Best Ultralight Backpacking Headlamps

10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Headlamps


While investigating nature and exploring for significant distances, headlamps can be incredibly valuable for tasks partnered with dark places or circumstances. Regardless of whether or not you find yourself climbing along the mountains, hiking headlamps can likewise be utilized to enlighten little spaces, tents, or food when preparing. Headlamps can be beneficial for exercises, for example, short strolls around evening time with your dog or using the bathroom at a campground. Below is a list of the best ultralight backpacking headlamps. Hopefully, you find the information below helpful.

While thinking about which headlamp is your most ideal alternative, one might need to consider certain characteristics and advantages that various lights offer. These attributes may comprise of how brilliant the headlamp might be, the manner by which light it is, the distance the light pillar can shoot, battery life, water obstruction, tilt, and the different accessories that it offers. Cost is another factor that can be significant through one’s choice to buy one of these items.

Top 10 Best Ultralight Backpacking Headlamps

Preview
Best Value
Petzl - ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Most Powerful
Fenix HL60R 950 Lumens Headlamp, Black
Best Price
Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp (200 Lumens) - SS17
BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Title
Petzl - ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Fenix HL60R 950 Lumens Headlamp, Black
Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp (200 Lumens) - SS17
BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Rating
-
Review
3,460 Reviews
454 Reviews
3,277 Reviews
493 Reviews
-
Brand
Petzl
Fenix
Petzl
BioLite
Black Diamond
Recharge
AAA batteries and CORE rechargeable battery
Micro-USB rechargeable
-
micro USB
AAA batteries
Weigh
-
39.97 grams
Lightweight
50 grams
136.07 grams
lumens
350
950
-
200
350
Best Value
Preview
Petzl - ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Title
Petzl - ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Rating
Review
3,460 Reviews
Brand
Petzl
Recharge
AAA batteries and CORE rechargeable battery
Weigh
-
lumens
350
Buy On Amazon
Most Powerful
Preview
Fenix HL60R 950 Lumens Headlamp, Black
Title
Fenix HL60R 950 Lumens Headlamp, Black
Rating
Review
454 Reviews
Brand
Fenix
Recharge
Micro-USB rechargeable
Weigh
39.97 grams
lumens
950
Buy On Amazon
Best Price
Preview
Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp (200 Lumens) - SS17
Title
Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp (200 Lumens) - SS17
Rating
Review
3,277 Reviews
Brand
Petzl
Recharge
-
Weigh
Lightweight
lumens
-
Buy On Amazon
Preview
BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
Title
BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
Rating
Review
493 Reviews
Brand
BioLite
Recharge
micro USB
Weigh
50 grams
lumens
200
Buy On Amazon
Preview
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Title
Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp
Rating
-
Review
-
Brand
Black Diamond
Recharge
AAA batteries
Weigh
136.07 grams
lumens
350
Buy On Amazon

1. Petzl Actik Core 

The Petzl Actik Core headlamp is one of the best ultralight headlamps in its league. Offering quick USB charging through its rechargeable battery, this headlamp is sure to last a lifetime. This headlamp contains 450 lumens of brightness and is sure to keep how bright its lighting is even at a low battery percentage. 

The Actik Core is easy to use and is only 3 oz heavy. Although a rechargeable bank powers this headlamp, if you find yourself camping somewhere, that may not have electricity, this camera battery can also be used with 3 AAA batteries.

For this headlamps versatility, many find themselves falling in love with this product. With all of these benefits, the only disadvantage is this headlamps price is set at $69.95. However, if you’re willing to purchase a great headlamp and get your money’s worth, the Petzl Actik Core will not disappoint you. 

Pros
  • Red strobe with high and low settings
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight
  • Strong build
Cons
  • Poor battery life
  • Limited weather resistance
  • Only 90 meter beam distance

Sample Customer Review…Received my Petzl ACTIC CORE the day before I was to leave on a 4-day backpacking section of the AT, which gave me time to charge and check out the CORE battery unit. The light worked great on my trip, and never had to be recharged or replace with AAA batteries I had along for spare. The headband was easily adjustable, super comfortable, and the headlamp could virtually go unnoticed when wearing a cap. Although I had no demand for the full 350 lumens, the lower settings provided sufficient lighting, and my fellow backpackers appreciated the red lamp mode. Admittedly, the headlamp material doesn’t exactly “feel” heavy-duty, so durability will be determined over time and use. Until proven otherwise, it is a highly regarded and recommended product, one for which the recommendations of others convinced me to try out. Hopefully, this review provides some assistance to a future buyer.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

2. Fenix HL60R Headlamp

With one of the largest lumen numbers out on the market, the Fenix HL60R headlamp will be sure to light up the night sky for all of your camping needs. With 950-lumen output coming from a single ion battery, this headlamp will be sure to fulfill its promises.

This headlamp offers five different brightness levels and a night mode red setting and can be distinguished as the best high-performance headlamp when it comes to brightness. Although this accessory is slightly heavier than other options, this lamp has extremely durable construction and comes in at a moderate price point.

Listed for $75, the Fenix HL60R is a great option. Although this headlamp is slightly heavier than most, the technology that it offers will be sure to make up for its negative qualities. 

Pros
  • Very bright
  • Long lasting battery
  • Affordable
  • Waterproof (2 meters deep for 30 min)
Cons
  • No auto mode or custom profiles
  • Max brightness kills battery in 48 minutes

Sample Customer Review…Have two of these now – my wife uses one as much as I use the other – good for everything, especially for older eyes that don’t want to bother with working in the half-dark. Sure you can thread bolts at night without really seeing anything, but this light makes it a lot more enjoyable and faster. Good battery life, especially on the lower setting, comfortable to wear even in the heat, and easy to turn on and off when your hands are greasy or holding a bunch of wrenches. I’m not sure how they’d work for searching for things outdoors (witches, spacecraft, beasts of the southern wild) as I tend to use it only for mechanics and poking around the shed but it certainly holds up to extended use and occasional bouncing off the driveway. Like I said, I own two, and a couple of other Fenix lights – am totally happy with all of them.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

3. PETZL: Tikka

The Tikka headlamp made by Petzl is a great accessory to help light up your next adventure. This headlamp features both white and red light options, helping to aid with nocturnal purposes. This lamp also is equipped with reflectors throughout it, allowing for it to be easily found through dark environments or places such as a backpack where it may be stored.

The Tikka headlamp includes three batteries but is also uniquely able to be charged with an aftermarket rechargeable battery in which many opt for when purchasing this headlamp. In addition, the Tikka is known for its reliability and is able to tilt, allowing light to be directed exactly where you may need it. At $32.95, this headlamp is an all-around great option to purchase for your next excursion. 

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Good Performance
  • Reliable
  • Compact
Cons
  • Sub par flood beam optics
  • Trail finding is “okay”

Sample Customer Review…A well-built and reliable headlamp. I bought this to assist in my astrophotography; the 3 brightness levels are great for navigating any terrain, even on moonless nights. The red led is just bright enough to allow me to work efficiently in the dark and even works well as a light source for some creative long exposures. The main lamp even has a photoluminescent surround that glows green after only a few minutes of headlamp use to make it easy to find the lamp, or my friend and I to find each other, in pitch blackness during exposures. Despite a single on/off switch that requires you to cycle through each function, it remembers the last setting so you don’t blind yourself and others if you turn it back on after turning it off in dark mode. The strap is easily adjusted and removable with one of the buckles housing a rape whistle. Perfect for letting women know I’m prepared to be raped, I guess. The lamp body is hinged with positive detents to maintain the desired angle securely while adjusting with one hand easily. My only wish is that it used a single CR123, rather than multiple AAA batteries, only to maintain compatibility across my gear. It would’ve been nice to only have to pack a single type of spares.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

4. Biolite Headlamp 200

The Biolit Headlamp 200 is a great option to consider for backpacking needs if you’re looking for steadiness and comfort. This headlamp is extremely lightweight, weighing in at only 1.8 oz. In addition, this lamp has been known to sit very comfortably on your head and lock itself in not to budge while you’re on the move.

Offering 30 hours of battery life and 200 max lumens, this light will be sure to fulfill your needs while adventuring. This headlamp has the easy option to be charged with a USB and offers tilt options for the best field of view you can get.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • USB recharging
  • Color Options
  • Compact
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Water resistance is meh
  • Button can be hard to use

Sample Customer Review…If you walk or run outside, this is a must-have for those times you are out on roads at dawn, dusk, or other low visibility weather, especially in winter when it gets dark so early. I mostly use the red-blinking light to make cars see me, occasionally the white light when I need to see where I’m going. I used it once during a snow flurry and an hour later walking thru a trail in nature preserve a lady who had passed me in her car earlier in the walk when I was on the road, said that she could see the red flashing light through the snow before she could see me walking. I’ve had other headlamps before, but this has been the easiest to use – I like how the strap is attached to the light fixture, it’s all one continuous piece and the buckle adjustment in the back is easy to use even while wearing gloves, it just slides on the elastic to widen so it’s easy to get it on over a winter beanie and then easily snugs and stays in place. As a result, it never feels tight around my head, which was a problem I’ve had with other headlamps that would give me a headache. It recharges easily and the blinking red light lasts for hours between charges.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

5. Black Diamond Spot 350 

Black Diamond’s Spot 350 headlamp is a versatile piece of equipment that comes with many beneficial features. This headlamp is definitely bright, easy to function, and is listed at a great price of $39.95. In addition, the Spot 350 headlamp is named after its 350 lumens of light output and is extremely compact to fit in wherever you may need to store it.

Uniquely, this headlamp has many different brightness adjustment settings but also has dimming capabilities, strobe, red night vision, distance modes, and locking technology. One disadvantage that this product does not offer is a rechargeable battery. This headlamp requires AAA batteries but also has the ability to last for a very long time.

Pros
  • Great spot light capability
  • Even and wide lit flood beam
Cons
  • Subpar battery life
  • Poor waterproofing
  • Button can be hard to use (w/ gloves)

Sample Customer Review…was looking for a replacement headlamp for my 8-year-old Cabelas XPG lamp that had white, red, blue, and green lighting options. I hated the blue and green options and only used the red 99.9% of the time and occasionally the white. The beam was super bright which I liked for walking to and from when hunting. The problem is was that you had to scroll through all the colors to achieve the red light and there was no “memory” mode. I did research on multiple replacement headlamps where I only wanted white and red filter options and came across the Black Diamond Spot. This light arrived and WOW. This light seems to be well made, and super simple to operate with memory and dimming settings. Only white and red beams of light. The cost of this gem is far less than a lot of other lights with the same features. It’s also waterproof to a degree. My only con to this light is that the red led is not as bright as the main white led. I’m sure I will get used to it. Highly recommend this headlamp to anyone who wants a quality, bright headlamp and a reasonable price.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

6. PETZL: E+LITE

When looking for an ultralight headlamp, the PETZL: E+LITE is a great option for any circumstance, especially emergency situations. Weighing in at under a pound, this headlamp is almost invisible in your backpack. In addition, the E+LITE has an extensive battery life and can be stored with batteries for up to almost 10 years.

This light is equipped with features that are simple to use, even with gloves in cold temperatures, and contains a lock that will prevent your light from turning on while in your backpack freely. The headlamps light beam can be visible up to 29 meters and is available for only $29.95. 

Pros
  • Ultralightweight
  • Great for close proximity use
  • Durable
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not great at distance viewing

Sample Customer Review…I bought this light specifically for backpacking to keep the weight down. With super bright LED’s these days, and easy to find CR2032 batteries, there’s no reason to carry a bulky flashlight anymore. The first thing I noticed was the number of light settings, it has both red and white light, and a high bright setting, plus flashing lights. The switch is very easy to feel for and find. The best part is after I put it on and started setting up camp for the night, I totally forgot it was even on my head it is that light! Traditional headlamps annoy me with the big elastic strap and always gave me headaches. This little light fixes all that. It’s small in size and weight, but throws plenty of light and can be blinding in the woods at night if you turn on the bright lamp and shine it straight at somebody…they won’t be too happy…lol.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

7. NITECORE: NU20

The NiteCore NU20 is known for its large capacity of lumens of 360 LED. Since this headlamp has the capacity to be extremely bright, the NiteCore NU20 also offers features for the brightness to be dialed down. In addition, this headlamp is equipped with a USB rechargeable battery that can deliver up to 100 hours of usage if on the lowest setting.

The NiteCore NU20 is impact resistant up to 1.5 meters and is fully waterproof, allowing you to go for a nice swim or hike in the rain. At the low price of only $29, this headlamp is a great choice to bring with you on your next camping trip. 

Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Reliable
  • Long lasting battery
  • Lightweight
  • Cold weather option
Cons
  • No option to run off AAA batteries

Sample Customer Review…These are good for most uses of a headlamp. Other headlamps (that weigh more) have different lighting options (red, blinking), buy those I don’t find useful. If you do then this is not for you. I find the turn-on adjustment easy and adjusting lighting levels is easy. That may sound like a silly thing, but for other lamps, I have to read a manual to remind me how to use them each time. The price is reasonable, if I lose it I am not out that much. And it charges easily at home (no need for batteries) and on the trail (where I usually have a portable battery for charging my phone on trips. And I think the charge lasts a long time. Highly recommend! For the trail, I suggest yellow as it is easy to see where you laid it down. It is really bright, but I might go brighter for night climbing where I want every bit of light I can get. Not sure, it is pretty bright for 360 lumens.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

8. BLACK DIAMOND: SPOT

The Black Diamond Spot headlamp is an all-around great tool for lighting even through the wet and wild. While other cameras in its class offer a modicum amount of water resistance, the Spot headlamp offers IPX8 technology, allowing this light to be completely submerged for up to 1.5 meters in water for about 30 minutes.

The Spot headlamp contains bulbs that can be dimmed at 3 different settings and available to be controlled by touch of how bright you may want your headlamp to be. Allowing for the brightness to be seen from 80 meters away and weighing only 3.25 oz., this headlamp will not disappoint you through your camping adventures. It will be relatively invisible in your backpack. 

Pros
  • Great spotlight capabilities
  • Wide + Even Flood Beam
Cons
  • Subpar battery life
  • Poor waterproofing

Sample Customer Review…I purchased it for dog walking as the days get shorter. I’m replacing older one because they burn through batteries like crazy so I’m hoping this one lives up to it’s specs. The flood feature provides the perfect amount of light to illuminate the way and make us visible to cars without shining in my neighbors windows. The swipe feature to turn on the spot is great for when I have to stop and pick up a deposit from my dog. No fumbling with switches in the dark while the dog wants to continue our walk. I like the memory feature in that it remembers the previous setting. It can get a bit confusing so hang on to the quick reference guide for future use. I also like the red light feature for those nights I drag my telescope out. Most red lights are too bright to maintain your dark eye adaptation, but this one adjusts way down in brightness to keep it. Additionally, you do not have to cycle through white light to get to the reduced red output which is a big plus. If you need to shut it off, hitting the switch again brings back the lowered red light you had before. As for the yellow spot others mention, yes it’s there but unless you’re looking for it, I don’t find it annoying in the least. I guess if you want pure white, you should be looking at the more expensive lights. The technology has come a long way since I’ve bought my previous headlamps and for the price, this one can’t be beaten. I’ve paid almost twice as much on others and they don’t even come close to this one in features. Highly recommend it.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

9. ZEBRA LIGHT: H600 MK

The H52A model headlamp by Zebralight is a very durable and unique headlamp that can benefit you drastically through your next trip. This headlamp is known for its rugged yet extremely long-lasting build. The H52A model headlamp contains an aluminum casing and 300 lumens of light which will be guaranteed to light up your environment for which you may need assistance.

This headlamp is unique in its class as it is charged with a single AA battery. This lighting accessory is able to be worn around your head but also offers the ability to be removed and turned into a handheld flashlight. With many great options, the only downside to this product is its price. Priced significantly higher than other headlamps in its class, this product costs $89.00.

Pros
  • Amazing Wide Beam
  • Long lasting battery
  • Rechargeable
  • Durable
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Heavier than average
  • 18650 Li-On Battery not included

Sample Customer Review…Fantastic spectrum for cave photography. Runs on “medium” setting for hours with fully charged 18650s. Small form-factor and very lightweight. I’ve been taking multiple batteries as back up and they’re very quick/easy to swap out. The only point of concern is they get hot. Haven’t fully submerged it yet or taken a face full of water with it at the highest temp yet, but would be curious to find out if there are any quenching concerns. All in all a fantastic caving lamp.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

10. Biolite Headlamp 330 

The Biolite headlamp 330 is rated to be a great lightweight headlamp for hiking, trail running, and camping. This headlamp contains white and red modes, dimmers, a battery meter, and a digital lock to help with faulty on/off scenarios. This headlamps battery is able to hold power for up to 3.5 hours high and 40 + hours on low. What makes this headlamp unique is how tight the light is through the headpiece. This strap and light are ultrathin, allowing for a very thin profile. 

Pros
  • Several modes
  • USB charge
  • One button
  • Works well in cold weather
Cons
  • Can’t fit over a helmet well
  • Small button is not optimal for gloves

Sample Customer Review…I bought one of these about a year ago when they had a Kickstarter campaign. I’m a runner and running in the morning in the fall/winter is of course very dark. This headlamp is absolutely perfect!!! It’s super bright with many options, between a floodlight, direct beam, or both at the same time. The ability to adjust the angle of the light is wonderful and quite useful. If I’m on a street where it’s not pitch black, I like the flood beam to be adjusted more outward from my running path just to add a little extra light. But if I’m running where there is little to no light at all, I want the beam pointing down much closer to my feet. The floodlight is great because the bounce from my running doesn’t shake the light very much because the beam is so wide. Overall the headlamp is very light on the head. The battery is in the back so only the light is on the front, and it’s super lightweight. I’ve never had an issue with the light moving or being uncomfortable during a run. The inside of the head strap has a nice microfiber lining that is soft on the skin but helps to keep it in place. There is plenty of slack adjustment that I can wear the headlamp directly on my head, or over a thick stocking cap in the cold of winter.

Read more reviews at Amazon.com.

Buying Guide: Things to Consider When Purchasing A Backpacking Headlamp

Weight

When hiking, you need to carry as light a backpack as possible; even a few ounces could make a difference. Headlamps tend to be weighted between 0.9 oz to 3.5oz, including the batteries and headband. The weight of the headlamp depends on how powerful the battery is. We recommend considering the reliability and features of the headlamps first, then consider the weight, but at the same time, you do not want a heavy lamp. You can also consider taking extra batteries if you are staying overnight.

Beam Distance

The headlamp brightness is measured by lumens. Lumens have a range between 2 to more than 2000; buying a higher number of lumens does not mean having a better brightness quality; you always want to consider the beam distance. If you buy two headlamps, both with the same number of lumens but have different beam distances, consider buying the one with the lowest beam distance, which will help you have a more concentrated area. It also depends on if you are hiking in the daytime or at night. When hiking at night, consider a headlamp with a longer beam, and if hiking at daylight, considers a headlamp with a broader beam.

Beam Modes

There are different modes for beam: floodlights, spotlights, and strobes, but the most important mode is the red light mode.
read light mode has many features such as:
1- Preserves night vision; when using red light, your eyes do not need time to adjust back or blink a couple of times to adjust back to the dark.
2- Does not alarm animals
3- Does not attract insects
4- Uses less energy than white light

Waterproof 

All headlamps get tested and get rated to indicate their level of waterproofing. Usually, all headlamps have an IPX4 waterproof rate; IPX is the indicator of waterproofing. Headlamps get rated from IPX4 to IPX9 which IPX7 and IPX8 being the best. A headlamp with IPX4 can be washed and use under the rain for no more than 2 minutes. We recommend a headlamp with IPX7 or IPX8 so you can use it on rainy days or under the water.

Battery

Choosing a headlamps power capacity depends on your use and preference. You can buy a headlamp that you can use a battery, or you can recharge. The replaceable batteries tend to be lighter and more efficient. We recommend buying headlamps with large battery capacity for long trips that last for multiple days or have a USB power pack with you.

Conclusion 

When searching for a headlamp that will benefit you and your family and friends on your next camping trip, the possibilities and options may be endless for which product to purchase. However, by allowing yourself to research and find the best headlamp that will fit the needs that you may be searching for, different qualities may stand out and be looked upon more closely than others.

By looking into different categories such as weight, lumens, battery options, and reviews, you might be able to find a product that will best suit what you are looking for. These best ultralight backpacking headlamps will be sure to enhance your next trip and help ease the anxiousness associated with what dark situations can sometimes bring through the products listed above.

Original content written by: Jenn Hauck

Buying guide written by: Ahoud Algargoush

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