10 Best Rechargeable Headlamps of 2021-2022
A headlamp is one of the most important 10 essentials for backpacking, hiking, and any kind of outdoor adventure sport. Using your smartphone as a flashlight doesn’t cut it. But the days of old-school AA and AAA battery-powered headlamps are history. USB rechargeable headlamps have become ubiquitous and are less wasteful because you don’t need to throw out dead batteries or wonder if the ones you have already have any power left in them.
Here are our top 10 picks for the best rechargeable headlamps for backpacking and hiking. While there are some familiar company names listed below, the companies that used to dominate the headlamp market like Black Diamond have been eclipsed by smaller more innovative companies offering less expensive and higher functioning products. You simply don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get a great headlamp anymore. Be sure to check out our advice below about what to look for when buying a rechargeable headlamp for backpacking, hiking, and trail running
1. Biolite Headlamp 330 Rechargeable Headlamp
The Biolite 330 is a USB rechargeable LED headlamp with a remote battery pack that’s good for hiking, trail running, and camping. Weighing 2.4 oz, it has white and red modes, flood and spot modes, a dimmer, battery meter, and digital lock to prevent accidental discharge when carried in a backpack or waist pack. With a maximum brightness of 330 lumens, its 900 mAh Lithium-ion battery can power the headlamp for 3.5 hours on high and up to 40 hours on low. But what sets the Biolite apart from most other headlamps is the tight integration of the light into the head strap, so that the light has a very thin profile that sits nearly flush with your forehead. This makes it feel a lot less top-heavy and helps minimize bouncing as you run or walk.
REI | Biolite
2. Petzl Actik Core Rechargeable Headlamp
The Petzl Actik Core headlamp is a rechargeable, multi-beam headlamp that provides 450 lumens of power to light the way during dynamic outdoor activities like running, hiking, and backpacking. It comes with the Core USB-rechargeable battery and is also compatible with 3 AAA/LR03 batteries without the need for an adapter, which is a nice convenience. It has 2 beam patterns (flood or mixed) and several white brightness levels, including a red lighting mode and lock.
Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon
3. LEDLenser MH5 Rechargeable Headlamp
The LEDLenser MH5 is a 400-lumen headlamp with an intuitive focus system that allows the light to quickly go from a broad floodlight to a sharply focused long-distance beam with a twist of the light element. It also has a variable pivot mechanism that lets you adjust the lamp up or down to direct the light where you need it most. An innovative mounting system to easily remove the lamp from the strap and use it as a handheld torch or clip-on light, greatly increasing its utility. The light has a red mode and a lock to prevent accidental discharge. It comes with a large 5000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but can also be powered by a AA alkaline battery.
REI | LEDLenser
4. Fenix HM 50R LED Rechargeable Headlamp
The Fenix HM50R is a high-powered LED headlamp that puts out 500 lumens of light. It comes with a removable 16340 lithium-ion battery with 700 mAh of power and an onboard micro-USB compatible charger. If you want you can carry extra 16340 pre-charged batteries (or CR123A) and you also have the ability to recharge them in the field from a battery pack or solar panel. The tilt-capable headlamp can be removed from the headband and carried like a flashlight or used as a task light. The HM50R has four brightness modes: Turbo: 500 lumens; high: 130 lumens; medium: 30 lumens; low: 4 lumens, a battery indicator, and two beam types: spot and flood. A recessed on-off switch helps prevent accidental activation, but there is no red mode. The HM50R has a durable aluminum body (not plastic) and is waterproof.
Check for the latest price at
REI | Fenix
4. Petzl Tactikka Core 450 Rechargeable Headlamp
The Petzl Tactikka Core is a 450-lumen rechargeable headlamp with 3 LED lights and includes flood, spot, strobe, and red lighting modes. The Tacttikka comes with a USB-rechargeable Petzl CORE 1250 mAh LI-ion battery, but can also be powered with 3 AAA batteries (not included). The average burn time on the medium setting is 8 hours and on low is 130 hours, with a 3 hour charge time. Weighing 2.8 oz, the lighting angle can be swiveled for hiking and running, or removed from the strap and attached to a helmet (hardware not included).
Check for the latest price at
REI | Amazon
5. Nitecore NU32 Rechargeable Headlamp
The Nitecore NU 32 is a very bright 550 lumen rechargeable headlamp with a larger-than-average 6.6Whr (1800 mAh) lithium-ion battery for long-lasting power. It has four brightness levels, a primary CREE spotlight and auxiliary LEDs for flood, closeup, and red lighting modes with a tilt adjustment making it ideal for night hiking, trail running, and camping. The NU 32 has a built-in power indicator and lock to prevent accidental activation, it is water-resistant to 2 meters and includes a micro-USB cable for recharging.
Nitecore | Amazon
6. Nitecore NU25 Rechargeable Headlamp
The Nitecore NU 25 is a lightweight (1.85 ounce) state-of-the-art, multi-function headlamp available at a low price. With a max light output of 360 lumens, it has a built-in rechargeable micro-USB compatible battery. There are three LED light sources: a main white light, a softer white light for close-up tasks, and a night vision-preserving red mode, with four brightness modes: turbo, high, mid, low, as well as an SOS beacon. The NU 25 has a digital lock to prevent accidental activation and a battery meter. Recharging requires a micro-USB cord (included).
Nitecore | Amazon
7. Biolite Headlamp 750
The Biolite Headlamp 750 is a powerful rechargeable headlamp capable of throwing out a maximum of 750 lumens with a maximum 150 hour burn time, making it ideal for long-range activities like mountaineering, winter backpacking, or night hiking when you need hours of continuous performance. It has a massive 3000 mAh USB rechargeable battery, an electronic lock, and red light mode for long-lasting power and maximum flexibility. Its slim-fit construction sits flush on your forehead without bouncing or slipping, proof positive that you can have a powerful headlamp that’s lightweight and easy to wear for hours at a time.
REI | Biolite
8. Nite Ize Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp
The Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp is a dual-color headlamp that offers the ability to switch between white and red LEDs to preserve night vision. In addition to five LED modes, this headlamp offers lockout to prevent accidental activation and battery drain. It is impact and water-resistant (IPX4) and features a body that can be tilted up to 90° for easy beam adjustment. The lithium-ion battery has a 2 hour recharge time and can run for up to 36 hours.
Walmart | Amazon
9. Princeton Tec Axis Rechargeable Headlamp
The Princeton Tec Axis is a 450 lumen rechargeable dual model LED headlamp. It has spot, flood, and red modes that are all dimmable. A built-in battery power meter lets you know when you’ve recharged and the lithium rechargeable battery uses regulated circuitry to provide consistent output. The battery recharges in 4 hours and has a maximum burn time of 50 hours. This light also comes with a 5-year warranty!
Walmart | Amazon
10. Nite Ize Radiant 170 Rechargeable Hat Clip Light
The Nite Ize Radiant 170 Rechargeable Hat Clip Light combines the convenience of rechargeability, red and white LEDs, and four modes all in a compact design that clips securely onto hats. With four LED modes and an easy push-button operation, the Radiant 170 is impact and water-resistant (IPX4) and features a body that can be tilted for easy beam adjustment. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that charges using a micro USB cable.
How to Choose a Rechargeable Headlamp
Here are the most important features and considerations to evaluate when comparing different rechargeable headlamps.
Check the capacity of the headlamps you’re interested in to see how much power, measured in mAh, they can hold. If you plan on using a headlamp on a multi-day trip, it’s useful to bring one with a large battery capacity so you don’t have to recharge it from a portable power pack. Smaller capacity batteries are fine for short runs, but you will also have to recharge them more frequently, which can be a hassle if you use them a lot.
Dual Power Headlamps
Most rechargeable headlamps bundle in a cold-resistant lithium-ion battery, although there are also dual-power headlamps that can also be powered by old school alkaline or lithium-ion batteries. If you already carry a USB-enabled power pack to charge your other electronic devices, then the latter is probably unnecessary, although it might be useful if your power pack runs out of juice and you can’t recharge it. This isn’t a priority for me, but some people prefer having the ability to switch to regular batteries as a contingency.
All of the headlamps listed above have battery packs that are integrated with their light sources, so a single headband strap is all that is needed to wear them. Multi-strap headlamp headbands are only necessary for very heavy headlamps or ones with remote battery packs that are carried separate from the light source and linked by an external wire.
If you plan to trail run or hike at night, it’s important to get a headlamp that tilts in its strap bracket so you can direct the spot or floodlight onto the ground and out front, ahead of you.
The latest generation of LED lights available in headlamps are very powerful and the lumen outputs often exceed what’s required for nighttime use in camp or even for nighttime running. Anything headlamp with 150 lumens or more should be sufficient for general purpose backpacking and hiking. When purchasing a headlamp, the maximum light output is much less important than the length of time the headlamp can burn on low power, since that’s the setting you’ll use most often in camp or in your tent.
Red Light Mode
Headlamps with a red light mode are good for preserving your night vision if you want to read in your tent or star gaze. They also help you avoid blinding your companions in camp or around the campfire. The red light mode also uses far less energy than white light modes and is a good way to converse your battery power between charges.
While gear weight is important, it’s often less important than a headlamp’s features, efficiency, or battery life. For example, if you need to carry a heavier power pack to recharge a lighter weight headlamp more frequently, you probably haven’t saved as much weight overall as you might like. Focus on your needs, if you know them, and let that guide your decision as to which headlamp you select.
Headlamps with manual or digital on-off locks are useful to prevent the accidental activation of a headlamp when it’s packed. I won’t buy a headlamp without one, but that’s just my personal preference.
Some sort of battery indicator is useful on a rechargeable headlamp so you know when to recharge the battery and when it’s finished recharging. Without it, you’re more likely to try to use a headlamp that is out of power when you need it.
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