#10 Best Headlamps for Trail Running 2023
Running outside can be hard to plan for, especially if you run before dawn or after work when there isn't much light. But putting in miles in the dark can be a lot of fun if you have a good headlamp. See below for a quick summary of some of the best headlamps for trail running that we tested.
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Even if you only run trails occasionally, there's a good chance you've run in less-than-ideal lighting. The best headlamps for trail running make a big difference, whether you run before sunrise or after sunset or want to get the most out of when and where you run. Running in low light can make you feel sick and hurt your eyes. It can also give you a headache.
So you want a comfortable running headlamp with a long battery life that doesn't move around when you move and gives you enough light. We've gone through all the options and developed a list of the top 10 headlamps for trail running. Some models are a bit pricey, but the safety, peace of mind, and flexibility they offer are well worth it. Happy trails!
Table of contents
1.Petzl ACTIK CORE Headlamp: Best Reflective Washable Headband
2.Energizer Vision LED Rechargeable Headlamp: Best Budget Friendly
3.Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output: Best Lightweight Headlamp
4.Petzl NAO + Programmable Headlamp: Best for Technical Trail Running
5.BioLite HeadLamp 330 Lumen Head Light: Best Super-soft Headband
6.Knuckle Lights Running Lights: Best Sleeker Design
7.Black Diamond Equipment Icon 700 Headlamp: Best for Ultrarunners
8.Princeton Tec Byte LED Headlamp : Best Tiny and Simple Headlamp
9.BioLite HeadLamp 750 Lumen Head Light: Best Low-profile
10.Silva Trail Runner Free Hybrid Headlamp: Best Water Resistance
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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What are the features of the best headlamps for trail running?
- Be comfortable to wear on the forehead for extended amounts of time.
- Have a long battery life and, if possible, be able to be charged.
- Have good light quality, like LEDs, good brightness in terms of lumens, and options for light spread.
- Be as lightweight as possible and ensure your head is balanced from front to back.
- Adjustable light distance and brightness settings
- Be durable if you plan to spend a lot of time on the trails and use your headlamp to run in the rain.
What type of light is suitable for trail running?
You’ll save money if you buy a light with a single consistent-beam lamp. But more advanced options have both a spotlight and a flood light, so you can either use one by itself or both together to get the most light. You’ll find the spotlight is great for shining light farther down the road or brightly lighting the path right in front of you. On the other hand, a floodlight spreads out the light, spraying it to the sides to help you see better.
How bright is the headlamp for trail running?
Running on a wide road under a full moon is very different from running on a single-track trail when there are a lot of trees around. Each requires a different kind of light. In general, look for a headlamp with a high setting that can put at least 200 lumens.
Lumens measure how bright or strong the light is. Lamps with 300 lumens or more are better for trails and nights without stars. Look for a morning with more than just low, medium, and high settings if you want a single light that can be used in different situations. Some lamps can automatically adjust to the amount of light in the room, while others need to be changed by hand.
How to choose the right battery to use in the best headlamps for trail running?
Most of the time, more battery life means more weight. Batteries with more power must, of course, be more significant. That’s not a problem for some things, but extra weight and bulk can make you bounce when you’re running. Some models pack the batteries into the lamp on your forehead.
In contrast, separate the two parts for others with very long burn times and put the batteries on the back of your head strap. The first one will do if you want to walk around your neighborhood on a budget. But if you’re training for an ultramarathon that will keep you up all night, get the bigger battery.
ACTIK CORE Headlamp
|#1||Amazon Petzl.com eBay|
Vision LED Rechargeable Headlamp
|#2||Amazon Energizer.com eBay|
NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output
|#3||Amazon Nitecorestore.com eBay|
NAO + Programmable Headlamp
|#4||Amazon Petzl.com eBay|
HeadLamp 330 Lumen Head Light
|#5||Amazon Bioliteenergy.com eBay|
|#6||Amazon Knucklelights.com eBay|
Black Diamond Equipment
Icon 700 Headlamp
|#7||Amazon Blackdiamondequipment.com eBay|
Byte LED Headlamp
|#8||Amazon Princetontec.com eBay|
HeadLamp 750 Lumen Head Light
|#9||Amazon Bioliteenergy.com eBay|
Trail Runner Free Hybrid Headlamp
|#10||Amazon Silva-usa.com eBay|
10 List of Best Headlamps for Trail Running
- Have a problem
with this product?#1
Petzl ACTIK CORE Headlamp
Best Reflective Washable Headband1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
This trail running headlamp is excellent because it can be powered by either three AAA batteries or a rechargeable “Core” battery pack with the lamp. You don’t need any special adapters. Petzl has a floodlight, a spot beam, and a red light that lets you see in the dark without blinding yourself or the people you are running with. Also, the band has reflective parts in all directions, and one buckle has a whistle built in.
Pros (reasons to buy)It runs on AAA or rechargeable battery
Reflective, washable headband
Easy to use
Better than average performance across the board
Cons (reasons to avoid)The brightest setting drains the battery quickly
What other experts likedThis light is easy to use and has both high and low settings, as well as a red strobe.Paramount Freedom
What other experts didn't likeBesides price, the battery life in high mode is also the biggest problem. In our tests, the battery only lasted 1.9 hours in high mode, which was disappointing and well below average.
- Have a problem
with this product?#2
Energizer Vision LED Rechargeable Headlamp
Best Budget Friendly1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
The company says the Energizer Vision Ultra HD is fabulous because it puts out 400 lumens. The spotlight was bright enough to light up a long stretch of road. You could switch it to flood mode to get a wider spread of light closer to your feet when you want to see where you’re stepping. This trail running headlamp also has red and green LEDs that help you see in the dark.
Pros (reasons to buy)Excellent value
Easy to use
Good flood lighting
Variety of light modes and colors
Cons (reasons to avoid)No low battery indicator
What other experts likedGreat Product, especially if you work outside at night. It can help you do your job better.Headlight
What other experts didn't likeThe Energizer's score for close proximity is in the middle of the pack because its beam is even, but not very wide.
- Have a problem
with this product?#3
Nitecore NU25 360 Lumen Triple Output
Best Lightweight Headlamp1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
The Nitecore NU25 is low-profile and very light, and it has many features that are on par with the best trail running headlamp. It weighs less than two ounces, for starters. The leading light has four brightness levels and an “SOS” mode. There are two more lights on the headlamp: a natural white light that makes it easy to see colors in the dark and a red auxiliary light with three settings, including a strobe.
Pros (reasons to buy)The ease of size adjustment
The many lighting options
Lightweight and comfort
Great battery life
Cons (reasons to avoid)Made of plastic
What other experts likedNice little headlamp. It's also small and light, but strong and bright.WILL
What other experts didn't likeEven on the highest setting, the light isn't very bright, and the buttons are too small to use with gloves on.Devin
- Have a problem
with this product?#4
Petzl NAO + Programmable Headlamp
Best for Technical Trail Running1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
The Petzl Nao+ can give off up to 750 lumens and send a light beam as far as 459 feet. “High” gives off 750 lumens, while “low” gives off 120 lumens. The Nao+ is one of the best headlamps for trail running because it can be used in different ways. It also comes with a helpful app. Petzl Light lets you check the battery life, change and save settings, like how long you want the headlamp to stay on, and more. Then, it adjusts the brightness to keep power and fit that time frame.
Pros (reasons to buy)Excellent optics for trail finding and proximity
Charge off any USB plug
Cons (reasons to avoid)Poor battery life
Reactive lighting can be as annoying as useful
What other experts likedThis very bright headlamp is bright enough for any activity, and it has 3 straps to keep it in place.Head Lamps 101
What other experts didn't likeThe NAO+ has a short battery life, the lights can be annoying, and it's just too expensive.
- Have a problem
with this product?#5
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Lumen Head Light
Best Super-soft Headband1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
BioLite’s camping gear, like its cookstoves and fire pits, is better known. It also makes solar and camp lighting, so a headlamp was a natural addition that runners would love. The battery pack is distinct from the light on the headband’s back. Both parts are fragile and light, so no matter how fast you run, there won’t be any bouncing. At its brightest, the unit puts out 330 lumens. It was made of a performance Lycra that doesn’t rub or irritate.
Pros (reasons to buy)Super-soft headband
Cons (reasons to avoid)Hard to adjust the light angle
What other experts likedBioLite HeadLamp 330's sweatband wicks perspiration. This keeps your face dry and makes the headlight more comfortable.Trail and Kale
What other experts didn't likeLight settings are tricky. I have to constantly pushing the button to alter the brightness or between white and red lights.The Trek
- Have a problem
with this product?#6
Knuckle Lights Running Lights
Best Sleeker Design1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
The Knuckle Lights are worn on your knuckles and have a strap that can be tightened to fit hands of different sizes. Each light has 140 lumens, which may not sound like much compared to some of the other models, but you get two lamps and can point the beam wherever you want. The lights have three brightness levels: bright, soft, and strobe.
Pros (reasons to buy)Less Slippage With Grip
Cons (reasons to avoid)The on/off switch is slightly awkward
What other experts likedThe USB dock that comes with these Knuckle Lights is my favorite part. I rarely have batteries on hand, and because I care about the environment, I prefer devices that can be charged.Laura Norris Running
What other experts didn't likeThe strap's buttons are hard to button, and the on/off switch is a little hard to use.Anns Running Commentary
- Have a problem
with this product?#7
Black Diamond Equipment Icon 700 Headlamp
Best for Ultrarunners1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
When you’re on dawn patrol, there aren’t many things that can throw you off as quickly as reaching for your headlamp and finding that its rechargeable battery is dead. So black Diamond Equipment puts the battery pack on the back of the head strap so that the weight is more evenly distributed. It makes the bag more comfortable to wear. But if you’re the type to run in a Polar Vortex, you can use the included extension cable to move the battery pack inside your jacket.
Pros (reasons to buy)Crazy battery life
It uses AA batteries; great for ultrarunners
Cons (reasons to avoid)Max brightness drops quickly
Heavier than most lamps
What other experts likedThe Black Diamond Icon has the longest beam distance and longest battery life in our trail-finding test. The Icon's beam is brilliant, broad, and evenly lit.Out Door Gear Lab
What other experts didn't likeAll of the features are great, but there is definitely a learning curve to getting the most out of this headlamp.Adventure Rig
- Have a problem
with this product?#8
Princeton Tec Byte LED Headlamp
Best Tiny and Simple Headlamp1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
This trail running headlamp is great for backpacking trips because of its small size and multiple light modes. You don’t need a lot of light almost all the time, just one that works well at night in and around a tent. Princeton Tec’s Axis model has more than twice as many lumens and a micro USB cable for charging. The beam can be switched between its four modes by pressing the single, large button on the side, and the brightness can be changed by turning the dial around the button.
Pros (reasons to buy)Small and lightweight
Cons (reasons to avoid)LED is fairly dim
Sub-par battery life
What other experts likedIt's really comfy! I removed the Byte as the sun rose on that lengthy journey. After two hours, it didn't cause me a headache or any problems.Backpackers
What other experts didn't likeThis light is very simple, but it doesn't have many features and isn't bright enough for a technical trail.Gear Institute
- Have a problem
with this product?#9
BioLite HeadLamp 750 Lumen Head Light
Best Low-profile1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
BioLite is a relatively new brand of headlamps. The company is best known for making high-quality camp stoves, but its high-performance headlamps have stirred up a lot of attention in the past few years. So you’ll immediately notice one of the Headlamp 750s most unique features. Instead of clipping or threading on, the light is built right into the fabric band. That means they won’t slip or bounce while you run, and the flat shape makes them very comfy to wear for long periods.
Pros (reasons to buy)Lowest-profile
Cons (reasons to avoid)It’s only water-resistant
What other experts likedThis headlamp's pass-through charging lets it run for hours longer, or even days if your power bank is big enough.Trail and Kale
What other experts didn't likeThis headlamp has hard-to-use buttons, and 750 lumens can only be used in short bursts.Tri Athlete
- Have a problem
with this product?#10
Silva Trail Runner Free Hybrid Headlamp
Best Water Resistance1 experts agree 1 experts disagreeWHY WE LIKE IT:
Silva’s ultra running trail running headlamp is built like a tank. This model, which is lighter and thinner, is suitable for short trails and road runs. The battery pack is a narrow hybrid unit attached to the headband’s back. Instead of coiling cables through clips, the power goes through the headband itself. It’s a cool feature that makes using the lamp even easier. But a more extended, cloth-wrapped cable is included if you need to put the battery pack inside a jacket on a cold day.
Pros (reasons to buy)Slim, versatile battery pack
Stays on max power, if desired
Cons (reasons to avoid)Max power drains the battery quickly
What other experts likedDifferent battery choices, free technology, comfort, flexibility, and 400 lumens make the Trail Runner Free a winner. All this is in a running-specific light.Iancorless
What other experts didn't likeThis lamp doesn't have any color modes for night vision, and the extension cord could be a bit longer to reach more places.Advnture
Conclusion: Best Headlamps for Trail Running
These headlamps are good options if you’re looking into trail running. They’re perfect for trail running if they have a red light setting. After reading our recommendation on the list, we hope you can find the best trail running headlamps that fit your needs!