A headlamp is a small flashlight that attaches via a stretchy band to your forehead.
Headlamps use LED light bulbs, making them lightweight and bright.
Can you camp with a flashlight instead a headlamp?
Sure. Is having a headlamp that much better? Oh yes. Here’s why.
Keep Your Hands Free
The best part about using a headlamp is your hands are free.
Rummaging around in your bag for pajama pants? Reading? Setting up your tent?
Playing Phase 10 (my favorite camping game)? With a headlamp you can use your hands while having the space in front of you illuminated.
The Beam Follows Your Movements
A headlamp attaches to your forehead right above your eyes. As your head moves naturally, attracted to a sound or sight, the beam of your headlamp follows.
Just be sure not to blind your camping companions by shining the headlamp directly into their eyes while talking to them (many headlamps have a hinge that tilts down so you can re-direct the beam).
Adjust the Intensity and Beam
Some activities call for full light (like making your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night) and some activities need just a little bit (like reading a book held at arm’s length).
Headlamps have controls which allow you to switch between intense light and soft light to meet your needs.
Many headlamps also have an adjustable beam.
A powerful, narrow beam can be useful for route finding after dark, while a diffuse beam is excellent for playing games in the tent.
Buy Fewer Batteries
LED bulbs are energy efficient, sipping power instead of gulping it. This is great news because headlamps run on AAA or AA battery power.
The run-time for a single set of batteries varies by the headlamp, but often they can last through an entire season of use.
Remove the batteries when the headlamp is stored for an extended period of time (such as over the winter) to prevent battery corrosion.
Most new high end headlamps now have a rechargeable brother. You can save on batteries, you just have to remember to recharge after the weekend.
Red Light for Night Vision
Some headlamps have a red light setting. The red light is awesome: it preserves your night vision. Red light doesn’t dilate your pupils the same way as white light, making it easier for your eyes to re-adjust to the dark.
This setting is particularly handy for photographers and stargazers checking out the night sky. Turn on the red light to adjust camera settings, or check out a constellation in your Guide to the Night Sky.
My Favorite Headlamps
Have I convinced you how awesome headlamps are? A headlamp is definitely on my list of essential camping gear.
Gear companies are always innovating, but here are a few of my “tried and true” favorites:
Most of the headlamps on the market have some degree of waterproof parts but if you are looking for a headlamp that can withstand heavy duty rain or water submersion, you’ll need a very reliable waterproof headlamp. Here are some great options…
Our top pick: This low profile headlamp by trusted manufacturer Black Diamond can be described as a simply designed headlamp but what they lack in flashiness, they make up for with a powerful 160 lumens LED light that emits a white light as well as a red night-vision mode.
It uses four AAA batteries and has several light settings including strobe light, red night vision, and a full length panoramic white light.
Every piece of this headlamp is fully waterproof and can be trusted in any type of weather. View prices and more details here…
Also great: Another functional yet simple headlamp, this product has a waterproof rating of IPX6.
The IPX rating system for lights goes up to 8 and for a headlamp to have a rating of IPX6 is impressive as it means it can withstand even the heaviest downpours.
This product has a lifetime guarantee to protect its CREE LED lights. This headlamp is comfortable and easy to use; switching from the red LED and white LED lights is a piece of cake and can be done in the blink of an eye.
The light has a max lumens of 100. View prices and more details here…
Totobay Waterproof 5000Lm LED Headlamp
The light has an insane max output of 5,000 lumens and uses powerful 18650 rechargeable batteries that come included with the headlamp.
You can light a path up to 150 meters and the white LED light is adjustable up to 90 degrees. It has four light modes from low to high as well as a flashing strobe setting.
This large headlamp is incredibly durable and yes, very waterproof.
If you want a seriously strong and powerful headlamp that is also waterproof, this is a great option. View prices and more details here…