Looking for the best running headlamps? You’ve come to the right place! We’ll take a look at some of the best options and brands for running gear and help you choose the perfect headlamp for your needs.
David jokes that I must have night vision as I rarely turn on lights in the house. And I use this to my advantage to frequently scare him. But alas on the roads, I’m moving a little quicker and very uninterested in taking a spill.
Headlamps like running sunglasses are a super easy piece of gear that make a big difference.
So if you’ve been meaning to get one, I’m going to make it super easy by narrowing it down to the top four choices. We’ll talk through want you need to know before buying, battery life, fit and function for choosing the best running headlamps.
Why You Need A Running Headlamp
If you’re running before sunrise or running at night, it’s important to ensure your path remains visible to avoid any trips or falls. Particularly if you’re running on the trails or even in a neighborhood as street lights aren’t always working and you aren’t visible to drivers.
A headlamp can help solve this problem by lighting up the path ahead of you.
Headlamps are helpful even if it’s not pitch black.
If you’re running in low-light conditions, such as early in the morning or after sunset a headlamp will help you see, but also help others see you. Especially, if you’re running in an urban area, a headlamp can help you stay visible to drivers and other pedestrians.
There are many different types of headlamps on the market, so it’s important to choose one that’s designed for running.
Running headlamps are typically lighter and more compact and comfortable to wear than other types of headlamps.
They also often have features that are specifically designed for runners, such as a flashing or red light mode that can help you stay visible in traffic and to bikers if you happen to run in the bike lane like I do.
Most models now have a rechargeable battery pack, but there are a few that still require some AAA batteries (which can be a benefit if you’re doing ultra running and can’t charge, but can swap in new batteries).
How to Choose the Best Running Headlamp
When choosing a running headlamp, there are several factors to consider.
First, think about the type of running you’ll be doing. Running on city streets is different than trail running. A 2-mile easy run is different than training for an ultra. Whatever your run looks like, our top picks for running headlamps have some common features.
- They’re comfortable to wear for long periods
- Have adjustable straps to fit your head
- They’re sweatproof (not always the same as waterproof)
- Have long battery life so you’re not constantly worried about batteries or charging
- They have the appropriate brightness levels for your running location
- Easy to use buttons through gloves
How Brightness and Battery Life Works In A Headlamp
Not all headlamps are created equal when it comes to brightness and battery life. When shopping for a running headlamp, you’ll want to pay attention to two numbers above all others: lumens (brightness) and battery life.
Here’s what they tell you:
A lumen is a measure of the total light output of the headlamp.
Lumens are similar to watts like you see on a lightbulb, but watts only tell you how much energy you’re using in your light. Lumens give you a measure of the amount of light emitted.
The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the headlamp. Most running headlamps are between 25 and 500 lumens.
Also called run time or burn time, the battery life will tell you how long your light will last before you have to change or recharge the batteries.
Read this carefully because the number can change drastically if you set the brightness of your headlamp on different lighting modes. A higher brightness setting will eat up your battery quicker.
All right now that we’ve covered some of the basics, let’s dive right in to recommendations based on a number of trail runs, road runs and thoughts from lots of running friends.
4 Best Running Headlamps
Now that you know how to evaluate running headlamps, and what to look for when purchasing one, you’ll need some suggestions based on the type of running adventures you’ll be doing.
Here are our top picks:
Best Headlamp for Road Running
When running on the road in the dark, you want to be able to see the road or sidewalk just in front of you so you don’t trip or fall over anything.
You’re more likely to be in close proximity with cars and people on a road as opposed to in the woods so you want a headlamp that allows you to be seen, but not one so bright that you blind someone else.
It is bright enough for most road running purposes tanks to 5 lighting modes. The band is 360 reflective as well making you more visible to cars. It also comes with a strobe feature in red, blue or green so you can light up the world with your color of choice.
Its battery life is long enough to last for multiple weekly runs even on the high setting. And the micro USB rechargeable port is easy to access and use.
I liked wearing this one during Ragnar as it has the adjustable angle to the light. So I could point it more downward to really see what was in front of me.
- Brightness: 200 lumens
- Battery Life: 25+ hours
- Weight: 1.28 oz
- Max Distance: 90 m
- Price: $55
Checkout the quality of that light in our blurry race photos. 😂 Also wearing the Nathan Reflective Runner vests which were super light weight an comfy.
Best Headlamp for Trail Running
As you head out for a trail run at night or pre-dawn, you want a headlamp that will illuminate your path so that you see every possible obstacle.
Trail runners also need something that is built for comfort, but will stay secure on their head as they bounce along uneven surfaces.
You’ll love the power this headlamp brings, so that you won’t miss any type of obstruction in your path.
The reactive light technology automatically adjusts the brightness for you, which is great since the visibility can easily change on a trail run. You don’t have to worry about fiddling with buttons to adjust the brightness.
I’m going to say that’s one of the best features I’ve seen on any running torch! Anything that saves me brain power is a win.
Additionally, the 2-part headband strap gives the headlamp the stability you need as you run over uneven surfaces. I’ve always found their bands to be really comfortable on runs. Snug, but not tight. I like this new style a lot.
- Brightness: 900 lumens
- Battery Life: up to 100 hours
- Weight: 3.7 oz (150 g)
- Max Distance: 100 m
- Price: $94.50 on Amazon
Best Headlamp For Ultra Running
Training for an ultra marathon means that you are going on some pretty long runs. Since you run for so long, your chances are higher that you won’t always be running when it’s light out. An excellent headlamp is a must.
The most important feature for you to look for here is battery life.
You need a headlamp that won’t die on you at 10 pm in the middle of a 30-miler. A good ultra running headlamp will also double as an effective hiking headlamp.
The most awesome thing about this headlamp for ultra runners is that battery life! You’ll never get abandoned in the dark with this kind of lasting battery life.
It’s also relatively lightweight for a lamp so powerful, meaning you won’t have a headache from your headlamp after a long run.
You’ll also be able to see many meters in front of you with the long beam distance of this light. Another great safety feature is the rear red visibility light, which you need for many ultra competitions, thus eliminating an additional piece of gear.
The BioLite 750 is also water-resistant and wicks away moisture so rain, sweat, or tears won’t stop you!
- Brightness: 750 lumens
- Battery Life: 150 hrs on low/ 7.5 hours on high (plus it’s rechargeable)
- Weight: 3.7 oz (150 g)
- Max Distance: 130 m
- Price: $99.95
Best Value Running Headlamp
You want a great running headlamp that is bright, durable, and gets the job done.
Maybe you need it for an overnight relay run you’re doing with your friends, or you have to do most of your runs after work. Or perhaps like when we finally go camping! You don’t need anything insane, but something quick, easy and comfy to wear for a few hours.
Whatever the reason, finding a headlamp that fits your needs, but doesn’t cost almost $100+ could be important to you.
This headlamp is easy and lightweight to wear at only 1.9 ounces. Its sleek ergonomic design makes it comfortable too.
This isn’t the brightest headlamp on the market, but the brightness and medium battery life are more than sufficient for road running. It’s also a great value compared to other running headlamps as Black Diamond is a high quality brand.
- Brightness: 250 lumens
- Battery Life: 14 hours high setting / 200 hours low setting
- Weight: 1.9 oz (54 g)
- Max Distance: 36 m
- Price: $19.95
And honestly think more creatively about how to use your headlamp… like all those household tasks where you need better light! My favorite was also the dad reading in a nursery with the red light.
All right no insanely long list of the best running headlamps, just straight to the point from researching and running to save you time!
Looking for additional reviews and trail tips?
- How to Find Running Trails
- First 50K Training Plan and Guide
- Best GPS Watches for Trail Runners
- Best Trail Running Shoes
- Nike Trail Shoe Comparison
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Instagram Daily Fun: RunToTheFinish
Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish