When the days start getting shorter, you may find yourself itching for an after-work run after sunset. Or, you might be an early bird that loves hitting the trails before sunrise. Whatever your reasons, a good running headlamp is an essential piece of kit for staying safe on a dark run. In this article, we’ll go through the top eight running headlamps on the market and discuss what we love and don’t like about each one.
When testing running headlamps, we looked at factors such as the price for value, weight, brightness, runtime, and durability. Our favourite overall is the BioLite HeadLamp 330, which has a no-bounce fit, a 40-hour runtime, and a moisture-wicking headband. Read on for an in-depth look at the best running headlamps on the market this year.
Best Running Headlamps Reviewed
Best Overall Running Headlamp
BioLite is reinventing a classic outdoor accessory with the HeadLamp 330. The 3D construction has a flush fit, provides better balance, and is made with smart fabrics. Thanks to its USB-rechargeable power light, you can ditch the batteries.
Weighing just 69 grams, runners will forget it’s there as they power through dimly lit runs. Some other convenient features include a moisture-wicking headband that keeps you cool while running and four modes that you can adjust with one hand.
- 40 hour runtime
- Bounce free
- Not suitable for kids
Best Budget Running Headlamp
For a solid headlamp with an incredible price point, check out the TIKKINA 250 Lumens headlamp. With the simple strap adjustment and three lighting levels that are easily changed with a single button, it’s a great starter headlamp. It comes with three standard batteries and is also compatible with the CORE rechargeable battery. Clocking in at 81 grams, this 250-lumen floodlight-focused headlamp is lightweight, affordable, and effective.
- Simple to use
- CORE rechargeable battery is expensive
- Not as bright as other headlamps
Best Ultralight Running Headlamp
One of the most lightweight running headlamps on the market is the E+Lite 50 Lumens. Since it weighs only 27 grams and comes with a compact carrying case, it’s easy to keep with you at all times. It’s great to keep as an emergency backup, it can be stored for up to 10 years with the included CR2032 watch battery. Adjusting the brightness is easy with the click-through dial and there’s even an emergency safety whistle on the headband.
- Very compact
- Carrying case included
- Very bright
- Bulky strap
Most Durable Running Headlamp
With a five-year warranty guarantee, the TACTIKKA is a dependable and affordable headlamp. Although it’s super compact, it provides enough light to spot hazards on the trail. The 300-lumen brightness has a red lighting option and three white brightness levels. With up to 120 hour burn time on the lowest setting, it’ll last you through long-distance runs.
- Long burn time
- Durable construction
- Not many extra features
Most Powerful Running Headlamp
The brightest running headlamp on this list is the battery rechargeable BioLite HeadLamp 750. What sets it apart from other headlamps are its eight modes: a dimmable white spotlight, floodlight, combo, and more. There’s also a great rear-facing red light for added safety. The 120-meter beam is best for people who are running in dark places with no streetlights.
As with other BioLite headlamps, the 3D molded housing integrates directly into the band, so it doesn’t move around or bounce. As a bonus, there’s a Run Forever charging cable that you can plug into a battery source for a passive charge, to get you through a whole night of training.
- 750-lumen max brightness
- Charging cable included
- Rear-facing red light
- Complicated button sequence
After assessing battery life across various models, the headlamp with the best run time is the Coleman BatteryGuard. It can run up to 2.5 hours on max brightness and up to 200 hours on the lowest setting. This headlamp’s real star is the BatteryGuard technology, which extends battery life up to 25% when you need it most. The headlamp boasts three LED functions, low power, high power, and red light. With a simple twist of the lens cap, you can adjust the light’s brightness and angle.
- 200 hour runtime on low setting
- Battery saving technology
- Easy to adjust
- Difficult to adjust with gloves
If you’re looking for a highly versatile and durable headlamp, the Cross Trail 6x won’t let you down. The Cross Trail is designed with multiple attachments, so you can use it for skiing, biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities. There are also two types of light technologies: the Silva Flow Light, which adapts the light depending on activity speed, and the Silva Intelligent Light, a combination of a long reach spotlight and a floodlight to see near and far objects.
Some other useful features include a generous 13-hour burn time and a lightweight, rechargeable 2.0Ah-battery with a battery level indicator. There’s also a comfortable stretchy headband and an extra-large power button that’s easy to use even when wearing gloves.
- Full water resistance according to IPX5
- Rechargeable battery
- Smart light technologies
- Multiple attachments
- Heavy (163 g)
If you need a waterproof headlamp with powerful brightness, the Explore 4 is a perfect choice. According to IPX7 standard, it’s fully waterproof, so it can be submerged in one metre of water for up to 30 minutes. Like other SILVA products, the robust and stable headband makes it super comfy.
The 400-lumen power comes with multiple settings: red light for stealth, orange light for map reading, and white light for maximum brightness. And forget fancy batteries - three AAA batteries power it for ultimate convenience.
- Map reading and night vision modes
- Long burn time
- Battery not rechargeable
What to Look for in a Running Headlamp
Brightness & Distance
Your lighting needs will change depending on your location: under a full moon, through a dark park, or on a tree-lined singletrack trail, all require different levels of brightness. Lumens measure the light intensity or brightness of a headlamp. Look for at least 200-lumen maximum power in a headlamp; higher lumens (300 and up) are better for starless nights and dense trails.
If you want a multipurpose headlamp, look for more settings than just high, medium, and low. Some more advanced headlamps have dimming features and intelligent lights that adjust automatically.
Longer runtimes come at the cost of a bigger battery pack, which translates to a bulkier, heavier headlamp. Heavier battery packs can lead to bounce, which can be annoying for some runners. Some headlamps place the battery pack in the back of your head, such as the BioLite models. Laps around the local park should be fine with a budget headlamp, whereas prepping for ultramarathons will require headlamps with longer runtimes.
USB vs. Batteries
There are pros and cons to both USB and battery-powered headlamps. As with any battery-free device, you have to remember to charge it. If you usually wind up with uncharged devices, you’d better opt for a headlamp that uses standard AAA or AA batteries and keep a few extras on hand. Like the Petzl models, some headlamps are hybrid models that work with either batteries or a rechargeable battery pack.
Beam Patterns & Modes
More advanced models of headlamps have more than just high and low light settings. Some also have a spotlight and floodlight that you can use separately or combine for maximum light. A spotlight is for viewing down the road or seeing directly in front of you while a floodlight disperses the light to improve peripheral vision.
Weight & Size
Weight is a crucial consideration for running headlamps – even a few grams can make the difference when feeling strain and fatigue. Depending on the intensity of your runs, you’ll want a more heavy-duty or lightweight headlamp. Most of the headlamps on this list are under 100 grams, the average headlamp is around 200 grams. In most cases, the more lightweight, the better.
Whether you’re caught in a rainstorm or are braving icy conditions, a water-resistant headlamp is a must. Water resistance is measured by the IP rating, ranging from 0-9, and shows how well the product is protected from water. For instance, the SILVA Explore 4 Headlamp has a rating of IPX7, which means it can be submerged in 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes.
Other convenient features may be the deciding factor when buying a running headlamp. For example, some people might look for a thick, comfortable headband or one that’s moisture-wicking. Other features can include a red-light mode, tilt adjustment, or a lock-out system that keeps the light from turning on or off.
How many lumens do good headlamps have?
A good rule of thumb is to look for 200 to 300 lumens in running headlamps.
How many lumens do I need for trail running?
For darker trail runs, look for a running headlamp with over 300 lumens.
How many hours of use does a good headlamp have?
Runtime can range from 4 to 200 hours, depending on the setting you use. Many headlamps have a runtime of 100 to 200 hours for the lowest lumen setting and 4 to 10 hours for the brightest setting.
Although a headlamp might not be your top priority for running gear, it’s a safety tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether an ultramarathon has you training all night, or you prefer the quietness or running in the darkness, a headlamp will keep your path well lit. For its excellent runtime, lightweight feel, and ample brightness, the best overall option is the BioLite 330. Start your search here for the best running headlamps to light your next nighttime jog.