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10 Best Rechargeable Hiking Headlamps of 2024

10 Best Rechargeable Headlamps of 2024

A headlamp is one of the most important 10 essentials for backpacking, hiking, fastpacking, trail running, climbing, and any other 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 / ModelLumensWeight
Petzl Actik Core6003.1 oz
COAST Fl1R Micro Headlamp3001.7 oz
Black Diamond SPOT-R Headlamp3252.6 oz
Nitecore NU 337005.3 oz
Fenix HM50R7002.75 oz
Black Diamond Astro 300-R3002.65 oz
Biolite 800 Pro8005.1 oz
Nitecore NU 25 UL4001.59 oz
COAST RL10R7503.8 oz
Petzl Bindi Ultralight 2001.2 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 equivalent 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 or climbing.

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.

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2. Coast FL1R Micro Headlamp

Coast FL1R Micro headlamp
Ultralight but mighty, the Coast FL1R Micro Headlamp packs 435-lumen power into a super-compact and low-weight micro-USB rechargeable lighting solution. Weighing just 1.7 oz, it has three light modes—high, low, and red, with a battery meter and lock-out to prevent accidental power drainage when packed away. The integrated 630 mAh lithium polymer battery provides an average run time of 4 hrs. 45 min on the low, 160-lumen setting. We really like the clip feature integrated into the headlamp that lets you remove the strap and attach the light to a stationary object or hat bill for task lightning. Coast headlamps are exceptionally high quality and come with a lifetime warranty. Read the SectionHiker Coast FL1R Review. 

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3. Black Diamond SPOT-R Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot-R
The Black Diamond SPOT-R is a USB rechargeable 400-lumen LED headlamp good for hiking, trail running, and camping. Its settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red night vision, and digital lock mode. The SPOT-R provides up to 400 lumens on its max setting, 200 lumens on medium, and 6 lumens on low with a 1500 mAh battery that provides the light with an average run time on high at 4 hours; medium: 8 hours, and low: 225 hours. It has an integrated battery meter and digital lockout to prevent accidental power drain. But what sets the SPOT-R apart from other headlamps is its IPX8 waterproof rating, making it fully submersible so you use it or rain or drop it in a creek. A dual-power model (the SPOT)  is also available that includes three AAA batteries and is compatible with a rechargeable BD 1500 Li-ion battery and charger (purchased separately) for maximum flexibility.

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4. 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 run for 9 hours on high and 147 hours on ultra-low.

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5. Black Diamond Astro 300-R

BD Astro 300 R

Black Diamond is not known for making headlamps with trivial (easy-to-remember) controls, 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. A dual-power model (the Astro)  is also available that includes three AAA batteries and is compatible with a rechargeable BD 1500 Li-ion battery and charger (purchased separately) for maximum flexibility.

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6. 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 can 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.

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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.

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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.

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9. COAST RL10R Dual Power Headlamp

RL10R Coast headlamp
The COAST RL10R is a 750-lumen dual-power headlamp that includes a rechargeable power pack but can also be powered by 3 AAA batteries. It has red and white modes, a battery meter, and a digital lockout to prevent accidental drainage. In addition to a front lamp, it sports rear red safety lamp with an optional strobe for high visibility. What sets it apart from other headlamps is a light control wheel that lets you control the intensity of the front beam, much like a dimmer switch. The front light also has a hinge so you can tilt it to align the beam with your gaze. This headlamp is an amazing value and quite reasonably priced.

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10. Petzl Bindi Ultralight Headlamp

When grams matter, the Petzl Bindi Ultralight Headlamp is the champ. Weighing just 1.2 oz (35 g), this rechargeable 200 lumen light also has some unique options worth considering. The cord headband lets you wear it on your head or around your neck so you can work in the dark. It can also be tilted upward, which is useful when climbing or working on your basement ceiling. While small, it is still super functional with three lighting modes, a red light (continuous or strobe), and two lockout modes to prevent accidental discharge. It also sports a 680 mAh micro-USB-rechargeable battery that makes it easy to keep it powered for your daily training runs, with a max burn time of 50 hours. Read the SectionHiker Petzl Bindi Review. 

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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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10 comments

  1. Absolutely love the Petzl Actik Core but honestly one of my favorite features is the glow in the dark feature that allows me to find the bleeping thing in the dark.

    For years I have used Black Diamond but the last two headlamps I owned the lens cracked after a few years. Not sure what is going on but whatever.

  2. One of the features I appreciate on the NU25 is the red light mode. It has two brightness levels. I am able to read at the brighter level and find its much more useful than the lower level red light mode. Do you know if the other headlamps red light mode are equivalent to the brighter red light mode on the NU25?

  3. You convinced me to get a Nitecore NU20 about six years ago and it’s still going strong!

  4. For me the most important characteristic of a flashlight is reliability. While you don’t mention it, it seems implicit in what you write. Over the last 15 years or so I have unintentionally stress tested an innumerable series of headlamps and pocket (every-day-carry) lights. I usually carry them in my pants pocket or in the flap pocket of a backpack. In both cases they are knocking around with other things for an extended period of time without being checked. Here’s what I’ve found;
    * A snap catch (e.g., on a battery door) is hopeless. Even if they don’t fail outright, they will end up open sooner rather than later. In general I’ve learned not to trust plastic for lights.
    * A so-called lock-out feature that depends on a (long) button press or a sliding switch will eventually be defeated. The worst example was a Fenix light similar to the HM50R which turned on (on high) in my pocket while I was driving. Something seemed to be itching for a while. When I arrived I found that the heat had melted a hole through my pants pocket and my long underwear. I had a second-degree burn (blister).
    * A light which depends on a “rubber plug” for its waterproof integrity will eventually fail. My worst example here was a different Fenix light, which was again similar to the HM50R. In this case I put it through the wash. The real problem here was that the plug had broken loose. If I had taken it out to use in the rain I would still not have been able to find the plug and fix the problem.

    The lesson that I have taken from all this is to only use lights that 1) Depend on screw closures backed by O-rings to be water tight, and 2) Use recharge ports that are either behind such screw closures or don’t require the case to be opened.

    My current primary headlamp is a Fenix HM61R which uses a magnetically connected, inductively coupled charging port. This is quite waterproof, but still not ideal; I am now dependent on a proprietary charging cable. It has some sort of button-press lockout mode. I ignore that and unscrew the battery cap 1/2 turn whenever I put it away. I deal with the charging cable risk by depending on the large (18650), 12.2 Watt-hour battery and the fact that it has an easy to use charge-level light. The trade-off for the very long battery life is that it is heavy enough to require a second, over-the-top-of-the-head strap to keep it from sliding down my forehead. On the other hand, with that strap it is very comfortable to wear for hours at a time. And it has Fenix’s ideal (for me) semi-flood beam pattern.

  5. You can make a petzl like the tikina rechargeable by buying the petzl core battery. Works well. Personally I use the bindi but I’ve used petzls since the zoom headlamps in the 80s and stuck with them.

  6. I love my Fenix HMR50. It has a setting that goes to 11 in case we need that extra ….

  7. I don’t know if others have had problems with them as well but the 2 Nitecores I got both died after a year or so of use so I won’t be buying that brand any longer.

  8. Big fan of the Petzl AC. A nice bonus feature is that you can buy its carry case which not only keeps the light and the headband nice and tidy in your pack, but can also be hung by its own paracord to your tent at night .

  9. What works best below freezing? Sure, everything is milk and honey in the summer. But when the temperature drops and/or the precipitation is heavy I need a dependable lamp. In summer I’m generally ok with a Petzl Bindi. Winter is a different game: extended hiking in the dark when my day doesn’t work out as planned. So I look for the balance of battery life, lumens, throw (beam pattern), and ability to actually work when everything, including my fingers, goes in the crapper. The BD Cosmo 350-R has been ok, but I’m wondering if there’s something that might better meet my needs.

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