It’s that time again. Winter is upon us. While you might not need to cover yourself in holiday lights when you go outside for a run, as the days get shorter and daylight is limited, it is a good idea to look into headlamps for running. But how do you know which one suits you?
I have tried a lot of the headlamps that are on the market. Some have a lot of bells and whistles and come at a higher price, but not every runner prefers to have something fancy.
How to Choose Headlamps for Running
Type of Beam
A flood beam, otherwise known as a “wide” beam, is good if you want to be able to see a wider amount of space, but is not good for distance. Alternatively, a spot beam is tight and great for long-distance use. A spot beam is typically best for running.
Consider your running trails and how dark it is when you are running when thinking about the type of beam you want. Remember that the brighter the beam, the more likely your battery life will be shorter.
A lumen refers to the measure of the total amount of visible light emitted by a source. Usually a light with a lot of lumens consumes more energy than a light with a lower lumens number.
This usually means that higher lumen lights are brighter, but sometimes it depends on how the light is focused and directed.
Learning how to use a headlamp for running is essential because it is able to aim light to your target area. Running headlamps are tested to see how far they can project effective light. Unlike lumens, which tell you how brightly a light glows, the beam distance tells you how far the usable light reaches.
If you do a lot of downhill running, it is great to have a beam that can reach a long distance. This way, you can see farther ahead of you before you place your foot on the ground.
The run time of a headlamp is calculated by the amount of time a light will shine two meters ahead of you. Think about how long your runs typically last so you don’t buy a headlamp that will get you stuck before you get home.
A brighter light will last a shorter amount of time than a dim light. However, you have to consider your terrain when choosing what is best for you.
Because your head jiggles while you run, a headlamp that is only on a single headband is likely to slip and move around during your run.
This is not only distracting but also annoying, so look for a headlamp that has two straps, with one going across the back of your head and one going over the top of your head.
This will help to keep your light in place. Try a headlamp on before you buy it, and jog in place so you can be sure it fits correctly. You don’t want to be stuck with a headlamp that requires you to hold it in place or adjust it throughout your run.
When it comes to headlamp controls, it is important to have some that are easy for you to use. This usually means that there are buttons that you can easily locate while you are wearing the headlamp, and preferably buttons you can to use while wearing gloves. It is also ideal to have a protected on/off button so it is not pressed by accident.
Some headlamps have one button to control everything, which is great for users who like to keep it simple. Others have multiple controls, which could be difficult for some users to navigate when their headlamps are on and they cannot see the buttons that they are pressing.
Balance and Weight
While some headlamps have the batteries located in the front with the light, it is better for running to have a headlamp with a separate battery pack that is located in the back. This counterweights the light at the front so the balance is even. Again, try the headlamp on before purchasing.
You don’t want something that will be so heavy that it weighs you down, but you also want to make sure that your headlamp stays in place throughout your run. Try to get the lightest headlamp possible that fits your budget and size.
There are some positives and negatives that go along with having a regulated output. The good thing is, the light does not gradually dim as the battery runs out.
However, when the batteries die, the light may go off suddenly, which presents the possibility that you could be left in the dark. Having a dimming light on an unregulated headlamp allows you to have some warning that your light will soon go out.
Headlamps that use lithium batteries are great for cold-weather usage because lithium batteries last longer than alkaline batteries in cold weather.
Another great battery option to use in cold weather is rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries. However, rechargeable batteries are known to lose power if they sit idle for quite some time, so it is best to keep a backup on hand.
Some runners like to have the option to adjust the light unit up and down. This allows the user to point the beam exactly where they want it.
This is a useful option if you are running up and down a lot of hills. If you tend to run on one steady plane, you may not need to use this option very often.
Most headlamps can handle some exposure to rain, but a few can withstand shallow and short-term immersion in water. It is important to get one that can at least stand up to steady rain.
A lot of headlamps offer a red-light mode that does not cause your pupils to shrink like white light can, making it ideal for nighttime use. Using the red light also helps to save your battery.
How to Use a Running Headlamp
Running with a headlamp can be fun, and can incorporate some variety into your running routine. Headlamps give you a chance to go out for a run in the winter with no dependence on the sun.
Because the light source of a headlamp is near your eyes, it prevents you from seeing shadows. This causes the ground to look flat and even two-dimensional. Because it takes some practice to get used to this, start on easier trails until you can get a sense of how the ground appears when it is illuminated by only your headlamp.
It is important to learn how to conserve battery power when you’re using a headlamp. Because headlamps typically have adjustable brightness, it is best to use the lowest power setting you can so you can keep the battery running for longer.
For example, when you are going uphill, you will likely discover that you can dim the light a bit. Play with the light settings until you find what is best for you.
Alternatively, increase the amount of light output when you are going downhill. This is best because you are going faster and the ground you’re hitting is farther away from you.
Also, take good care of your headlamp and make sure you have enough battery life before you head out. You can even carry a lightweight spare if you are planning to go on a longer run.
Five Best Headlamps for Running (Our Review for 2023)
With these factors in mind, we have rounded up the best headlamps for running for 2023. Consider what works best for you, and think about the features that you are most likely to need. Hopefully, this extensive review will allow you to pinpoint which headlamp will be useful for your runs.
1. Most Affordable: Aennon LED Headlamp Flashlight With Red Lights for Running
This is the most affordable option. It comes with three brightness settings and a red LED light option. It is simple and easy to use with just a simple one-button control, and has an easily adjustable headband to fit securely on any size head. Weighing in at 0.2 ounces, this headlamp will not hold you back during your run.
2. Most Durable: Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight
This lightweight option is waterproof and durable. It comes in a variety of colors to cater to your personal style. It comes with three AAA batteries that result in 45 hours of constant run time. It is cold- and impact-resistant, and comes with a wide range of light modes.
3. Brightest White Light: VITCHELO V800 Headlamp With White and Red LED Lights
This has the brightest white light of all of the headlamps. This could be especially helpful if you are running in a place where there are no streetlights or other external sources of light.
It comes in several different colors to match your style. It is also lightweight, so it will not hold you back during your run or begin to feel heavy halfway through.
This headlamp is bright enough to suit most needs, and its maximum beam is adjustable and not hard on your eyes. The headlamp comes with a convenient red light that can be used for things other than running, and also can flash in an emergency.
It is cost-friendly, reliable, and lightweight. With two different buttons for the red and white lenses, it is easy to transition between the full strength, dimming, and lights of the headlight. This headlamp comes with a sleek and compact design that makes it light and easy to use for trail runners and people who are just going out for a jog.
4. Best overall: Northbound Train Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight and Case for Running
This cost-effective headlamp allows you to be productive while hands-free. It comes with a single white LED, double white LED, and red light LED. This headlamp offers great performance, user comfort, and great value.
It is good for running, hiking, reading, gardening, and even working in a workshop. It comes with a waterproof hard case and a clip to keep it durable and easy to use throughout its lifespan.
This running headlamp has double productivity, while supplying the user with hands-free lighting. Its sturdy hinges easily lock into place to help the light keep a laser focus for the utmost safety. This also helps the user to avoid having light shining in their eyes. The elastic is secure and adjustable, creating a head strap that remains snug and comfortable throughout a long run.
The light’s dimmer has many more settings than other products. It has a high beam LED for spotlight use that ranges up to 30 meters. Its low beam LED is great for a wider beam, and has a visible area of up to 20 meters. Its red headlamp lens is perfect for night hikes. Finally, its strobe light makes sure that you’re seen when you are walking or running in the dark.
5. Best High-End Headlamp: Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp
This is the most expensive option out of our picks for 2023. It has a low-profile design and uses three AAA batteries to emit up to 300 lumens. It comes with a three-level power meter to show the user how much remaining battery life the lamp has.
This headlamp also has the ability to lock so it won’t accidentally come on in your bag and run down its battery. It comes in several colors so you can pick what goes best with your personal style.
In conclusion, the clear winner of this roundup is the Northbound Train Bright LED Headlamp Flashlight and Case for Running. It is cost-effective and sturdy, with several options of lighting intensity to help the user adjust to the amount of light that is needed.
With a long battery life and the ability to save some battery time while using the product, this is a great headlamp for running whether you tend to go on short runs or would rather take the time to stay out for a long one.
Its sturdy make and hands-free ability allow you to go for a run without worrying about battery life or a bobbing headlamp, making this the best option for a running headlamp.
This headlamp allows you to control the amount of light that you need in any situation. Its unlimited dimmer settings allow the user to decide how much light they need and conserve the battery life as needed.
This headlamp allows you to exercise even after the sun goes down. Don’t allow the winter months to have an impact on your physical health. Get a Northbound Train Bright LED Headlamp so you can get out and exercise any time of day.
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