US Outdoor Store
US Outdoor Store


Between walking the dogs at 5 am and spending as much free time as possible exploring the outdoors, I rarely go anywhere without a headlamp. Not only are they incredibly easy to throw in my pocket or pack, but they come in such a wide variety of options that there’s a perfect headlamp for all of my low light adventures. It’s one of those things, like a first aid kit, that’s so easy to bring that there’s really no good excuse for not having one. But how do you know which headlamp is best for you? With all the different stats and styles to choose from it can seem almost impossible to find the right one, but hopefully this buyers guide will help point you in the right direction.


Lumens are a great place to start for determining what headlamp you’re looking for. Lumens are a unit of measurement that helps your figure out exactly how bright your new headlamp will be, and they usually range between 50 and 1,000 lumens. If you just need a headlamp for late night bathroom trips on your next camp trip, a lower lumen rating is perfectly fine, but if you’re caving or climbing you’ll want to go with something brighter.

Brightness Levels


This setting is pretty self explanatory, if you need your light as bright as possible, the Max or High setting is what you want to be using. Just keep in mind that this setting will drain your battery faster than any of
the others.


That perfect middle ground between low and high, the mid setting is a versatile go between that’s great for a variety of situations. Not all headlamps have a mid setting and it’s not something that you 100% need, but it can be nice to have on those days where you need more light than the low setting but don’t want to waste your battery with the high one.


The low light setting is an energy efficient way to add a little extra light to your early morning chores around camp or for those dusky walks on the trail.


The strobe or flash setting on your headlamp is a good setting for a variety of situations. If you’re lost or need to grab someone’s attention it’s a great signal for emergencies. It’s also good for preserving the battery life of your headlamp and making you more visible in low light situations.

Red Light

The red light setting is perfect for use at night. This setting adds a little bit of extra light to your campsite without disturbing others and it won’t ruin your night vision like regular light will.

Boost/Zoom Mode

The boost or zoom mode is only available on select headlamps, but this setting is great for short, high intensity beams. Just remember that this setting has a tendency to drain your battery and isn’t meant to last for very long (only about 20 or so seconds).

Beam Type

Most headlamps have two beam types, the flood beam setting and the spot beam. Both are used for pretty specific circumstances.

Spot (Focused or Narrow)

The other type is a spot, focused, or narrow beam setting. This type of beam has a narrower light than the flood so you won’t be able to see as much as close range, but it gives you more light for things that are off in the distance.

Flood (or Wide)

A flood or wide setting is perfect for things that are right in front of you. Need some extra light for reading or making repairs? The flood or wide beam setting is what you want to be using.

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