Derrek Sigler 03.26.21
Every outdoor enthusiast at some point in time, will find his or herself out in the wilds after the sun sets. Whether you’re heading to your treestand, sliding into your favorite fishing hole, or setting the decoys for a morning duck hunt, a quality headlamp can make the adventure much easier by keeping your hands free and your path illuminated. Headlamps are an essential piece of gear that every outdoor enthusiast needs, and while some lesser-expensive ones are always good to have around in case of emergency, going with a higher-quality headlamp will always be better in terms of quality, functionality and brightness. Which are the best headlamps for you? We’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
1. Fenix HL60R – Editor’s Pick
While there are a lot of headlamps out there, the author likes this one due to ease of use, power and battery life
Not much question for me as to which is the best headlamp out there – It’s the Fenix HL60R. My teenage son jokingly says that when we turn it on, it’s like having the “power of a thousand suns on your head.” This LED headlamp has a rechargeable battery system that uses a micro-USB for a quick and easy charge. At full charge, the Fenix light lasts an insane amount of time. We use it all the time while hunting, fishing and around the farm. It has six settings, each with different run times based on battery draw:
- Turbo: 950 Lumens (48 min)
- High: 400 Lumens (3 hr.)
- Mid: 150 Lumens (10 hr.)
- Low: 50 Lumens (29 hr.)
- Eco: 5 Lumens (100 hr.)
- Red Light: 1 Lumen (100 hr.)
The red light is perfect for those times when you need just a little light, but don’t want to sacrifice your night vision. The turbo mode is amazingly bright and feels like a spotlight on your head. There is also a strobe function, which is perfect for survival situations, when you need to signal for help.
The Cree XM-L2 U2 neutral-white LED bulb has a lifespan of 50,000 hours, so it isn’t wearing out any time soon. The red LEDs flash when the battery is running low, too. It’s waterproof and extremely well built, making it very tough, too. It survived a trip into northern Canada on a waterfowl hunt a while back and it worked amazing. In fact, the outfitter ended up buying one for himself because my headlamp was brighter than his hand-held light. I could make you a full list of everything we’ve been able to use the Fenix HL60R for, but I’d be filling up pages. Suffice it to say that this is one very useful, durable headlamp that if you were looking for the one headlamp to buy, this is it.
Tip: The best deal on the best headlamp can be found straight from the source!
Pros/Extremely bright and long-lasting, rechargeable battery at a great price
Bottom Line/The perfect blend of features and decent pricing
2. Energizer Vision Ultra – Budget Pick
You know, we see Energizer batteries all over the place, and the company’s headlamps and flashlights are common, too. DOn’t go overlooking them as a low-cost option for a headlamp, especially in a pinch. I keep one or two around just in case I happen to find a need. It has 400 lumen of power and runs off of, you guessed it, regular old Energizer batteries. It also has green and red LED modes and 6 brightness settings.
Tip: Keep one in the truck and/or blind bag
Pros/Powerful and great price
Cons/Durability is kind of an issue, as it’ll hold up, but it isn’t as tough as the aluminum lights
Bottom Line/A great back-up headlamp
3. Coast FL78R – Focused Pick
Coast makes some pretty quality stuff. I’ve tested a few, but found I like this headlamp the most from them. It has a 530-lumen light with high, medium and low settings, and an adjustable bell that allows you t focus the light from flood to spot. It runs on three AAA batteries or a lithium-ion rechargeable. Battery life maxes out at 11 hours on low. It also has red and green LEDs that give you options, which can really come in handy if your trailing game after dark. You can pivot the lamp, too. It’s water resistant and pretty light on your head, another plus.
Tip: Since it can run on both, take spare AAA batteries with you.
Pros/Tri-color and focus bell
Cons/Shorter battery life
Bottom Line/A great, all-around headlamp
4. SureFire Minimus Variable-Output Headlamp – Lightweight Pick
Why does it always seem like technology to makes things work great, but have a reduced size also results in an increased price tag? This light from Surefire is such a case. It is super compact, yet has all the durability and power you’d expect from the brand. It is rechargeable and very minimal, yet has a super bright light thanks to the faceted MaxVision reflector. The Minimus has 13 power setting between 5 and 300 lumens, and let me tell you, with the way the lamp works, 300 lumens feels like a lot more.
Tip: With the small size and bigger price, be careful not to lose it.
Pros/Bright and extremely compact
Cons/Not going to lie, the price tag hurts
Bottom Line/A great, but pricey light
5. Streamlight Enduro Pro – Midpack Winner
I’ve had several products from Streamlight over the years, and every single one of them still works just as good now as the day I got it. That says a lot to me, and it should for you, too. I’m not exactly known for being “kind” to my gear. This simple light from Streamlight has two settings – low and high. On high, you have 200 lumens of power and on low, you have 15 lumens. However, on low power, this lamp will run for 48 hours before needing a recharge. That is pretty cool, especially if you’re out in the wilds away from a way to get it plugged back in. It runs off an internal lithium-ion battery that recharged through a USB port. The head rotates 45-degrees to be more user friendly. It has a tough polycarbonate frame and the color makes it hard to lose.
Tip: Keep track of the charge with the push button that doubles as a charge indicator
Pros/Long battery life and compact size
Bottom Line/A great mid-level headlamp that you’ll use a lot
You often see a lumen rating associated with a flashlight or light of any kind. You may have guessed that a lumen is the measurement of the brightness of a light source. How does that relate to something you can compare to? Let’s start by looking at something we all have at least some experience with – the light bulbs in your house. A standard 60-watt lightbulb produces roughly 800 lumens of light. A 100-watt bulb will pump out around 1,600 lumens. Comparatively speaking, a car headlight, on average, produces 700 lumen on low and 1,200 lumens on high beams. This should give you some comparison for determining how bright a headlamp bulb is.
How many lumens do I need in a headlamp?
While 100-300 lumens is enough for basic walking along in the dark, the adjustable and brighter headlamps, like the Fenix HL60R, would give you more options in the long run.
Why do some headlamps have multiple colored LEDs?
The most common are green and red, with some also having a blue option. Green is the easiest on your eyes, while red helps keep your night vision optimal. Blue works well with detecting blood trails for hunting.
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