The 5 Best Headlamps for Backpacking

man with headlamp

It’s inevitable that you will need a quality backpacking headlamp on your travels. Whether you’re trekking to Everest Base Camp, reading in your dorm bed, or just drunkenly trying to crack the combination to your padlock, a headlamp will always come in handy. There’s a diverse range of headlamps for every purpose, but what is the best headlamp for travelling? We’ve put together this dedicated post on headlamp reviews to help you check out the brightest headlamps, best value headlamps and toughest headlamps for backpacking.

If you need a headlamp, chances are there’s probably no power, so a long lasting battery is a must. Don’t end up like me, trekking through the Cambodian jungle at night, with no battery left in my headlamp, trying to find my way back in the dark.

Your backpack is probably already heavy enough, so you don’t want to lug around a bulky headlamp that weighs a ton. The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s better to be safe than sorry and invest in something water resistant. Trust me, I’ve learnt the hard way.

The best headlamps always comes with more than one colour of light; insects can’t see red light which means they won’t fly straight into your face when you’re camping. I wish I knew this before I drove from the north to the south of Vietnam on a motorbike… Getting hit by a massive doom-cockroach at 50 miles an hour ain’t fun.

Quick Answer: The Best Travel Headlamps Reviewed

I can’t find the marshmallows, please tell me you packed them?

Imagine riding down a Vietnamese highway and within 5 minutes it’s dark. A plague of flying insects literally come out of nowhere. I slide my helmet visor down to see, without thinking I’ve opened my mouth & a million bugs fly inside. I was hungry, but I was kinda waiting until I arrived at the next town to eat dinner.

A young Vietnamese bloke drives past laughing, his bike lights are dimmed & he’s got his red best headlamp beaming bright. There are literally no bugs bothering him, all because of this bloody red light setting on his best headlamp.

Moral of the story, invest in the best headlamp with a red light setting, unless you like eating bugs for dinner.

Consider an LED head flashlight, these are by far the most power efficient & with technology advancing they’re smaller, lighter & brighter than ever. Find out what is the best overall LED headlight for travelling & best value for money headlamp.

What is the best headlamp for travelling? We’ve put these bad boys to the test!

Buying Headlamps- What to Consider?


The best headlamp should be as light as possible, especially since you’ll be carrying it around on your head. Nowadays there are plenty of ultra lightweight headlamps on the market.

Battery Life

The best headlamp for travelling will have a long battery life. Your headlamp should be able to last at least 10 hours minimum, regardless of the setting.

Some headlamps use disposable batteries and others can be recharged via USB port, power bank or a solar charger. Personally, I’m a big fan of solar charging or hybrid headlamps, why use electricity when we have the sun.

Brightness & Beam

The best headlamps should have a decent lumen output, the higher it is the brighter your head-torch will be. The best LED headlights provide a good level of brightness & beam distance in diverse conditions. Good headlamps use proximity & movement modes to adapt light according to their surroundings.

Water Resistance

The weather is so unpredictable, so it’s better to be prepared & invest in a water resistant headlamp. We use an IP rating system to determine exactly how water resistant your head light is. All head torches should be at least a little waterproof, whether you’re exploring a cave or trekking through snow, there’s bound to be a chance of water no matter where you are.

To determine a headlamp’s waterproof ability, we use an IPX scale. They typically range from IPX-1, which protects from dripping fluids to IPX-8, which can withstand over 3 feet of water. If you just want basic protection from splashing water from all directions, then a weather resistant rating of IPX- 4 is what you want.

When your hostel say’s “lights out” but you can’t put down your book…



Comparison of the Best Headlamps for Traveling

Product:Price: Max Battery Life:Waterproof:Max Brightness:Max Beam Distance:
Aennon Top-Pro-XS
$19.9730hrsIPX4220 Lumen150m
SmarterLife Ultra
$17.9710-48hrsIPX6100 Lumen30m
Internova Star Rider XL
$12.99 30hrsIPX3200 Lumen30m
Petzl Tikka
$31.9512-18hrsIPX4160 Lumen400m
SunbowStar Solar
$14.995hrsIPX6500 Lumen200m

Overall Best Headlamp For Travelling

Petzel Tikka LED Headlamp Review

The Petzl Tikka is the best headlamp for travelling, with its smart adaption technology. The brightness will never decrease as the battery drains, with its constant lighting technology. It’s also waterproof & durable.

Its light beam distance goes as far as 400m, so you’ll always be able to navigate around at night and the battery lasts up to 18 hours. This headlamp has 7 different light modes & colours that adapt according to your surroundings. So you don’t have to keep clicking buttons to find the right setting, it’ll do it for you.

The movement mode setting on the headlamp allows you to move around as you please without constantly changing from one setting to another. It also includes straps to allow for various actives like trekking or riding a bicycle & is waterproof.

The best headlamp- Petzel is also a really reputable brand, I invested in one about 3 years ago & haven’t looked back since. Petzl are one step ahead of their competitors with their innovative technology & 7 different light modes & colours.

That’s why I honestly think the Petzel Tikka LED headlamp is the overall best headlamp for travelling.

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Best Value For Money Headlamp

Smarter Life LED Headlamp Review

smartlite headlamp

The Smarter Life LED Headlight is the lightest, brightest & best headlamp with this lumen output. It has the highest waterproof rating of IPX-6, plus it’s also dustproof & shock resistant. The battery can last up to 48hrs on the lowest setting & it only requires 1 AA battery, which is included in the price.

It has 6 different lighting modes to suit every landscape, including a red light used to maintain night vision & it stops the bugs flying into your mouth. You can manually set your headlight mode to suit your surroundings, without having to worry about the halo effect or flickering lights.

The SmarterLife headlamp is comfortable & tailored to fit everyone with its adjustable straps & curved forehead panel. It’s also super lightweight, so you won’t be adding much extra weight to your backpack.

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Other Best Headlamps for Travelling: Review

Internova Star Rider XL Review

Internova Star Rider XL

The Internova Star Rider XL is the best headlamp because it’s USB rechargeable, so you’re able to charge it on the go if you have a power bank. About 4-6 hours of charge allows for up to 30 hours of light, so you don’t have to stress about your battery draining quickly.

It has a decent lumen output & you’re able to tilt the headlamp 60 degrees, enabling you to focus light where you need it. The headlamp includes multiple light modes for any situation which is perfect for travelling. See through dense terrain while trekking on high mode or star gaze without straining your eyes on red mode.

You can use this headlamp in all weather environments as its IPX-3 water resistant. Without a doubt, my favourite feature of the Internova Star Rider XL is the 5 year warrantee. I’m forever breaking things when travelling, so it’s a great peace of mind knowing that they’ll fix it, no questions asked.


Aennon Top Pro XS Headlamp

The Aennon Top Pro XS is a sturdy little shock & water resistant headlamp. The adjustable straps allows it to fit around your head, helmet, bike or even wear it as a belt!

It’s fairly bright as it’s 220 lumens & has a powerful beam distance of up to 150m! This headlamp also has 4 light modes, so you can choose the level of brightness you desire.

The Aennon headlamp is USB rechargeable, so you don’t need to waste money paying for batteries. The LED lights in the head flashlight have a long lifetime of up to 30,000 hours, so you won’t have to stress about replacing the lights throughout your travels.

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Sunbow Star Headlamp Review

Sunbow Star Solar Powered Headlamp

The Sunbow Star Headlamp is an environmentally conscious headlamp. It utilises renewable energy from the sun to power the headlamp. Just in case the sun isn’t shining, they also include an AC charger, it’s always good to have a backup.

The battery never has to be replaced on this headlamp as it’s recharged by solar panel under sunlight. However, the battery life doesn’t last long, only up to 5 hours. Pretty damn cool though since it’s solar powered – real handy on longer expeditions into the mountains where solar is the only source of power around.

The light’s beam distance is pretty good & the lamp even has a rotation of 90 degrees. Although the Sunbow Star headlamp has 3 light modes, it doesn’t have a red light which means you’ll be on the most wanted list for bugs & insects at night.

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You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can guide your light to any direction you choose…

Headlamps are an essential item that most backpackers take with them travelling. Sometimes it can be hard to determine what is the best headlamp for you, especially since there’s so many to choose from.

Make sure you consider the weight, brightness, beam distance, battery life and price when determining what is the best headlamp for you.

Keep an eye out for the best headlamp brands who’re embracing new technologies. More than often they include headlamp features their competitors don’t have, like constant lighting, movement technologies & solar powered batteries.

Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going. 

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The 5 Best Headlamps for Travelling

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