The Best Headlamp

Posted on 31 May 2022

We spent 34 hours comparing 19 headlamps and testing 8 of them, and determined that the Fenix HMR50 offers the best price-quality ratio.

This comparison is certified 100% impartial and follows our selection process.

Our choice, Best mid-range

Fenix HMR50

It stands out for its solid and resistant conception, its modular and comfortable design, and its hybrid power supply. As far as performance is concerned, we also have no complaints.

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During our test, we found it ergonomic, comfortable and easy to hold. In addition, the adjustable light of up to 500 lumens offers a range of 80 metres. This makes it ideal for hiking or walking in the mountains. Its design is resistant to extreme temperatures, which explains its usefulness in various circumstances. Although it lacks a few extra features, such as the red light, its hybrid power system is practical and reassuring.

 

 

Best budget

Black Diamond Spot 325

Lightweight, compact, waterproof and easy to use, it is one of the best price-quality ratio. In addition to its excellent range, it also has a number of valuable and useful features.

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In our experience, it performs well in terms of lighting. It is light, compact and waterproof, making it perfect for kayaking. It is easy to handle, has a variety of modes and more than enough intensity for running in gloomy places. While it is logically more energy consuming than some lights with its power (325 lumens), it allows a range of 80 meters. In our opinion, this is definitely the best option for small budgets.

 

Best high-end

Petzl Nao+

It has a Bluetooth connection to control the lamp from its application. Its satisfactory battery life, its ergonomics and its great power make its success among users.

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With its great battery life, well thought-out ergonomics and convincing performance, the Petzl Nao+ has completely convinced us. Despite its more difficult grip and lack of waterproofing, it is ideal for trail running and all kinds of camping activities. It is both very powerful (750 lumens for 140 meters range) and comfortable. It may require a large budget, but for a quality lighting, it is well worth the price in our opinion. Its little plus is its Bluetooth connection which allows it to be managed entirely from its dedicated application.

 

Mid-range alternative

BioLite Headlamp 330

Ergonomic, autonomous and above all comfortable, it has a very attractive design. Without really shining, it is all the same relatively complete, which is why it has a good price-quality ratio.

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Although it lacks a bit of waterproofing and support compared to its competitor, this headlamp is very comfortable. It is easy to use during an activity and is particularly recommended for hiking and camping. In our testing we found it to be very comprehensive in terms of functionality. The lighting is OK, and it does not draw heavily on the battery. In addition, the look is undeniably our favourite of this selection.

 

High-end alternative

Black Diamond Icon 700

Its different light colours, high power and ease of use are its main strengths. Its dual power system is also reassuring.

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Despite a perfectible design, particularly in terms of the rear housing and its weight, the Icon 700 totally seduced us in terms of ergonomics and above all performance. Easy to handle, comfortable and powerful (700 lumens), in our opinion it has all the necessary functions and lights up well up to 140 metres. It is therefore intended for a multi-purpose use, especially as it is fairly resistant to weather conditions. Its dual power system and reserve mode improve its autonomy.

 

Our selection

Our choice, Best mid-rangeBest budgetBest high-endMid-range alternativeHigh-end alternative
Fenix HMR50Black Diamond Spot 325Petzl Nao+BioLite Headlamp 330Black Diamond Icon 700
Fenix HMR50Black Diamond Spot 325Petzl Nao+BioLite Headlamp 330Black Diamond Icon 700
It stands out for its solid and resistant conception, its modular and comfortable design and its hybrid power supply. As far as performance is concerned, we also have no complaints.Lightweight, compact, waterproof and easy to use, it is one of the best price-quality ratio. In addition to its excellent range, it also has a number of valuable and useful features.It has a Bluetooth connection to control the lamp from its application. Its satisfactory battery life, its ergonomics and its great power make its success among users.Ergonomic, autonomous and above all comfortable, it has a very attractive design. Without really shining, it is all the same relatively complete, which is why it has a good price-quality ratio.Its different light colours, high power and ease of use are its main strengths. Its dual power system is also reassuring.
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Honorable mentions

Petzl E+Lite (£34.70 upon publication): not expensive but a little less powerful. Beyond its discreet, comfortable and ergonomic design and its brilliant battery life, the Petzl E+Lite is not the most efficient as it only has 30 lumens. While it fully lives up to the title of “emergency light” for hikers and can help out with small things, it is not suitable for low-light countryside. Other qualities we found include ease of use with its multidirectional housing, a built-in safety whistle and resistance to harsh weather conditions. 

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 (£14.18 upon publication): compact and waterproof. This headlamp delivers up to 160 lumens of warm white light. It is powered by two AAA batteries and features a LED lighting. It has a runtime of 2 to 60 hours depending on the intensity setting. Options include a gradation function, flashing mode, night vision mode (red) and blocking mode. IPX8 certified, it is waterproof and ideal for walking in wet conditions. However, during our test, we found it a little bit lacking in comfort and light in some areas.

Petzl Actik Core (£34.00 upon publication): a hybrid power system and good performance. With so many advantages, it is easy to see why the Petzl Actik Core is so popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts. Even though in our opinion there is room for improvement in terms of waterproofing and functionality, we were convinced by its ease of use and by its comfort. It also provides a good grip and its multi-beam lighting is interesting. However, it lacks a strobe function. 

BioLite headLamp 200 (£33.99 upon publication): comfortable and lightweight. This headlamp has all the necessary features: 200 lumens for a range of up to 50 metres, 5 different modes, a USB rechargeable battery and a mode lock function. The only flaw that users have noted is that the headlamp’s battery life is not respected. However, this lamp has a smooth headband with the 3D SlimFit function equipped, which means that the lamp’s electronics are located directly in the fabric band to make it truly portable.

 

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How to choose your headlamp?

Popular among outdoor sports enthusiasts, the headlamp has many advantages over a torch in terms of portability. But with so many models on the market nowadays, it can be difficult to know which one to choose.

Lampe Frontale
Headlamps are much more advantageous in terms of portability than torches. | Source: Selectos

This list highlights the criteria on which to base your choice, in order to make the most suitable choice for your use:

  • Power: it is measured in lumens. The higher the value, the more powerful the lamp is, and the more light it sheds around it. Some offer different power levels to adapt the brightness to your immediate needs and, if necessary, to save some battery life. In general, for camping or hiking, 250 lumens is more than enough.
  • Range: this is more important than it sounds as it determines how far your light beam can reach to illuminate in front of you. Of course, it is better to have a longer range to be able to see as far as possible, unless your sole purpose is to use the lamp for repairs. In that case, it is better to go for width rather than length.
Petzl Nao+
For camping or hiking, 250 lumens is more than enough. | Source: Selectos
  • Power supply: lamps generally use batteries, preferably rechargeable ones. Lithium batteries are light, have a good energy capacity and better resistance but are disposable. But beware: alkaline batteries (also disposable and heavier) are dangerous in that they can leak and damage the lamp. A hybrid power supply mode allows the lamp to continue to operate when the battery is flat by inserting batteries.
  • Battery life: this simply determines how long you can run it. Models with a longer battery life are usually more expensive. This is a criterion that should not be neglected, especially if you find yourself in an emergency situation. However, be aware that the more power you use, the faster the battery will run out.
Black Diamond Spot Lite 160
Generally, lamps use batteries or cells (preferably rechargeable) to power themselves. | Source: Selectos
  • Type of bulb: LEDs consume less energy than conventional bulbs. If you often run along the roadside in the evening and want to be seen by other road users, the red night vision mode and/or the strobe (flashing) mode may be of interest as they ensure your visibility. Some offer different beams (wide, focused or mixed) as well as different bulb colours (red, blue, green…).
  • Resistance: the quality of the components determines the resistance to shocks, scratches, dust and waterproofing. This last characteristic is defined by an IP rating which is composed of two numbers, one indicating the level of protection against solid particles such as sand and dust (from 0 to 6) and the other communicating the resistance to water (from 0 to 9).
  • Comfort: it is better to opt for compact and light lamps (less than 150g). The more powerful a lamp is, the heavier it is (because of its battery) and the more headbands it includes. In addition, to assess its comfort, you should check its fit, the settings of the headbands and their ability to eliminate perspiration. For better hygiene, make sure you choose a washable equipment. Ergonomics also includes the orientation of the block and the ease of access to the button(s) (even with gloves).
Petzl Actik Core
It is best to choose a light and compact lamp with easy-to-reach buttons. | Source: Selectos

 

Translated by Aylin Akturk 

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