Anyone who has had to do work outside, camped, or gone for a run in the dark knows that a good headlamp makes a world of difference. When you’re looking for the right product, you want the brightest headlamp possible and whose features match your activity.
These come in many varieties, so knowing which is the brightest headlamp can be hard. We are going to break down which one is best for you and how to compare them. To measure headlamp brightness, we use lumens, but we will also look at features, fit, and battery life, as all are important considerations in comparing headlamps.
Read on to learn more about the brightest headlamps!
Our Top Picks
Petzel Swift RL
Black Diamond Astro 300
Best for Features
AMAKER Rechargeable Headlamp
Best for a Spotlight
PUNLIM Rechargeable Headlamp
Best for Active Users
Petzel IKO Core Headlamp
Petzel Swift RL
When shopping for the brightest headlamp, if you want the best on the market, look no further than the Petzel Swift RL. Petzel makes a high-quality product, and when it comes to the best and brightest headlamp, the Swift RL is a great option.
The headband is a two-part split band that helps make sure it will not fall down when you are in the midst of your activity. A good-fitting headband is key, as anyone who has had a headlamp fall down right in the middle of working can attest.
The Petzel Swift RL is the only option on this list that has reactive lighting technology. While most of the brightest headlamps have levels of light, the Petzel Swift RL automatically adjusts to the light it senses around you. This means that it will increase or decrease the brightness as you move. This feature also saves battery life.
Speaking of battery life, when looking at the brightest headlamps, you must keep in mind how long they can go between charges. Most of the time, brightness comes at the cost of the battery, but not with this headlamp. The Petzel Swift RL has an impressive 100 hours of battery life per charge.
This headlamp weighs just 100 grams which is impressive given its 900 lumens of brightness. It can throw light 150m, which, while not the farthest on this list, is admirable given its weight and size.
The Petzel headlamp is a great choice for the best overall brightest headlamp because it has a 5-year guarantee. This means you can rely on the manufacturer to stand by their product.
- Reactive light sensing
- 100 hours of battery life
- Lightweight and bright
- 5-year guarantee
- Not as bright as some other larger options
- Cannot zoom in with light
If you are shopping for the brightest headlamp on a budget, the Black Diamond Astro 300 is a great choice. This headlamp is very inexpensive at around $20 and throws off an impressive 300 lumens of light. This headlamp lacks any features present on other headlamps but makes up for it with its low cost.
The headlamp is compact, so if space is a consideration, it fits very easily. It weighs just 54 grams, making it the lightest weight option on this list. That weight is before the batteries, which are three AAA. This also means that this is the only headlamp on the list that is not rechargeable.
Despite not being rechargeable, the Black Diamond Astro 300 comes with a few noteworthy features. There are a few brightness settings, which is a worthy inclusion for the low price. The headlamp also has brightness memory which means that the setting you leave it on will be remembered until you change it again.
- Very low price point
- Low weight and compact size
- Multiple brightness settings and brightness memory
- Low brightness compared to more expensive options
- Very basic – no features
- Not rechargeable
If you are looking for the most features when shopping for the brightest headlamp, you will want the AMAKER Rechargeable Headlamp. This is the most feature-packed option on the list and can accommodate any of your needs. It is also shock, weather, and waterproof making it durable for all types of activities.
The AMAKER Rechargeable Headlamp is one of the brightest on our list at 90,000 lumens. This makes it both bright and powerful. The light can swivel 90 degrees to allow you to illuminate exactly what you need. It also can zoom in, which means you can pinpoint where you want the light to be without illuminating all around you.
This headlamp also has a 3-band headband, which means that it sits securely on your head. While it may be less comfortable than others, it will not move around on you. The battery pack is also on the back of the headlamp, so if you need to be on your back when using it (working under a car, for example), you will need to keep your head elevated.
- 90,000 lumens
- Swivel and zoom of light
- Shock, weather, and waterproof
- 12-hour battery life is low
- Back-of-head battery pack
Best for a Spotlight
A list of the brightest headlamps would not be complete without a spotlight option. If you need a light that will truly shine brighter than any other, the PUNLIM Rechargeable Headlamp is for you. Boasting a massive 100,000 lumens, it is the brightest on our list.
This headlamp can shine a point up to 500 meters away, allowing you to direct light where you need it. The light swivels 90 degrees helping you pinpoint exactly what you want to see. To accommodate the massive light, the headband is a 3-point band with a reinforced plastic frame, a necessity given the weight. Unfortunately, this means it is less comfortable than some of the other options on the list.
This headlamp has 7 hours of battery at the brightest setting, but luckily it has four brightness modes, so if you need more battery life, you can set it lower. At the lowest level, the battery will last 20 hours. There is also a strobe function making it a great option if you are hiking alone and want an emergency light.
- Brightness at 100,000 lumens
- Swivel feature and spotlight
- 4 Brightness Modes
- Low battery life at the brightest setting
- Very large
- Less comfortable than other options, with a rigid plastic frame and battery pack on the back
Best for Active Users
Many people use their headlamps when running or exercising in the early/late hours of the day, so finding one that can accommodate your activity level is key. The Petzel IKO Core Headlamp is our choice for the brightest headlamp for active users.
The design of the Petzel IKO Core Headlamp is geared toward those that need a band that will not shift as they are running and moving. The band is specifically designed for this type of activity. In addition, it is just 79 grams making it very lightweight.
Despite its small size and weight, the Petzel IKO Core Headlamp puts off an impressive 500 lumens, so it is plenty bright. This headlamp also folds up more compactly than any other option on the list, meaning it can easily fit in a pocket.
- Great for active users
- Will not bounce up and down on your head
- Folds up compact
- Bright and lightweight
- Lacks other features useful for survivalists
Buyer’s Guide – Comparing the Brightest Headlamps
Brightness – Lumens and bulb type
In order to compare the brightest headlamps, you need to first measure how strong their light is. This measurement is our key to comparing the strength of each lamp. You will just need to weigh the brightness against the weight and size.
The type of bulb and lens will also dictate how far and widespread the light given off is. A spotlight that zooms allow you to aim the light at a precise area, whereas a non-adjustable lamp will illuminate the space around you.
Generally speaking, the brightest headlamp will also have the worst battery life. Lamps that are adjustable to different brightness levels will let you lower the intensity of light and thus preserve battery life. The reactive light sensing of our best option does this automatically. Still, you can manually adjust some of our other options to lower settings which will increase the battery life.
The best options have 100 hours of battery life, whereas the brightest headlamp has just 7 hours at full illumination. Weighting battery life against brightness is important when determining the best option for your own use.
Features and Headband
Be sure to look closely at the features of the headlamp you choose. Some of the headlamps have a swivel light or can zoom in, which makes them useful for pinpointing where you need the light. A battery indicator is also helpful in tracking the amount of power left.
You should also consider the type of headband when shopping for a headlamp. A 3-point band may be less comfortable but sit on your head better. Some are made to stay in place during activity and exercise, which makes them good options if you are a runner.
Frequently Asked Questions – Brightest Headlamps
What is a lumen, and why does it matter?
Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a lamp or light source. This gives us an equal means to measure and compare brightness with. The measurement of lumens matters because it tells you how bright you can expect your headlamp to be.
Comparing the Brightest Headlamps
When looking for the brightest headlamp, you want to consider the lumens, battery life, and features to make sure they work best for you.
We broke down a few options here, ranging from our best overall choice to the best features to a low-cost alternative. No matter which you choose, just make sure to choose the one that suits your needs best.
For more survival gear and tips, check out Survival World!