In this roundup of headlamp reviews, Shanti tests out six headlamps for hiking and camping with the whole family.

I’m not sure when the first time I ever hiked in the dark was, but over the last few years, sunset and sunrise hiking has given me a different perspective of the trail. I hike in the dark for different reasons. Sometimes it has been just after sunset to try something a little different with Mason and help him experience the trail in the dark. We listen for owls, look for bats, watch stars, listen to the loud crunch of rock under our feet in the darkness. Other times, it’s to escape mommy-dom and get out alone on trail in the early hours of the morning to hike solo or with a friend or two.

Here’s the thing about hiking in the dark that I’ve learned: Light matters. Sure, you can do it with any old headlamp, but investing in a really good one will give you needed luminosity and reliability to make your hike even better. Over the last few weeks, I’ve tested a handful of headlamps and found six solid picks that are worth looking into. Check out these headlamp reviews to find the right light for hiking in the dark.

6 Headlamp Reviews

1. Petzl Tikka

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

There are a few stand-out things about this headlamp that are worth noting. First of all you, can purchase a rechargeable battery pack ($29.95) from Petzl, and while the price tag might seem hefty (it’s the same price as the light itself), it’s good to consider that instead of regularly replacing batteries a few times a year, you can just recharge before every adventure. The second notable thing about this headlamp is the glow-in-the-dark ring around the lightbulb which helps you find the headlamp in the dark if you put it down. Another five-star feature is the low profile whistle built into the plastic strap adjuster for those “just in case you need it” moments. Also, I felt like this was one of the most comfortable headlamps I’ve hiked with over the last few weeks. It feels comfortale and I liked how easy it was to adjust where the beam went while on trail early in the morning.

Cons: It’s not the brightest light around but does the trick. I found myself clicking the squishy on/off button heaps of times trying to figure out the light pattern. I get a little bothered by that and am more of a “I just want it to go on and off” kind of gal, so this is more of a personal preference.

Details

Weight: 86 Grams
Burn time: 60 hours @ 200 lumens / 240 hours @100 lumens
Max output: 200 lumens
Warranty: 5 years
Power: 3 triple AAA or Petzl rechargeable pack
Price: $29.95

2. Ledlenser MH6 

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

Next up in our headlamp reviews is the Ledlenser MH6. This one might scare away the average person due to the higher price tag, but before you write it off, hear us out. This light is a winner when it comes to maximum brightness, especially if you are really doing serious night hiking. In fact, I made the mistake of not taking this headlamp with me on a hike a few days ago and I was cursing myself the whole time because I was on a new trail and it was steep and I wished I could see further ahead on the hike.

For an average evening outing, this may not be needed, but if you are really maneuvering on a trail or coming into camp late, you’ll be happy you have this one because it definitely outguns most headlamps with its intense luminosity. In fact, this one is so bright I would be careful about letting it go into your little one’s hands because they might blind you. Other great features include serious water resistance, an easy-to-dim and focus light which you adjust with turning the lens like a dial for a focused beam or twist the other direction to spread the light out. This means there’s no need to tilt the light up and down as you hike. This one comes with a rechargeable, so no need to purchase batteries (this also explains the higher price tag).

Cons: This one feels a little clunky in hand because of the size, but I didn’t notice this once it was on. If you forget to charge it, you are out of luck! Charging is pretty fast at four hours, but you have to remember to plug it in every time you get home so it’s ready for your next adventure.

Details

Weight: 93 Grams
Burn time: 5 hours @ 200 lumens / 40 hours @100 lumens
Max output: 200 lumens
Warranty: 5 years
Power: AAA NiMH 1.2V
Price: $50

3. ENO Moonbeam 

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

Want a unique headlamp that can be both headlamp and tent light? This is the “do it all” headlamp and it’s so light you’ll forget you’re wearing it. The design is unique and stylish with a soft band that slides on easily. Think headband, but then it has a magnet on the back of the light and within the headband so that it snaps on with ease when the plastic light is placed on the forehead at the headband. If you want the light to be more secure, just slide the light part inside the small slit in the headband and you have a more secure headlamp. One of the things I really liked about this light was that it also could snap off when you get into your tent and hook it to an inside attachment in the tent to become a tent light. The only downside is that this light is so low-profile it might be easy to lose it if you snap it off the headband to use it somewhere else and forget and put it down. It’s a minor detail though and just something to be aware of. One of the final things I loved about this light is there are no batteries. Just recharge it with a USB cable and you are all good to go. It’s definitely a winner for keeping in your bag all the time as a backup for when you end up out on trail later than you thought you would be.

Cons: You can’t adjust where the light stream is going, and you could lose the light if your head got knocked by a branch or something like that. You could most likely find it because you would see the light if it was on.

Details

Weight: 50 grams
Burn time: 10 hours @40 lumens
Max Output: 40 lumens
Warranty: 2 years
Power: Rechargeable battery USB
Price: $34.95

4. Princeton Tec Sync 

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

Looking for a simple headlamp? Of all our headlamp reviews, this is it. I really liked how easy this headlamp was to turn on and off. I know that seems like a strange thing to tout right away, but I get annoyed when I have to keep pushing buttons to make a headlamp work. There’s a simple knob on the side that you twist up and down. It was so easy I even taught my 4-year-old how to turn it on and off. In terms of light stream, it worked well on a dark trail and tilts up and down well, so it’s easy to use in different scenarios. The light can be removed easily from the headband, so if you need to wash it after your grubby-handed son gets his hands on it, you can.

Cons: It feels a little bulky on your head when not wearing a beanie, but I got used to it pretty quickly. This one is definitely comparable and worth checking out.

Details

Weight: 83 grams
Burn time: 150 hours on lowest beam
Max output: 150 lumens
Warranty: 5 Years
Power: 3 AAA batteries
Price: $29.95

5. Princeton Tec Eos 

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

While I would love to cheer this light on, I feel like if you are getting a Princeton Tec, I would steer most casual sunrise hikers toward the Sync. The simplest reason is that I felt like I couldn’t really adjust the light and tilt it up and down to look at things like I wanted. I found that I quickly swapped this light out for another light on a tricky steep hike. The light was definitely bright, but I wanted to move it around more and it just felt clunky. I think this light is geared more toward the fishing/hunting market with various lights and a water resistance to 1 meter guarantee. If you are in really wet weather, though, this is definitely something to consider. But this also means there’s a screw holding it shut, so you need a screwdriver to get the back open to add your batteries. If you aren’t carrying a multi-tool, this can be a slight hassle if you are just trying to switch batteries out. The plus of this light is it doesn’t feel like it will break easily and it offers a powerful beam.

Cons: Heavier than most lights and probably too much light for quick hikes.

Details

Weight: 105 grams
Burn time: 121 hours lowest beam
Max output: 130 lumens
Warranty: 5 years
Power: 3 AAA batteries
Price: $38.99

6. Petzl Tikkid

Headlamp Reviews - Photo by Arika Bauer

Our final pick in our headlamp reviews is the Petzl Tikkid. the As a mama with a little adventurer, I can’t tell you how much I love this light and everything Petzl thought of when creating this headlamp. You know how hard it is to tell a 4-year-old to stop blinding you with their headleamp? This easy-to-use light has three beam levels and all are pretty mellow and diffused so even if they insist on shining it in your face and laughing, it’s not as intense as the adult version. This may not be the best light for seeing deep into the night, but if you are hiking with your little explorer, chances are he can see distance with your light.

Here are a few of the highlights: mellow diffused light, glow-in-the-dark face so he or she can find it in the night, and a super adjustable headband for all sizes. This one also takes a rechargeable battery pack (although the battery is more than the headlamp). It’s very easy to adjust and comes in fun kid-friendly colors.

Details

Weight: 80 grams
Burn time: 160 hours lowest beam
Max output: 20 lumens
Warranty: 5 years
Power: 3 AAA batteries or rechargeable pack
Price: $24.95

Photos by Arika Bauer/Zion Adventure Photog.

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Did you find our headlamp reviews helpful? Do you have any questions about these headlamp reviews? Leave a comment or question below – we’d love to hear your experiences!

Headlamp Reviews - Find the best headlamp for hiking and camping with your family

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