will help you to see round corners, and spot any additional hazards that might be lost in the shadow of your main light. is the standard to which all helmet lights are compared, and offers outstanding performance.
Bike lights explained
Lights that make you seen can greatly improve your visibility to road users when riding at night. They ensure that car drivers can see you from a distance and be alerted to your presence. Almost all bicycle lights use LED bulbs as they are more reliable and use much less battery power, whilst also offering much higher levels of brightness. Used in flashing mode, they are very good at attracting attention from other road users.
Features of a mountain bike light
Lamp body (head unit): This houses the LEDs, the lens in front, the reflectors behind, the circuitry that makes it all work and the fins or ribs that radiate away as much heat as possible.
LEDs: Most lights now use LEDs (light emitting diodes), because they produce more light for less power than a conventional bulb and are far less fragile than HID lamps. Technological advances mean performance has leapt forward in the past few years and each new season brings significant upgrades.
Optics: The reflector and lens in front affect how the light is thrown down the trail. Focused spot beams are great for seeing a long way for a given output; wide flood beams give good peripheral vision.
Mount/bracket: How you attach the light to your bike. Most mounts use clips and spacers but O-rings are a great simple solution. If you are thinking of using a helmet mounted light, you need a lamp that’s light enough to be comfortable and secure on your lid, rather than a neck snapper. You’ll need an extension cable and helmet mount too, so check if that’s included or an optional extra.
Battery: The bit that powers the light. Lighter, tougher, far more random charge resistant lithium ion (Li-Ion) chargeable batteries have revolutionised mountain bike lighting compared with older lead acid and NiMH batteries — but battery and lamp efficiencies still vary dramatically. Most brands sell extra batteries (often at a discount if bought with the light) so you can always swap halfway. Check your batteries are properly prepared for maximum performance (this should be in the instructions) and take a back-up until you know you can rely on their run times.
Switchgear: The switch not only turns the light on, but also lets you change power output levels. It needs to be easy to operate while riding, even with gloves on, but hard to operate accidentally. Many lights now use backlit switches that double as mode and/or run time indicators using traffic-light-style colour changes. Switchgears now range from a simple push button sequential mode switch with low battery warning light to wireless bar-mounted units or switches that can also change the different output levels and menus.
Head or bars
Most lights come with both bar and helmet mounting options. Which is better comes down to personal preference, but here are the pros and cons of each.
The result — it’s a draw! In reality the best solution is to use helmet and bar-mounted lights, even if you have to buy lower powered units to afford both. It also means you have a backup should one battery die.
Being stuck on a wet winter’s night, miles from anywhere with a failed light or everything suddenly going pitch black halfway down a technical descent is a really serious matter. That’s why we take our lights testing extremely seriously.
There’s no substitute for time on trail in all weathers to find out this crucial stuff — and we’re not just talking about lights used in the past few months. We also reference the sets we’ve run long-term to get in-depth, worst case use feedback that’s directly relevant to the riding you do.
The science side
As is often the case with mountain biking, the scientific part of the testing is the easiest bit. Lights (lamp body plus handlebar bracket) and batteries are weighed on our scales.
We then measure the useful maximum power run time (to when the output fades and low battery warning lights come on) with pre-conditioned (used and recharged) batteries in the highest power setting on an air cooled rig to mimic the cooling effect of riding at night. We also measure the maximum casing heat of the lights with a thermal probe to see if any get dangerously hot.
The practical side
It’s the feedback we get from real world usage that really sorts out often very similar lamps in terms of trail performance. When it comes to our test conditions we’re talking serious sorties, often two or three times a week all year round in every trail condition imaginable. Baked hard river bed runs that’ll shake a poor bracket or fragile circuit board apart in seconds or leave a badly bagged battery hanging by its lead; sub-zero tundra trudges that freeze a battery to horribly low maximum power run times; drownings in downpours and hip-deep bog crashes.
Most of our lights have seen it all and, if the most recent versions have only been hammered through summer, we’ve certainly put the models preceding them through the most testing ride schedule possible. Repeated group riding, bike switching, recharging and battery flattening gives us the perfect comparative testing cluster too, so any failures or fading is immediately obvious rather than going unnoticed in isolation.
In other words, if a light scores well, you know it’s gone through some proper optical and electrical purgatory to prove itself. For that reason, for all of our latest lights testing we’ve deliberately stuck with established (at least a year old) lights manufacturers to ensure anything we recommend is a fully supported product.
Comfort is usually pretty important to everyone and most well reviewed headlamps will already be fairly comfortable. Some headlamps may not be as comfortable for everyone though and this will depend on how it is made and perhaps what features are included. A runner will have a much higher threshold for comfort than the casual camper that will only pull out the headlamp when getting another beer from the cooler! Comfort is important but ultimately a user preference. Certain factors can determine how comfortable a headlamp can be.
Know your mountain bike lights
Power : The higher the lumen count, the brighter the light. Simple. But less scrupulous manufacturers have been known to inflate the numbers to boost the shelf appeal of their lights. Big brands can be trusted or if it has been certified to the ANSI FLstandard, but beyond that the only way to be sure is to get an eyeball test.
Cable : Lengthy cables are a pain in the neck to keep under control, so the best options have short cables for bar mounting with optional extenders used to make the light helmet compatible. Better still look for a cable-free all in one option for the ultimate in convenience.
Beam Pattern : In bar mounted light, spreading the light evenly across and up the trail with no hard lines, shadows or hotspots to distract your eye is, if anything, more important than raw power. We have noticed during years of testing that as soon as you lose peripheral vision and add distractions like bright lines or dead spots, your ability to read the trail suffers and consequently speed does too.
Remote : Remotes are a superb way to encourage power management and extend your battery life. When the power switch is right at your thumb without needing to change or relinquish grip on the bars, it is easy to flick the power up and down according to trail conditions. Wireless remotes are especially useful for helmet mounted units.
Bar Mount : Rubber O-ring bands are our favoured way of attaching the light to the bar; easy to fit, adjust and remove they expand to fit most bar sizes easily and leave nothing behind for day rides. Heavier lights such as all in one units need something more secure, so bolted clamps are necessary to take the weight. Most, but not all, allow for oversized 35mm bars so double check if you need that size.
Fuel Gauge : A must for displaying your remaining power, allowing you to make decisions on power management. Most are simple green/amber/red lights, but more recently lights are filtering through with accurate time countdown displayed.
Charger : A very welcome development has been the increase in USB charging available. Not only does this mean you have one less dedicated charge adaptor cluttering your life, but it also makes charging in the car possible at 2hour races or similar.
Red Light Mode – Especially if you are sharing a tent or sleeping in shelters often, I recommend considering a headlamp with a red light mode. The red light mode saves your night vision, your battery life, and also saves your shelter or tent mates from hating you.
Adjustable Beam – Adjusting the tilt of the beam is a lot easier and painless than adjusting the angle of your neck.
Lithium is good in the cold, lighter than alkaline, and lasts longer than alkaline batteries. Always check to see if your model headlamp will accommodate lithium batteries.
None of the options below use a watch battery. Lithium or normal batteries are easier to find on the trail than a watch battery. If you must purchase a headlamp which uses the watch battery, buy in bulk online and put them in a mail drop.
Not every headlamp is created equal. There are many headlamps targeted for minimal use or other activities such as hunting, cycling, or caving. The headlamps listed below are perfect for hiking. Depending on your preferences, you should find a headlamp worth wearing on your precious noggin. I know there is numerous other brands for headlamps but these headlamps are the most efficient when it comes to lumens versus battery life.
If you don’t find a headlamp you like here, I recommend THIS source which includes a list of headlamp reviews.
Don’t Forget to Consider
Always consider your age and your eye quality in choosing a headlamp. The higher the lumen (brightness) count does not necessarily mean the best headlamp for you. Usually those with poor eyes will benefit better from higher lumens than those with a healthy eyesight. *Does not have adjustable beam **The Tikka RXP has a built in sensor that adjusts the light brightness for you. There is a similar model called the Tikka R+. ***The Myo series also have a variety of models such as Myo XP, Myo RXP (listed above), and Myo RXP In my opinion, this headlamp is too heavy and powerful for hiking the AT. I listed the item for consistency.
Energizer LED Headlamp
This simple yet serviceable headlamp features two light modes and has a maximum brightness of 50 lumens, making it best for short distance illumination and detailed work. To add to the convenience, it has a slide switch to make choosing the brightness easier and a pivot feature so that you can direct the light right to where you need it. Three Energizer MAX AAA batteries are required to operate the torch and these are included in the purchase price.
Black Diamond Spot LED Headlamp
Perfect For: Supplemental lighting, and to draw attention to you from drivers.
Embrace it as a fun routine change in your training, and light up the night with your run.
Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running — beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.
Headlight Bulb Light Output Color
Headlight bulb manufacturers tend to charge more for bulbs that are brighter and whiter. Brighter bulbs with higher light output, and a higher color temperature tend to cost more, so if this is important to you, be prepared to spend a little more.
Also, halogen headlight bulbs that claim to be whiter and brighter also tend to burn out quicker. Manufacturers are able to provide more light output, but that additional intensity burns them out at a faster rate than a normal headlight bulb.
The way that manufacturers accomplish this is by coating the outside of the bulb glass with a semi-transparent film. In most cases this is a blue film. As the light passes through the glass/film, it changes the color of the light, just as if you were looking through tinted sunglasses.
The problem with this is as soon as there is any film or coating on the glass, you lose light output. You may get the color you want, but you might not be able so see very well at night. So as you are shopping around, keep this in mind.
Energizer Pro LED Headlamp
Petzl Ultra Rush
Ra, God of the Sun: Switch this on in a dark room and the 760 lumens will ensure that everyone around you will be reading Braille for the rest of their lives. It has four separate lighting modes that are operated by a knob on the side that you’ll have figured out in seconds. The entire body has a rubberized feel to it, which is why it bears an IP6rating that allows it to be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes before it begins to die. So long as the battery has enough juice, you’ll get consistent light right up until it swaps over to reserve lighting, letting you know it’s time to get to safety at speed. Big, heavy, and costly, it’s more power than most normal, sane people need; making it perfect.
CNET’s LED Buying Guide makes sense of the light bulb…
It’s been more than years since Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 200(EISA). In doing so, they put the age of inefficient incandescent lighting on notice. The law mandated strict new energy standards designed to kick-start a new era of greener, longer-lasting, more cost-efficient light bulbs — and that meant kicking outdated, inefficient bulbs to the curb.
The rising standards have already long rendered 100W and 75W incandescents obsolete, and in 2014, their 60W and 40W cousins met the same fate. Congressional budget waffling briefly seemed to put the new standards on hold, but it was largely too late — the industry had already moved on, and wasn’t interested in reversing course.
After lumens, the next concept you’ll want to understand is color temperature. Measured on the Kelvin scale, color temperature isn’t really a measure of heat. Instead, it’s a measure of the color that a light source produces, ranging from yellow on the low end of the scale to bluish on the high end, with whitish light in the middle.
An easy way to keep track of color temperature is to think of a flame: it starts out yellow and orange, but when it gets really hot, it turns blue. You could also think of color temperature in terms of the sun — low, yellowy color temperatures mimic the tone of light at sunrise or sunset, while hotter, more bluish-white color temperatures are more akin to daylight (sure enough, bulbs with color temperatures like these are commonly called “daylight” bulbs). This is also why a lot of people prefer high color temperatures during the day and lower color temperatures in the morning and evening. Some smart bulbs can even shift back and forth throughout the day.
Generally speaking, incandescents sit at the bottom of the scale with their yellow light, while CFLs and LEDs have long been thought to tend toward the high, bluish end of the spectrum. This has been a steady complaint about new lighting alternatives, as many people prefer the warm, familiar, low color temperature of incandescents. Manufacturers are listening, though, and in this case they heard consumers loud and clear, with more and more low-color-temperature CFL and LED options hitting the shelves. Don’t believe me? Take another look at those two paper lamps in the picture above, because they’re both CFL bulbs — from the same manufacturer, no less.
Sylvania often color codes its packaging. Blue indicates a hot, bluish color temperature, while the lighter shade indicates a white, more neutral light.
As you’re probably aware, light bulbs come in a fairly wide variety of shapes. Sure, it’s easy enough to tell a hardware store clerk that you want “one of those flamey-looking lights,” or “just a normal ol’ bulby light bulb,” but knowing the actual nomenclature might save you some time.
Your automated-lighting options
It used to be that if you wanted your lights to turn on and off automatically, then you had to rely on a cheap wall socket timer, the kind you might use to control a Christmas tree. These days, it’s easier than ever to dive into the sort of advanced automation controls that can make any home feel modern and futuristic. Use the right devices, and you’ll be able to control your lights in all sorts of creative ways, and make your life a little bit easier in the process.
The most obvious way to get started with smart lighting is with the bulbs themselves. You’ve got plenty of intelligent options from brands both big and small, and to find the one that’s best for you, you’re going to need to understand what sets them apart.
The first thing to look at is how the bulbs communicate with you. Some offer direct connections with your smart phone via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, which makes setup as simple as screwing the thing in and following the in-app pairing instructions.
Cree Connected LED and the
GE Link LED, cost a lot less up front, but don’t come with their own gateways — that means you’ll need a compatible third-party hub in order to control them.
Hubs like those are your best bet at building your own, elaborate smart home setup with different kinds of products from different brands all working together. However, if that sounds like too much of a headache, or if all you want are lights that come on automatically at sunset, then one of those starter kits that comes with its own gateway is probably worth the cash.
If you’re looking for a little more color in your life, then be sure and take a look at a product like the Philips Hue Starter Kit. Aside from being fully automatable via a mobile app and control hub, the Hue LED bulbs are capable of on-demand color changes. Just pull out your phone, select one of millions of possible shades, and the light will match it. And if you’re into voice control, Hue bulbs hit the compatibility trifecta — they’ll work with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.
Because Philips opened its lighting controls to third-party developers, you’ll also find lots of fun novelty uses for Hue bulbs, like changing the color of your lights in rhythm with whatever music you’re playing. There’s even an app that’ll sync your Hue lights up with certain TV programming. Philips plans to double down on the idea in a big way this year.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your headlamp for running wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of headlamp for running
- №1 — USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp Ultra Lightweight Comfortable Super Bright Waterproof Head Torch Perfect for Running
- №2 — Running Headlamp LED Flashlight with Reflective Band – Bright
- №3 — Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight – Bright 165 Lumen White Cree Led + Red Light