Best Headlamp for Hunting: The Outdoorsman’s Guide to Safety

Hunting headlamp
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

When out hunting with your buddies, safety should always be your very first concern.  No one wants to injure their friends, especially when using a high-powered rifle or bow, because this could mean losing a life.  That’s why having a hunting headlamp such a necessity.

They not only light your way, they also keep you visible, and help you to see whether the noise you hear nearby is one of your companions or a large, dangerous animal you may need to protect yourself from.

Headlmap for hunting

So, before you head out, choose the best headlamp for hunting to suit your needs and the area you’ll be in, with a long battery life to last as long as you will.

What to Look for in A Hunting Headlamp

When you start to search for a new hunting headlamp, there are a few key features you should look for, to ensure you are getting one with a decent battery life, a durable body, and enough light to see by no matter where you are, without weighing you down.

  • Lumens: This refers to the amount of light energy that the headlamp is emitting. This can range from just a few lumens to a couple of thousand, and many headlamps have multiple settings that give you low, medium, and high lumen outputs.
    Though the lumen level is important, having a long and a wide beam range are also necessary, and should be considered along with the lumen level rather than separately.
  • Beam Range: The distance the beam reaches is extremely important, because when out in the wilderness, it is necessary to be able to see well ahead of you to avoid any accidents or run-ins with dangerous animals.
    Having a shorter beam can come in handy when looking at a map, but for all other instances, a longer range beam is a much safer option.  If you can find a headlamp that offers both, this is a definite bonus.
  • Battery Runtime: Having a long battery runtime could mean the difference between getting out of the woods with your kill, and stumbling around in the dark hoping for a rescue. Runtimes on headlamps vary depending on the lumen level and different lighting modes, with higher power lights draining your battery faster than lower levels.
    No matter what level you use, or which headlamp you buy, it is always a good idea to carry extra batteries when possible, in case of unexpected emergencies.
  • Weight: Most headlamps are lightweight, because of the fact that they are smaller and must be able to stay upright when attached to a head strap. Be sure to try several on to test out the various weights, so you can choose the one that will remain comfortable while wearing the headlamp for a long day outside.
    If you try a headlamp on and you aren’t sure if it will weigh you down too much, it is probably too heavy.  Try a lighter one instead, to be sure you won’t regret your purchase.
  • Durability: When traveling in the outdoors, you are going to come across a variety of terrains. If you happen to drop your headlamp, you don’t want it to crack or break on rocks or any other hard surfaces beneath your feet, because then you will be left in the dark when the sun goes down.  Look for one with a sturdy body, and check for an impact rating to be sure it has been tested in these types of conditions.
    Weather is also something to consider when buying your headlamp.  If it begins to rain or snow, you want to know it won’t short out before you get to a drier area.  That’s why waterproofing, or at the very least, weatherproofing, is a necessity for a decent headlamp.
  • Light Modes: Headlamps come with many types of lighting modes to choose from. Floodlights are great for seeing short distances in front of you, or for lighting up your campsite.
    A spotlight is a more focused beam for longer ranged visuals, better for hiking back to your site or car at the end of the day.  Colored options are also available, each with their own specific use.
    Red lighting is perfect for discreet tactical and night vision use.  Green lighting is used for reading maps or other documents in the dark.
    Blue lighting is used to follow blood or other fluids if an animal is hit but still capable of running away.  All of these modes are great for hunting headlamps, but not always necessary, so decide the possible uses for your light before you purchase one with all the frills.

Now that you know what features to look for, here are some of the hunting headlamps that customers are raving about.

Top Hunting Headlamps for 2017

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Weight: 3.2 oz with batteries

Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 2 inches

Specific Features: 1 TriplePower LED, 1 SinglePower Led, 1 SinglePower Red LED, Polycarbonate materials, 3 AAA batteries included

Best Use: Hunting, backpacking, security patrols, climbing, camping, hiking

Description: The Spot Headlamp is Black Diamond’s most popular model, with a maximum 200 lumens of light and an 80-meter range.  It has multiple settings, including high, low, red night-vision, and strobe, with a maximum battery life of 200 hours.

There is also a lock mode, to keep the light off and the battery full when carrying it in a pocket or a bag.  Using PowerTap Technology, this headlamp allows you to scroll through the light modes quickly and easily.

It uses 3 AAA batteries, and has a three-level power meter, so you will never be left in the dark.  Its IPX-8 rating means it is waterproof up to 1.1 meters when submerged for under thirty minutes without affecting the light’s capabilities.

The Spot comes in 5 colors, including aluminum, dark olive, matte black, Powell blue, and torch, and includes an adjustable strap.

Related: Black Diamond also has a similar model, the Ion, which has many of the same features as the Spot, but only has a maximum of 100 lumens.  Though still a great headlamp, the higher powered light and the longer range of the Spot is a better option, especially in dangerous situations.

Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp

Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp

Weight: 3.4 oz with batteries

Dimensions: 5 x 5 x 2 inches

Specific Features: 1 TriplePower LED, 2 SinglePower White LEDs, 2 SinglePower Red LEDs, 3 AAA batteries, 3 NiMH batteries (both included)

Best Use: Hunting, climbing, backpacking, hiking, camping

Description: The Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp  offers multiple settings on both white and red light, with a maximum of 130 lumens and a beam range of 70 meters on its highest mode and a maximum battery life of 300 hours.

The red night-vision light uses both proximity and strobe modes, and can be accessed without scrolling through the multiple white light modes first.

Both AAA rechargeable batteries and standard alkaline batteries are compatible with this headlamp, and it includes an easy to read three-level power meter that shines green when batteries are full, yellow when close to empty, and red when they need recharging.

The ReVolt is water resistant, though not submersible.  It has an adjustable strap that is also removable, and comes in six stylish colors to match its sleek design.

Related: The Black Diamond Storm is similar to the ReVolt with its lighting modes, but has both red and green LEDs in addition to the white, emits a maximum of 250 lumens and is both waterproof and dust proof.

Though an excellent light, it is a bit heavier, and the extra features and lighting levels may not be needed for regular day-to-day use, especially if travelling with others who may be blinded by the brighter light.

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

Weight: 2.99 oz

Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 2 inches

Specific Features: White LED, Red LED, 3 AAA/LR03 batteries included

Best Use: Hunting, camping, hiking, climbing, backpacking

Description: The Tikka XP uses Constant Lighting Technology to ensure the 180 lumens of maximum lighting never fall short, regardless of its battery level.  It has two beam patterns, focused for close use and wide for seeing everything around you.

The different modes give you multiple lighting options and a battery runtime of 2 hours to 100 hours, depending on the level chosen.  There is also a discreet red light that can be used in both constant and strobe modes.  The push-button is simple to use, whether with bare hands or thick gloves.

And when your batteries begin to run low, the headlamp switches to reserve mode, and then to red lighting when they are nearly drained, so you will never question when they need replacing.

Though batteries are included, this headlamp is also compatible with rechargeable NiMH and lithium batteries, for added convenience.  The Tikka XP is weather resistant, and comes in three colors, including black, turmeric and orange.

Related: Petzl has an original Tikka that is identical to the XP in features and lighting modes, but only has a maximum of 160 lumens of light at its maximum setting.  Though still a bright light, the range drops with the lower lumen level, and at only 60 meters, the Tikka falls short of the XP by 15 meters.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

Weight: 8.1 oz

Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 5 inches

Specific Features: 1 QuadPower LED spotlight, 2 SinglePower white LEDs, 2 SinglePower red LEDs, 4 AA batteries included

Best Use: Hunting, camping, climbing, hiking, search and rescue, backpacking

Description: With 320 lumens of light, and 100 meters of maximum beam range for about 75 hours, this Black Diamond Icon Headlamp is perfect for professional use as well as for entertaining nighttime adventures.

There is a discreet red night-vision light that has both proximity and strobe settings, and can be accessed without needing to scroll through the white light modes.

Other settings include full strength in both proximity and distance, as well as a dimmer setting for close work, and a lock mode to keep the light off when traveling in a backpack or coat pocket.

The three-level power meter keeps you aware of the battery level as soon as you turn the headlamp on, so there are no surprises during your travels.  This headlamp is IPX-7 waterproof, and can be submerged up to 1 meter for half an hour without affecting the light’s operation.

Related: Though there are numerous headlamps available from Black Diamond that have similar features as the Icon, and are all much lighter, none of them can compare to the high lumen level and far reaching beam this model offers, so for those who want to see every detail of their surroundings, this is the headlamp for you.

Coast HL7 Focusing LED Headlamp

Coast HL7 Focusing LED Headlamp

Weight: 4.4 oz with batteries

Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.2 x 2.1 inches

Specific Features: White LED, 3 AAA batteries included

Best Use: Hunting, climbing, hiking, backpacking, camping

Description: The Coast HL7 Focusing LED Headlamp gives you two lighting modes, with 285 lumens on high and 4 lumens on low, with a simple light control lever at the back of the headlamp to switch between them.

It has a maximum beam range of 119 meters, and lasts for 70 hours on low and 1.5 hours on high.  There is a twistable bezel to turn your wide flood beam into a focused spotlight.

The hinged beam adjustment allows you to tilt the headlamp in any direction.  For those who require a hardhat, this headlamp also includes clips to attach to one, for added stability and convenience.

The HL7 is impact resistant, as well as weather resistant, and comes with a lifetime warranty against defects.  Included is a handy pouch for traveling or storing your headlamp, so it will always be clean and ready to go when you are.

Related: Coast has an HL7R available as well, which is similar to the HL7 in make and size.  The difference is that the HL7R is rechargeable, and includes a mini USB cable for this purpose.

Though this may be handy for longer term trips, the HL7’s higher lumen level and longer beam range are a better option for shorter trips that won’t require multiple charges.

Fenix HP25 Headlamp

Fenix HP25 Headlamp

Weight: 8 oz with batteries

Dimensions: 2.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 inches

Specific Features: Aluminum chassis, 2 Cree XP-E R4 LED lights, 4 AA batteries not included

Best Use: Hunting, climbing, caving, walking, hiking, camping, backpacking

Description: With 180 lumens on both its spotlight and floodlight settings, this Fenix HP25 Headlamp gives you a total of 360 lumens of powerful light, and an excellent beam range of 153 meters for almost 5 hours.

The spotlight setting has 3 light modes, and the flood has the same with an addition of a turbo setting.  There is also a SOS mode for emergencies.

The light sources each have an individual control system, so there is no scrolling through multiple settings to find the one you want, and there is a lockout placement as well to keep the light off when not in use.

This headlamp is impact resistant up to 1 meter, and its durable body will also resist overheating.  It is also IPX-6 waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.  The 60 degree tilt can be adjusted as needed.

Related: There is a rechargeable model available, the HP25R, which comes with a micro USB to charge the batteries when needed.

It is a bit lighter and has a few more lighting levels, but it also has a super high spotlight of 1000 lumens, which may be a bit too bright for normal use, especially if used in public areas with those you may blind with such a powerful light.

Nitecore HC90 Headlamp

Nitecore HC90 Headlamp

Weight: 4.76 oz without battery

Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 3 inches

Specific Features: Aero-grade aluminum alloy with hard-anodized finish, white LED light, 1 18650 lithium ion battery included

Best Use: Hunting, hiking, camping, climbing, backpacking

Description: This rechargeable Nitecore HC90 Headlamp gives you 900 lumens of light for up to 110 meters of ultimate brightness.  It has a maximum runtime of 200 hours on its lowest setting, and 45 minutes on turbo.

With a waterproof rating of IPX-8, it is submersible up to 2 meters, and is impact resistant up to 1.5 meters.  The switch on top slides easily through the white light settings on one side, and the blue, red, and green modes on the other.

The headlamp can also be rotated up and down as needed.  The included micro-USB cable plugs right into the headlamp to charge the battery without removing it.  Nitecore has also included a double cooling system that has a temperature sensor and control feature to keep you from getting burned during prolonged use.

Related: Nitecore has another headlamp available, the HC50, which is similar in many ways to the HC90, but though it has a longer battery runtime, it is only 760 lumens, and has a maximum beam range of only 98 meters.

It also has only the red light in addition to the white LED, while the HC90 has additional blue and green lights for multi-purpose use.

Final Words

Whether hunting for sport or to feed your family, safety is always the most important thing to consider, to ensure you’ll return home in the same condition you left in.

Choose your Hunting Headlamp

Having a suitable headlamp to hunt with, or for any other outdoor activity you enjoy, can help to ensure this will always be the case for you and the other members of your group.

There are dozens of headlamps to choose from, so take your time when deciding which is best for you, and if there is one you feel should have been included in our list, please feel free to let us know.

Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Beatris Bronson

    With Fenix HP25 I feel like I’m walking around in the daylight, it’s that powerful! It’s rechargeable, has long battery life on lower settings. Four settings on flood and spot. (just little bulky) Also very easy to adjust the headband/strap and is well balanced. Fantastic headlamp. Just buy it!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Don’t you just love that this baby won’t overheat, too? I think that’s a great feature, especially since it is also impact-resistant and will provide you with years of use. Highly recommended and affordable, too.

  • Stefan Sanga

    I use – and love – the Black Diamond Revolt. The fact that it is rechargeable is super handy. I plug it into my portable battery pack and it quickly sparks back to life. Can also be used with standard AAA batteries so I keep those with me in case of emergencies. It’s not amazingly bright but it’s bright enough for my needs! One thing that could be improved is the use of one button to cycle through all the modes. Very easy to blind yourself or others in the middle of the night whilst getting to the mode you need!

  • Daniel Carraway

    Hello Stefan and thanks for the review. The Black Diamond is a wonderful brand. I’m sure the manufacturers will continue to innovate their products to suit consumer preference. In the meantime, enjoy your headlamp!