Best Headlamps for Running Reviewed
With a busy and hectic schedule, you might not be able to fit in a good run until after the sun has already gone down. Equipping yourself with the right reflective gear is going to ensure that other travelers are going to be able to see you. But how are you supposed to see them? A lightweight and easy to wear headlamp not only makes you safer when walking on the sidewalks, but it is also something that makes trail exploration at night an actual possibility (just look out for bears!). Most designs are lightweight and comfortable and can hold a charge for quite some time. We have compiled a list of our top ten favorite styles of running headlamps that will do a great job of lighting your path so that sundown doesn’t have to mean you can’t get out there!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
- Foxelli MX20
- Black Diamond Spot
- PETZL TIKKA
- VITCHELO V800
- Alyattes CREE LED
- Energizer Vision HD+
- GOFORWILD Enhanced
- DanForce Bold-S
- Outdoor Pro Gear Lighthouse Beacon
- Yalumi Spark
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Night and Trail Running Headlamps
1. Foxelli MX20
Anyone that loves to camp or spends a lot of time outdoors may already be familiar with the Foxelli headlamp for running. The reason this design landed at the top of our list was that it is made from incredibly durable materials that can power right on through a rainstorm while still going strong so that you can train in just about any weather or conditions that you can imagine.Read more
The front-mounted light is rechargeable via USB cable, so you won’t need to keep buying batteries for this unit. Once it is fully charged, it can run continuously for about 40 hours. So, if you run a 10-minute mile, this running headlamp will be able to light up your path for an impressive 240 miles before you need to pop it on the charging cable that is included with purchase.
Users also really liked the comfort of this design as well as the adjustability. This headlamp mounts to your head like a simple headband and locks securely into place with a buckle. You can adjust the light up to a 45-degree angle so your path is illuminated whether you find that you prefer seeing up close or at a distance.
If you want a product from a trusted company that knows a thing or two about outdoor gear, this design from Foxelli is going to be one of your best choices because it is comfortable, easy to use, and made to withstand the elements!
2. Black Diamond Spot
Yellow spot in light
Black Diamond Spot headlamp for running is another heavy hitter when it comes to outdoor gear. Users love this brand because their products are designed for use in all types of weather and terrain conditions, and they are always made from high-quality materials. What we loved so much about Black Diamond’s Spot is that it has a simple frame and design that can offer an impressive amount of power to light your path.Read more
The bulb in the Spot delivers an impressive 300 lumens, which is going to be slightly dimmer than a 40-watt bulb you would use in your home. Instead of using a rechargeable battery, this unit runs off of 3 AAA batteries. That means it will run a little bit longer and stay brighter than rechargeable units. But it also means that you will have to replace the batteries at some point.
The strap that attached to your head is a simple headband that cinches securely to your head with a pair of buckles on either side for a secure fit. It also gives you the option of adjusting the light to send light closer to your feet or further down the trail.
When you buy a product from Black Diamond, you know that you are going to be receiving something that is made from high-quality materials. Users love the ease of use and comfort of this design and feel comfortable taking it with them on a dark trail run.
3. PETZL TIKKA
60 hour light
Only 200 lumens
PETZL running headlamp is a brand that actually got their start manufacturing adventure gear for those that like so explore dark places. Since the release of the ZOOM in 1981, they have spent their time tweaking and perfecting their designs. This eventually led them to the TIKKA. This option is comfortable to wear for long periods of time and it delivers some serious light!Read more
While this unit only offers about 200 lumens of light (which is about 100 less when you compare it to Black Diamond), the benefit of this unit lies in the style of light, Instead of a rounded beam, the TIKKA creates a wide angle of light perfectly lights up the entire trail ahead of you instead of only a rounded circle. It runs off of a set of AAA batteries, the first of which is included with purchase. This will give runners about 60 hours of use before they replace the batteries.
Users really loved the fit of this running headlamp and about 99 percent of previous users felt that this design fit them exactly as expected. The headband is made of a thinner material that we have seen in previous designs and cinches in place with a series of buckles.
If you are in the market for something that is going to fit comfortably and work great at lighting up the entire trail in front of you, this is an ideal choice. It might not be the brightest design that we have seen, but it is certainly going to get the job done!
4. VITCHELO V800
EVA foam light
Red caution setting
Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to the V800 from VITCHELO. This brand makes products for some serious campers that need their gear to help them thrive out in the wilderness. So you know the V800 going to do a fantastic job lighting your path on your next training session after the sun goes down. Users love the comfort of this design, as well as the adjustability.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about the V800 headlamp for running is that the back of the light is coated in a soft layer of EVA foam. This will make it feel more comfortable against your head. Often with headlamps, one of the biggest complaints is that while the headband may feel comfortable, the light can sometimes dig into your forehead. VITCHELO's V800 stands to try and solve that particular problem.
This headlamp for night running runs off of a series of AAA batteries that are included with purchase. One thing that we really liked is that the lamp is adjustable up to a full 90 degrees, which means it can light the path ahead of you and can tilt all the way down if you need to look at something close up.
When running on a low setting, this design offers users an impressive 120 hours off a single pack of batteries! If you want something that is going to be comfortable for all your long distance runs, this option is one of your better choices.
5. Alyattes CREE LED
Adjusts 90 degrees
Short run time
If you don’t like the idea of hitting the trails at night, this serious design will light it up like its the middle of the day! This LED trail running headlamp sports a much bulkier design than many of the simple headband options that we have already seen. But the series of 5 lights along the front is going to light up the trail like a spotlight!Read more
While most simple and lightweight designs only offer between 200-400 lumens, this tank will provide users with 12,000 lumens. To put that into perspective, the standard headlight on a car measures in at around 6,000 lumens! If you are afraid of the dark, this design is really going to help you conquer that fear.
The unbelievable brightness comes at a cost, however. This product is a lot bigger and bulkier than others on this list. And you will really feel that weight on your head. The headlamp comes with a series of rechargeable batteries that completely charge in 7-8 hours after which the headlamp will run continuously for about 4 hours.
If you want something that will really light up super dark spaces, this is one of the brightest trail running headlamps that we have seen on the market. Just keep in mind that the brightness of this design means that it is going to be a lot heavier and it will not hold a charge quite as long.
6. Energizer Vision HD+
Glare on face
From the makers of most of your battery-powered devices comes the simple but versatile Vision HD+ headlamp. The Vision HD+ hits all of the marks of what runners want from these products. It is lightweight, provides just enough brightness to light up the road ahead of you, and has a few settings that prove to be quite handy.Read more
The Vision HD+ runs on 3 AAA batteries that are included with purchase. It provides about 250 lumens of light on the highest setting and can run for up to 50 hours before you will need to change the batteries. It also has a red light setting so you can light up your terrain without drawing too much attention to yourself.
The strap affixes to your head like a standard headband, and cinches in place with a pair of dual buckles at either side. It is considered to be water-resistant if you get caught in a light drizzle, but it is not completely waterproof like other designs that we have seen. It does, however, sport a shatterproof lens if you happen to drop it.
If you are looking for a simple headlamp design that is going to feel lightweight to the point that you may even forget you are wearing it, Energizer's Vision HD+ is worth checking out. We love that it is simple and lightweight with quite a few features that will help you get the most out of your nocturnal adventures.
7. GOFORWILD Enhanced
Short run time
This running headlamp from GOFORWILD is an excellent marriage of portability and power. It offers a simple and comfortable design as many of the lightweight designs, but it has a light on the front that is able to get just a little brighter than many of the other basic models that we have already seen so far.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it has a light that offers users about 500 lumens. This makes it one of the brighter designs that still sports the simple headband design. What is really neat about this headlamp for running is that there are no buttons that you have to fumble around in the dark to adjust the brightness and settings. To change it up from a high beam to a red light, simply wave your hand in front of the unit to make your adjustments.
It also uses a set of rechargeable batteries that can be charged via the included USB cable. The downside to this super bright option is that even with a full charge, this is only going to be able to provide you with about 2.5 hours of continuous light. So, better make your lap times fast!
If you are looking for something that has a simple and lightweight design but offers you quite a bit more brightness than other options that we have seen, GOFORWILD is going to be a really great choice if you like your runs to be short and sweet!
8. DanForce Bold-S
DanForce is a company that specializes in outdoor gear, so you know that this product is made to withstand the elements. What we liked most about this design is that it is insanely bright, and will hold up to some pretty rough weather conditions without skipping a beat! If your adventures take you to some pretty crazy locations, the Bold-S will make life just a little easier.Read more
The lamp on the Bold-S provides users with an impressive 1,080 lumens of light. Its heavy duty frame is made to not only stand up to wet weather conditions but extreme cold as well. Sometimes when batteries get cold in cooler climates, your light may dim a bit. But not with the Bold-S. This headlamp is designed to stay strong and bright, no matter how cold it gets outside.
There is a downside, however. The Bold-S running headlamp may be built tough and bright but it is going to be a lot heavier than many of the simple designs that we have seen. It affixes to your head like a standard headband, but there is also a line of fabric that runs up and over your head to distribute the weight evenly and keep it in place as you move.
If you are looking for the best running headlamp built to withstand whatever extreme conditions you like to exercise in, the Bold-S from DanForce will light up your way without skipping a beat. Just keep in mind that it is going to feel a lot heavier than many of the other designs that we have already seen so far.
9. Outdoor Pro Gear Lighthouse Beacon
If you are concerned about some of the lightweight low-lumen models not being bright enough for your needs, you may want to check out this design from Outdoor Pro Gear. Just one look at the headlight and you know it is something that will run nice and bright.Read more
The Lighthouse Beacon lives up to its name. It offers an impressive 1,000 lumens to light up any type of terrain. Plus, you have the power to adjust the level of zoom if you are working out on a narrow trail and really want to zero in on the details of the terrain.
The good news here is that while it offers a good deal of light, it only weighs in at about 5.6 ounces. This means that you will get superior light and may even forget that you are wearing it. However, this design does come with a downside. Runtime is a little more limited than most. It is powered by 3 AA batteries and it can run on a lower setting for about 30 hours before the batteries will need to be replaced.
If you are looking for a headlamp that is exceptionally bright and still feels pretty comfortable on your head, this is a great choice. Just keep in mind that every 30 hours - at most - will need to make a trip to the drugstore to restock on batteries!
10. Yalumi Spark
Long run time
Not very bright
Perhaps you like to engage in a little bit of nighttime urban jogging and you don’t need something that will light up the moon. If that’s the case, you may be interested in this simple and easy headlamp for night running from Yalumi. The Spark has an incredibly narrow and simple design that will provide just enough light to be able to make out the road ahead of you.Read more
The Spark runs off of AAA batteries (that are included with purchase) and will provide you with just over 100 lumens of light. This means it isn’t going to be the brightest design out there on the market. But most users don’t need something that is going to rival the headlight on their car! Plus, the lower output means that it is going to run for longer periods of time before you need to replace the batteries. It can provide you with just shy of 200 hours of continuous light, which is one of the longest running designs on the market!
Users love the narrow headband design of this unit and it is so lightweight you may even forget that you are wearing anything at all! Plus, it comes in many fun and bright colors such as neon green, yellow, gray, and black.
For those that are looking for something that is simple and easy and will be able to run for long periods of time before the batteries need to be replaced, the Yalumi Spark may be one of your better choices.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Whether you are running into the woods hoping never to return or just going for a quick jaunt around the block, you want something that has decent battery life.
We already have a myriad of devices that we need to charge before we go to bed every night. So we didn’t want to add one more to the pile. Headlamps generally fall into two categories: rechargeable and battery powered. While you may instinctively gravitate to rechargeable (because no one likes running to the drugstore to restock on batteries), there are a few reasons why you may want to opt for simple disposable batteries. We have broken down the advantages and disadvantages of both designs so you can select which is going to be easier for you.
Rechargeable Batteries: Products that use rechargeable batteries typically get their charge from a USB cable that is almost always included with purchase. When your gear is running low on juice, simply plug it into a power outlet or computer and let it charge up overnight. Most designs take between 6-8 hours to recharge, so your best bet is to pop it on the charger when you go to bed. This feature is going to spare you the inconvenience and additional cost of heading out to buy more batteries while reducing waste, but this convenience often comes at a cost.
Rechargeable options don’t have quite the same battery life as their disposable counterparts. Often, these designs can only hold a charge for 2.5 hours on the low end and about 30 hours on the high end. Plus, as the battery power begins to wain, so will the brightness of your light.
Disposable Batteries: Most designs that use disposable batteries opt for AAAs with only a few models opting for AAs (which can add quite a bit more weight to the front of the light). What we noticed about designs that elected to use disposable batteries was that the battery life was double, or sometimes triple, that of rechargeable options. On the low end of the power spectrum, they can last up to 50 hours. And on the higher end, they provide users with up to 200 hours of light! Batteries dying in the middle of a dark trail is something that you want to avoid and disposable batteries are going to be your best line of defense from getting stranded in the dark.
When we talk about visibility, we are talking about lumens.
Logically, the higher the lumens, the brighter the light is going to be. From what we discovered through our research, headlamps can deliver a variety of lumen levels.
A good way to imagine lumens is to imagine a candle on a birthday cake. One lumen is going to be as bright as a candle that is situated about 12 inches away from your face. On the lower end of things, they measure to offer users about 100 lumens. The highest lumen count that we discovered was about 12,000 lumens! So, what's the real-world difference? We have divided the different power levels into a few categories so that you can determine which lumen level best fits your needs.
100-300 Lumens: These products are on the lower end of the scale and offer light that is pretty dim. You'll have just enough light to see the terrain in front of you so that you don’t trip on any branches or cracks in the sidewalk. Users often select these devices when walking the dog in the middle of the night or if they want to run on the trail at night without bringing that much attention to themselves. While the brightness level may be a little underwhelming, the battery life on these dim models is sure to impress!
300-700 Lumens: Your average 60-watt light bulb in your lamps at home offer about 750 lumens. The 300-700 power level is going to be just slightly sinner than your bulbs at home. Considering that you use this level of light to read after the sun goes down, this power level is great for illuminating the terrain in front of you. From what we found, this range was by far the most popular among trail joggers and hikers. As you could imagine, the battery life for these options run about average.
1000+ Lumens: If you want to be able to spot quarters on the sidewalk in the middle of the night, this is your best option! To put it into perspective, the average headlight on your car measures to be about 6,000 lumens. Just keep in mind that these powerful options are often incredibly heavy and they typically have a battery life that is under 5 hours.
Keeping comfortable is the key for a great evening jog.
These devices typically attach to your head like a headband and cinch in place with a pair of buckles along the side or in the rear. Ensuring that they stay comfortable and in place as you start to sweat is going to be the key for a happy ride. There were a few things that we took into consideration when selecting styles that are going to feel great when equipped to your head.
Strap materials: This is a big component to comfort. We wanted to select materials that were going to be great at wicking away moisture as you start to sweat or when it starts to rain so that is doesn’t slip around on your forehead. You would think that rubber materials or some types of plastic would serve you well, but from what we discovered is that these materials can be terribly uncomfortable and sometimes even pull at your hair (ouch!). What you want in a start design is a softer fabric such as nylon or canvas. These materials are going to be able to hold their shape when worn for long periods of time, and they are also going to heck wish moisture away from your head.
User reviews: If a product is uncomfortable, previous users are going to be quick to let you know! When researching a product, we made a point of combing through the good and the bad users reviews looking for claims that the product didn’t fit right or was too tight. In some cases, we chalk a single poor review on the comfort up to the user not wearing it correctly. However, if there were an overwhelming number of users that were making the exact same claims about the material digging into their skull, we would simply move on to another product.
Whether the water is coming from your sweaty brow or a sudden rain cloud, maintaining function in soggy conditions is incredibly important.
The weather can sometimes be a little unpredictable. And we didn’t want to select products that were going to short out on you in the middle of the woods in the event of a summer shower. Through the research that we conducted, we found that these products fell into one of two camps: waterproof or water resistant. It is important to note that these two terms are not interchangeable and it is incredibly important that know the difference based on the conditions that you like to train in.
Waterproof: Waterproof typically means that you can accidentally drop this unit into a lake, and be able to find it in the water based on the light that is still shining! While we don’t suggest that you test this theory by dropping it in a lake, it is going to help you if you find yourself in the middle of a summer shower. If you like to get out in the wilderness in some pretty harsh conditions (like if you are training for a marathon in the evenings), waterproof designs are going to work best for your needs.
Water-Resistant: Water-resistant designs can only withstand a little bit of water. If you find yourself in a torrential downpour, you are going to run the risk of water getting into the mechanical components and potentially shorting out the unit for good. This classification is ideal for those that get a little bit sweaty, but it isn’t going to be great for super soggy conditions where you are wringing your clothes out at the end of your run!
The addition of a few smart features can help you keep your eyes on the road as well as keep you safe.
We were pleasantly surprised by some of the additional features offered on these products. Including those that you may not even realize you need or want. We have broken down some of our favorite additional features and give a few reasons why they are incredibly helpful!
Red Light: It may seem a little spooky to get out there in the middle of the night with a red light illuminating your surroundings. But this feature is actually pretty helpful. Some users like the idea of being able to see where they are going to avoid tripping on tree roots and cracks in the sidewalk, but they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. This red light is a great way to keep a low profile when you are out and about while still having the ability to see where you are going.
Motion Sensor Controls: Motion sensor controls are something that you might not even know you need! When you get out there on the trails you may find that you want to adjust the intensity of your light or switch it to a dimmer red hue. With some designs, this means that you have to fumble your way along the top of the light to find the right button. With motion sensor controls you simply wave your hand in front of the light to make adjustments, which means you can do so without ever slowing down.
Adjustability: Some runners prefer to light up the ground directly in front of them while others prefer to illuminate the terrain farther ahead. Headlamps that can pivot between 45 and 90-degree angles allow users to adjust exactly where the light shines on their path. Plus, designs that pivot to a 90-degree angle allow you to look directly down at your hands as well.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The higher the lumens, the more it is going to drain your battery. If you are looking for something that is going to last for a long time, things are going to need to get a little dim!
While we may not be able to see well in the dark, nocturnal animals that you may bump into on the trails actually have cones and rods that are wired differently that will allow them to better distinguish shapes and silhouettes in the dark.
EVA foam is a fantastic product that is used on the base of the light to keep your head comfortably. This material is actually a form of rubber, and it is incredibly environmentally friendly!
Other Factors to Consider
Don’t let the sun dictate when you can and can’t get out there for a run!
The biggest piece of advice that we can give you when selecting a headlamp is to consider the conditions you run in. If you simply like to take your dog for a quick run around the neighborhood at all hours of the night, a lightweight and low-lumen design that clocks in at around 100-200 lumens is going to be one of your better options.
For those that like night adventures in the middle of the woods, the more lumens, the better. But you have to also remember that these designs are a lot heavier and they are going to burn through batteries very quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need to wear a running headlamp?
These devices are great for those that love trail running, but can't break away from their daily responsibilities until after the sun goes down. We often take sundown as our cue that we are helpless to stay inside and should binge a season of something on Netflix! However, if you are equipped with the right gear, you can still manage a great run, even in the middle of the night.
These devices are great for going jogging on the sidewalk when lighting is just slightly less than ideal (and it also helps you become more visible to motorists out on the street). But they can also get bright enough for a trail run in the middle of the woods at night. It could be a moonless midnight and you'd still have a keen eye on your surroundings.
q: How many lumens do I need?
This can be a little tricky because many users don’t quite know just how bright 100 or 1,000 lumens is going to be. To break it down into things that you are familiar with, your average lightbulb gives off around 750 lumens while a single birthday candle gives off about 10. This means that a design that clocks in at just 200 lumens is going to much dimmer than a lightbulb, but it may be a perfect solution for urban trekking.
The headlight on your car clocks in at about 6,000 lumens, so designs that measure around this range are going to give you just as much light as the front of your car! While this might not be necessary for walking your dog in the middle of the night, it is going to be an excellent option for hitting the trails after the sun goes down.
It is important to remember that the more lumens a product offers, the heavier it will be. Alyattes' design offers users an insane 12,000 lumens but is considered one of the bulkiest and heaviest designs on the market. If weight is a problem, a brighter headlamp is not necessarily going to be the best product for you.
q: Should I opt for disposable or rechargeable batteries?
Your gut may tell you that rechargeable will reduce waste while saving money and time in the long run- which is true- but they aren’t without their pitfalls.
Our research found that rechargeable options often have a shorter battery life. Sure, you can simply pop them on the charger at the end of the day, but you also run the risk of the light dimming when you are just getting into a good grove in the middle of the woods.
With disposable options, you can always bring a pair of spare batteries with you to ensure that you can travel far along the trail without worrying that you are going to run out of light. Plus, the battery life on disposable options is sometimes three times as long as their rechargeable counterparts. These are especially great if you love to run long distances.
q: Are headlamps for running going to be comfortable?
We know, the thought of strapping gear to your head seems a little strange. However, these devices fit onto your head the same way that you would wear a sweatband. The materials used for most designs are made from lightweight canvas-like fabric that isn't going to try and dig into your brain the way rigid plastic models sometimes do. Plus most designs opt for dual buckles along the side so that you craft the perfect fit for your unique noggin.
One thing that we did notice some users complain about was the point of contact on the forehead where the light sits. If you worry that this is going to become too uncomfortable when worn for long periods of time, we suggest selecting an option that uses EVA foam on the base of the light. This is going to create a softer point of contact between your head and the light that will allow you to wear it for longer periods of time.
If it doesn’t have a piece of foam between the light and your forehead, we also suggest designs that use a curved light contoured to the shape of your forehead. Discomfort typically occurs when the boxy end of the light digs into the curvature of your forehead. Selecting a model that curves with your head is going to help limit this issue.
q: Can I adjust the angle of the light?
Absolutely! From what we found, almost all of the designs on the market offer some degree of light angle adjustability. While most can be adjusted at 45-degree angles, there are some designs out there that can pivot up to 90-degrees. These designs are especially helpful if you ever need to look down at your hands.
Adjusting the lamp to certain angles will help light up different areas of the trail. If you like to see the road by your feet, a 45-degree angle is going to help with that. If you prefer your light farther out, keeping it flush with your forehead is the way to go.