Choosing The Best Running Headlamp for Illuminating Your Run Path

Best Running Headlamp
Jerry Mueller
Written by Jerry Mueller

If you like going on early morning or nighttime runs outside through the local neighborhood, you will definitely want to invest in the best running headlamp you can buy. A headlamp will illuminate the path you are running on so you can avoid personal injury and any potential hazards that might cause you to trip and fall.

At the same time, the ideal headlamp will allow others who are approaching you while you’re running on the road to see you more easily so you will remain safe from a dangerous accident. Considering the amount of safety the headlamp provides, you can see why they’re worthy of consideration.

Important Headlamp Measurements You Should Know

When you are investing in a headlamp for running, you will often see these devices list measurements on the product packaging. These same measurements are usually in the product description as well as any instruction guide you might receive with your purchase.

Man with headlamp

The measurements you need to be concerned with include the burn time, battery duration, distance of the light beam, lumens or light intensity, and the weight of the unit you buy. For more information about why the measurements are useful, see the information below.

  • Burn Time: When comparing headlamps for running, make sure you take into account the burn time as per the information the manufacturer shares on the product’s packaging. Burn time is relatable in hours and is a relatively fair indication of how long you can use the headlamp before you have to replace the batteries.
    The “hours” indication is a figure based upon the use of the running headlamp when it is on the lowest possible setting or on “conservative use:” This is an important notion since the battery powering the unit will expire a lot faster when you are using the higher powered settings as they can drain the battery quickly. In that regard, also note the battery type so you can stock up on the kind you need.
  • Battery Life: Battery life duration is an important fact to know when making a headlamp investment. With every use, the batteries you put in the headlamp are going to start draining. Some headlamps allow for the gradual dimming of light as batteries eventually weaken when using the unit.
    Other units may have special features that allows the headlamp to generate a steady, optimal amount of lighting at all times.
    However, this function might be nice if you prefer bright lighting throughout your run, but the batteries will drain faster and will cut out quickly or even unexpectedly. In this case, you might want to carry a fanny pouch or light backpack and extra batteries so you can swap out batteries quickly.
    Of course, an even better alternative is to test the batteries before each run to ensure there is still enough juice in them to keep the headlamp working at optimal levels.
  • Distance of the Light Beam: The light beam distance is an important consideration when you shop, as this is the overall distance you will be able to see in front of you. The measurement for the beam distance of a headlamp appears in meters or feet.
    Do not be surprised if the packaging of the headlamp or the instruction manual gives you several listings of beam distance, especially if the headlamp you purchase has different light brightness settings, as the varying measurements will apply to the different lamp settings on the unit.
  • Lumens or Light Intensity: Lumens is not a measurement intensity, or rather the degree of brightness, the light the headlamp produces. When you are in need of an exceptional headlamp for your nighttime or early morning runs, you will want to choose a device that has anywhere between 40 and 200 lumens, whereas a lamp offering 40 to 50 lumens should be plenty for your needs.
    The product guide or packaging is likely to indicate maximum and minimum lumens that the headlamp generates in use. Keep in mind the more lumens the headlamp offers the faster the unit will consume battery life because a high amount of lumens is a reflection of high-energy usage.
  • Weight of the Headlamp: Yes, weight is one of the more important buying considerations when selecting the best headlamp for running. After all, you are choosing a device you wear on your head. This allows for hands-free operation and lets you focus on your run, not the equipment you are carrying.
    In this regard, you want a very light-weight unit, but one that is built with durable materials to ensure the lamp’s longevity. The ideal headlamp should be light for ease of portability.
    The weight of the unit usually appears in gram measurements.
    Keep in mind that some weight listings on the product packaging include the weight of batteries in the unit, some measurements only indicate the weight of the headlamp alone, and some manufacturers may define the weight of the unit both with and without batteries included.

Light Style

In addition to the distance, you might want to consider the pattern the lighting generates. There are two main types of lighting patterns associated with headlamps: the spotlight lighting and floodlight pattern. Both patterns cast out usable light at the distance the product is capable of casting light.

Headlamp for running light

The useable light is about as bright as the lighting of a full moon in the dark of night. The spotlight pattern is also the “focused” pattern and the floodlight pattern is the “wide beam” style.

Some units allow the user to switch back and forth between patterns: These adjustable, hybrid headlamps let the user quickly change from focused to full wide beam lighting.

  • Focused spotlight: This pattern is what choice runners select when looking to improve visibility at a distance; the spotlight is a preferred pattern of runners as it allows the light beam to highlight the running path clearly.
  • Wide beam lighting: This type of beam casts more lighting closer to the runner’s body so it is better for close-up visuals.
  • Hybrid: If you opt for an adjustable unit, you will have the exact style of lighting you desire at all times. The diversity of the hybrid unit may increase the price tag, but the small hike in price is well worth the initial investment.

Headlamp Modes for Lighting

The leading manufacturers of headlamps look to diversify the features of each lamp so that you can get the best usage out of the unit in every situation. In this regard, the simplest units might feature one or two lighting modes, like low and high options.

Running Headlamp mods

More advanced offerings can have anywhere from three or more different lighting modes to choose when you want to change up the lighting pattern. Consider some of the following lighting modes available in the mid-range and upper-end models, which can prove useful on a run.

  • Flash: Some manufacturers refer to this lighting mode as the strobe mode, and it is exactly that: a fast blinking or flashing pattern which serves as an emergency code letting others know you are dealing with an urgent problem or situation. The upper-end models of headlamps may even all you to alter the speed of the flash with fast and slow strobe lighting modes.
  • Low lighting mode: This is the most conservative lighting setting, which will allow you to get the most out of your batteries, but may not be the ideal lighting in every situation. It can serve will to see the trail in front of you, but it may limit visibility at a distance.
  • Middle or Mid-Lighting Mode: A nice halfway point or compromise between low and maximum lighting: This choice allows you to conserve some battery energy will getting the greater visibility you need during darkened runs.
  • Maximum or High Lighting Mode: This setting does little to conserve battery, but gives you great lighting when you want to see your surroundings clearly both near, and at a maximum distance.
  • Red lighting mode: Some units have red lighting that proves ideal when you are on darkened runs at night: The lighting has little effect on the pupils so they remain open and wide and let in the maximum amount of lighting to ensure the greatest visibility.
  • Zoom lighting mode: This feature is on a few upper-end models and is the “boost mode.” The feature lets the unit emit a high beam of lighting for up to 20 seconds or so, before returning to the original mode; it is great for a quick glance around at a distance and it will allow you to conserve as much battery as possible when returning to a lower mode of lighting automatically.

Reviews of the Leading Headlamps for Running

With so many headlamps on the market, the choices may overwhelm you. Consider some of the factors shared above as you buy.

You’ll find listed here are the leading headlamps you can buy, some which are lower-end models with basic features, and others that are upper-end models with all the bells and whistles. Whatever your budget, there are some outstanding headlamps available for purchase.

Brightest & Best Waterproof Red Led Headlamp Flashlight for Hunting Running

Brightest & Best Waterproof Red Led Headlamp Flashlight for Hunting Running

Colors: Black or Orange

Weight: 2.4 ounces; 68.4 grams

Dimensions: 1.6” x 2.4” x 1.8”

Specifications: LED headlamp; Model Number V800 PLUS; Hands-free operation; Operates off of two AAA Alkaline batteries; Rechargeable battery compatible; 120 hours of burn time; Red light and white light modes; Flood light; Focused light; Dimmer function; Distance of 110 meters; and Waterproof.

Best Uses: Running at night, hunting, camping, walking trails, sidewalks, and late night outdoor activities.

Description: The Brightest & Best Waterproof Red Led Headlamp costs $28.95. The headlamp is a model by VITCHELO. With every purchase of a product made by VITCHELO it goes to help people residing in Santa Cruz, Bolivia get clean water, so you are helping the community to boot.

The LED lighting ensures you have got a good deal of brightness a little battery drain from the light. You wear the lamp on your head so it makes for hands-free operation. Batteries power the device, but it is also compatible with rechargeable variants.

You get a full 120 hours of burn time on low mode. The device lets you choose the lighting you like the most, white or red. You can switch between spotlight and floodlight modes, and if one mode is too bright, you can use the dimmer functions to make adjustments.

The distance out is about 110 meters all together. If you are in a summer shower or a bit of rain, the integrity of the lamp remains due to the inclusion of waterproofing features.

Related: If you are looking for an alternative headlamp with the same branding, the VITCHELO Ultralight Bright Waterproof Red LED Light Headlamps Flashlight by VITCHELO is an ideal option; it is a bit pricier at $42.98 but the unit is not only waterproof, it’s also shock resistant, thereby increasing the unit’s durability and longevity.

Headlamp of All Headlamps – Perfect LED Headlamp for Running

Headlamp of All Headlamps – Perfect LED Headlamp for Running

Color: Black

Weight: 1.8 ounces; 3 ounces with batteries included

Dimensions: 1.5” 2.5” x 1.8”

Specifications: 100 percent cotton rib knit materials; Distance 120 yards; LED lighting; Burn 120 hours; 168 lumens, operates off three AAA batteries, and the lighting features a six-mode selection. SOS Flash, IPX6 rating, Shock proof, water proof, lifetime warranty, and 100% money back guarantee.

Best Uses: Running, camping, hiking, walking trails, night use.

Description: The Explorer LED Headlamp is a model made by Reivalo. The unit is $27.92. The headpiece that fits around your head is 100 percent cotton rib knit materials, so you get lasting comfort as you wear the headlamp.

The LED lighting is bright enough to illuminate your run trail perfectly and it casts a light at a distance of 120 yards. The unit has a burn time of 120 hours maximum while operating off three AAA batteries. Six modes for lighting help you choose the perfect lighting every time while conserving your battery. In an emergency, you can set the lighting to flash an SOS signal so you can get help quickly.

The International Protection Marking Code or simply the IP Code for the device is a level 6; this is a rating system reveals the durability of the device, and at a level six, you’re getting a dust tight headlamp.

Related: The Brightest & Best Waterproof Red Led Headlamp by Reivilo listed above is a fine alternative for the Explorer LED Headlamp: Sharing the same brand and nearly the same price, you get great lighting and distance coverage with both devices.

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp Flashlight

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp Flashlight

Colors: Black and White

Specifications: USB rechargeable; Super bright lighting; high durability level; waterproof; light, and comfortable; 100 hours lighting when charged; USB chargeable, two hour charge time.

The unit casts a 400-foot beam at 280 lumens. Several light modes; SOS flash; emergency whistle, and an IPX7 rating. Durable and waterproof unit. Comes with a bonus mini USB cable.

Best Uses: Reading, Camping, Hiking, Caving, and Running short and long distances.

Description: The Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp Flashlight by Foxelli is a fully rechargeable unit priced at $29.97. You can charge up the device via any USB port in as little as two hour’s time. The device gets 100 hours of continues lighting on one charge.

Battery life indicator built into the device lets you know when you are close to the time when you will need to charge it. The unit has an IPX7 rating, which means it will remain in working order even if immersed in water one meter deep for 30 minutes.

You will have no trouble seeing all around you with the 400 foot distance the headlamp casts light in and the 280 lumens feature ensuring everything is bright and visible. The body of the unit is tilt-able a full 90 degrees so you can adjust it to your comfort level.

If there is an emergency, an SOS flash mode is among the many lighting modes to choose from with this unit. The device also comes with an emergency whistle.

Related: As a super affordable alternative with identical branding, you can opt for the Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight – Bright 165 Lumen White Cree Led, which is less than half the price of the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp Flashlight listed above.

The lower costing headlamp has 3W LED technology, a 60-degree beam, a 45-degree tilt, an IPX5 rating, and a 45-hour operation time off three AAA batteries.

Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp

Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp

Colors: Black with Red LEDs

Weight: 10” x 8” x 3”

Dimensions: 8 ounces

Specifications: 150 lumens; RED LED, and the device is also available in 70, 100, and 125 lumens. One Maxbright and three LED lights; compact body, water resistant properties, and rotating light unit for ease of positioning.

Best Uses: Running, hiking, and camping. Indoor reading.

Description: The Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp is available with a RED LED offering 150 lumens, which is absolutely perfect lighting for revealing your run trial in the dark. The unit is durable so it is great for indoor and outdoor use. The battery door opens easily for ease of battery insertion and renewal.

A single push button switch makes for quick, easy unit operation. The unit is water resistant, light, compact, and totally self-contained, thereby making it light to wear and highly portable.

Fitted with one Maxbright LED as well as three Ultrabright LEDs, this unit offers a good deal of lighting for your nighttime runs. The headlamp sports a price tag of $32.00.

Related:  An upper-end model of the same branding can be had in the Princeton Tec Apex LED Headlamp by Princeton Tec, which sports a price tag of about $107.95.

The unit is available in 80, 200, 275, and 350 lumens and delivers 72 burn hours. The soft band fits around the forehead and another strip goes across the head to keep the lamp from shifting out of position when you are wearing it.

Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light

Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light

Colors: Top-Pro-XE Blue or Yellow

Weight: 0.02 ounces shipping weight

Dimensions: 2.1” x 3.3” x 4.1” shipping measurements

Specifications: 90-degree tilting headlamp; four lighting modes; hands-free operation; single button control; light unit; distance of 164 feet; adjustable headband; Three AAA batteries to operate and three batteries come with the unit.

Best Uses: Indoor and outdoor usage; emergencies, automotive repair, DIY projects, caving, reading, cycling, hiking, hunting, fishing, walking, and running.

Description: The Headlamp Flashlight with Red LED Light is by Aenon and is priced at $12.97. The unit is water resistant and it is made of durable plastic materials. The headlamp hosts a tilt feature so you can direct the beam of light in any direction.

Four lighting modes gives you just the right amount of light pattern diversity. The single button control makes operation of the device a breeze. With a 164 beam of light, you can cast light at considerable distance, and easily illuminate the area of your nighttime run. Requires three AAA batteries required.

Related: as an alternative with the same branding and weighing, all of three ounces is the LED Headlamp Flashlight with Two Safety Armbands. The unit is just under $15.00 so it certainly meets affordability factors, and its design is light and sleek. Plus you get 250 lumens with 492 feet of distance and an LED lighting that can last up to 30,000 hours.

Luxolite LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red Light

Luxolite LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red Light

Colors:  Available in a variety of colors including black, blue, green, orange, white, and yellow.

Weight: 3 ounces

Dimensions: 2.4” x 1.9” x 1.6”

Specifications: hands-free operation; two control buttons; red and white light beams; Instantly setting of light intensity and four cool white light modes. Two red light settings; No bobbing, sliding out of position or excessive tightness; Adjustable headband; IXP6 rating; Three AAA batteries for operation, CREE LED lighting, and a Lifetime product guarantee.

Best Uses: Running, camping, hiking, jogging, hunting, reading, chores, do it yourself task, automotive under the hood work, caving, fishing, and cycling.

Description: The Luxolite LED Headlamp Flashlight with Red Light with a decent price tag of $18.97. It hosts 168 lumens so it will light up the nighttime and reveal your run path with perfect clarity. It casts a light at a distance of 300 feet so you can clearly see upcoming territory and terrain.

The headband is elastic, soft, adjustable, and does not squeeze against the scalp thereby preventing “brain squeeze” and lending to your lasting comfort when you run. Weighing only three ounces, you might forget you are wearing the headlamp at all!

The CREE LED lighting in the Luxolite headlamp promises a full 50,000 hours of life or more. With the instant light intensity settings, there is no need to cycle through light modes to set light intensity or to turn the unit off.

You get two red light settings: Strobe and Steady, and four white light modes including HI, MED, LO, and Flashing SOS for emergency conditions.

The IXP6 rating ensure the unit is dustproof and durable, and the device is powered by three AAA batteries, all of which are included with your purchase. The Luxuriously Smart Headlamp comes with a Lifetime Guarantee.

Related:  When it comes to the Luxolite, it is a one-of-kind model, but if you’d like something even more affordable with fewer bells and whistles, you can opt for the Energizer Vision LED Headlamp instead; it features a price tag of under $15.00, three light modes, a pivoting light beam, and it is shatterproof as well as water resistant.

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp

Colors: Blue

Weight: 7.2 ounces

Dimensions: 5” x 5” x 3”

Specifications: A single Triple Power light source; LED Lighting; 130 Lumens maximum; Oval-shaped light beam pattern; PowerTap Technology; IPX4 Rating; Setting lock, strobe, dimming, and full strength settings;Water resistance with protection from all angles

Description:  The Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp is $63.93 and the unit has an IPX4 rating because of its water resistant properties delivering protection of the device at every angle.

The unit comes with four different light mode settings, all with an oval pattern including full strength, dimming, strobe, and setting lock: The oval light beam is at 130 lumens so you get sufficient lighting for your nighttime run. A single triple power light source makes for ease of control. The LED lighting promises long hours of use.

Best Uses: Running, Ice Climbing, Hiking, Climbing, Camping, and Backpacking.

Related: As a brand alternative, you can opt for the Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp with the same maximum lumens and Triple lighting functions at a price of $%59.95. The unit is available in as many as five unique colors.

Buying A Run Headlamp Is All About Personalization

Shopping for a headlamp to illuminate your run path at night or in the wee hours of the morning when you are out running and the majority of the world around you still sleeps does not have to be difficult.

Headlamp for running

Sit down before you shop and define how much you are willing to spend along with the features that will serve you the best. Consider the lighting modes, patterns, styles, and features available to you before you buy so that you won’t end up with the wrong product.

Why not share your stories with us in the comments section below? We’d love to hear about any products you’ve tried and enjoyed, whether they’re products from this list or not.

Jerry Mueller
Jerry Mueller

Jerry ‘Boy Scout’ Mueller spends 99% of his time camping or teaching others how to live in the wild. He became an Eagle Scout which is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouting division when he was 17 and after that he still lives the scout life. Jerry always plans neatly every trip, takes leadership very seriously and if you listen to his tips and stories, you can learn tons of useful things.

  • Rachel Mohan

    The Reivalo Explorer is a great headlamp for running. Handily, there are separate buttons for both the white light and the red light which saves having to cycle through each setting to get to the one you need. In terms of wearing the headlamp, it doesn’t bounce around as many other headlamps on the market seem to do (I should know: I’ve tried; hated; and returned a fair few!) I did think the light would illuminate a wider area, however. It’s more of a direct beam, like a spotlight. I’m used to it now though!

  • Jerry Mueller

    More than the quality of light and the lumens, I’m also particular about the band that encircles our heads. What the Reivalo has is a hundred percent rib cotton band – so wearing it is very comfortable. I’ve used on headlamp before that made my forehead itched for days. I must be allergic to the fabric used in the band, so it’s a factor to be considered, as well.

  • Kim Bromley

    I’ve bought a number of cheaper, uncomfortable headlamps in the past and hated wearing them so, for the quality you get, the splurge on the Black Diamond Sprinter was definitely worth it! It has all the features that I felt were lacking in the cheaper model. It’s rechargeable – just plug it in overnight and it’s ready to go in the morning – it’s completely waterproof and it has a red rear light – added safety bonus there. In terms of how it stacks up against other headlamps in simply lighting up your run, it excels and surpasses others that I’ve tried.

  • Jerry Mueller

    Hi Kim! Thanks for dropping by and I’m pleased that you like the Black Diamond Sprinter. It’s one of the crowd favorites and very durable. You’ll find that it’s great value for the money and it won’t let you down even in the most demanding situations.