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Best Tactical Headlamp: Definitive Guide 2022

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Let Bug Out Bill Help You Choose The Best Tactical Headlamps to Light Up Your Way.

In every activity, light is important to see what we’re doing. It’s also preferable to use two hands than using only one. For these, tactical headlamps are created.

But there are many products offered on the market.

Don’t worry! We gathered and tested the available ones. Then, we narrowed them down to ten creams of the crop.

In this review, you’ll see:

    • The best tactical headlamps on the market;
    • The pros and cons of each product;
    • Their unique features;
    • What works for you;
    • And lots more!

Ready to be enlightened?

Let’s shed light on each of them now…

Introduction

At night, whether you’re running, camping, hiking, fixing the plumbing or a car, reading, or knitting, it’s important to have a good source of light.

Now, you might think of flashlights or smartphone lights. While they’re useful, you’ll have to do activities with one hand only as the other holds the flashlight or smartphone. 

That’s where tactical headlamps enter.

Tactical headlamps offer not only brighter lights, more beam options, and more useful features, but best of all, they let you do more with both of your hands available.

What more can you want? 

Read on to see how each headlamp worked for us and what might work for you.

Table Of Contents

Table of Contents

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1 - Best Tactical Headlamp For Camping - Editor’s Choice Award

Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp

Editors Choice - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

10

Water Resistance

7

Durablity

10

Runtime

10

Light Intensity

10

Overall Score
94

Bottom Line: A high-quality headlamp that offers the best for you.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

Out of all the headlamps we tested, the Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp is what stood out of all of them. We loved it so much it’s our Editor’s Choice!

This headlamp has a 200-lumen brightness and a wide beam that gave us adequate light for the area we camped in. It’s so convenient that you can adjust the lamp’s direction.

We love how it’s lightweight, weighing only 2.82 ounces. 

It has three brightness levels, and we’re pleased to share that they proved to be useful on any kind of terrain we walked through.

We experienced using it on a cloudy, moonless night, but we didn’t feel like it because of how bright it was.

The red light mode preserves night vision, and it was also bright enough to aid us as we finish activities with it. And believe it or not, but it could be seen from far away! 

Great, right?

The button to turn the headlamp on and off allows you to switch through the modes. It remembers the last setting, so it uses the last setting when it’s turned on again.

What’s more…

This headlamp has a phosphorescent reflector – it helps when we’re in pitch-black darkness and need to find it!

And then, on its easily adjustable fabric band, there’s an integrated whistle – handy for emergencies!

Do note that Petzl Tikka Compact Headlamp uses three AAA batteries.

All in all…

Our Editor’s Choice is affordable, lightweight, easy-to-use, and performs well and above others.

2 - Best Budget Tactical Headlamp - Best Value Award

Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight

Best Value - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

10

Water Resistance

7

Durablity

10

Runtime

8

Light Intensity

10

Overall Score
90

Bottom Line: The cheapest tactical headlamp that performs well.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

Not because something is cheap means it won’t perform as well as its expensive counterparts. One proof is this headlamp – Foxelli MX20 Headlamp – which received our Best Value Award

It’s tiltable at 45°, so there are three different angles you can choose from, depending on your need.

It features CREE LED technology which means it provides a clear, bright light.

(You can watch a demo of the difference between standard LED and CREE LED here.)

Aside from dimmable lights, it also has a red light and SOS modes option.

It only has a single button, but…

You won’t have to cycle through all the modes when turning it off because it has a built-in timer function that allows you to turn the light off in one press if it is turned on in a specific mode for longer than five seconds.

There’s more…

Powered by three AAA batteries, the Foxelli MX20 Headlamp weighs only 3.2 ounces. Being lightweight and having an elastic band makes it comfortable to wear.

Even when it was knocked around when left lying around, it still worked fine!

The Foxelli MX20 Headlamp is tough, has bright lights, and is affordable! It definitely gives more than what it’s worth, and that’s why it’s our Best Value.

3 - Best Performance Tactical Headlamp - Top Pick Award

NITECORE NU32 550 Lumen LED Rechargeable Headlamp

Top Pick - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

10

Water Resistance

8

Durablity

8

Runtime

10

Light Intensity

10

Overall Score
92

Bottom Line: Excellent tactical headlamp with even flood illumination.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

We chose the NITECORE NU32 550 Lumen LED Rechargeable Headlamp for our Top Pick Award

Here’s why.

It has four brightness modes and uses CREE LED, giving a clear, bright light at 550 lumens.

It also features a high color rendering index (CRI) auxiliary LED for even flood illumination – perfect for doing close-up tasks, like reading or knitting.

There’s a red light as well that helps preserve night vision.

The headlamp has two buttons on top of the unit, each for white and red light modes. 

Moreover…

There’s a charging indicator light on top of the unit beside the power buttons.

Another great thing about it is that it has a lockout mode that makes sure it won’t accidentally activate while it’s in your bag or pocket. No need to worry about draining its battery unknowingly!

Moreover, this baby has a built-in 1800mAh Li-ion battery that is rechargeable via a micro-USB port. So if you don’t like the hassle of changing batteries, we highly recommend grabbing one of these!

The best thing is that…

It can last up to 330 hours at its lowest setting – that’s almost two weeks of no charging!

In addition…

With polycarbonate housing, it has a robust body that ensures its safety even if it falls from the height of one meter.

So, if you want a headlamp that gives the best flood beam, lasts long, and is rechargeable, we suggest our Top Pick.

4 - Best Distance Modes Tactical Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

Value for Money

8

Water Resistance

10

Durablity

8

Runtime

8

Light Intensity

9

Overall Score
86

Bottom Line: A reliable headlamp that could provide you its full power in a single touch.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

The Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp weighs 3 ounces with its three AAA batteries.

We love its multifaceted optical lens design and provides flood and spot beams with dimming, strobe, and red light modes. 

Aside from that…

It has two main buttons – one of them is a dedicated on/off switch while the other is to switch between the lighting modes. There’s also a touch-sensitive button on the side that opens the unit to its full power when touched. 

It took us some time getting used to those three buttons, but we’re fine after memorizing them and their functions.

And…

With its brightness memory, the unit opens to the lighting mode before it is turned off. Good thing when you’re only using one brightness level!

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp’s waterproof rating is IPX-8 which means it can operate up to 1.1 meters deep in the water for up to 30 minutes.

5 - Best Light Coverage Tactical Headlamp

Nitecore HC60 1000 Lumen USB Rechargeable LED Headlamp

Value for Money

8

Water Resistance

9

Durablity

9

Runtime

10

Light Intensity

8

Overall Score
88

Bottom Line: A survival gear that offers multiple bright lights and emergency light options.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

The NITECORE HC60 offers a 1000 lumens maximum output produced by a CREE XM-L2 U2 LED. We’ve got to say; this one is our best light coverage tactical headlamp we’ve taken outside.

Why is that?

Well, it has a 100-degree wide beam and 90-degree vertical rotation. It provides five brightness levels – turbo, high, mid, low, and ultralow. 

In addition to that…

This tactical headlamp also has three special modes for signaling and emergencies: strobe, SOS, and beacon.

Made with durable aero-grade aluminum, NITECORE HC60 is waterproof with a rating of IPX-7 which means it’s submersible to one meter. It operates with a rechargeable 3400mAh Li-ion battery.

6 - Best Tactical Headlamp With Battery Organizer

Fenix Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam USB-C Rechargeable Headlamp

Value for Money

8

Water Resistance

8

Durablity

9

Runtime

9

Light Intensity

10

Overall Score
88

Bottom Line: A good tactical headlamp with high light output.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

If you are the type who prefers headlamps that use batteries, we recommend Fenix HM65R, especially because it comes with a battery organizer

It is powered by a 3500mAh battery that you can recharge via the USB-C port found at the back of the unit.

Another great thing is…

This headlamp features dual beam – spotlight and floodlight, with the spotlight reaching up to 178 yards while the floodlight could reach 60 yards at a wide angle.

The spotlight and floodlight have different switches on top of the unit. You can use them separately or together for an “ultra beam light.”

What’s more…

The headband has a silicon lining and hollow band structure, and reflective detailing visible from over 200 yards that could help your companions track you even in the dark. 

If you have money to spare and want the convenience of having dual beams and a battery organizer, Fenix HM65R is totally worth it!

7 - Best Lightweight Tactical Headlamp

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

Value for Money

9

Water Resistance

9

Durablity

7

Runtime

8

Light Intensity

8

Overall Score
82

Bottom Line: Best lightweight lamp with interchangeable light colors.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

With three AAA batteries, Princeton Tec Quad Headlamp Tactical LED Headlamp weighs only 3.4 ounces. It’s actually our best lightweight tactical lamp!

Here’s what it offers…

It has three interchangeable lens covers.

Do you want the usual red light? This headlamp has it.

Want to use blue light? No problem.

In the mood for a green light? You’ve got it.

The only catch is…

They are to be stored separately. This poses the danger of losing one or all of the lens covers. But there’s a provided clip you can attach to the headband to put one of the lens covers on.

Anyway…

With four ultrabright LEDs, this tactical headlamp has four output modes: high, medium, low, and flashing beacon.

If you’re patient (and extra careful!) and want a lightweight headlamp that offers different light colors, you might want to check this one out.

8 - Best Durable Tactical Headlamp

Fenix HL60R 950 Lumens Rechargeable LED Headlamp

Value for Money

7

Water Resistance

10

Durablity

9

Runtime

8

Light Intensity

9

Overall Score
86

Bottom Line: Best durable tactical gear with high light output.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

The Fenix HL60R is a rechargeable headlamp with a 18650 battery. It uses a CREE XM-L2 T6 Neutral White LED.

This tactical lamp has four brightness levels – turbo, high, mid, and low. 

In turbo mode, it provides light with 950 lumens for 48 minutes. 

But it managed to keep running with us for 100 hours when we used the eco/red light mode!

The single switch on the side of the unit is used to turn it on and off. It’s where you could select the mode you prefer.

To add to that…

Made of durable, high-grade aluminum, the Fenix HL60R has a waterproof rating of IPX-8, which means it could withstand being two meters underwater for 30 minutes.

That’s why it’s the best durable tactical headlamp for us!

9 - Best Ultra Bright Tactical Headlamp

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

Value for Money

9

Water Resistance

9

Durablity

8

Runtime

9

Light Intensity

8

Overall Score
86

Bottom Line: Military headlamp with ultra-bright light LEDs and good for military use.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

The Princeton Tec Quad MPLS LED Headlamp with its four ultrabright LEDs is the best ultra bright tactical headlamp for us.

This headlamp has a max output of 78 lumens. That’s low light output, but it’s because it’s made for military use.

And it has more to offer.

It has interchangeable lens filters if you want to have red, blue, or green lights. You do it by opening the front-mounted hatch. 

Meanwhile…

The sliding lens makes it easy to switch between the white and the colored light modes with a flicking up or down motion.

It has three settings: high, medium, and low. There’s also the flashing mode – which signals others in case of an emergency – that lasts up to 110 hours. 

What’s more…

A three-second timer also turns the headlamp off immediately instead of cycling through the other modes.

Princeton Tec Quad MPLS LED Headlamp uses three AAA batteries. It’s rated IPX-7, which means it’s submersible up to one meter.

10 - Best Multi-Beam Tactical Headlamp

Petzl PIXA 3 pro headlamp

Value for Money

8

Water Resistance

8

Durablity

10

Runtime

7

Light Intensity

8

Overall Score
82

Bottom Line: Tactical headlamp for those who want the consistent light output.

Pros

Cons

SUMMARY:

The PETZL PIXA 3 Multi-beam Headlamp provides a constant light of up to 100 lumens. Having constant lighting technology means that its brightness does not decrease as the battery drains.

It has three beam options: wide beam, spot beam, and mixed beam.

So whether you need it for proximity lighting, movement mode, or long-range vision, this headlamp is ready to meet your needs! 

This tactical headlamp also offers flashing and red light modes.

In addition…

PETZL PIXA 3 Multi-beam Headlamp has an IP67 rating which means it’s waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes.

It also meets HAZLOC certification requirements (Class I Div II and Class II Div II), which means that it safely operates even in areas susceptible to hazardous materials.

Take note, though…

This headlamp is the heaviest among our top products, weighing 5.6 ounces. It can only last up to 12 hours, too.

But if you’ll only need it for, say, running outside, walking your dog, or fixing plumbing, this would be sufficient enough, especially with its constant lighting and multi-beam options.

Why Trust Us

Choosing which product to buy for your needs is challenging. We understand the necessity of careful research. After all, we’re buyers, too!

That’s why we’ve gathered all the available headlamps in the market and tested each one of them.

We used them at night, both indoors and outdoors.

It took a while to narrow down the list to ten, but here we are!

Best Tactical Headlamp - Bugoutbill.com

Like scientists excited to make the world know of their discovery, we’re also thrilled to share with you the results of seemingly endless nights of discussions and tests.

We hope that with this guide, you’ll be able to decide which product will enlighten the path you’ll walk in the future!

Buyer Guide: How To Choose The Best Tactical Headlamp

Best Tactical Headlamp - Bugoutbill.com

1 - Features to look out for:

  • Brightness Mode

Headlamps offer different brightness levels – usually low, mid, and high modes.

The low mode is the standard mode you use when you don’t need much light and when you want to save battery life.

On the other hand, the high mode is the max output of headlamps. It’s the brightest, so the unit’s battery lasts the least when it’s in this mode for a long time.

Furthermore…

There are headlamps when the strobe mode is available. Strobe mode can be used as signal blinkers in case of emergency. 

  • Red Light Mode

A lot of headlamps also offer red light settings. Red light helps preserve night vision. 

It’s also preferred to use when in the presence of other people because red light isn’t as blinding to others as white light settings, which is the standard light mode.

Not only that, but red lights also don’t attract insects and don’t spook animals.

  • Regulated Output

It’s good to make sure whether a headlamp has a regulated or unregulated output.

Having regulated output means the headlamp has a steady brightness level. When the batteries are exhausted, the light could go off abruptly. On the other hand, the headlamp with an unregulated output has its light dimming as batteries deplete. 

  • Water Resistance

People don’t just use headlamps in their home or garage; many bring them camping, hiking, or other extreme activities in different seasons and weather.

That’s why headlamps are tested to see how much water (rain or snow) they could take or how long they could be submerged in water.

  • On/Off Switches

Some headlamps have dedicated on/off switches, while others only have a single button that you push to turn on and off and cycle through different brightness modes.

There are also times when the on/off switch enables you to lock the unit after some long press. You don’t want to switch the unit on and waste battery life accidentally. 

  • Tilt

Being able to adjust the beam where you want it is a useful feature. For example, you could tilt it higher to be able to see what’s ahead or above you better, or you could tilt it down if you’re using the headlamp to read a book in the dark.

2 - These are things to consider:

  • Headlamp Beams

There are two kinds of beams: flood and spot. 

It’s important to consider which type of activities you’ll use the headlamp for to know which kind you’ll get.

A flood beam illuminates a wide area for a shorter distance.

On the other hand…

Spot beam has a narrow and more focused beam which is useful for distance vision.

Other tactical headlamps offer both options.

  • Light Output

Tactical headlamp companies indicate the lumens their products offer. It’s important to think about the purpose you’re buying one to know how many lumens would be perfect for you.

Are you going to use the tactical headlamp whenever you’re fixing something in your car?

Or is it gonna be for when you’re reading a book at night? 

Will it be for when you’re running at dawn or night? Or will you use it when you go out hiking or camping?

With these in mind, it’s necessary to consider the maximum light output.

You wouldn’t want the light to be less bright when you’re out in the woods at night. 

  • Battery Type

Tactical headlamps could either use AA or AAA batteries or a CORE rechargeable battery.

Would you prefer to bring spare batteries or a power bank? Is it a hassle for you to rummage through your stuff to take a detached battery pack for reserve power? Would you prefer to use your power bank solely for your other gadgets?

These are just some questions we could ponder upon to weigh our options.

  • Durability

We all want our tactical headlamps to last long. Headlamps are tested for impact and waterproof rating, and you can choose which is the best tactical headlamp for you based on those.

3 - Jargon buster:

  • Lumens

Lumen is the measure of the amount of light a light source has. The more lumens, the brighter the light; the fewer lumens, the dimmer the light. The “lm” symbol denotes lumens.

  • IPX rating

The IPX rating – or Ingress Protection Rating – is the degree of protection against solid and liquid matter, commonly dust and water. It’s the waterproofness of a device.

Tactical Headlamps Top Tips

  • It will help if your headlamp uses the same type of battery (whether AA or AAA) as your other gadgets to swap among them when the situation calls for it.
  • Utilize the red light – or green or blue lights – since they preserve battery life. 
  • If you don’t have much space to store stuff, make sure you grab the headlamp with a battery life that lasts long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1 - How many lumens are good headlamps?

A - At least a 100-lumen count is good enough for general use.

Q - Which is better, Petzl or Black Diamond?

A - It depends on what you’re looking for. Black Diamond produces headlamps with better waterproofness and night vision modes. Meanwhile, Petzl has more products with rechargeable batteries and an option to switch to AAA batteries if you like.

Q - What is the longest-lasting headlamp?

A - It depends on usage, but if we’re considering durability, the Fenix HL60R is the best durable tactical headlamp.

Our Analysis. Comparisons & Test Results

Best Tactical Headlamp - Bugoutbill.com

Value for Money

We all want to get the most out of the products we buy. For this chart, we determined how much benefit we got from the product while considering their prices.

Value for Money Rating

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

100%

Foxelli Headlamp

100%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

100%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

90%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

90%

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

80%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

80%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

80%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

80%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

70%

Water Resistance

Headlamps are created to be water-resistant because, at times, there is rain, snow, or accidents, causing it to be wet or submerged in water. Here, we ranked them based on their performance after being in such a state.

Water Resistance Rating

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

100%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

100%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

90%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

90%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

90%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

80%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

80%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

80%

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

70%

Foxelli Headlamp

70%

Durability

We sometimes put our headlamps down on the ground, and others accidentally step or trip on them. We want them to be durable!

Durability Rating

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

100%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

100%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

100%

Foxelli Headlamp

90%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

90%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

90%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

80%

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

80%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

80%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

70%

Runtime

We use headlamps at night, in the dark, and we wouldn’t want them suddenly dying on us while we’re in the middle of the wild or a dangerous street. We tested each of them and ranked them based on how long we’re able to use them.

Runtime Rating

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

100%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

100%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

90%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

90%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

90%

Foxelli Headlamp

80%

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

80%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

80%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

80%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

70%

Light Intensity

The main purpose of headlamps is to illuminate our surroundings. Each of them has different light intensity, so we ranked them for you to see how they fare against each other.

Light Intensity Rating

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

100%

Foxelli Headlamp

100%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

100%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

100%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

100%

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

90%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

90%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

80%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

80%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

80%

Our Final Verdict: Best Tactical Headlamp

The road to determining the Best Tactical Headlamp was difficult, but we had fun going outside to observe and analyze their differences. 

Now, please see the overall results yourself.

We hope that this can shed light on your mind, helping you decide which headlamp to get for your next adventure!

Best Tactical Headlamp Rating

PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp

94%

NITECORE NU32 Headlamp

92%

Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

92%

NITECORE HC60 Headlamp

92%

FENIX HL60R 950 Headlamp

90%

Foxelli Headlamp

88%

FENIX Lumen Spot and Flood Dual Beam Headlamp

88%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical MPLS LED Headlamp

86%

Princeton Tec Quad Tactical LED Headlamp

82%

PETZL Pixa 3 Pro Headlamp

82%

Conclusion: Best Tactical Headlamp

Best Tactical Headlamp - Bugoutbill.com

We chose the best headlamps that are light, durable, waterproof, and, of course, bright, just for you!

Our Editor’s Choice is the PETZL Tikka Compact Headlamp with 200 lumens and could last up to 240 hours. It’s also lightweight and has emergency signal modes aside from the white and red lights modes.

We also highly recommend the Foxelli MX20 Headlamp, which has 165 lumens and utilizes CREE LED if you’re on a tight budget. It also has a red light and SOS modes. You can get all those with the Best Value!

On the other hand…

If you’d like a rechargeable one, we suggest our Top Pick – NITECORE NU32 550 Lumen LED Rechargeable Headlamp. It uses CREE LED, too, and has great flood illumination. 

We hope this article enlightened your mind on which headlamp to take on your next night activity. 

Bring a bright light as you create bright memories.

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About Author

Bug Out Bill is an adventurer and survivor through and through. From the time he was just a little boy (Bug Out Willie) running and jumping through the backwoods of the rocky mountains in Colorado, to the man he is today. Backpacking through South America, scaling two 26,000+ ft peaks, sailing across the Mediterranean, surviving a near death 50 foot fall with very little food while waiting 6 days to be rescued in the wilderness, and everything in between. No wonder he wants to Bug Out, hahaha. BO Bill is truly a passionate outdoorsman when it comes to living life to the fullest with no boundaries. The way we were meant to live and survive. He shares that passion here with you in his writing and sharing. We hope you enjoy your stay at the Bug Out Bill website. . Now Bug Out!

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