Let’s look at the best tactical headlamp.
Why a tactical headlamp?
Because it gives you bright light, when you need it, in a hands free fashion.
It is a lot more convenient than a flashlight – because you don’t have to hold it.
What’s more, today’s models with LED bulbs are incredibly bright, lightweight, and have great battery life.
There’s more than one way to see in the dark (the other is Night Vision Goggles or thermal vision – but those are very expensive.
Here’s the models we’ll review.
Whether you are working on a car, night trail running, road side repairs, camping, GORUCK challenge events, or on a mission – a head lamp can help make you more efficient.
A headlamp with long battery life should be considered a bug out bag essential.
What should you look for in a headlamp?
We’ll talk about that next.
Features of the Best Tactical Headlamp
The best tactical headlamp will have an LED bulb, not an old school xenon or incandescent bulb.
LED is just better – in just about every way.
For one, they can be very, very bright.
Light intensity (or brightness) is measured in Lumens.
You’ll see some of these models have 150 Lumens of brightness- that is very bright.
Secondly, LED bulbs are TOUGH.
They are drop proof (there’s no filament to snap) and will survive abuse that will quickly destroy an old fashioned incandescent bulb.
They are LIGHTWEIGHT – a very small LED can make a lot of light. And that’s just what we want in a headlamp – you don’t want to load up too much weight on your head and neck – because it’s fatiguing and uncomfortable.
Lastly, they are very power efficient – combine an LED bulb with a rechargeable lithium battery and you’ll have lots of light for a long time. Run times of 40 hours or more are not uncommon.
Secondly, look for a Lithium or Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery.
Why? Because just like the LED bulb – Lithium and Li-Ion is the battery technology of the future.
It’s light-weight, stores a lot of power, and can be rechargeable.
Also – these batteries have great shelf life – they’ll stay charged a long time – even when not in use.
There’s no point in having a headlamp in your emergency bag – only to find out the batteries are dead or too weak.
There’s some other features that are bonus: green and blue night vision modes, super dim “firefly” modes for total night vision preservation, or tilting mounts so you can fine tune where the light shines rapidly and easily.
Also – consider the conditions you will use this in. For GORUCK challenge events, hiking, camping, and tactical use we’d recommend water resistant to water proof models.
That way the lamp will survive in a heavy downpour, if you become immersed in water (as could happen in a GORUCK event), or if you accidentally drop the lamp.
Also – if you are using the headlamp in any sort of night time “tactical” or pseudo-tactical situation – get one with a red LED mode.
Dim red light is best for preserving night vision.
Let’s look at some lamps.
Princeton Tec Headlamp Remix Pro MPLS
- Power 150 Lumens
- Lamp 1 Maxbright LED Regulated 3 Ultrabright LEDs
- Burn Time 40 Hours Regulated
- Batteries 1 CR123 Lithium Included
- Weight 66g with Battery
This is our premium headlamp pick.
This model has a bright 150 Lumen LED bulb.
It is lightweight.
It uses CR123 batteries.
These are not rechargeable, but these are easy to get a hold of and you can quickly swap batteries to get a full charge when you need it.
Compare that to a fixed rechargeable battery – where you are “out of action” until the battery charges.
For that reason, our ultimate pick needs to have swappable batteries.
And that’s just what you’ve got here.
It’s waterproof, has dim or bright modes – and will run 40 hours using the lower light setting.
Lastly, this is truly a tactical headlamp – because it is NVG (Night Vision Goggle) adapter plate friendly. That means if you have a helmet with NVG adapter plate you can mount the headlamp in that fashion, rather than via the strap.
That mounting will also work with bump helmets – like the Ops-Core FAST Bump Helmet.
It’s also MOLLE compatible – mount it anywhere you have MOLLE webbing.
And if that’s not enough – it’s got a RED led for night vision also.
Yep, this is our top pick.
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Lumen No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light
- The ultrathin 3D molded housing sits flat on your forehead. That means no bounce, no slip. By integrating our electronics into the fabric, we pack all your lighting into an ultra-thin facing that is designed to fit as seamlessly as a contact lens.
- Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry for any activity and the rechargeable battery means you can leave the alkalines behind.
- Max Output 330 Lumens, Adjustable Front Panel, Red Night Vision Included
- 40 hours of battery on LO, 3.5 Hours on HIGH, Recharge Via Micro USB.
- HeadLamp 330 is made from high-quality moisture-wicking band that keeps your forehead comfortable and dry during activity. Best of all - no abrasion points. The easy-adjust clips also take the guess work out of right-sizing your band.
Here’s another great choice.
There’s no hassle of changing batteries with this model. The batteries are built in.
That’s good and bad – no need to worry about spares – but there will be some downtime while you recharge via the micro-USB connector.
But, other than that, this is a good model
It’s very bright (330 Lumens) and has a red night vision preserving mode also.
It’s also available in a variety of headband colors – but you’ll be wearing this at night – so who will know?
By the way – this is a no bounce model – so it’s great for running and other movements – where having a constantly bouncing light is very annoying.
PETZL – TACTIKKA + Headlamp, 250 lumens, Ultra-Compact Headlamp
- BRILLIANT BEAMS: Comfortable proximity lighting for close-range activities and focused lighting for distance vision when out exploring.
- NEXT LEVEL NIGHT VISION: Choose between the red light to ensure stealth, or white light for your all-night adventure.
- COMFORT IS KEY: Features a comfortable and adjustable headband with a quick-opening buckle for a fast fit.
- DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THE DARK: With its longest burn time at 260 hours, the TACTIKKA + will have you ready for anything the night brings.
- CHARGE IT UP: Every TACTIKKA + includes three standard batteries, and is also compatible with the CORE rechargeable battery (sold separately).
This is a great option if you need to match multicam camo patterns.
Not only that, but this is a bright (250 Lumens), comfortable head lamp.
Choose between red (night vision preserving) or bright, white LED light.
It uses 3 AAA batteries.
These will not give as good life (run time or shelf life) as compared to more advanced (and more expensive!) batteries like the CR123 battery.
Having said all that, this is a solid light. Petzl has been making these devices for many years, for caving and for other activities.
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
- One Quad Power LED and one Double Power white LED emit 350 lumens
- Red, green and blue Single Power LEDs for night vision have dimming and strobe settings and activate without cycling through white mode
- Power Tap Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
- Settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red, green and blue night-vision, and lock mode
- Waterproof and dustproof: Sealed housing withstands immersion up to 1m for 30 minutes
The Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is another great choice.
These provide bright, white light – but also red, green or blue for night vision.
Green light is preferred for some nocturnal activities – such as feral hog hunting.
This model uses AAA batteries.
WOWTAC A2S LED Headlamp LED Headlight
- High-performance CREE XP-L2 LED with smooth reflector produces a defined small focused light pattern, making A2S V2 has a useful spill and flood to optimize your field of vision.
- Features 5 lighting modes with extra hidden SOS: Firefly; Low mode; Mid mode; High mode; Turbo mode and SOS for long range vision & long-lasting use.
- Push button on/off switch sits on right side of headlamp, one-handed adjustment from 0.3 to 1050 lumens. Push button switch also retains memory of light output at any of the low, mid, high modes.
- Weighing only 3.8oz(without battery) with adjustable elastic headband, A2S V2 made with aircraft grade aluminum with waterproof IPX-7, which can be used in all weather condition from all angles.
- Extra Bonus: A2S V2 headlamp can be taken off as a handheld flashlight, with a length of 4.17 inches. 1x USB Rechargeable battery.
Here’s one more option for you.
The WOWTAC A2S LED Headlamp LED Headlight has some options the other’s don’t.
First of all, they claim 1,050 Lumen output mode – which frankly is probably too much.
But, this model has a very robust head strap and you can actually remove the lamp and use it (lose it?) separately as a handheld flashlight.
This package includes a USB Rechargeable 18650 3400 mAh battery.
That’s the best of both worlds – you can swap batteries quickly , or you can recharge with a USB connector!
This unit also has an ultra-dim (but still usable!) “firefly” mode.
Petzl – e+LITE, 50 Lumens, Emergency Headlamp with Carry Case
- Ultra-compact emergency headlamp. 30 lumens.
- Durable & reliable: Features an IPX7 rating (waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes) and can withstand extreme temperatures (-22°F to 140°F)
- Fits in your kit: Weighs just 26g, making it a small yet valuable addition to your emergency kit, backpack, or vest; Locking on/off switch prevents it from turning on during storage
- Powerful light: White light modes allow you to easily navigate dark situations; A powerful red LED allows you to be seen from 100 m away; Runs for up to 95 hours
- 10-year guarantee: We test our products beyond the required standards to ensure they’re ready for adventure; e+LITE is backed by a 10-year guarantee against any defects in material or manufacture
Want a super-lightweight option?
The Petzl – e+LITE is the model for you.
It’s only 50 Lumens – but that’s still pretty bright. More than bright enough for many things.
The selling point of this model is just how small and streamlined it is.
This is hands-down the lightest model here.
So, if weight matters – even at the expense of brightness – this is the one you want.
It also has a safety whistle built-in to the back of the headband.
Headlamp for a Helmet?
If you’ve got to wear a ballistic helmet – that’s the perfect place to mount a light.
The Princeton Charge Pro Task Light (Buy on Amazon) is meant for just that purpose.
First of all, this Charge Pro takes CR123 batteries, and has a flexible neck so you can adjust the light’s direction for pinpoint accuracy.
This is a great feature that everyone loves, even if it looks a big odd.
There’s a high powered LED for distance, and less bright LEDs for close-up use – including red, green, blue, and IR.
This will mount on the rails on most ballistic helmets.
Here’s an example of the Team Wendy EXFIL helmet – you can see the rails on the side.
You’d have to add rails to an ACH/ECH helmet to use this light, but it could be done.
Lastly, you can also mount this light anywhere you have MOLLE too.
Best Tactical Headlamp – In Summary
For hands-free work in the dark – the headlamp is king.
A good quality headlamp should be considered an essential for your survival gear, bug out bag, get home bag, and more.
The latest models use advanced LED bulbs and Lithium Ion battery technology – and are better than ever.
You may also be interested in a tactical flashlight – which is a better option for when you need to see long distances.
Last update on 2023-05-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Nitecore is my second headlamp after the primary one I bought that does not hold its charge. It lasted over 2 years for my daily runs in the dark. Super light, wasn’t too tight, and great shots within the woods. one is simply as light and appears identical. it is a non-serviceable battery (I took it apart to work out if I could replace the battery, see pictures). However, thanks to the burden, brightness, and sturdiness, this can be not an issue.
I really like your article. It showed all of the information on tactical headlamp and this was useful for me to choose a new one to replace my old headlamp. Thanks so much for sharing!