If you’re training for a marathon and have to fit in a long run before or after work, or run or cycle year round when the daylight hours seem few and far between, it’s nearly inevitable that you’ll be hitting the roads or trails before sunrise or after sunset. Having a good headlamp will not only illuminate your path to ensure you can spot clear footing so that you won’t trip and fall, but it also makes you visible to passing vehicular traffic. As such, the best headlamps are crucial for your safety as a runner, cyclist, hiker, or walker in the dark.
The best headlamps are lightweight, powerful, and adjustable. They should stay in place while your head jostles with each stride or bump you encounter, and the battery life needs to reliably exceed the duration of your longest trek so you’re not left with a dim, useless glow with a few miles left to go. For the hearty, all-weather runners and athletes, it also helps to have a waterproof headlamp for rainy training runs.
Headlamps for runners have come a long way since their advent over a decade ago. What were once bulky, heavy, disposable battery-consuming behemoths, are now sleek, powerful, rechargeable torches that make wearing a headlamp while running, walking, and cycling in the dark feel less like the necessity it is and more like a beneficial tool for an even better run. Whether you’re a pre-dawn or post-twilight athlete, we share the best headlamps for runners below.
Perhaps the most desirable characteristic of any running headlamp is that it is so light and comfortable that you completely forget you’re wearing it. No headlamp better delivers on this wish than the BioLite HeadLamp 200. At just 50 grams (1.75 ounces), this headlamp is exceedingly light. The moisture-wicking head strap is comfortable and completely eliminates any bouncing or slipping of the headlamp even if you work up a sweat.
With a brightness of 200 lumens, the BioLight HeadLamp 200 is plenty bright for most every run or walk in the dark. The beam has a flood distance of 8 meters and a spot distance of 50 meters, and there are four lighting settings. The 700mAh lithium-ion battery runs for 3 hours on high and 40 hours on low on a single charge. BioLite backs the headlamp with a one-year warranty.
Though trying to pay as little for something as possible can often result in a useless product that ends up in the trash in a matter of weeks, the Foxelli MX20B Headlamp is a budget buy with longevity and features that far exceed its $10 price tag. In fact, Foxelli completely negates the limited lifespan risk of an inexpensive product by backing the headlamp with a lifetime warranty.
The Foxelli MX20B Headlamp has a maximum brightness of 165 lumens with a beam range of 50 meters. There are three power levels, a red light mode, and an SOS mode for emergencies. Despite the fact that the headlamp requires three AAA batteries, it is still lightweight, at only 3.2 ounces with the batteries. Batteries last about 4 hours on high and up to 45 hours on low.
With a waterproof rating of IPX5, the Foxelli MX20B Headlamp can handle rain and puddle splashes without fail. The front panel can be tilted 45 degrees to best illuminate the trail ahead.
Come rain, sleet, snow, or hail, the Slonik 1000 Lumen Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp will still shine bright to illuminate the wet road ahead. It has a waterproof rating of IPX8, which is the highest rating, assigned to fully waterproof devices. As such, the Slonik Lumen Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp can handle the wettest weather and live to light up another day. The durable headlamp is also dustproof and impact resistant.
The Slonik 1000 Lumen Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp has a 2,200mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, capable of powering the headlamp on high for 4 hours and low for 8 hours. Though this is shorter than some competitors, with a maximum brightness of 1,000 lumens and a beam range of 600 feet, it’s quite a mighty beam. The headlamp is backed by a 48-month warranty.
The BioLite HeadLamp 750 is for anyone looking for the best of the best headlamps. This professional-grade headlamp is an incredible piece of gear with a wonderfully neat, lightweight silhouette and performance specs so impressive that you have to read them several times to ensure you didn’t accidentally inflate the numbers.
Boasting a brightness of an unparalleled 750 lumens, the BioLite HeadLamp 750 is super bright and will fully illuminate the road or trail before you no matter how dark your surroundings may be. The beam has a flood distance of 15 meters and a spot distance of 150 meters, which is 1.5 times the length of a football field!
The compact BioLight HeadLamp 750 features 8 different lighting modes, including modes that automatically dim when you’re under street lamps and others that will stay bright no matter what. With a rear visibility light that can strobe or shine red, the BioLight HeadLamp 750 is designed with safety in mind. You can also charge it while in use, though with a burn time of 7 hours on high and 150 hours on low, this pass thru charging is rarely needed.
The BioLite HeadLamp 750 is 125 grams and has a 3,000mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The front panel can be tilted up or down with one hand and the headlamp can be operated with gloved hands, which is an excellent perk for cold winter mornings. Inclement weather is no issue with the BioLight HeadLamp 750 as it is water resistant and can be operated in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. BioLight backs the headlamp with a one-year warranty.
Petzl is a trusted brand among trail runners and hikers alike, but even if you’re solely a road warrior, you’ll love their headlamps, too. The Petzl Actik Core has a brightness of 450 lumens. It’s lightweight, at just 75 grams, and has three brightness levels and a red light mode.
The power options are one of the nice benefits of the Petzl Actik Core. The rechargeable battery can power the headlamp on high for two hours or low for 130 hours. In addition, you can insert three AAA’s to extend the run time. Backed by a five-year warranty, the Petzl Actik Core is a reliable little headlamp with a reasonable price tag.