Whether you’re planning your next travel adventure, packing your ‘go-bag’ for your next search and rescue call or wrenching beneath your truck to loosen that stubborn bolt. There is one thing in common everyone needs for all these different scenarios: a good, reliable headlamp.

As a professional outdoorsman, I am often asked what travel essentials I pack with. Short answer: a knife, water bottle, food, first aid kit and a durable headlight.

Throughout my time spent in the outdoors, I have used and tested a number of different headlamps. Some products have specific uses, as you read through this selection, ask yourself: which of these headlights will suit my needs?

Looking for the best cheap headlamp? The best running headlamp? The brightest headlamp? Well, we’ve got you covered! So, let’s crack on then!

Quick Answer: The Best Travel Headlamps Reviewed

Product
Description
OVERALL BEST TRAVEL HEADLAMP
OVERALL BEST TRAVEL HEADLAMP

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

  • Price > $84.95
  • Weight > 3.1 Ounces
  • Lumens > 600
  • Battery Type > AAA
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY HEADLAMP
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY HEADLAMP

Vont SPARK Headlamp

  • Price > $16.99
  • Weight > 1.6 Ounces
  • Lumens > 200
  • Battery Type: > AAA
BEST GENERAL USE HEADLAMP
BEST GENERAL USE HEADLAMP

Black Diamond Cosmo 350 Headlamp

  • Price > $34.95
  • Weight > 2.8 ounces (with batteries)
  • Lumens > 350
  • Battery Type > AAA
BEST ULTRALIGHT HEADLAMP
BEST ULTRALIGHT HEADLAMP

BioLite 325 Headlamp

  • Price > $49.95
  • Weight > 1.8 Ounces
  • Lumens > 325
  • Battery Type > Rechargeable
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY HEADLAMP
BEST ECO-FRIENDLY HEADLAMP

Eukarya Origin Headlamp

  • Price > $89
  • Weight > 2.9 Ounces
  • Lumens > 300
  • Battery Type > Rechargeable
BEST RUNNING HEADLAMP
BEST RUNNING HEADLAMP

Ledlenser NEO9R Trail-Running Headlamp

  • Price > $119.95
  • Weight > 7 Ounces
  • Lumens > 1200
  • Battery Type > Rechargeable
BEST RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP
BEST RECHARGEABLE HEADLAMP

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

  • Price > $84.95
  • Weight > 2.8 Ounces
  • Lumens > 450
  • Battery type > Rechargeable
BRIGHTEST BEAM HEADLAMP
BRIGHTEST BEAM HEADLAMP

Fenix HM60R Headlamp

  • Price > $79.95
  • Weight > 5.5 Ounces
  • Lumens > 1200
  • Battery Type > Rechargeable

Why should you travel with a headlamp?

best headlamps for using in night

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Ask any experienced traveler what their top essential gear list is, you’re likely going to get different a number of different answers with a number of different items. I guarantee one item will remain consistent with their must-haves: a high-quality headlamp. Having a headlamp for travel is a guaranteed way to avoid having a backcountry epic mishap.

Accidentally got lost on that new hike you wanted to explore? Now there’s no way you’re going to make it back to the trailhead before sunset. Good thing you packed your headlamp.

You and your partner underestimated the time it would take to send that badass multi-pitch climb. Now you’re gonna have to rappel down in the dark. Good thing you packed your headlamp.

Driving across the desert in the middle of the night and you blow your tire? Gonna have to change it right then and there. Good thing you packed your headlamp.

I could go on forever, but lets cut to the chase. Headlamps are an essential in any travel packing list, period. Allow this buyer guide to help you navigate all the considerations by optimizing the wide selection out there to meet YOUR travel needs.

The Best Headlamps for 2024

man with headlamp
Whether you’re trekking, climbing or traveling from one hostel to another. A reliable headlamp is essential for any traveler.

Whether you’re on the market for a new headlamp, or simply trying to learn more about what’s out there. This article is the best place to start. With over a decade of experience as an Outdoor Professional, I have field-tested many headlamps.

Some definitely worked better than others, fortunately for you, someone like you can learn from all my years of researching the best products. Let’s also make one thing clear, we’ve got a range of different budgets catered for, but a crappy cheap headlamp is not going to cut it when it comes to outdoor use!

Here are some of the best travel headlamps out there, let’s start with one that I personally use in the field:

#1 Overall Best Travel Headlamp

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Best Overall Travel Headlamp
Specs
  • Price: $84.95
  • Weight: 3.1 Ounces
  • Lumens: 600
  • Battery Type: AAA
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

The Petzl Actik Core stands at the pinnacle of headlamp design, championing versatility and innovation. Renowned for years of leading gear advancements, Petzl delivers yet another lightweight masterpiece that meets every criterion for an exceptional travel headlamp.

Weighing a mere 3.1 ounces (88 grams), this lightweight headlamp doesn’t skimp on brightness, offering two beam settings (flood and mixed) for varying white light levels, along with a red light option to deter insects and preserve night vision—a feature especially handy for reading in your tent.

Convenience is key with the Actik Core’s USB rechargeable battery, ensuring a full recharge in less than 3 hours, while also maintaining compatibility with AAA batteries for versatility. Although water-resistant, it’s important to note the distinction from being waterproof, as it’s built to withstand splashing but not submersion.

Pros
  1. Detachable Headband (Ideal for washing)
  2. Strong Battery Life
  3. Multiple Beam Settings
Cons
  1. Pricey
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#2 Best Value For Money Headlamp

Vont SPARK Headlamp

Best Value for your Money Headlamp
Specs
  • Price: $16.99
  • Weight: 1.6 Ounces
  • Lumens: 200
  • Battery Type: AAA
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

The Vont SPARK distinguishes itself as the ultimate value-for-money headlamp, redefining expectations for affordable lighting solutions. Despite its low cost, the Vont SPARK doesn’t skimp on features, offering an array of seven light modes including low to high beams, SOS, and strobe, paired with impressive battery longevity—lasting up to 8 hours on low mode and 3 hours on high.

Durability is a standout attribute of the Vont SPARK; it’s not only drop-resistant but also waterproof, boasting an IPX5 rating, ensuring its resilience in rigorous conditions. This robust construction, combined with a lifetime warranty, underscores the brand’s confidence in the product’s quality and longevity.

For budget-conscious travelers, the Vont SPARK emerges as a top pick. We endorse this as the best budget headlamp, impressed by its lasting performance and brightness, which competes with far pricier options. Whether for camping, backpacking, or emergency use, the Vont SPARK proves that a modest investment can still yield a powerful, reliable lighting solution for any adventure.

Pros
  1. Lifetime Warranty
  2. Strong Battery Life
  3. Low Competitive Price
Cons
  1. Not Rechargeable

#3 Best General Use Headlamp

Black Diamond Cosmo 350 Headlamp

best budget headlamp
Specs
  • Price: $34.95
  • Weight: 2.8 ounces (with batteries)
  • Lumens: 350
  • Battery Type: AAA
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

The Black Diamond Cosmo 350 headlamp stands as a beacon of simplicity and durability for travelers who prefer a no-frills, reliable light source. While it boasts all the standard features expected from a quality headlamp, its standout characteristic is its exceptional durability, epitomized by an IPX8 rating. This robust build ensures the Cosmo 350 can endure various adventures, from heavy rain to accidental submersion in water up to 1.1 meters for 30 minutes, making it a trustworthy companion for the most demanding outdoor activities.

Priced competitively, the Black Diamond Cosmo 350 offers excellent value, promising years of consistent performance across diverse and challenging conditions. The inclusion of a power-level indicator display is another thoughtful touch, ensuring users are always aware of the remaining battery life and never left in the dark unexpectedly. Simple, sturdy, and smartly designed, the Cosmo 350 is a solid choice for those seeking a dependable, long-lasting headlamp for their adventures.

Pros
  1. Competitive Price
  2. Light weight
  3. Durable
Cons
  1. Not particularly bright

#4 Best Ultralight Headlamp

BioLite 325 Headlamp

TBBteam-danielle-headtorch-mountain
BioLite HeadLamp 325
Specs
  • Price: $49.95
  • Weight: 1.8 Ounces
  • Lumens: 325
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable
  • Beam Type: Spot

Weighing just 1.8 ounces (51 grams), this headlamp promises to illuminate your path without weighing you down, providing a near-invisible feel on your head until you switch it off. But don’t let the lightness fool you; this headlamp doesn’t compromise on brightness. Equipped with four brightness modes, including a red light setting, it ensures clear visibility for cooking or reading at night while keeping pesky insects at bay and preserving night vision.

The BioLite headlamp’s eco-friendly aspect is another major draw, featuring a USB rechargeable battery that frees you from the hassle and environmental impact of disposable batteries.

Priced under $50, our team heralds this BioLite headlamp as the best in its category, not just for its high performance and value for money, but also for its ultra-compact size, making it an almost unnoticeable addition to your pack. The convenience of USB charging is the icing on the cake, allowing for easy power-ups via a portable batter

Pros
  1. Lightweight
  2. Bright
Cons
  1. Lighter weight sacrifices durability

#5 Best Eco-Friendly Headlamp

Eukarya Origin Headlamp

Best Eco-Friendly Headlamp
Specs
  • Price: $89
  • Weight: 2.9 Ounces
  • Lumens: 300
  • Battery Type: Rechargeable
  • Beam Type: Flood/Spot/Strobe

Eukarya stands out not just for its innovative products but also for its commitment to social and environmental responsibility, planting one tree for every product sold. The Origin Cherry Wood Headlamp exemplifies the perfect blend of ethical values and functional design.

The Origin Cherry Wood Headlamp dismisses the need for traditional batteries, instead embracing a micro USB rechargeable battery, offering 15 hours of bright, reliable light across various settings including high, low, and strobe. The headlamp’s 50-degree tilt feature is a thoughtful addition, addressing the physical discomfort of tasks like starting a fire, allowing you to focus on the task without straining your neck and back.

We love this head lamp not just for its performance but also for its distinctive aesthetic. Combining the elegance of cherry wood with the practicality of USB charging, this headlamp is a standout for the style-conscious adventurer, merging classic outdoor charm with contemporary functionality. It’s more than a headlamp; it’s a statement piece that aligns with the values and style of the discerning, environmentally aware traveler.

Pros
  1. Socially Responsible
  2. Unique Design
  3. Strong Battery Life
Cons
  1. Expensive

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    #6 Best Running Headlamp

    Ledlenser NEO9R Trail-Running Headlamp

    Running Ledlenser NEO9R Trail Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $119.95
    • Weight: 7 Ounces
    • Lumens: 1200
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam Type: Adjustable / Flood

    This headlamp is for all you runners out there. We are talking about bright, durable, and versatile for all the folks that have some distance to cover. You can wear the Ledlenser NEO9R with different mounting options. Strap it to the head or chest before your run, whatever makes you more comfortable. Additionally, the strap has a reflective band for nighttime safety.

    This unique product has an advanced focus system, different from other products. Without having to stop or slow your pace you can rapidly go from a long-distance beam to a broad floodlight. Make your presence known to oncoming cars or hikers as you’re running towards them, the Ledlenser NEO9R has a high light output (1200 lumens) with a beam distance of up to 200 meters.

    Even when the weather turns sour, some dedicated folks need to find a way to get the heart rate up. Thankfully the Ledlenser NEO9R has proven durability. Water resistance and dust-proof means you can get your run in no matter the conditions. When it comes to torches, LED Lenser are a top brand that can be relied on when it comes to power and longevity. And, this thing is bright!

    Pros
    1. Bright
    2. Versatile Mounting Options
    3. Reflective Band for Safety
    Cons
    1. Heavy
    2. Battery pack makes it less compact

    #7 Best Rechargeable Headlamp

    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

    Best Overall Travel Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $84.95
    • Weight: 2.8 Ounces
    • Lumens: 450
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    Let me tell you from experience, on longer expeditions, having to resupply loads of batteries feels like more than an inconvenience. To put it simply, it sucks. The Petzl Actik Core Headlamp meets the needs of the 21st-century traveler. High-efficiency rechargeable batteries allow you to rise before dawn and set up camp long after sunset. When fully charged, you can count on a high beam for 2 hours. With continuous low beam usage you can count on 130 hours of guiding light through the darkness.

    Ever thrown your headlamp in the brain of your pack, loaded it in the back of the vehicle under a pile of other gear, only to grab your headlamp at dusk to find out it was on all day? We’ve definitely been there.  The Petzl Actik Core Headlamp has a locking function to avoid just that, turning on when it should be off.

    With the Petzl Actik Core Headlamp versatility is the name of the game. Whether you’re out for a night run, planning an extended backpacking trip or gearing up for a long day climbing big walls, you’ll want a headlamp that will stay lit for as long as you need it to.

    Pros
    1. Efficient Rechargeable Battery
    2. Locking on/off button
    Cons
    1. Pricey

    #8 Brightest Beam Headlamp

    Fenix HM60R Rechargeable Headlamp

    Fenix HM60R Rechargeable Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $79.95
    • Weight: 5.5 Ounces
    • Lumens: 1200
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam type: Floot/Spot

    The whole point of owning a headlamp is to be able to see in the dark, obvious right? Apparently not to all manufacturers. The Fenix HM60R headlight eliminates all the other pointless features and provides you what you need, light, and lots of it. With 6 brightness levels, each beam ranging from 5 to 1200 lumens, the Fenix HM60R can illuminate a dark cave or simply help you navigate the trunk of your car at camp while the sunsets.

    For the explorers who like to adventure in or around water, know that this headlight can be submerged to 6 feet (2 meters) underwater. Its aluminum frame also makes it highly impact resistant to long term abuse. The Fenix HM60R headlamp also has a USB rechargeable battery but can operate on other batteries without the charging option.

    Imagine it’s your turn to cook dinner at basecamp, you’re responsible for feeding all your fellow explorers after a long day in the mountains. I cannot think of a better headlamp for scouring food bags for the right ingredients, running a quick repair on a dirty stove or doing some first aid on that nasty blister your partner got on the descent from the summit. This is the ultimate camping headlamp.

    Pros
    1. Very Bright
    2. Rechargeable
    3. Waterproof
    4. Includes Spare Parts
    Cons
    1. Heavy
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    Best of the Rest: More of the Best Travel Headlamps

    #9 Petzl Tikka Headlamp

    Petzl Tikka Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $34.95
    • Weight: 3.32 Ounces
    • Lumens: 350
    • Battery Type: AAA
    • Beam Type: Flood

    Petzl makes some of the best headlamps on the market by far, the Tikka really adds to their collection – personally, I’ve always favored Petzl headlamps – they give the absolute best light to weight ratio out of all the headlamps on the market.

    The Petzl Tikka featured smart adaptation technology meaning the brightness of the headlamp will never decrease as the battery drains. This is also a tough headlamp that is far more water-resistant than most headlamps on the market and is durable. This is a 350-lumen headlamp that offers a beam distance of 70 meters! Like all Petzl models, this headlamp comes with multiple modes including a strobe for signaling in an emergency.

    The Tikka is a classic headlamp for those wanting something that offers awesome quality, comfort and range without breaking the bank. For backpackers or occasional campers wanting a good go to torch, our team feels this is perfect.

    #10 Fenix HM50R V2.0 Rechargeable Headlamp

    fenix hm50r
    Specs
    • Price: $59.95
    • Weight: 2.75 Ounces
    • Lumens: 700
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam type: Spot

    When I imagine the Fenix HM50R V2.0 headlamp one word comes to mind, rugged. Fenix Headlights are ideal for travel when it comes to brightness, durability and rechargeability. There are few headlamps that have “torch” settings. The beam ranges from 4-700 lumens, giving you the ability to have visibility in the darkest of places.

    Imagine coming back to town after a long day of exploration, and dropping your hostel keys in the dirty street. Bust out your Fenix headtorch and you’ll find that tiny key in the most stubborn conditions.

    The body of the headlamp is made of aircraft-grade aluminum giving it extra durability. This product ensures protection against dust and is waterproof up to 6 feet (2 meters). In addition to its braun, this thing has brains too! The Fenix HM50R V2.0 has a memory circuit that automatically turns on your last used setting, making it ideal for busting it out in a flash.

    #11 Ledlenser MH11 Rechargeable Bluetooth Headlamp

    Specs
    •  Price: $149.93
    • Weight: 6.3 Ounces
    • Lumens: 1300
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    For all those tech nerds out there that enjoy going for a good ramble, look no further because we found something that you’re sure to get stoked on. This headlight is bright, durable and smarter than the average headlamp.

    This Bluetooth product connects directly to your smartphone and allows you to control the varying light ranges from the palm of your hand. The Ledlenser MH11 uses Optisense technology to automatically adjust light output depending on your surrounding light conditions. The Optisense also notices when there is excessive glare, automatically reducing the light so you don’t accidentally blind yourself or get blinded by your adventure buddy.

    In addition to the Optisense technology, the battery comes with a magnetic rechargeable system and status indicator. This headlamp might be a bit bulkier than others on the market, but for that, it offers many more features. The team felt the more substantial construction made the torch feel sturdier and longer lasting. The 7-year warranty also gave them more confidence to take this torch wherever they wanted.

    #12 Black Diamond Astro 300

    Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $19.95
    • Weight: 2.65 Ounces
    • Lumens: 300
    • Battery Type: AAA
    • Beam Type: Flood

    The Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp is the headlamp for all you minimalists out there. This headlight comes with the standard features, its sleek, simple and compact. Its design allows you to be able to slide it into your pocket as you’re making dinner just before sunset and bust it out when it’s time to do the dishes after dark.

    Imagine your adventure buddy swings by your place to pick you up before a multiday mission. At the trailhead your friend realizes they forgot their headtorch, good thing you packed an extra. Ideal for a backup or throw it in your car before your next adventure. The Black Diamond Astro 300 is for the traveler who doesn’t care about features and just needs something practical.

    For those on the team not interested in anything fancy, but instead, a torch that just works and works well, then this is perfect. They love that this thing just works and it works well!

    #13 Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra 400L

    Specs
    • Price: $98.99
    • Weight: 2.9 Ounces
    • Lumens: 350
    • Battery Type: Rechargeable
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    It takes a special kind of person to be a dedicated runner, that same dedication needs to be assembled for the products they use for their run. That’s where the Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra 400L comes in. This headlight is the combination of high performance, comfort and durability.

    Imagine running up a trail, emerging at the base of the ridgeline, and boom it’s right there, the summit. Different surroundings call for different light settings. The Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra 400L Headlamp has a specialized Intelligent Light feature. Meaning it combines a wide floodlight and a long spot beam ahead of you to meet your needs in diverse surroundings.

    This product is also capable of performing in colder settings. The USB rechargeable battery comes with an extension cord. So you can keep the torch warm in your jacket layers while  the battery charges. Whether or not you’re a runner, if you need a headlamp that is as dedicated and as rugged as you are. Take the Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra 400L into consideration.

    #14 Petzl e+Lite Headlamp

    Specs
    • Price: $28.12
    • Weight: 1 Ounce
    • Lumens: 50
    • Battery Type: Lithium non-rechargeable
    • Beam Type: Flood

    The Petzl e+LITE stands as a paragon of emergency headlamps, crafted for critical situations and designed to be an essential component of any first aid kit or ‘go-bag’ for search and rescue operations. Petzl’s commitment to excellence is evident in this headlamp, specifically tailored for emergency scenarios.

    The e+LITE’s singular beam setting is optimized for visibility, ensuring that you can be seen from afar in critical moments. Adding to its functionality, the headlamp features an integrated whistle on the adjustable headband, allowing you to audibly signal your location in addition to the visual aid provided by the light.

    Built to endure the extremes, the Petzl e+LITE operates reliably across a vast temperature range, from -22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-30 to 60 Celsius), making it a dependable choice in the most demanding environments. Furthermore, its ability to preserve battery life for up to a decade ensures that it’s ready to perform when you need it most, even after prolonged storage.

    #15 Princeton Tec Apex Headlamp

    Specs
    • Price: $93.95
    • Weight: 9.8 Ounces
    • Lumens: 550
    • Battery Type: AA
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    The Princeton Tec Apex Headlamp is a powerhouse, perfect for adventurers tackling diverse and challenging terrains. It offers brilliant illumination with a mix of strong beams and broad floodlights, easily managed via user-friendly switches. Its advanced heatsink technology ensures consistent, bright light for prolonged periods, ideal for extensive explorations.

    Boasting an IPX7 rating, the Apex is a durable ally against the elements, capable of withstanding immersion in water up to 3 feet for 30 minutes. While it’s a bit heavier, the reliability and performance of the Princeton Tec Apex make it an invaluable addition to your gear, providing peace of mind and exceptional illumination on any adventurous endeavor, from spelunking to high mountain expeditions.

    #16 Black Diamond Spot 400

    Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $49.95
    • Weight: 2.7 Ounces
    • Lumens: 400
    • Battery Type: AAA
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    The Black Diamond Spot 400 stands as a classic, award-winning beacon in the realm of headlamps, renowned for its versatility and robustness. Tailored for any travel adventure, from dawn hikes to late-night runs or extensive climbing excursions, the Spot 400 meets the rigorous demands of diverse outdoor activities with its lightweight design, powerful illumination, and enduring build.

    Setting industry benchmarks, this headlamp features waterproofing up to 1.1 meters for 30 minutes, brightness memory for personalized light settings, and innovative PowerTap technology for instant transitions between full brightness and dimmed light. Even in the event of water infiltration into the battery compartment, the Spot 400 proves its resilience, continuing to operate effectively and recovering fully once dried.

    The waterproofing prowess stands out too, even when compared to pricier options, making it a reliable and cost-effective choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a dependable lighting solution.

    #17 Black Diamond Storm 450

    Black Diamond Storm 450 Headlamp
    Specs
    • Price: $59.95
    • Weight: 3.25 Ounces
    • Lumens: 450
    • Battery Type: AAA
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    The Black Diamond Storm 450 epitomizes the notion that simplicity breeds brilliance, making it a standout headlamp for the everyday traveler. It encapsulates the essential features needed for a wide range of activities, ensuring versatility and ease of use. Continuing Black Diamond’s tradition of innovative design, the Storm 450 incorporates PowerTap technology, enabling swift transitions from full brightness to a dim setting with a single touch – a feature particularly handy for urgent situations like locating items in your bag on a dimly lit train platform.

    The headlamp’s sleek and compact design is not just about aesthetics; it’s about practicality. It’s effortless to store and quick to deploy, whether you’re navigating through your map in the dark or settling down with a book at camp. The Storm 450 isn’t just about light; its multifaceted lens, dustproof and waterproof capabilities, and low-profile build make it a robust and reliable companion for any adventure.

    #18 Silva Explore 4 Headlamp

    Specs
    • Price: $40.49
    • Weight: 3 Ounces
    • Lumens: 350
    • Battery Type: AAA
    • Beam Type: Flood/Spot

    The Silva Explore 4 reigns supreme as the ultimate travel headlamp, setting itself apart with its versatile design and multifunctional features, catering to a wide range of activities from rugged backcountry expeditions to discreetly reading in a hostel bunk.

    What truly distinguishes the Silva Explore 4 is its array of beam settings, including the customary max/min white light and a red light for preserving night vision. The unique orange light setting, specifically tailored for reading, ensures optimal visibility for map navigation or enjoying a book during a ferry ride, without causing strain or glare.

    Flexibility is at the heart of the Silva Explore 4’s design. It’s not just a headlamp; it’s a versatile lighting tool. With a belt clip, headband, and helmet attachment, it seamlessly adapts to your travel mode, whether you’re walking, running, biking, or climbing, making it a constant and adaptable companion.

    Travel Headlamp Buyers Guide

    Outdoor gear companies will tell you there are loads of considerations to take into account when buying their products. Here are the ones that actually matter:

    Weight Considerations

    man uses headlamps at night
    When your hostel says ‘lights out’ but you can’t put down your book…

    The best headlamp should be lightweight, especially since you’ll be carrying it around on your head! In the age of the ultralight trend, we outdoor professionals are learning that weight is not necessarily always a sign of durability.

    On average, a headlight weight ranges from 2-6 ounces (56-168 grams). The weight of the headlamp that you need really depends on your intended use. If you’re a caver and/or canyoneer and you’re constantly in and out of wet environments, the extra weight/durability is usually worth the extra few ounces. If you’re an alpine climber, or even a traveler trying to avoid heavy baggage fees, going bare bones with features and cutting the weight is worth it.

    The most important thing is to ask yourself, how do I plan to use my new head torch? That is the best way to answer the weight consideration for yourself.

    Price

    Best Travel Headlamps

    Price is definitely subjective. When shopping for gear, you typically get what you pay for. If you’re on a tight budget, there are good options out there that will definitely meet your needs. The average price you will find for a good, reliable headlight usually ranges between $25-$50. Anything below $20 is definitely a gamble, especially if you’re the type of traveler that’s hard on gear.

    Typically, if you spend more, that USUALLY means additional features but more importantly,  a warranty, which is (almost) always worth the extra money. When you pay for a good warranty, that means they will cover (or replace the product) with ANY manufacturer defect. The really good warranties will even cover wear and tear. Look for the fine print whenever you’re about to make a purchase, most reputable companies oftentimes offer warranties with their products .

    How hard are you on your gear? Is spending the extra money worth the additional features and/or warranty? Keep these questions in mind while you’re browsing.

    Battery Life

    Best Travel Headlamps

    Battery life is critical, especially in winter conditions. In winter, you’re using your headlamp for more hours throughout the day. Also, cold weather is a key ingredient for shortening battery life.

    If you’re a regular headlight user, batteries can become costly. Sometimes batteries play a necessary role in your adventure. If you’re spending an extended period of time in the backcountry and don’t have any means of recharging, then buying a product with non-reusable batteries may make sense for you.

    Thankfully, technology has provided the answer! As battery technology improves, more companies are incorporating rechargeable features into their products. Rechargeable NiMh batteries offer a good option for eco-conscious folks and reduce the overall cost of purchasing expensive batteries. Charging your headlamp during the day or when you’re sleeping at night adds new convenience for the adventure traveler.

    Do you have means of regularly charging your headlamp? If so, going for the rechargeable option may be a great way to reduce your environmental impact, and reduce cost.

    Water Resistance

    Best Travel Headlamps
    If you’re the type of adventurer that travels with water, having a higher IPX rating is worth it.

    While shopping for headlamps you’re going to notice an IPX rating. What does that mean? An IPX rating is essentially a water resistance scale, measuring how much moisture can the product really retain while operating normally.

    For example an IPX1 means that it can withstand a small amount of water from normal exposure (raining while wearing the headlight). An IPX8 rating means that it is highly waterproof, and can even operate in 2 meters of water for up to 30 minutes, guaranteed. Most headlamps on the market have an IPX4 rating (or higher), meaning that it can withstand splashing from any direction.

    Something that is definitely worth considering since more often than not, getting your headlamp wet is beyond your control. It could be something as routine as a weather change, or getting splashed during your evening paddle, or even making a careless error like accidentally knocking over your water bottle onto your light.

    Do you plan on doing extensive backcountry travel with your headlamp? If so, the higher the IPX rating, the better.

    Cold Weather Exposure

    Best Travel Headlamps
    Planning a winter trip? Find yourself an ‘All-Mountain’ headlamp that isn’t afraid to face the elements with you.

    The bane of any adventurer’s existence, dead batteries. Unfortunately, no matter how ambitious our adventure plans are, we need to accept the fact that we cannot control the weather. There are some headlights/batteries out there that simply perform better in cold weather.

    Most cold-weather adventurers know the ‘pro-tips’ when using technology in wintery conditions. Like keeping batteries in your layers, or stashing your headlamp in your sleeping bag at night. Beyond the basic wintery do’s and dont’s, it’s important to find the product that’s going to meet your needs.

    Keep your eyes peeled for the ‘All-Mountain’ headlamps while doing your research. Those headlamps that are designed for cold environments and typically use rechargeable/lithium batteries.  You can expect rechargeable and lithium battery-powered products to perform better in cold environments. Avoid alkaline battery-powered products if possible.

    Are you a cold-weather adventurer? If so, there are loads of options out there that are designed for alpine climbers and winter campers and travelers alike.

    Brightness

    Best Travel Headlamps

    The best headlamps should have a decent lumen output, the higher it is the brighter your headlight will be. The best-LED headlamps provide a good level of brightness and beam distance in diverse conditions.

    Some products also vary in their brightness and beam settings. Headlamps with red lights are great for reading at night (without effecting your night-vision) and keep insects from flying in and/or around your face.

    Sometimes one thing is usually overlooked, the higher the beam setting goes on your headlight, the quicker your battery drains. These factors play into each other. Thankfully, as lighting technology improves, a common feature in head torches is the beam setting will stay consistent even if the battery level is low.

    Are you a late-night reader? Or are you a routine night hiker? Having varying beam settings is always worth considering if you answer ‘Yes’ to those questions.

    Durability and Lifespan

    Best Travel Headlamps

    As stated before, weight is no longer a sign of durability. When selecting a good travel headlamp, we need something that can endure exposure through the elements beyond normal wear and tear.

    Durability goes beyond exposure to moisture. As any traveler knows, you can plan to encounter a number of environmental conditions in any number of places. Ideally, you have selected a headlight that can adapt to all those scenarios. Wet, dry, cold, warm, windy, dusty, etc, it’s important to know your headlamp can perform in all these different environments.

    While researching your next purchase, ask yourself: Are you an extra sweaty runner? Are you a total clutz when doing dishes near the river at night? No judgment here! There are loads of good options for you out there. But keep this in mind when looking for a headlight that will meet your travel needs.

    Straps and Comfort

    Best Travel Headlamps
    Synthetic straps are the go-to for headlamp products. Thankfully, they have become more adjustable and comfortable in recent years.

    All headlamps will come with an adjustable strap made of synthetic material. Headlamps are made for an active user, so the synthetic strap is elastic and is made to dry quickly. Many products are marketed with “moisture-wicking strap”, duh, they are all made that way.

    The thing you want to pay attention to is their range of use. Some straps will come with belt clips, or handlebar straps (for your bike), and some are made to attach to helmets. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is some synthetic materials can be more comfortable than others. But personally, it has never bothered me to the point where I won’t use the headlight because of the strap.

    Think about it this way: when/where/how do you plan to use your headlamp? Helmet or no helmet? Then, make your decision from there.

    Best Headlamps
    NameLumensWeight (Oz)Beam TypePrice (USD)
    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp6003.1Flood/Spot79.95
    Vont SPARK Headlamp2001.6Flood/Spot14.95
    Black Diamond Cosmo 350 Headlamp3502.8Flood/Spot34.95
    BioLite 325 Headlamp3251.8Spot49.95
    Eukarya Origin Headlamp3002.9Flood/Spot/Strobe129
    Ledlenser NEO9R Trail-Running Headlamp12007Flood/Adjustable119.95
    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp4502.8Flood/Spot69.95
    Fenix HM60R Headlamp12005.5Floot/Spot79.95
    Petzl Tikka Headlamp3503.32Flood34.95
    Fenix HM50R V2.0 Headlamp7002.75Spot59.95
    Petzl Zipka Headlamp3002.3Flood29.95
    Ledlenser MH11 Rechargeable Bluetooth Headlamp13006.3Flood/Spot159.95
    Black Diamond Astro 3003002.65Flood19.95
    Silva Trail Runner 4 Ultra Headlamp3502.9Flood/Spot129.95
    Petzl e+Lite Headlamp501Flood29.95
    Princeton Tec Apex Headlamp5509.8Flood/Spot93.95
    Black Diamond Spot 4004002.7Flood/Spot49.95
    Black Diamond Storm 4504503.25Flood / Spot59.95
    Silva Explore 3 Headlamp3503Flood/Spot39.95

    How We Tested The Best Headlamps

    There is no perfect or exact science when it comes to testing out travel and outdoor gear. However, we’ve got a vast and experienced team here at The Broke Backpacker, so we’ve gotten pretty decent at it over the years we think!

    So whenever we get a piece of gear we hand it over to at least one, sometimes a few, of our lovely team members to test out. They look at things like how well-made the product it, whether it’s heavy or light, if it packs well and most importantly, how well it performs its primary function. So when it came to doing these headlamp reviews for 2021 & beyond, we also looked at things like brightness, charging times, battery life and how hard-wearing each one was.

    Finally, we also take into account how an item is priced – so for us, expensive items that perform anything below awesome will lose points, but budget items may be given more leeway when it comes to all the performance points we mentioned above.

    FAQ about the Best Headlamps

    Still have some questions about the best headlamps? No problem! We’ve listed and answered the most commonly asked questions below. Here’s what people usually want to know:

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      Final Thoughts on the Best Travel Headlamps of 2024

      tbbteam-headtorch-indonesia

      By now, you have the knowledge that has been presented to you. As you can see, there are loads of options out there and hopefully, our research narrows down the best choices for you.

      For me personally, I’m a climber, boater, all around backcountry traveler. I abuse the hell out of my gear. The headlamps that I’ve used over the years have been exposed to all the elements. So whatever can withstand all my backcountry shenanigans, I know will do the trick when I travel from one hostel to the next.

      As you do your research, you need to ask yourself some questions: HOW will I use my new headlamp? WHEN will I use my new headlamp? And finally, WHERE will I use my new headlamp? If you can find answers to these basic questions, all the other considerations will be answered as well.

      From all the headlamps on our list, it still may be hard for you to pick out a favorite. If you’re looking for an all around headlamp for a fair, competitive price, can cannot go wrong with the Petzl Actik Core Headlamp.

      Once you strap that bad boy on for the first time, you’ll understand why we love it so much.

      Best Travel Headlamps
      With all the headlamps out there, find one that will meet your travel needs.