Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Do you love nature and being outdoors at any time of the day or night? Then this gadget is just the thing for you: a headlamp. Campers, mountain bikers, mountaineers, geocachers and cross-country runners know that good visibility is essential for their activity, and with our current headlamp test 2019, you'll find the right lamp for you. Our headlamp test 2021 clearly shows you which features you should look out for, what qualitative differences there are and which headlamp suits your needs. The various types of lamps differ between compact, all-round and high-performance lamps, which have important components for every hobby outdoor enthusiast. Find out below which headlamp suits you best.




Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a headlamp

The Best Headlamp: Our Picks

Who should buy a headlamp for?

Headlamps are LED lights that can be attached to the head with a headband. This way you have both hands free and the light cone always falls exactly where it is needed. This makes headlamps indispensable companions for all outdoor athletes. If jogging, camping, mountain biking, mountaineering, geocaching or ski touring is your passion, you should consider buying a headlamp.

Headlamps are suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities. These certainly include hiking, jogging or ski touring. (Image source: 123rf.com / 33611839)

Headlamps not only increase your safety, but also increase the fun factor of your sport, especially in the dark season. It's also a good idea to keep a headlamp in your car. In case of a breakdown, you'll be glad to have a practical light source with you. Those who cycle on dark routes can also benefit from additional lighting, and headlamps are also recommended for dog owners . In short, anyone who is often out in the dark should think about getting a headlamp! Here is a brief and summarised overview of the various uses of a headlamp:

Activity Description Demands
Work This is daily work. Be it an electrician or similar. If there is not enough light to work with, the headlamp should always be used robust with a good grip. In addition, the light should be bright (i.e. many lumens) and offer a focus adjustment.
Hiking, leisure Night tours (hiking or ski touring) are definitely a nice experience. The only disadvantage is the limited visibility at night. A headlamp provides more safety Robust with a good grip. Necessary brightness and range must also be given, as well as a certain wearing comfort. In addition, the headlamp should be compatible with a helmet and have a long battery life.
Cycling or mountain biking During a cycling tour at night, the headlamp not only creates safety for the rider, but also for others involved. The cyclist is easier to see with a headlamp necessary brightness, range and a focus adjustment are advantageous. In addition, the headlamp should be compatible with the helmet. An additional rear light provides more safety.
Running Jogging at any time of day or night is very popular, as it is still relatively pleasant in the evening or early morning hours and not yet too hot Similar to mountain biking, the safety aspect is paramount. In addition, there should be a certain level of comfort.

What can a headlamp be used for?

Which headlamp is right for you depends primarily on what activities you need it for. First of all, you should think about what you want to use the headlamp for.

Headlamp for jogging and running

For jogging, walking and trail running, it is especially important that the lamp is not too heavy and fits well. This means that in most cases, high-performance headlamps are out of the question. However, whether a compact or universal headlamp is the right choice for you depends on several factors. First of all, you should consider where you will be running. In the city or in parks, the ground is usually quite flat and there are plenty of light sources even at night. So it's more about being seen by other road users than finding your way. In extreme cases, too strong a running light could even blind others. In this case, a mini headlamp is sufficient. To ensure sufficient safety in road traffic even in darkness, precipitation or fog, a red rear light is also recommended. This is especially true if you are also running on cycle paths.

If, on the other hand, you regularly jog along field or forest paths, you need a light to illuminate the path for you. This is the only way to recognise obstacles in time. For forest and meadow runners, it should therefore be a device with a range of at least 80 metres. Only an all-round headlamp can do this. In this case, it is therefore worth accepting the higher price and the higher weight. Especially if you are often on uneven or unclear paths, the right headlamp can make a decisive contribution to avoiding injuries and accidents. A few euros more are therefore an extremely worthwhile investment in case of doubt. If you run short distances from time to time, a simple strap that goes around your head is sufficient.

However, if you train frequently and cover long distances, you should make sure that your headlamp is secured with an additional strap that runs from front to back. For shorter distances, it is hardly noticeable if the headlamp does not fit perfectly, but for long training sessions, nothing should slip or pinch. In addition to the usual headlamps, there is also the Decathlon running light. With this innovation, a white LED lamp is attached to the runner's chest and a red back light is attached to the runner's back with the help of a strap construction.

Headlamp for hiking

Hikers should ask themselves similar questions as runners when looking for a suitable headlamp. It is advisable to always have a headlamp with you when hiking. In some cases, however, a high-powered lamp comes into question here. It can happen that, despite careful planning, you underestimate the duration of a stage and therefore have to cover the last few kilometres after dark. In such a case, a headlamp increases safety significantly.

A mini headlamp is helpful to protect yourself in case of an emergency, because it fits in any backpack and weighs hardly anything. If the hike takes longer than expected, you can still get home safely in the dark with its help. After the hike is over, it is also ideal for reading in bed or in your sleeping bag. However, if you are planning night hikes or know in advance that you will be walking in the dark for several hours, then a universal lamp with an additional headband is worthwhile. If you regularly turn night into day and don't mind the extra weight, a high-performance headlamp might be the right choice for you. Here is a summary of the most important information on headlamps for runners - including hikers and walkers:

  • Choosing the right LED headlamp depends on whether you run in the city or in completely unlit areas and how long your running sessions are. In areas with road traffic and for shorter runs, a compact headlamp is recommended. For runs in total darkness and for competitive athletes, it should be a universal headlamp.
  • For trail running in particular, a powerful universal headlamp with a non-slip fixation should be used
  • Hikers should always carry a torch, ideally a headlamp. Mini headlamps are useful as a backup for day trips. For longer hikes at night, however, it is a good idea to buy a universal or even a high-powered headlamp.

Headlamp for cycling and mountain biking

Since you are generally faster on a bike than on foot, you need a longer range. You should therefore opt for a headlamp with at least 80 lumens. If you are riding off-road or on uneven tracks, even more luminosity definitely won't hurt. You should also make sure that the headlamp attaches well to your bicycle helmet. A special helmet lamp that attaches directly to your helmet is recommended. Of course, you can also combine a bike helmet with a normal headlamp with headband attachment, but a helmet lamp is safer, more comfortable and definitely more elegant. A headlamp does not replace your safety lights on your bike! It is merely a means of improving your visibility, especially outside towns. However, according to the StVO, front and rear lights as well as reflectors must be mounted directly on the bike!

Headlamp for outdoor tours, camping and touring skis

Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the outdoors not only at all times of the day, but also in all weathers. Headlamps that are used under extreme conditions must also be able to cope with these demands.

For ski tours, camping and many other outdoor activities, the performance and long service life of the battery are important.

You should be aware that visibility may be further reduced in snow or fog. For longer trekking or skiing tours, you should therefore buy at least an all-round headlamp or perhaps even a high-performance headlamp.

At least as important is the workmanship and possibly the additional equipment. For example, consider whether a splash-proof lamp housing is sufficient or whether a waterproof version would be better. Some models also offer a red light function. This promises better visibility in fog or snow flurries, while at the same time minimising the glare effect. So if you want to pitch a tent with friends in the dark, your fellow campers will certainly be grateful if they are not constantly hit by a bright beam of light. Here, too, the use of a red light is a good idea.

What should I look for when buying a headlamp?

Light intensity

The most important thing to look for in a headlamp is, of course, the light. How brightly a lamp shines is measured in lumens, or luminous flux. This unit indicates the amount of energy expended that is converted into light energy. So the higher the lumen figure, the brighter the light. But light intensity alone is not enough to describe the performance of an LED lamp. For torches and headlamps, the range is also decisive.

Kompatke LED headlamps usually have less than 90 lumens and illuminate their surroundings at a distance of between about 20 and 50 metres

. All-round headlamps are much more powerful, with at least 100 lumens and a range of over 80 metres. Professional head lamps steal the show with over 500 lumens and ranges of well over 100 metres. Before you decide on a headlamp, you should ask yourself which light intensityis right for you. The faster you move forward with the headlamp, the greater your range should be so that you can recognise obstacles in good time. The light intensity you need also depends on the environment in which you are moving: The more light sources there are besides your own lamp, the lower the lumen value may be. However, if you are moving over land and have to rely solely on your headlamp, your headlamp should have at least 80 lumens.

Weight

Since headlamps are designed to be attached to the head, their weight plays a decisive role. After all, the device should support you and not weigh you down unnecessarily. As a general rule, a higher light output requires more energy, which is why larger batteries are installed in more powerful lamps. More powerful headlamps are therefore generally heavier than weaker models.

Stirnlampe Licht

In principle, headlamps with better light are also somewhat heavier because of the larger battery. (Image source: pixabay.com / stux)

However, you shouldn't let this put you off straight away. A few grams more does not automatically mean that comfort suffers. Often the fastening mechanisms on heavier headlamps are more sophisticated, so that the lamp is still comfortable to wear. If in doubt, a tight-fitting but somewhat heavier headlamp is preferable to a model that weighs little but slides back and forth.

To reduce the strain on the head, the battery of some high-performance models is worn on the belt and connected to the headlamp via a cable - a good solution for people who want to see a lot of power combined with a long battery life, but it also increases the effort required to put the construction on and take it off.

How much does a headlamp cost?

The cheapest compact headlamp starts at around 14 euros. For all-round headlamps you have to pay between about 40 and 100 euros. And high-performance headlamps start at 100 euros. More expensive models can cost several hundred euros.
Type Price
Low-priced compact headlamps from approx. 14 euros
All-round headlamps from approx. 40-100 euros
High-performance headlamps from approx. 100 euros

However, don't panic - in most cases, cheaper models will also serve the average consumer. This means you don't have to dig too deep into your wallet, and you still get a well-functioning headlamp. If you look at the average prices of purchased headlamps, the costs usually vary between just under 10 euros and 40 euros.

What alternatives are there to headlamps?

Basically, different alternatives to headlamps can be used. After all, the main goal of a headlamp is to provide the necessary light source. For example, a simple torch can be used as a simplified alternative. The negative side is that the torch has to be held in the hand and thus the hands are not completely free. Therefore, a chest torch can be considered as another option. This works in principle like a headlamp, but is tied around the chest - and not attached to the head. What you finally decide on, however, depends very much on your own preferences.

Decision: What types of headlamps are there and which one is right for you?

Headlamps are a special type of torch that are attached to the head with flexible straps. This leaves your hands free while the light cone always illuminates your field of vision. A headlamp is therefore ideal for all outdoor sports, but can also make everyday life easier. For example, it can be very helpful to keep a torch in the car just in case, and evening walks are also more fun with a headlamp. Commercially available headlamps can be roughly divided into three categories:

  • Compact headlamps
  • All-round headlamps
  • High-performance headlamps

There are also special running lamps for jogging that can be attached to the chest area and helmet lamps that are attached directly to helmets. The headlamps from the categories as well as the helmet and chest lamps all have their individual advantages, but also disadvantages. Which headlamp is right for you depends primarily on what you need the headlamp for. In the following, we have compiled the most important aspects for you so that you can find your perfect headlamp.

What distinguishes compact headlamps and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The biggest advantages of compact headlamps are their small size, light weight and low purchase price. So if you are looking for a headlamp for shorter jogging tours or for walking in the city, these mini headlamps are just right for you. Because when you're out and about in parks, on the street or on footpaths, there are usually plenty of other light sources available to help you find your way. So it's less about illuminating your surroundings and more about being seen by other road users. Inexpensive and handy compact headlamps are usually sufficient for this purpose.

For your own safety, you should also consider buying a red rear light!

If you are looking for a headlamp for reading or just want to have a practical light source with you wherever you go, these mini headlamps are just right for you. And these lightweight headlamps also look great when travelling thanks to their small pack size.

Advantages
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Usually uses standard batteries
Disadvantages
  • Low light output
  • Sometimes low comfort
  • No additional functions

However, you should be aware that the luminosity and also the range and illumination of the light cone of compact headlamps are significantly lower than those of larger models. They are therefore only suitable for use at close range or to help you be seen better by road traffic. Despite their low weight, their comfort also sometimes leaves a lot to be desired, because the straps for fastening them are often not as sophisticated as those of more expensive headlamps.

What distinguishes all-round headlamps and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

All-round headlamps are brighter and illuminate a larger area than compact models. However, they are relatively large and heavy. They also often cost considerably more than compact headlamps. With at least 100 lumens of luminous flux and a range of over 80 metres, all-round headlamps literally outshine compact lamps. Unlike their smaller siblings, they produce enough light to illuminate your field of vision without shadows. This means you can immediately recognise obstacles such as puddles, branches or rocks - even in completely unlit areas. However, they also need more energy for their high performance - and therefore a larger and heavier battery.

Advantages
  • Relatively strong luminosity, good illumination
  • Relatively large light cone
  • Additional functions
  • Convenient fastening systems
Disadvantages
  • Larger and heavier than compact lamps
  • In some cases, only manufacturer-specific batteries can be used
  • Higher purchase price than for mini headlamps

However, since most models come with sophisticated attachment systems, wearing comfort does not suffer as much from the extra weight as one might initially assume. Often an additional strap that runs from front to back over the head helps to fix the lamp on the forehead. Many models also offer additional functions: Some are dimmable, waterproof or have a red light function. This makes them reliable companions for jogging, camping, climbing and other outdoor activities.

What distinguishes high-performance headlamps and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

As the name suggests, high-power headlamps are particularly powerful. They combine high luminous flux with a long range of light, but are also considerably more expensive than universal and compact lamps and weigh several hundred grams. With at least 200 lumens, high-performance headlamps give you at least 100 metres of clear, shadow-free vision even in total darkness. This is only possible with powerful batteries, which are correspondingly bulky. This makes high-performance headlamps not only relatively large and heavy, many models are also more cumbersome to put on than mini or universal headlamps.

Advantages
  • High light output, large light cone
  • often with extras such as red light, battery status display, automatic brightness control or adjustable light cone
  • sophisticated fastening mechanisms
Disadvantages
  • High weight
  • High purchase price
  • Sometimes impractical to put on

In return, however, the energy bundles come with various additional features such as a red light function, adjustable light cone, battery status display or automatic brightness adjustment. They are mainly used by mountain rescue services or in mining. It is not without reason that these power packs are often called "professional headlamps". But a particularly powerful headlamp can also be useful for fast mountain biking or when you are ambitiously running longer distances in rough terrain.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate headlamps based on these factors

There are many things to consider when buying a headlamp. There is not only a wide range of products, but also very different product features that make a headlamp a reliable device in different areas of use. The following tips should help you find the right headlamp for your needs. The following aspects are particularly important:

  • Properties of the light cone:
    • Luminous flux
    • Range
    • Focusability of the light cone
    • Adjustable inclination angle of the lamp
    • Intensity levels / dimmability
  • Weight
  • Mounting mechanism
  • Properties of the energy source:
    • Battery / rechargeable battery
    • Running time
    • Charging modalities
    • Battery attachment
  • Outdoor quality

In the following paragraphs we explain exactly what is meant by these terms and for which use the functions are particularly important. This way you can decide for yourself which features your headlamp should have and which features are perhaps not so important for you.

Properties of the light cone

Luminous flux

Of course, the main purpose of a headlamp is to illuminate your surroundings and help you see through even in the darkest of nights. However, in order to judge which lamp is the right one in terms of its lighting properties, you need to consider several aspects. The luminous flux of a lamp is measured in lumens, its illuminance in lux.For the specification of the illuminance, the luminous flux is set in relation to the illuminated area. One lux corresponds to one lumen per square metre.

It is customary to state the lumen values for headlamps. Occasionally, however, manufacturers also indicate lux values.

First of all, just realise that a higher value in lumens or lux indicates brighter light. An ordinary household candle shines with about 10 lumens. Your headlamp can definitely be a little brighter. A 30-watt fluorescent tube shines much brighter with 1600 lumens - too bright for the usual use of headlamps. Most headlamps are between these examples with 60 to 350 lumens. The light intensity that best suits you and your needs depends on the activities you want to do with your headlamp and the terrain you are travelling in.

If you are mainly in the city, your path will probably be lit by streetlights in most cases. Here, your headlamp will mainly help you to be seen by other road users. Lower light intensities are sufficient for this. If, on the other hand, you are travelling in rural areas or have to rely entirely on your headlamp as a light source when camping or hiking, it should also be able to illuminate your surroundings without shadows. In these and similar cases, it is worthwhile to look for higher lumen values when buying. However, the strength of the luminous flux alone is not the mark of a powerful headlamp. You should also consider the following aspects of the light source when making your decision.

Range

The range of a headlamp is expressed in metres and indicates the area that the lamp covers with its light. This is a much clearer indicator than comparing the luminous flux.

When buying a headlamp, you should always consider how far the models shine.

The minimum range you need depends on what you want to do with your headlamp. If you simply want a practical reading lamp, you don't need a particularly long beam.

If, on the other hand, you are planning night-time excursions on your mountain bike, it is important that you can also see obstacles further away early on. In such and similar cases, a range of at least 80 metres is recommended. As a general rule, the faster you move during your outdoor activity, the further the light cone of your headlamp should reach. So especially very ambitious runners should take into account that at higher running speeds they should also ensure a better overview by using a longer range.

Focusability of the light cone

Many LED lamp heads offer the option to individually adjust the light cone to the needs of the respective situation. It is then possible to choose between widely scattered, rather diffuse light, and a small, but extremely sharply illuminated area. This is particularly interesting if you need your lamp for different uses. A focusable light cone is also worthwhile if you need your headlamp for night-time work.

Adjustable inclination angle of the lamp

Not only the light intensity and the length of the light cone are important factors if you want to be absolutely satisfied with your headlamp, but also the angle at which the light beam is thrown onto the ground. For some activities, it is more practical to set the light cone at a steeper angle, while in other situations, it is better to point the headlamp forward at a shallower angle in order to take advantage of the full range. An adjustable tilt angle allows you to adjust the light cone exactly to your needs. You can direct the light beam to a certain extent by where and how you attach the lamp to your head.

However, this may result in a loss of wearing comfort. For shorter trips, your headlight does not necessarily need to be adjustable in angle, but it is generally recommended to have a corresponding function for most outdoor activities. Especially if you plan to wear the headlamp for longer periods of time, you should make sure that the angle of your chosen model can be adjusted. However, if you need the lamp for short walks in the dark or as an emergency light, you will probably be fine without this option. And even if you are more concerned with being seen in traffic, the angle of the light cone is not as important as when you need to find your way in complete darkness.

Intensity levels / dimmability

Even a powerful headlamp doesn't always have to run at full power. The option to set different intensity levels offers several advantages. On the one hand, it is not practical in every situation to use very bright light and a large light cone. On the other hand, high power always means fast energy consumption. So that you don't have to charge your headlamp too often, it is helpful if you can select different light intensities and adjust them to the respective situation.

Of course, when it comes down to it, you want your headlamp to illuminate a large area so that you can see every detail of your surroundings. For example, when you're cycling or running over uneven terrain, you need to be able to rely on it to spot any obstacles early. But sometimes extremely bright light is not so convenient. For example, if you want to use your headlamp for reading as well, too much light intensity is more of a nuisance.

After all, the lamp should not dazzle when used close up. This also applies, of course, if you wear a headlamp when pitching a tent, for example, and unintentionally shine it into the eyes of your fellow human beings. At many outdoor group events, it is therefore good manners to refrain from using a white headlamp at camp. Some headlamps are equipped with a red light function for this reason. This makes it possible to see the surroundings in a rather wide light cone without blinding others. If you need your headlamp for hunting, this feature is an absolute must. The red light does not scare away animals. It is also a good idea to avoid intense light whenever possible. This will save you energy and considerably extend the life of your headlamp. On trekking tours, a lower light intensity is usually sufficient if the path is flat and clear.

It is not only important that a headlamp for outdoor use has different light intensity modes, but also that they are easy to operate. A memory function

in particular can serve well in this respect. It allows the torch to save the last selected light setting. When you switch it on, you don't have to click through a menu, but can immediately continue with the setting of the last use. By the way, many headlamps also offer a flashing function to make you stand out even more in road traffic. However, this flashing can be very irritating and is therefore not recommended for every situation. Moreover, it should not be confused with the SOS mode of many models.

This feature is particularly useful if you are travelling with your headlamp to very remote areas or in the mountains. When activated, the lamp sends the message "SOS" in Morse code using light intervals. Another additional feature that brings more safety for runners and cyclists in particular is an integrated rear light. Here, an additional red LED is attached to the back of the head. This means that you will also be seen from behind in road traffic. So if you like to jog or cycle where there are cars, this option is highly recommended for your own safety.

Weight

Since a headlamp is attached to your head, it should be as light as possible. After all, no one likes to be weighed down by excess weight. But the weight depends a lot on the power and energy supply of a lamp. Thanks to modern LED technology, there are very powerful lamps that weigh relatively little. Nevertheless, a particularly bright lamp with a large light cone simply needs more energy than weaker LEDs - and thus larger and heavier rechargeable batteries or batteries.

Nowadays, there are already very powerful LED lamps that are also not that heavy. (Picture source. 123rf.com / 72062443)

When choosing your headlamp, you should think again about the missions you want it to accompany you on. If you need an emergency headlamp for hiking, a particularly light but less powerful device is usually sufficient. In this case, the aim is to be able to find your way around even if the hike takes a little longer than planned, and for day hikes your luggage should of course be as light as possible. If you need the headlamp for jogging and plan to use it for shorter periods of half an hour to an hour, the advantages of a particularly light lamp also outweigh the disadvantages.

The same applies if you want to go for a walk in the dark and do not want to use the headlamp for a longer period of time. For dog owners in particular, it is often important to have a very small and light device at hand. On the other hand, if you are going to use the headlamp in the mountains, on hikes lasting several days or on very long trips, such asultra runs, it makes sense to accept a somewhat heavier weight load for stronger performance and longer run times.

Fastening mechanism

Relatively high weight is not always a problem with headlamps. For many athletes, it is more important that the lamp is comfortable to wear and fits well than that it is particularly light. Some headlamp models are therefore equipped with an elastic headband and an additional strap that runs from the front to the back of the head and promises additional stability. Whether such a longitudinal band is the right decision for you depends on the area of use and the weight of your headlamp. For particularly movement-intensive activities such as jogging, mountain biking or similar, you should of course ensure a stable fastening.

Did you know that there are helmets to which you can attach headlamps without a strap? On some climbing helmets you can mount headlamps with the help of an included plate. This makes an additional elastic strap superfluous.

However, the weight of the headlamp must also be taken into account when making this decision. The heavier the headlamp, the better it must be fastened. However, the additional strap makes putting on and taking off the headlamp a little more awkward and also increases the pack size of the headlamp. For particularly small and light headlamps, the extra fastening is not necessary at all. This is why they are often not used.

Some headlamps can be converted into helmet lamps by using special fastening options. This is particularly useful for cyclists

.

Properties of the energy source

As you have already read, the weight of a headlamp depends crucially on its energy source. Logically, the bigger the battery, the more you have to carry around. When buying a headlamp, however, it is worth paying close attention to the energy supply in addition to the weight factor, because this results in many advantages but also disadvantages of the various headlamp models.

Rechargeable battery / battery

First of all, you need to decide whether you feel more comfortable with a rechargeable battery or a battery-powered headlamp. Rechargeable batteries are undoubtedly the more environmentally friendly option. They can be recharged almost anywhere - often via USB connection - and have a long service life. Especially in high-performance headlamps, special rechargeable batteries are usually installed, as the desired performancecould not be achieved with standard batteries. Since lithium-ion batteries are used practically without exception nowadays, charging is basically uncomplicated.

Since there is practically no memory effect, you can charge your headlamp whenever it is convenient for you and do not have to consider the charge level of the battery. If you decide to buy a headlamp with a rechargeable battery, however, you should give some thought to the charging modalities. Of course, you should be able to charge the device wherever you want to use it. In the worst case scenario, you might accidentally buy a product from a foreign manufacturer whose charging option is not compatible with German sockets and you might have to buy an adapter.

Or you might want to travel with your lamp to regions where other plugs are used than in this country and face a similar problem. The charging option via a USB connection offers a practical solution to these problems. It allows you to charge your headlamp e.g. via your laptop or through a connector to the power supply. Especially on longer journeys, the USB connection saves you weight, as you can power several devices with a single cable.

Some models have a charge indicator. This way you can always see when the device needs to be recharged.

In addition, some devices offer the option of attaching additional batteries. This means more weight, but the runtime can be extended almost indefinitely.

If you choose a model with batteries, you can also replace them with rechargeable batteries.

But batteries also have their advantages. With them, you don't have to plan for charging time, but can use a headlamp immediately. As a rule, the runtime is also increased by using high-quality batteries. This gives you the option of using environmentally friendly and inexpensive rechargeable batteries for everyday use, for example, or batteries for travel or longer tours.

Running time

As you have already read above, the runtime of a headlamp depends on how much luminous flux it generates and which energy source has been installed. An LED lamp with several power levels will shine many times longer in the lowest mode than at full power. It is therefore not so easy to determine the runtime exactly.Some manufacturers specify runtimes for the different modes very precisely.

Others, however, are content to state the runtime only at full power or at the lowest setting. Therefore, it is sometimes difficult to compare the data. However, you should consider how long your headlamp should last before you need to charge it or change the battery. Logically, you are more dependent on a long runtime on expeditions, ultra runs or trekking tours lasting several days than if you only use your headlamp now and then for shorter periods of time. Here, too, the decision depends on your needs and expectations.

Battery attachment

Attachment to the back of the head offers greater stability through a more comfortable weight distribution.

There are basically three ways to attach the battery of a headlamp. With compact headlamps, the batteries are usually integrated directly into the lamp. With many universal and high-performance lamps, on the other hand, the battery is attached either to the back of the head or to the belt and is connected to the lamp with a cable. So before you decide against a particular headlamp model because of its heavy weight, you should definitely also consider how the power source is attached. A relatively heavy headlamp whose entire weight is attached to the front of the head is obviously not very recommendable.

If, however, the battery is removed and sensibly attached to the back of your head or to your belt, the device may not weigh you down as much as you first think. The belt attachment has the disadvantage that a cable runs between the lamp and the battery, which makes it difficult to put on and take off. However, if you want the highest performance from your lamp without compromising on runtime, you should also consider this type of attachment.

Outdoor quality

For your headlamp to be able to light your way in any weather, it needs to be robust and waterproof, or at least splash-proof. Practically speaking, there is a uniform standard that you can use as a guide. The IP codes of the German industrial standard (DIN) determine how well devices are protected against water. The values from 0 to 9 stand for different degrees of protection, whereby a higher value means more reliable protection. Since you can get caught in a rain shower with your headlamp even if you are not an extreme athlete, you should make sure that the product you choose is at least splash-proof.

According to the DIN standard, this corresponds to the code IPX4, i.e. "protection against splashing water on all sides". If you want to go outside in all weather conditions, you should not compromise on the water protection of your headlamp. Especially in poor visibility conditions, it is important that you can rely on your headlamp.

Did you know that there are also waterproof headlamps? This is particularly interesting for you if you spend a lot of time outdoors and like to go outside even in bad weather. Waterproof models are especially useful for winter sports.

In the manufacturer's specifications, IPX4 means that the device can withstand water jets from any angle. With IPX6, even increased pressure was applied during the test. If a device has been awarded the code IPX7, it will not be affected even by brief submersion, and lamps with IPX8 will still function perfectly even if they are submerged in water for a longer period of time. It is therefore advisable to use headlamps that meet at least the IPX4 standard for all outdoor activities.

Don't be confused if a manufacturer lists several IPX standards. Up to IPX6, the rating includes all previous levels. This means that a lamp with IPX6 automatically also meets the conditions for IPX5, IPX4, etc.

However, since from IPX7 onwards, other criteria are used as a benchmark (being immersed in water exerts different stresses on the lamp than being sprayed with strong pressure), a lamp with IPX7 or higher no longer automatically fulfils all conditions for the previous levels.

Facts worth knowing about headlamps

How long does the battery of a headlamp last and is it rechargeable?

How long a headlamp can be operated by its battery depends not only on the battery itself, but also on the respective setting. Many models can be set to different intensities and need correspondingly more energy when operated at full power. Some manufacturers therefore specify minimum and maximum values for the lighting duration. Therefore, information on battery runtimes are approximate values.

In general, however, it can be said that thanks to economical LED technology, headlamps can illuminate their surroundings for between 15 and 90 hours.

Tip: Some headlamps are powered by standard batteries, others run on manufacturer-specific rechargeable batteries. If you don't want to keep buying new batteries, make sure that your headlamp is equipped with rechargeable batteries. By the way, some models can also be charged via a USB connection!

How much does a headlamp weigh?

Headlamps with high luminosity and long battery life are particularly heavy.

The weight of a headlamp depends on how many light-emitting diodes are used and on the size of the battery. Compact headlamps are real lightweights at around 70 to 90 g. Larger models can weigh up to 70 g. Larger models weigh up to 200 g, which is considerably more.

Which headlamps are used in different professions?

It is hard to imagine various professions without headlamps. Besides construction workers and firefighters, doctors and dentists in particular must be able to rely on their headlamps. Of course, the requirements are very different in the various fields of activity. So not all professional headlamps are the same. Mountain rescue teams often use high-performance headlamps . In construction and emergency operations, however, even their quality is sometimes insufficient.

For this reason, special hand-held torches are often used, which can be attached to the helmet by means of connectors. These lamps are particularly shatterproof, waterproof and can withstand falls, blows and even explosions. Doctors and dental specialists, on the other hand, work with more delicate equipment.

With special headlamps for doctors, the focusing of the light beam is particularly important in order to be able to do the work well and precisely. (Image source: 123rf.com / 121792272)

For their work, the most important thing is to focus the light cone precisely. In the small field of vision illuminated in this way, shadowing must not occur under any circumstances. In addition, the device must not interfere with surgical procedures and must sit absolutely securely on the head. Therefore, special headlamps equipped with fine adjustment options are used here. It is also common to use illuminated eyeglass attachments, which can be combined well with magnifying glasses. Dental headlamps are generally too expensive for everyday use. Ambitious hobbyists and tinkerers, however, may find exactly the tool they have been looking for.

Image source: pixabay.com / Stefan Schweihofer

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