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The best headlamps 2022: for pre dawn missions and night time adventures

best headlamp: Black Diamond Storm 500R
A headlamp gives you peace of mind to keep exploring late in the day (Image credit: Black Diamond)

The best headlamps are essential pieces of kit for outdoor adventurers. With the camping season in full swing and the coming of summer meaning long days spent in the backcountry, it is the perfect time to acquire a quality headlamp. Whether you're planning pre dawn starts or need something for around the campsite at night, our selection of the best headlamps has you covered.

A headlamp is a compact and robust torch that straps around your head, giving you a hands-free night vision, which is so important for many types of outdoor adventure. Powered by traditional AAA batteries or USB rechargeable cells, they give you a reliable light source for various scenarios.

These days, the best headlamps come with a range of beam settings and features. Expect focussed beams for precise navigation; wide beamed proximity lighting for map reading or for use in your best camping tent at night; and coloured night vision that enables you to see in the dark without waking up your expedition mates.

Some are crafted specifically for runners, others for serious night navigation, while many are designed as all-rounders, with multiple disciplines in mind. Whether you're shouldering your best hiking backpack, brushing off your trail running shoes or setting off for a camping trip, our guide to the best headlamp options has a head torch for you.

The best headlamps for trail running

Knog Bielby headlamp

(Image credit: Knog)

Knog Bilby

A bright, powerful new approach to portable lights


RRP: $65 (US) / £50 (UK) / €60 (EU) / $100 (AU)
Weight with batteries: 90g / 3.17oz
Max light output: 400 lumens
Average run time: 105 hours (Low) / 5 hours (High)
Max beam distance: 100m
Water resistance: IP67 (dust proof and waterproof to 1m)
Compatibility: Hiking, camping, running

Reasons to buy

Bright light
Innovative silicone head strap
Intuitive controls

Reasons to avoid

Rechargable pod could be misplaced

Well known for their popular line of cycling accessories, Knog takes a new approach to headlamps. Powered by a removable Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, the Bilby pushes out an incredible 400-lumen beam. Using 5 LEDs, the headlamp offers a high beam (for long range use) and two elliptical beams for wide-beam illumination around your feet, and mid range illumination. 

On top of this the Bilby features six lighting modes (Boost, Mid, Wide, Spot, Red and Reading), each with four brightness settings (you can customize your settings via the Modemaker app). So many options sound complicated to use or adjust in the dark, but the controls are intuitive and easy to operate. Unusually, the USB is integrated into the lighting pod, so there are no wires to tangle or lose. To recharge, you just pop the pod out and plug it straight into a USB-A port, and the Bilby will be fully charged from zero to max in 4 hours. 

The light is durable, dustproof, lightweight and carries a 1P67 rating for weather resistance – translated in layman’s terms, this means the Bilby is waterproof up to 1 meter underwater. And the light isn’t the only innovative feature; instead of traditional webbing, the head strap is constructed from medical grade silicone that uses a toggle for fine-tuning fit. The strap is comfortable, durable and stable in use. Overall, it's simply one of the best head torches available for runners.

Nathan Neutron Fire RX headlamp

(Image credit: Nathan)

Nathan Neutron Fire RX

A feature set that invites you to run all night long


RRP: $55 (US) / £45 (UK)
Weight: 88g / 3.1oz
Max light output: 200 lumens
Average run time: 25 hours
Water resistance: IPX4 (weather resistant)**
Compatibility: Running / hiking

Reasons to buy

USB-rechargable battery
Run specific design
Weather resistant

Reasons to avoid

The light module can bouce if not fit well
Not massively waterproof
Head strap may fail

Not every runner can get out when lighting conditions are perfect, especially in the winter when dusk comes early. The designers at Nathan have created a lightweight unit that’s filled with run specific needs. Lightweight and low profile, the Neutron Fire features LEDs pushing out 200 lumens, which is more than enough too see the lay of the land on both urban and backcountry trails. 

On the run, there are five light modes (low, med, high, boost, and strobe), plus red, green and blue side modes to customize your illumination patterns. The weather resistant strap is highly reflective to warn drivers, cyclists and other runners of your approach and keep you safe. The Lithium-Ion Polymer battery is USB rechargeable and delivers 25 hours of burn time.

Silva Trail Runner headlamp

(Image credit: Silva)
A super smart, brilliantly bright light, made with Swiss precision to fulfil all the needs of nightrunner


RRP: $80 (US)/£77 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 117g/ 4oz
Max light output: 400 lumens
Average run time: Free: 70 hours; Free H: 70 hours (batteries) + 12 hours (recharge pack); Free Ultra: 70 hours (batteries)
Max beam distance: 80 metres
Water resistance: IPX5
Compatibility: Trail running and more trail running. Also skiing, hiking, climbing

Reasons to buy

Intelligent double-beam light system
Brilliantly integrated wiring
Excellent weight distribution
Comfortable headband

Reasons to avoid

No colour nightvision modes
Extension cord could be slightly longer to reach more pockets

Silva’s brand new head torch is designed specifically for runners – and we’d go so far as to say it’s the best headlamp we’ve ever run with. Extremely well balanced, it’s a low-weight light you almost forget you’re wearing, until you turn towards something reflective and get a blinding blast of the 400-lumen beam back at you. Comfort levels have been prioritised in the design of this super smart piece of kit, which boasts a broad harness band, with a silicone lining strip to keep it in firmly in place and extra textile padding where required to prevent rubbing or hotspots.  The rear battery housing features a backward facing safety light (which can be constant or set to pulse), to alert vehicles to your presence on dark lanes. 

There are three models within the new range: the standard Trail Runner Free, the Trail Runner Free H and the Trail Runner Free Ultra. The difference lies in the battery pack, with the first only taking AAA batteries, the H working with a 1.15Ah Hybrid Battery, and the Ultra coming with a longlife 4Ah Hybrid Battery, which has a remaining-charge indicator.

All three models have the same maximum output (400 lumens) and, as well as being easy to swivel up and down, they all feature the Silva Intelligent Light system, which utalizes a double beam comprised of a long-reach spotlight to illuminate what awaits on the trail up ahead, and a wide-angle floodlight so you can see what’s going on immediately around your feet. All that’s missing is a colour tint option, which would allow you to check things without shattering your night vision – generally not a priority for trail runners. 

The best headlamps for hiking and mountaineering

best headlamp: LED Lenser MH8

(Image credit: LED Lenser)
A high-powered headlamp with the dual ability to pierce the darkness or flood your campsite with light


RRP: $110 (US)/ £80 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 139g / 4.9oz
Max light output: 600 lumens
Average run time: High: 7 hours / Low: 60 hours
Max beam distance: 200 metres
Water resistance: IP54 (splashproof, but don’t submerge)
Compatibility: Mountaineering, hiking, backpacking, snow sports

Reasons to buy

Extremely bright
RGB light modes
Focusing beam

Reasons to avoid

A little bulky
Not the lightest
Water-resistant, but not waterproof

If you need a versatile headlamp for a multitude of different uses and activities – say, one that offers proximity lighting for moving around in camp, plus dynamic settings for hiking on the move and a spotlight beam for picking out distant objectives – the LEDLenser MH8 is an ideal option. It features boost, high, medium and low power modes, as well as a strobe setting, plus red, green and blue ambient light modes. 

But the MH8 is also equipped with the brand’s patented focusing technology (opens in new tab), which employs a rotating LED bezel housing that enables the user to instantly switch from an all-round flood beam to a pinpoint spotlight. Though the max output is an impressive 600 lumens, that only applies to boost mode, which provides 30 seconds of illumination and can throw a light up to 200 metres. At high power in energy-saving mode, you get 400 lumens. 

We also liked the fact that the MH8 uses a rechargeable battery pack, which can be charged via the supplied USB cable without needing to remove the battery or disassemble the headlamp in any way. The MH8 can also be used with two standard AA batteries as well.

Though it isn’t the lightest or most compact headlamp, it is very comfortable to use, thanks to a wide and easily adjustable headband with an additional over-the-top strap. Overall, this is an impressive unit with a range of practical light modes and excellent all-round illumination, one of the best head torches around.

best headlamp: Nitecore HC65

(Image credit: Nitecore)
An ultra-bright headlamp with an impressively tough build, made for demanding users and difficult conditions


RRP: $110 (US)/ £77 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 164g / 5.8oz
Max light output: 1000 lumens
Average run time: High: 2 hours 45 mins / Low: 16 hours
Max beam distance: 110 metres
Water resistance: IPX8 (fully waterproof)
Compatibility: Mountaineering, hiking, backpacking, snow sports

Reasons to buy

Ridiculously bright
Wide range of light modes
Ultra robust build
Waterproof (rated IPX8, submersible to 2m)

Reasons to avoid

A little heavy
Slightly complicated to use

The Nitecore HC65 headlamp’s headline-grabbing specs include its ultra-bright max output of 1000 lumens and its impressive IPX8-rated waterproofing. But take one look at this beast and you can see it is built for serious outdoor use, with an anodised military-grade aluminium casing that feels extremely rugged. 

The headlamp itself boasts multiple light settings, ranging from turbo mode – which throws the 1000 lumen max output up to 110m, with a burn time of about an hour – through to ultralow, which restricts performance to just a single lumen but can keep this up for an impressive 800 hours. There is also auxiliary white and red-light illumination for proximity work, ideal for tent use. 

The HC65 is powered by a rechargeable 18650 lithium battery with a 3400mAh capacity, supplied with the headlamp. Handily, this can be charged in situ via a micro-USB port, which is hidden behind a screw-down metal cap at one end of the lamp unit. A similar cap at the other end reveals the battery compartment, which can also take 2 x CR123 batteries.

This isn’t the lightest headlamp around, but it carries comfortably on your head, helped by a secure three-point headband. The lamp unit swivels smoothly through a full 180 degrees of adjustment. It is also fully waterproof, which makes it a very practical headlamp for wet and wild conditions.

The best headlamps for general use

best headlamps: Black Diamond Storm 500R

(Image credit: Black Diamond)
A small but mighty little package, the Black Diamond Storm 500R is perfect for all manner of outdoor use


RRP: $74.95 (US)/ £65 (UK)
Weight: 100g / 3.5oz
Max light output: 500 lumens
Average run time: High: 7 hours / Medium: 19 hours / Low: 350 hours
Max beam distance: 120m
Water resistance: IPX67 (submersible)
Compatibility: Hiking, mountaineering, climbing camping, trail running, snow sports

Reasons to buy

Easy to adjust brightness
Multiple night vision options
Lock mode preserves battery life
Suitable for adventures above the snowline

Reasons to avoid

Short USB cable
No rear light for road runners

The Black Diamond Storm 500R the most powerful and multi-featured product in the Utah brand’s new multi-purpose, rechargeable R series of headlamps. It’s designed for adventurers who value versatility and performance alongside the size and weight of a small unit. Featuring proximity, distance and night vision settings, as well as strobe and brightness memory, it's got plenty to shout about for such a compact package.

At 100g, it's light enough to take trail running, yet its many features make it suitable for hiking, mountaineering, climbing, snow sports and camping too. Its 500 lumens maximum brightness and beam distance of 120 metres gives it excellent trail finding ability and you can expect it to last 7 hours on this setting. Cold conditions are no trouble for its lithium-ion battery, which recharges quickly via micro-USB, so there's no need to carry additional batteries.

The Storm is waterproof tested under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes, giving it a rating of IP67, so it will cope with a serious downpour no problem. The recycled elastic headband is comfortable and keeps your beam stable. A super little product that further enhances the already solid reputation Black Diamond's workhorse Storm series.

Petzl Actik Core 450 headlamp

(Image credit: Petzl)

Petzl Actik Core 450

A lightweight beast of a lamp that'll stand you in good stead wherever you take it


RRP: $70 (US)/ £58 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 75g / 2.8oz
Max light output: 450 lumens
Average run time: High: 2 hours / Low: 130 hours
Max beam distance: 90 metres
Water resistance: IPX4
Compatibility: Mountaineering, trail running, hiking, backpacking, snow sports

Reasons to buy

Very lightweight
Easy to use
Super bright

Reasons to avoid

Weather resistant, not waterproof
No rear light

The multi-beam design of the Actik, combined with its muscular 450 lumen punch when it’s on full gas, make this model the standout performer for those in need of a headlamp for activities in more extreme environments, such as on mountainsides in the dark. 

Of course, you don’t have to be clinging to the eyebrows of the Eiger at midnight to appreciate this lovely lightweight head torch, which is also ideal for trail runners, cross country skiers and backpackers. Using accessories (sold separately), you can even mount the lamp on helmets and bikes. It boasts three white-light brightness options, two beam patterns (flood or mixed), a red light and strobe option, all of which can be toggled though by clicking a single button large and easily located button. 

It has a reflective headband (good for safety on road) and red lighting to preserve night vision. The hybrid concept design enables you to swap between the main rechargeable battery and three AAAs, so you need never run out of juice. It also has a lock function, to stop you turning it on accidentally in your bag, a common feature among the best head torches.

Alpkit Qark headlamp

(Image credit: Alpkit)

Alpkit Qark

An absolute lightsaber of a headlamp, which scythes through darkness with an incredibly powerful beam


RRP: £33 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 95g / 3.35oz
Max light output: 580 lumens
Average run time: High: 2.5 hours / Low: 18 hours
Max beam distance: 150 metres
Water resistance: IPX6
Compatibility: trail running, trekking, climbing

Reasons to buy

Stellar brightness
Removable rechargeable power pack, but takes batteries too
Overhead central strap on the harness

Reasons to avoid

No rear red light
Weatherproof, not waterproof (to submersion level)

With a maximum beam of 580 lumens, the little Qark packs an incredible punch for its size and price, but also has the capacity to extend burn time to an impressive 18 hours if you switch to the lowest setting of 30 lumens. In between the two extremes you have a very functional 270-lumen setting, which offers a 100-metre beam that lasts for five and a half hours. The Qark also has a red light setting to preserve your night vision, and ‘focus’ control functionality, offering the choice between two beams, ‘flood’ (wide) - perfect for reading a book in your tent or a map on the trail without getting blinded by the bounce back – and ‘spot’ (narrow), ideal for illuminating the trail ahead or zeroing in on something. The lamps can be tilted across 90 degrees. 

The power pack is rechargeable via a micro-USB charging port that plugs directly into the battery, but one of the best features of this torch is its belt-and-braces dual battery compatibility, which allows you to use standard AAA batteries while you’re recharging the main power pack.

It’s water resistant, not waterproof, which means it can withstand very wet weather, but don’t go putting it under water. Unlike the Alpkit Gamma III, it doesn’t have a rear red light for safety on dark roads at night, which is a shame, and all the weight is up front, but it does boast an overhead central strap on the harness, which means the Qark sits very securely on your head, no matter what action-packed adventures you’re engaged in.

BioLite HeadLamp 330 headlamp

(Image credit: Pat Kinsella)

BioLite 330

Low-profile, high-performing headlamp perfect for a range of activities


RRP: $60 (US)/ £55 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 69g/ 2.4oz
Max light output: 330 lumens
Average run time: High: 3.5 hours/ Low: 40 hours
Max beam distance: 75 metres
Water resistance: IPX4
Compatibility: Trail running, hiking, backpacking, climbing

Reasons to buy

Low profile lamp and comfortable slimfit headband
Made with recycled materials
Rechargeable power pack

Reasons to avoid

No rear light
No battery back-up
Not as bright as others

The beauty of the lightweight BioLite 330 HeadLamp lies largely in its low-profile design, combined with its high-performance capability. The light itself sits just 9mm (1/3 in) proud of your forehead, and this is coupled with a slimfit minimalist headband that sits very securely on your head and keeps the beam from bouncing around, no matter what adventure pursuits you’re doing. This headband is highly adjustable, and can fit a range of head sizes, from a child to a climber wearing a helmet. The power pack sits on the back of the head, and the cabling is partially integrated into the headband.

These head torches – available in four colors – are extremely comfortable to wear. The front panel tilts up and down, so you can focus close to your feet, or have it set straight ahead to see what’s coming at you further up the trail or crag. There are two white light brightness settings on this torch, and a brace of beam types, the usual 'flood' and 'spot'. It also has a red light option, so you can use it on the trail or while stargazing without obliterating your night vision, and there’s a strobe function in both red and white. 

This is a rechargeable lamp (via a micro USB) but there’s no back-up option to insert batteries. It doesn’t have a rear-facing light, either, but there is a reflective strip that will bounce vehicle lights back at drivers. It can handle any amount of rain, but it’s not submersible. With the HolyFit Guarantee (opens in new tab) you can try this headlamp out for 30 days and then send it back if it doesn’t do what you want it to. 

Lifesystems Intensity headlamp

(Image credit: Lifesystems)

Lifesystems Intensity 235

A chunky but versatile lamp that'll keep you out of trouble (and help if you still manage to get in trouble)


RRP: £30 (UK)
Weight with batteries: 90g / 3.17oz
Max light output: 235 lumens
Average run time: Low: 110 hours
Max beam distance: 85 metres
Water resistance: IPX6
Compatibility: Camping, backpacking, hiking, trail running

Reasons to buy

7 lighting modes, including pre-programmed S.O.S. setting
Competitive price

Reasons to avoid

Relatively chunky
No rear red light
No central over-the-head harness band

The Intensity 235 boasts seven lighting modes, the brightest of which is 235 lumens (clue in the name), with other options including a red night vision setting, so you can illuminate a map or locate something quickly without completely blowing out your night vision, and a programmed S.O.S mode (three short flashes, three long flashes, three short flashes) in case things go south while you’re out and about. 

Use this lamp to light your way, however, and you should be safe on the trail even well past the witching hour. Beside the suite of lighting levels, there are two beam settings, wide (for close quarters work, like reading) and narrow (for mid distance path finding), spreading the light across 15 metres and 85 metres respectively. All the bulk is worn at the front, but the relatively chunky lamp unit has one easy to locate button, which makes it easy to toggle between light settings. 

This is a rechargeable lamp, with a Lithium-ion battery power pack, and it offers a decent level of water resistance (don’t submerge it completely, but take it in the shower if you really must, and certainly don’t worry about wet weather, no matter how bad it gets).

Best headlamp comparison table
HeadlampRRPWeightMax light outputCompatibility
Knog Bilby$65 (US) / £50 (UK) / €60 (EU) / $100 (AU)90g / 3.17oz400 lumensHiking, camping, running
Nathan Neutron Fire RX$55 (US) / £45 (UK)88g / 3.1oz200 lumensHiking, running
Silva Trail Runner Free$80 (US) / £77 (UK)117g / 4oz400 lumensRunning, skiing, hiking, climbing
LED Lenser MH8$110 (US) / £80 (UK)139g / 4.9oz600 lumensMountaineering, hiking, snow sports
Nitecore HC65$110 (US) / £77 (UK)164g / 5.8oz1000 lumensMountaineering, hiking, snow sports
Black Diamond Storm 500R$74.95 (US) / £65 (UK)100g / 3.5oz500 lumensHiking, mountaineering, trail running, climbing, camping, snow sports
Petzl Actik Core 450$70 (US) / £58 (UK)75g / 2.8oz450 lumensMountaineering, trail running, hiking, snow sports
Alpkit Qark£33 (UK)95g / 3.35oz580 lumensTrail running, hiking, climbing
BioLite 330$60 (US) / £55 (UK)69g/ 2.4oz330 lumensTrail running, hiking, climbing
Lifesystems Intensity 235£30 (UK)90g / 3.17oz235 lumensCamping, hiking, trail running


How we test the best headlamps

At Advnture we endeavor to test every product we feature extensively in the field. That means one of our team of reviewers and writers – all experienced outdoor specialists active across the US, UK, Europe and Australasia – taking it out into the terrain and climatic conditions that it’s designed for. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, we’ll say so in our buying guides and reviews.

Our reviewers test headlamps in a range of outdoor scenarios – camping, hiking, trail running, caving and watersports (where appropriate) – assessing their value and performance against the claims of the brand in terms of illumination, comfort, beam strength, weight, battery consumption, robustness and features.

Choosing the best headlamp for you

The most important thing to consider when looking to invest in the best headlamp for your adventures is how and where you are most likely to use it. If you’re primarily looking for a handsfree torch for use around the campsite, then there’s no need to invest in a super lightweight model with a massive mega-lumen punch and a rock solid head harness. Best save those pennies for other trinkets.

When camping, you might also want more flexibility than a light attached to your head can give you. See our guide to the best flashlights for handheld alternatives to head torches.

But if you’re looking to stay out on the trails well past dark, while running, hiking, climbing or on a backpacking adventure (see: How to plan a backpacking trip), then of course weight, brightness and maintaining a level beam will be much more important factors. Where safety is concerned, particularly in winter, this becomes a big factor.

Oh, and another thing, don’t overlook the head strap. How you use the headlamp will influence how well the straps perform. For a runner, a powerful beam isn’t much use if the light unit is bouncing up and down every time your feet hit the ground.


Obviously at the top of mind when considering the best headlamp is how bright the beam is. Brightness is quoted in lumens, which is a measurement of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source per unit of time. But let’s not get caught up in the science – basically, the bigger the number, the brighter the light. Bright is good, of course, especially if you’re engaged in something like trail running with a headlamp along a technical route with potential drop offs, or negotiating a mountain. 

However, the brighter a light burn, the quicker the battery will run out. Having said this, LED (light-emitting diode) lights have completely changed the game in recent years, and headlamps and other torches can shine brightly much longer than they once could. The best thing to look for is a headlamp that offers a good top level lumen level for when you really need it, but has several other settings to choose from too. This way, you can preserve the life of your battery if you're simply going to go night walking, for example. In most use cases, it's fairly rare that you will really need that full-on beam.

best headlamp: a person wearing a headlamp creates a beam in the night sky

The brightness of a headlamp is quoted in lumens (Image credit: Getty)

Beam and strobe options

Wondering how to read a map at night? The best head torch options will offer at least two beam settings: 'flood' and 'spot'. The flood setting casts the light wide and is ideal for reading things like books or maps. Your adventurous buddies will thank you for the flood setting too, as it allows you to look at them in the tent or on the trail without burning their eyes out – always a bonus. The spot setting projects a concentrated and narrow beam, just like a spotlight on a singer at a concert. It's perfect for illuminating the trail up ahead, or zeroing in on something in the distance.  

Besides these settings, you should also look for a lamp with a strobe setting, which is a very visible blink or flash mode that can be sustained for ages by a battery and is useful for road safety and emergency signalling. 

best headlamp: A woman relaxes while wearing a headlamp

The flood setting means you can use your headlamp while chatting to your pals without shining a focussed beam at them (Image credit: Getty)

Night vision

Camping and hiking technology have come on leaps and bounds in recent years and the best headlamps are no different. Most of the best headlamp options will have at least one colour setting, which is usually red but sometimes green and/or blue too. These allow you to turn the torch on while you’re out on the trail walking in the moonlight, or navigating by the stars, without completely blowing out your natural night vision. After all, your sensory ability to see in the semi dark is better than you might think, improves over time but is easily shattered by unnatural light. Again, this is something your friends will thank you for, as it is also a useful function for getting enough ambient light in a tent to find what you’re looking for in the middle of the night, without waking everyone else up. No one wants grumpy camp mates.

best headlamps: A camper lights up the night with a headlamp

Night vision allows you to keep one eye on the spectacular heavens while out night walking (Image credit: Getty)


Some of the best headlamps available today have bespoke battery packs – either completely integrated into the lamp, or removable – that can be recharged from a range or power sources, including USB ports. This is great, of course, but even better are the ones that allow you to also use standard AAAs as well, because then you can take back-up batteries and not fret about being left in the dark out on the trail on longer adventures.

If you're out in the wilderness and your headlamp or batteries need to be recharged, the best solar chargers allow you to harvest the sun's rays during the day, in order to charge up your devices ready for the night.

Head harness

Unsurprisingly, the head band is a crucially important element of the best head torches. No matter how good and bright a lamp is, you’re not going to wear it on your head if it’s brutally uncomfortable. If you find yourself carrying it around in your hand, then you have entirely missed the point of this tool. An easily adjustable head harness is ideal, and the option to have an over-the-top-of-the-head strap as well as one that goes around will allow you to get a more secure and less bouncy fit, which is especially important for trail running.

Another consideration is the headwear you may wear on any given adventure. If you're taking on a spicy scramble at dusk, you might want to don a helmet. If it's brutally cold, you're gonna grab that hiking hat. The best head torch should be able to adjust to all these situations.

best headlamp: A woman wearing a headlamp under a hood

The best headlamps are flexible enough to fit around whatever else you need to wear on your head (Image credit: Getty)


As is the case with all the best camping tech, you will want a lamp that doesn’t demand a degree in physics to operate. Myriad setting options are all well and good, but simplicity can be better, with one easily located button that allows you to toggle through the various modes, all of which should have an obvious function. 

Look for a lamp that swivels up and down, so you can point the beam at your toes, mid distance, or straight ahead at upcoming trails, depending on your requirements at any given time. Other functions that are handy are a lock out option (to stop the lamp getting accidentally activated in your backpack, draining the battery), a rear red light for safety while walking or running on roads and lanes at night, and a pre-programmed SOS flash option. 

best headlamps: two campers by tent with headlamps

When the sun goes down on camp, a headlamp is invaluable (Image credit: Getty)


While you can keep your headlamp in a dry bag (see our best dry bags) during the day, if rain is still falling when the sun sets, you need to be able to rely on your headlamp to repel the worst of the weather.

Quality headlamps are given an Ingress Protection (IP) rating, awarded by certified, independent companies after substantial testing. The acronym IP is followed by two digits, the first ranges from 0-6 and refers to resilience to solid particles (dust) and the second ranges from 0-9 and shows how water resistant a gadget is. Most head torches score between IPX4 to IPX6, which means they are resistant to water (higher that second number the better), but not waterproof. You'll find more on this in our guide on waterproof vs. water-resistant products. 

The Black Diamond Storm, featured here, scores IP67, which means it is fully dust proof, and waterproof, submergible to 1 meter for up to half an hour. While this degree of robustness is reassuring – don’t dismiss lamps that score slightly lower. Unless you’re a caver or a kayaker, you shouldn’t need to submerge any of the best head torch brands, and so long as it can cope with a bit of weather, it’ll be fine.

Writer, editor and enthusiast of anything involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing adventure stories. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon (opens in new tab) and Dorset (opens in new tab), and once wrote a whole book about Toilets (opens in new tab) for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades here (opens in new tab).