10 Best Rechargeable Headlamps of 2022-2023

10 Best Rechargeable Headlamps of 2021-2022

A headlamp is one of the most important 10 essentials for backpacking, hiking, fastpacking, and any kind of outdoor adventure sport. Using your smartphone as a flashlight doesn’t cut it. But the days of carrying extra AA and AAA battery-powered headlamps are history.  USB rechargeable headlamps have become ubiquitous and are very convenient because they can be recharged using the battery packs that most backpackers carry. Dual-power headlamps, ones that can be powered by a rechargeable battery or AA/AAA batteries, are handy if a “wall recharge” is not available.

Make / ModelLumensDual PowerRed ModeWeight
Petzl Actik Core600YesYes3.1 oz
Biolite 325 Headlamp325Yes1.8 oz
LEDlenser MH10600Yes5.6 oz
Black Diamond Astro 300-R3002.65 oz
Fenix HM50R700YesYes2.75 oz
Nitecore NU 33700Yes5.3 oz
Biolite 800 Pro800Yes5.1 oz
Nitecore NU 25 UL400Yes1.59 oz
Nite Ize Radiant 300300Yes3.2 oz
Princeton Tec Axis Recharegable 450Yes2.9 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 600 lumens
The Petzl Actik Core headlamp is a rechargeable, multi-beam headlamp that provides 600 lumens of power to light the way during dynamic outdoor activities like running, hiking, and backpacking. It comes with a 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery (included) and is also compatible with 3 AAA alkaline, lithium, or Ni-MH rechargeable batteries without the need for an adapter, which is a great convenience. It has 2 beam patterns (flood or mixed) and three white brightness levels, including a red lighting mode and lock and a center-mounted pivot that lets you orient the lamp in the desired direction. A battery charge indicator shows the battery level each time you turn the headlamp on or off. The headlamp has an average run time on high (600 lumens) for 2 hours and on low (7 lumens) for 120 hours.

Check for the latest price at:
REI | Amazon

2. Biolite Headlamp 325 Rechargeable Headlamp

Biolite 325 headlamp
The Biolite 325 is a USB rechargeable LED headlamp with a remote battery pack that’s good for hiking, trail running, and camping. Weighing 1.8 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 325 lumens, its 700 mAh Lithium-ion battery can power the headlamp for 3 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.

Available from:
REI 

3. LEDLenser MH10 Rechargeable Headlamp

Ledlenser MH10
The LEDLenser MH10 is a 600-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. There are no complicated button sequences to remember. 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. A red backlight is included so that you can also be seen from behind. The MH10 comes with a type 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion battery and is micro USB compatible. The light includes a lock to prevent accidental discharge and a battery meter.

Available from:
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. The headlamp has an average run time on high (300 lumens) for 6 hours and on low (6 lumens) for 140 hours.

Available from:
REI | Amazon

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 USB-C 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. Nitecore NU33 Rechargeable Headlamp

Nitecore NU33
The Nitecore NU 33 is a very bright 700-lumen rechargeable headlamp with a larger-than-average 3000 mAh lithium-ion battery (equivalent to 9 AAA batteries) for long-lasting power. It has a primary white LED with 3 outputs, SOS, a beacon with a high CRI auxiliary LED, and auxiliary red LEDs with a tilt adjustment making it ideal for night hiking, trail running, and camping. The NU 33 has a built-in power indicator and lock to prevent accidental activation, it is IP66 water-resistant and includes a USB-C cable for recharging. It can for 9 hours on high and 147 hours on ultra-low.

Available from:
Amazon

7. Biolite Headlamp 800 Pro

Biolite 750 headlamp
The Biolite Headlamp 800 Pro is a powerful rechargeable headlamp capable of throwing out a maximum of 800 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 or attached to a helmet without bouncing or slipping. It can also be run directly from a USB battery (not included), even in extreme cold (-20°C). That’s a rare but very valuable feature for cold weather use.

Available from:
REI 

8. Nitecore NU25 UL

Nitecore NU25 UL
The Nitecore NU 25 UL is a 400 lumen ultra lightweight headlamp with three beam types (spotlight, floodlight, auxiliary red) optimized for outdoor use. It has a built-in 650mAh rechargeable battery that can achieve a maximum runtime of 45 hours (6 lumens) with an integrated USB-C port that fast charges to full in only one and a half hours. A power indicator tells you when it’s time to charge while lockout mode prevents accidental activation. The ultralight band is highly reflective for enhanced visibility, including glow-in-the-dark bands for visibility without ambient light.

Check for the latest price at
Amazon

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 lightweight micro-USB rechargeable 450-lumen rechargeable LED headlamp. It has an ambidextrous and glove-friendly side-mounted button that lets you choose between four different beam settings (red, spot white, flood white & dual) while the surrounding dial provides dimming in all modes so you don’t have to memorize any complex control logic. A built-in battery power meter lets you know how much power you have left while the sealed lithium rechargeable battery uses regulated circuitry to provide consistent light output throughout the charge cycle. The battery recharges in 4 hours and has a maximum burn time of 50 hours. Princeton Tec headlamps are remarkably high quality and  come 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 conserve 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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6 comments

  1. How does the LEDLenser headlamp have an 18k+ mah battery and weigh under 6oz? Is the listed weight exclusive of the battery?

    Any 20k mah battery pack I have generally weighs around 16oz by itself. I know they have different purposes and builds but if the listed weight is inclusive of the battery, doesn’t it imply someone could build a lighter battery pack with higher capacity to recharge our devices or am I missing something?

  2. Hi Philip, I just wanted to tell you I bought the bio lite 800. It is comfortable to wear but was very frustrating to turn on. I went on utube to see if there were directions that would show me if what l was doing was wrong. Nothing, the light just does not work well and I also found a lot of negative reviews so it was not just me that had problems.

  3. Philip nice review. I have the Fenix HM 50R V2 and the V2 has USB-C charging, instead of the micro-USB. Been happy to see everyone is switching to the USB-C, now if my iPhone will just get there someday. Really like that I can remove the Fenix when I am working on my bike disc brakes and I can light from underneath.

  4. I have the LED lender H7.2. mine is not rechargeable. I’ve never used it for hiking and for the life of me, I don’t know why I ordered it! I got it through some kind of points collection. I used to do that a lot. ipoll was one of them. Anyway, mine didn’t last long, it was finicky, although looks very cool. I was surprised to see the name on your list. It made me check my drawer where I kept it. I think it’s coming back to me. I wanted to browse around my attic, hands free. Turned out to be too hot and too risky up there. You know you’re a real hiker when you want to crawl around your unfinished attic.

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