Best Running Headlamps Compared And Reviewed 2021

Last updated: November 4, 2021

Running Apparel / Best Running Headlamps Compared And Reviewed 2021

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Having lighting when you’re doing a trail run, especially if its in the dark is going to be very important.

The right running headlamp will help you see if there’s any rocks or debris on the floor or vines and roots that you may trip on whilst you’re doing a trail run and it’s already dark. This isn’t uncommon, most people participating in Ultramarathons for example, will almost certainly be faced with night time conditions at some point in their race.

The right running headlamp needs to have good brightness, sufficient battery life for your run and shouldn’t be overly complicated to change the batteries when you do need to replace them. We’ve compared some of the best running headlamps used by other runners for night time trail runs or in general, night time running. Check it out below.

Best Running Headlamps Compared And Reviewed

Best Value
Black Diamond Sprint 225
Black Diamond Sprint 225
Water Resistant
Knog Quokka Run
Knog Quokka Run
Best Brightness
Black Diamond Icon
Black Diamond Icon
Trail Ready
Silva Trail Runner Free 
Silva Trail Runner Free 
Best Stability
Black Diamond Sprinter 275
Black Diamond Sprinter 275

1. Black Diamond Sprint 225

Key Features

  • Weight: 51 g
  • Lumens: 225 
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Battery: High setting: 2 hours and low setting: 20 hours

Reasons to buy

  • Not as heavy as other headlamps 
  • Sensory adjustment of brightness 
  • Sleek design

Reasons to avoid

  • High setting loses power pretty quickly

Black Diamond has a solid reputation when it comes to adventure sports supplies and equipment. They produce quality products for sports such as climbing, skiing, and watersports. Therefore, it is exhilarating to see them venture into the field of running headlamps. The Sprint 225 doesn’t disappoint with its sleek and compact design that offers excellent features and a comfortable and reliable fit. 

Although the headband might appear to be slim, it does a phenomenal job at keeping the light steady and preventing a bounce effect as you run. In addition, the skinny headband is very easy to adjust, and the light makes it very easy for runners to adjust the brightness of the lamp as they run. The runner doesn’t need to push any buttons but rather simply swipe past the sensors found on the light. These sensors are sensitive enough to pick up movement even when the runner wears gloves or has sweaty hands. 

The Sprint 225 offers an impressive battery life with at least two hours of high lighting. In addition, the lamp has a power-saving feature if you are running in partially lit areas. Most runners find that the medium setting on the Sprint 225 is more than enough to make them feel safe and secure on their runs. We found that medium intensity is plenty bright for both trail and road running, and it remained steady for the next three hours. But just know you won’t get a full 225 lumens for more than a few minutes at a time.

2. Knog Quokka Run

Key Features

  • Weight: 48 g 
  • Lumens: 100 
  • Rechargeable battery 
  • Battery: high setting: 2,5 hours and low setting: 25 hours

Reasons to buy

  • Great value for money 
  • Red LEDs provide great safety features

Reasons to avoid

  • 100 lumens can’t produce bright light

Knog impresses in a big way with a very affordable headlamp that does a pretty decent job of keeping the area around the runner well-lit. In fact, this headlamp has a fun feature that isn’t available in other brands. When the runner has turned on the lamp, it illuminates itself with LEDs that shine bright red. The runner appears to be wearing a halo which is a great way for the runner to be visible when on the darkest of nights. Although this is a great feature, runners have the choice of switching it off. 

The Quokka gives runners a remarkable variety of choices between low, medium, high, flash, floodlight, or a combo of floodlight and flash. This makes it hard to believe that the price of this headlamp is so low. 

With only 100 lumens, the headlamp can’t provide runners with very bright light, even on its highest setting. However, it is a great option that won’t break the bank for city runners who just want some additional lighting on their nightly runs.

3. Black Diamond Icon

Key Features

  • Weight: 232 g 
  • Lumens: 500 
  • Single-use batteries: AAs 
  • Battery: High setting: 70 hours and low settings: 175 hours

Reasons to buy

  • Exceptional battery life 
  • Single-use batteries: AAs 
  • Best for ultra runners

Reasons to avoid

  • Doesn’t offer consistent max brightness 
  • Pretty heavy

Ultrarunners who are searching for a headlamp that can keep up with their long-distance demands need to look no further than the Icon. However, since this headlamp has been designed for extended runs, it isn’t rechargeable. So instead, the headlamp uses AA batteries so that you never have to end your run because you need to charge your battery. 

The headlamp is second to none in battery life with at least 70 hours of light on a high setting and a phenomenal 175 hours on low, and of course, when these hours have run out, just replace your AAs. In addition to its remarkable battery life, the Icon gives runners an amazingly comfortable fit with no bounce effect. The headlamp has been wonderfully designed to feature the battery pack on the back of the runner’s head. This results in a very balanced fit. 

The Icon is so outstanding that it has been named the runners’ headlamp of choice by ultrarunner Pat Heine. He believes it is the best headlamp for runners on the market because it keeps his 100 mile runs lit without becoming uncomfortable.

4. Silva Trail Runner Free 

Key Features

  • Weight: 112 g 
  • Lumens: 400 
  • Hybrid battery: 2,5 hours on max settings 
  • Single-use AAA batteries: 25 hours on high settings

Reasons to buy

  • Hybrid battery pack is slim and lightweight 
  • Max power stays consistent

Reasons to avoid

  • Hybrid battery drains fast

Silva has made a significant impact in the running world with its ultra running headlamps. The Runner Free has introduced a slimmer and lighter headlamp that is more suitable for everyday runners. Since the Free is lightweight and comfortable, it is a great headband for road runs and short trails.  

Similar to the Icon, the battery pack is found on the back of the headband and offers a well-balanced fit. However, runners can store the battery pack inside their running jacket if they prefer since a long cable has been included. There are only three settings on the lamp when it comes to brightness. Unfortunately, there is no way to choose between beams and floods, but the headlamp provides runners with sufficient lighting. 

The hybrid battery gives runners 2,5 hours of high setting running. The ordinary model uses single-use batteries, AAA, and a runner can enjoy 25 hours of max brightness. In addition, runners who have the ordinary version can invest in a larger battery pack that can hold more batteries and extend the battery life even more.

5. Black Diamond Sprinter 275

Key Features

  • Weight: 119 g 
  • Lumens: 275 
  • Hybrid battery: 4 hours on high setting 
  • Single-use battery: 5 hours on max setting

Reasons to buy

  • Great design 
  • No bounce effect 
  • Remarkable placing of battery and lamp

Reasons to avoid

  • Cable can be irritating on long runs

The Sprinter 275 gives runners all the wonderful features that they love about the Icon, but in a more suitable package for the everyday runner. It has the same stabilizing strap design with the battery mounted at the back of the head. This means the runner enjoys zero bounce effect and a comfortable fit. 

A great feature of the Sprinter 275 is the fact that the runner can choose to use a rechargeable battery or use single-use batteries, which will be three AAA batteries. In addition, with 275 lumens, the headlamp gives sufficient lighting for every kind of terrain and weather. 

An outstanding feature on the Sprinter 275 that isn’t found in other headlamps is a memory feature that recalls the setting of your previous run. Therefore there isn’t any need to set the lamp again when you go for your next run.

6. Silva Trail Speed 4XT

Key Features

  • Weight: 268 g 
  • Lumens: 1,200
  • Rechargeable battery: 2 hours on high settings and 20 hours on low settings

Reasons to buy

  • Incredible brightness

Reasons to avoid

  • Heavy headlamp 
  • Very high price

The Trail Speed 4XT provides runners with bright lighting that can compete with the low beams of most cars because of the 1,200 lumens that the headlamp features. Although most runners will never need this much light, it is an awe-inspiring feature that sets it apart from its competition. 

The downside of having max brightness that only 1,200 lumens can provide is that the battery life is pretty short. If the headlamp is on its max setting, you’ll be lucky to get two hours of intensive lighting. In addition, the 4XT is one of the most expensive headlamps on the market today. 

Although the 4XT does a phenomenal job at keeping the battery pack and light balanced, the heavy battery pack can be uncomfortable. Therefore, if you are simply looking for a lightweight headlamp for your neighborhood runs, this is probably not the headlamp for you.

7. Princeton Tec Byte

Key Features

  • Weight: 60 g 
  • Lumens: 100 
  • Single-use batteries, AAA: 3 hours on high settings and 80 hours on low settings.

Reasons to buy

  • Small headlamp 
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

Reasons to avoid

  • 100 lumens create dim lighting

Although several headlamps offer better lighting than the Tec Byte, few can compete regarding pricing. This headlamp is exceptionally affordable and gives runners great value for money. However, since it is a budget headlamp, there are features that you would expect from a low-end headlamp. 

The first and most important is the level of brightness. The Tec Byte only features 100 lumens, so it is acceptable for city runs where the area is already partially lit, but it isn’t the headlamp you want if you are heading out on a trail on a starless night. 

The headlamp offers two settings, neither of which are very bright. Therefore, it is a good choice if you don’t plan to run in very dark areas. So if you are going out for a lovely evening run in your local neighborhood, this headlamp is an affordable gem. 

Runners who travel frequently enjoy this headlamp since they can keep it in their run bags just in case they want to have a sunset run in a new environment. Another attractive feature is the fact that it takes AAA batteries, so you know it is always ready to give you light.

8. BioLite Headlamp 330

Key Features

  • Weight: 69 g 
  • Lumens: 330 
  • Rechargeable battery with 3,5 hours on high settings and 40 on low settings.

Reasons to buy

  • Comfortable headband made of soft material 
  • Lightweight

Reasons to avoid

  • The light angle is tricky to adjust

BioLite has made a good name for itself by producing excellent quality camping gear, including lighting products and solar equipment for camping. So it seems natural for them to add a superb running headlamp to their collection of beautiful products. The headlamp has been well-received because of its affordability and lightweight. 

The battery pack and light are separated with the light in front and the battery in the back of the headband. As a result, the light and the battery pack are lightweight and cause zero bounce effect. The downside of this is the placement of the light angle setting. It can be hard to adjust the light angle while running. 

The headlamp offers decent lighting with 330 lumens. All aspects considered, this is an excellent versatile headlamp that is suitable for everyday runners.

How to Choose the Best Running Headlamp For You

Having sufficient lighting when running can decrease your risk of injury significantly. Therefore, night runners need to invest in a good quality headlamp. Since night running has become very popular over the last decade, runners have a great variety of headlamps to choose from. 

Knowing what to look for when selecting the perfect headlamp will help determine which one is best suited. Here are a few tips on what to look for when you are searching for your next or first headlamp:

Brightness 

Of course, when you are out running, you don’t need light equivalent to the sun’s brightness, but you should at least be able to see your surroundings. Looking at headlamps that offer no less than 200 lumens when on their highest settings is a great place to start. 

If you plan to run on starless nights or trails, it is advised that you consider a headlamp with at least 300 lumens and higher. However, if you run in the city and are looking for a headlamp that is versatile and suitable in various dimly lit situations, a headlamp with settings of high, medium, and low should suffice nicely.

A nice feature that some of the high-end headlamps have is automatically adjusting their brightness settings. 

Battery life 

No one wants their headlamp to run out of power mid-run. Therefore, battery life matters. However, you don’t want your headlamp to have a massive, heavy battery. A headlamp with a bulky, heavy battery can lead to an irritating bounce on every step. You’ll need to weigh up how much battery life you want and how much weight you can comfortably enjoy. 

Battery: single-use or rechargeable 

Although most brands of headlights now feature rechargeable batteries, there is a downside to these headlamps. For example, suppose you are ready to hit the road after your warm-up. However, the minute you grab your rechargeable headlamp, you realize you forgot to charge it. 

As a result, you will now need to wait at least an hour for the rechargeable battery to charge enough to give you sufficient lighting for your run. If this sounds like something that will happen to you frequently, you might want to consider getting a headlamp that uses AAA or AA batteries instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there different kinds of headlamps? 

Yes, there are different kinds of headlamps based on the methods of lighting that they provide. There are headlamps with one lamp that can put out a consistent beam. These tend to be the cheapest headlamps. If you move more towards the high-end range, you will find models with a flood and a spotlight. 

The combination of these lamps gives runners incredible brightness. These headlamps are perfect for runners who enjoy night trail runs. Lastly, some headlamps feature only floodlights. These headlamps can spray light to your front and on the sides, and so they offer excellent peripheral vision.

Are headlamps with battery packs at the back of the head better? 

Several headlamps carry the battery pack on the back that is exceptionally well-balanced and comfortable. However, it won’t be fair to say that they are always a better fit. The best way to tell if a headband is a comfortable and good fit, is to try it on before buying it. Have a quick jog around to test the bounce effect of the headlamp. 

Do I need a running headlamp? 

If you plan to run at night and you worry about brightness, it is necessary to invest in a running headlamp. By running in areas that aren’t well-lit, you take the unnecessary risk of getting hurt. In addition, a headlamp also makes you more visible to drivers. Since bounce effect isn’t desired when you are running, getting a running headlamp is most definitely worth it because it is specifically designed for the runner’s comfort.

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