10 Best Rechargeable Headlamps of 2022

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.

Make / ModelLumensLockRed ModeWeight
Petzl Actik Core450YesYes2.8 oz
Biolite 330 Headlamp330YesYes2.4 oz
LEDLenser MH5400YesYes3.3 oz
Black Diamond Astro 300-R300YesNo2.65 oz
Fenix HM50R700YesYes2.65 oz
Nitecore NU 32550YesYes3.5 oz
Biolite 750 Headlamp750YesYes5.3 oz
Petzl Tactikka450YesYes2.8 oz
Nite Ize Radiant 300300YesYes3.2 oz
Princeton Tec Axis Recharegable 450YesYes2.9 oz

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 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. Petzl Actik Core Rechargeable Headlamp

Petzl Actik Core 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

2. Biolite Headlamp 330 Rechargeable Headlamp

Biolite Headlamp 330
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, a battery meter, and a 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.  Read our review. 

Available from:
REI | Biolite

3. LEDLenser MH5 Rechargeable Headlamp

LEDLenser MH5 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.

Available from:
REI | LEDLenser

4. Black Diamond Astro 300-R

BD Astro 300 R

Black Diamond is not known for making simple-to-use headlamps, but the new rechargeable Astro 300-R breaks the mold. This single-lens single-switch headlamp has a white lite and three brightness levels: high, medium, and low with full strength, dimming, and strobe modes. It’s powered by a 1500 mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery that recharges with a micro-US charge port and has an IPX4 rating stormproof to withstand rain and sleet from any angle. This headlamp also has a digital lockout to prevent accidental activation.

Available from:
REI

5. Fenix HM 50R V2 LED Rechargeable Headlamp

Fenix HM50R Rechargeable Headlamp
The Fenix HM50R V2.0 is a high-powered LED headlamp that puts out 700 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, high, medium, and low, a battery indicator, and two beam types: spot and flood. The V2 version also has a new lock function and a red mode. The HM50R has a durable aluminum body (not plastic) and is waterproof.

Check for the latest price at
REI | Fenix

6. Petzl Tactikka Core 450 Rechargeable Headlamp

Petzl Tacttika Core
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

7. Nitecore NU32 Rechargeable Headlamp

Nitecore NU 32 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. Read our review. 

Available from:
Amazon

8. Biolite Headlamp 750

Biolite 750 headlamp
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.

Available from:
REI | Biolite

9. Nite Ize Radiant 300 Rechargeable Headlamp

Niteize Radiant 300
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.

Available from:
Amazon

10. Princeton Tec Axis Rechargeable Headlamp

Princeton Tec Axis Rechargeable
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!

Available from:
Campmor | Amazon

How to Choose a Rechargeable Headlamp

Here are the most important features and considerations to evaluate when comparing different rechargeable headlamps.

Battery Capacity

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.

Headlamp Headbands

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 separately from the light source and linked by an external wire.

Headlamp Tilt

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.

Lumens/Light Output

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.

Headlamp Weight

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.

On-Off Lock

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.

Battery Indicator

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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18 comments

  1. How about water resistance? A few years ago, all serious headlamps used to have rating IP67. Now you hardly get IPX4. What have happened? Downgrade?
    I personally have experienced situations outdoors, when light source is essential (a matter of life or death), while the conditions were really wet. Headlamp is a piece of gear you need to be able to rely on…
    Any thoughts?

    • These are meant for backpacking and hiking. Most people either wear hats, a rain jacket, or stay at home. If you want to cave dive, you have to pay more.

    • Emmanuel Vencesbarrueta

      The Fenix is ip68 rated, also it does have a red light mode and it does have a lock. I just bought it a week ago.

      • Looks like they just upgraded it (called v2). Changed the table to reflect the upgrades. They really make it much more competitive! Thx.

        • And the Fenix site is offering 20% off with free shipping. This and the NiteCore NU25 will likely be the only headlamps I’ll ever need from now on.

      • I no longer trust an electronic lockout. I have a burn scar on my thigh and a round melted hole in my long underwear to prove that if you carry something else in your pocket with your flashlight it can become unlocked.
        I now unscrew the battery cap on all my Fenix lights one half turn when I put them away. Since they are O-ring sealed this does not affect the waterproof rating.

    • I think the water resistance went down with the increased presence of rechargeable ones

  2. I own two Biolite 330 headlamps. Overall, I really like the design and features and they are super comfortable. One of the lights has been going strong for 3 years. The other lasted for only about 14 months. Based on my conversation with customer service the conclusion was that the battery was not good anymore for whatever reason. They would not replace the headlamp, which I could understand given it was 14 months old, however, my main concern was that the battery is not replaceable and the headlamp is not recyclable. This means that I have to try and find someone who can take the lamp apart for the battery to be recycled while the remaining materials go into a landfill. In essence, a perfectly good headlamp completely trashed because I could not replace the battery. I kind of like the design of some of the lamps indicated above wherein the rechargeable battery can be replaced or substituted by other batteries. The batteries can be recycled and the lamp can go on supporting a life of adventure without contributing to landfills. The next lamp I buy will have replaceable batteries. Anyway, just some thoughts on the headlamp topic.

  3. I recently got the Petzl Swift RL : https://www.petzl.com/US/en/Sport/Headlamps/SWIFT-RL
    Have yet to use it but it seems competitive, albeit on the more expensive side

    • That’s really a night trail running light with that strap and 900 lumens.

      • I had the Petzl Actik core (stepping on it didn’t go well) but this seems to be able to do everything the Actik could, for a similar weight and lasting about the same.
        It can go from 10 lumens to 900. I’ll report back when I get the chance to actually use it.

  4. Isaiah Laderman

    I can’t stand lights that have a flashing or SOS or strobe mode mixed in with the other modes. They always seem to get activated in an emergent situation, where I really need to be able to see something. Horrible.

    1) the Petzl Actik has a red strobe
    2) Biolite has a strobe
    3) Ledlenser MH5 HAS NO STROBE!
    4) Black Diamond Astro has a strobe
    5) Fenix HM50 (my favorite) has a red strobe. Sob.
    6) Petzl Taktika has a red strobe
    7) Nitecore NU32 has a red strobe
    8) Biolite HeadLamp 750 has two strobes
    9) I think the Nite Ize Radiant has a strobe.
    10) Princeton Tec Axis HAS NO STROBE!

  5. El Diablo Amarillo

    Dont overlook Milwaukee headlamps. They are built like tanks by necessity and are competitively priced.

  6. Another option for those of us who ALWAYS have a ball cap on when hiking would be something like the Nite Ize R-170-RH, which clips onto the brim of a ball cap. It’s got the hi/lo/red and tilt features I need and since I’m wearing a hat anyway it’s somewhat easier than trying to use a headlamp on a strap at the same time I’m wearing the hat.

    Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with anybody; I just like the light.

  7. I like my Everbeam H6 Pro LED Rechargeable Headlamp. It was reasonably priced and has worked well for me on canoe camping trips.

  8. Kurt Neuswanger

    I have the Petzl Actik Core, and have found that the rechargeable battery pack weighs less than three AAA batteries and seems to produce a brighter beam. The charge lasts a pretty long time. I use it to walk my dogs every night for 45 minutes, and the Petzl lasts at least two weeks between charges. But I would not really want a headlamp that couldn’t take AAA batteries, so that I’m not left high and dry without a charge. I can carry AAA’s as spares, or buy them in any town.

    I am getting used to the opening beam being low instead of high, but many times I’ve wanted to turn it on quickly (is that a bear over there?!) and am frustrated when I first have to step through low and medium. But it’s not a big deal.

    The low is very dim but surprisingly useful around camp, bright enough to see what you need up to 10 feet away. I rarely use the high beam, but it sure it nice for those times you need to light up the whole forest!

    Then again, I just purchased an OLIGHT IXV I1R 2 Pro Eos 180 Lumens EDC Rechargeable Keychain Flashlight for $22. It has a 5 lumen low beam and a 180 lumen bright beam that seems just as bright as the Petzl’s 450 (claimed) lumens! Plus it has a concealed USB port, and it weighs 0.7oz (22g). But it’s easy to lose.

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