How to Choose the Right Headlamp

How to Choose the Right Headlamp

, by Chas Waters, 6 min reading time


Man wearing a blue hat with an Adaptev Headlamp strapped to his head.

How to Choose the Right Headlamp

Does your work or hobby keep you outdoors after nightfall? Perhaps you're a hunter, camper or fisherman. Maybe a loved one of yours is an outdoor adventurer, and you want to make sure they're safe. 

Whether you're gift-hunting or shopping for yourself, there are a few important questions to answer before choosing the best headlamp to buy. This headlamp buying guide will answer your questions and teach you how to choose a headlamp that you can trust.

Brightness — How Many Lumens Does a Headlamp Need?

The total light output of a headlamp is measured in lumens. Higher lumens mean a brighter light. In practice, how focused the light beam is and the distance of the object you're looking at will also affect how bright a light source seems. Some headlamps have several light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs that can be combined to emit more or fewer lumens.

In most situations, you need at least 200 lumens for good outdoor visibility at night. This number could be lower for near-distance activities like reading a book after sunset or finding something you dropped. On the other hand, it could increase to 300-plus for activities like trail running, where you need to see further ahead and detect hazards earlier. 

In some hunting and fishing situations, the best headlamp to buy may be one with multiple settings that can glow as bright as 700 lumens or more. 

Beam — What Type and Distance Do I Need?

There are two main kinds of light beams for headlamps: 

  • Flood beams: You can light up a broader area, though they usually do not shine bright light as far as spot beams.
  • Spot beams: Shine a more focused beam, usually over a greater distance, though they do not spread over as broad an area as flood beams.

As a general rule, flood beams are ideal for camping or doing up-close work. Spot beams are best for focused distance vision, perfect for hunting, fishing and trail running. Some headlamps allow you to switch between floodlight and spotlight modes for greater versatility.

Whether you want to buy a headlamp with a flood beam or spot beam, make sure to check the beam visibility distance. This could be measured in meters or feet. While lumens and beam type will give you an idea of the distance, it's helpful to know the exact distance that a headlamp can shine. That way, you can be sure it will meet your unique needs.

Battery — What Type and How Long-Lasting?

For a replaceable battery option, we recommend lithium over alkaline. Lithium batteries are more durable, long-lasting and resilient. These advantages are most noticeable during outdoor use in cold weather.

Headlamps with rechargeable batteries are also an excellent choice. The more often you use your headlamp, the more likely it is that a rechargeable battery could save you money in the long term. 

The length of battery life you need depends on your activity. Headlamps will use battery power more quickly when they're glowing more brightly. If your headlamp has different modes, expect battery life to vary between them. 

Weight — How Heavy or Light Should My Headlamp Be?

Man wearing a Powercap 3.0 headlamp using the built in flashlight to repair his car tire in the dark.

Choose a regular or lightweight headlamp as long as it meets all your needs. Most headlamps are relitively light compared to torches and lamps, but if you'll be wearing it a long time, even a little weight can grow to be fatiguing. A lightweight, easy-to-wear headlamp should last for hours without becoming uncomfortable. 

Strap — What Kind of Strap Should My Headlamp Have?

Headlamps come with a variety of strap styles. The most common is a single band that wraps around your head. A single-strap headlamp made with silicone will be comfortable and good for preventing slips. Some headlamps have an additional top strap, which adds stability and distributes weight more evenly. 

The key factors in choosing a strap are comfort, stability and size. Adjustable options are the most practical. However, if you're open to a high-performance option that's less conventional, headlamps are available as both beanies and caps, which are extra stable and comfortable. 

Durability — How to Buy a Headlamp That Lasts?

Look for a headlamp made by a reputable company with good reviews using quality materials. 

You're an outdoor person, so you know how tough the elements can be. You want a headlamp that's built to last. Consider the overall quality, but also keep in mind the specific demands of your work or hobby. Two features that matter in many situations are: 

  • Water resistance: Fishermen will think of this first, but a water-resistant headlamp is a good investment for anyone who's sometimes outdoors in rainy weather or near a body of water. If that's you, choose a design that's both water-resistant and shock-proof for your safety.
  • Cold resistance: If you find yourself outdoors during the colder months, you want a headlamp that can stand it as long as you can! This is when lithium batteries literally outshine alkaline alternatives. You could also consider a beanie-style headlamp for extra warmth.

The great outdoors can be tough. That's part of why we love it out there, right? Just make sure you choose a headlamp that's as hardy as you are.

What's the Best Headlamp to Buy?

The right headlamp for you will depend on your individual needs and tastes. However, now that our headlamp buying guide has answered your most crucial questions, you're ready to look at some options. Here are four recommended options in different styles:

  1. Panther Vision's POWERCAP LED Hats & Beanies give you a range of down-to-earth options to illuminate your nighttime adventures with comfort and reliability. Looking for warmth as well as light for those colder months? Check out the beanie options, such as the POWERCAP 3.0 Rechargeable Fleece LED Lighted Headlamp Beanies.
  2. The Adaptev Headlamp - Inertial Gyroscope LED Rechargeable Head Lamp combines a classic single-strap design with innovative lighting technology. The lamp responds to your head movements for precise lighting in your most active moments. A long-lasting rechargeable battery makes it ideal for those who venture out often.
  3. The GUMBI-Lamp LED Headlamp - USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp - Anti-Slip Silicone is a convenient choice. Its small size, anti-slip silicone strap and water-resistant design make it a comfortable and practical partner for your nocturnal missions.
  4. Any hat can become a headlamp with a rechargeable clip-on lamp. These little guys are durable, safe and powerful enough to turn your favorite hat into a hassle-free headlamp for hunting, hiking or whatever needs to be done after dark.

Explore Headlamps From Panther Vision for Unmatched Performance

Panther Vision's products are built to last, ANSI-rated for quality and guaranteed by a limited lifetime warranty. We ship fast all over North America and shipping is free for orders over $60.

Interested in exploring more headlamp options? Browse our shop and order your perfect headlamp today. You can also contact us with any questions or comments.

Explore Headlamps From Panther Vision for Unmatched Performance

About the Author:

Chas Waters

As the VP of Sales and Marketing for Panther Vision, Chas Waters has played a pivotal part in helping Panther Vision continue to create innovative lighting products. As a true outdoorsman, Chas brings a wealth of expertise into what lighting solutions are the most useful for our customers. He has been a key member of the Panther Vision team, starting in the business when he was 16 years old, and prides himself in finding the best solutions to help our customers experience the outdoors and make their lives easier with our products.


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