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Out Door Survival

Best Rechargeable Headlamps Consumer Reports (Hunting, Running, Walking, Fishing)

Hi headtorch lookers, these are the best rechargeable headlamps for hunting, running, walking and fishing at the night 2020 reviews consumer reports. Head torches are becoming more powerful every year. Some models are extremely bright (upto 900 lumens) and can throw a beam 200 metres.

How much power do you actually need, though? From our testing, we think 300 lumens and a beam that goes 75-100 meters is fine for hill walking.

Best Rechargeable Headlamps

Indeed, much of the time even that much brightness isn’t needed. All the head torches reviewed are adequate for walking, at least with fully charged batteries.

Other factors need considering when choosing a headtorch, not just power. Battery life, battery type, ease of use, variable lighting, size and weight are all important.

Battery life depends in part on the type of battery and the weather. Head torch manufacturers, unsurprisingly, give the figures from the longest-lasting battery in warm temperatures.

Lithium batteries usually last longest, followed by alkalines, and then NiMH rechargeable. Built-in rechargeable batteries tend to have long life but have to be recharged from a power bank or the mains.

This can take a long time and is not something to do when out on a walk, except overnight in camp. Being able to change the batteries is an asset. Even better is to have two head torches so you can just swap them over if one fades.

Nevertheless I still carry spare batteries and/or a power bank. Headtorches should be easy to use, these budget and affordable headlamp for working on cars are very handy.

Coming off the hill on a dark night in the rain feeling weary is not the time to try to remember a series of button presses in order to switch from spot to flood or increase or decrease brightness.

Having spot and flood beams does make a difference. The first can be used to light the route far ahead, the second to see what’s around you or light up a tent.

I like low-tech mechanical means of varying between the two; just twisting the lamp housing is easier than remembering button presses.

Best Rechargeable Headlamps

These are top rated rechargeable headlamps, at cheap and affordable price.

  1. Petzl Swift RL Headlamp Review
  2. Black Diamond Spot 325 Review
  3. Alpkit Qark Head Torch Review
  4. Nite Ize Radiant 250 Rechargeable Headlamp Review
  5. Princeton Tec Apex 550 Review
  6. Olight Array Headlamp Review
  7. BioLite 330 Headlamp No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light Review
  8. GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch Hands Free Task Rechargeable Review
  9. Led Lenser MH8 Rechargeable Headlamp Review
  10. Lifesystems Intensity 235 Review

Petzl Swift RL Headlamp Review

  • Power: 10-900 lumens
  • LEDs: 2 white
  • Batteries: 2350 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable
  • Light modes: 3 reactive light, 3 standard light
  • Output distance: 12-150 metres
  • Burn time: 2-100 hours

This is the most powerful headtorch reviewed yet it’s still light and compact. At full brightness it gives out an amazing 900 lumens, which is impressive but not needed for most uses, which is good as the battery only lasts two hours at this power.

However, 900 lumens are only available with reactive lighting (in maximum mode), which means it’s only in use when you point the torch at a distant object.

Much of the time it’s less bright and the battery can last up to 30 hours. There are two other reactive lighting levels. I’ve found the standard 300 lumen one, which is still very bright, fine for walking.

This lasts from five to 40 hours. The minimum 100 lumen level is okay for walking on good paths and gentle terrain but doesn’t light very far ahead. There is also a standard lighting option, again with three lighting levels, from 10 to 550 lumens.

I don’t really see the point of this and would always use reactive lighting. A long button press toggles between the two types. Shorter presses cycle between the lighting levels.

The button can be locked so it can’t be switched on accidentally. The button is a little on the small side and can be slightly awkward to use when wearing gloves.

The beam combines spot and flood, being mostly the latter when shone into the distance in the maximum and standard modes and more of a flood when lighting close items and in minimum mode.

The Swift RL has a powerful 2350 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery. There’s a five-level gauge so you can see how much battery life is left. Charging is via a USB connection on the base of the lamp.

Other batteries can’t be used but you can carry a spare ACCU Swift battery and swap them over. This costs almost half as much as the torch though, best usb rechargeable headlamp.

powerful, quite light, compact, reactive, lighting, battery life indicator, lock.

small button, expensive

Black Diamond Spot 325 Review

  • Power: 6-325 lumens
  • LEDs: 2 white, 1 red
  • Batteries: 3x AAA alkaline, lithium, rechargeable
  • Light modes: variable
  • Output distance: 3-83 metres
  • Burn time: 20-300 hours

The latest version of the Spot rechargeable led headlamp is lighter, brighter and smaller than previous versions. At full power it is very bright. The Spot has three LEDs and two buttons, one of which is tiny and not easy to use with gloves on.

The main switch is quite big and easy to use. Operating the Spot isn’t as simple as with some headtorches but okay once you’ve learnt the sequence of presses.

The torch comes on in whatever setting it was in when you switched if off, which can be useful but also confusing. The main LED is a spot beam. The two much smaller ones are a flood beam and a red beam. One can use this headlamp for construction work as well.

Varying the brightness whatever mode it’s in can be done by holding down the big switch. You can also adjust the brightness of the spot beam by tapping the side of the torch.

The buttons can be locked by holding both down for two seconds. The Spot runs off any AAA batteries. Battery life depends on which type you use (plus temperature of course).

I’ve found there’s no need to have it on full brightness most of the time; but even if you do the batteries still last longer than with most torches.

lightweight, cost, good battery life, lock, battery life indicator, uses any AAA battery, cost

not that simple to use, tiny button

Alpkit Qark Head Torch Review

  • Power: 30-580 lumens
  • LEDs: 1 white, 1 red
  • Batteries: 800mAh rechargeable, 3x AAA
  • Light modes: 3 white, 2 red
  • Output distance: 35-150 metres
  • Burn time: 2.5-18 hours

Alpkit has a reputation for good gear at low prices, and the Qark is no exception. It’s a powerful headtorch that costs less than any of the others reviewed.

I’ve recommended it before and I’m happy to do so again. The Qark has three white light modes (low, medium and high) and two red ones (constant and lash). This is also high quality model and best headlamp for hunting ducks at day and night.

Cycling between them is easy, just requiring single presses of the button. The white lights can be varied from flood to spot by turning a knurled dial on the lamp housing. This works really well and there’s no need to remember any button press sequences.

The low light mode is much brighter than similar modes on other headtorches and it’s fine for walking. That’s good as the battery life is poor, the big weakness of this torch.

Even on this low setting it’s only 18 hours with the rechargeable battery supplied, which isn’t very powerful. AAA batteries can be used instead – I haven’t tested it with these.

They would be useful on long trips because the rechargeable battery takes 2.5 hours to charge. Unlike more expensive headtorches the Qark doesn’t have a battery life indicator or a lock.

variable light, cost

battery life, no battery life indicator, no lock, quite heavy

Nite Ize Radiant 250 Rechargeable Headlamp Review

  • Power: 8-250 lumens
  • LEDs: 4 white, 3 red
  • Batteries: lithium polymer rechargeable
  • Light modes: 2 spot, 2 flood, 1 red
  • Output distance: 8-92 metres
  • Burn time: 4-43 hours

The Radiant 250 isn’t as powerful as most of the other torches reviewed but it is still fine headlamp for walking on the brightest 250 lumens spot setting.

This only has a four-hour battery life though. On the low 47 lumens setting – there are only two light levels – it lasts twelve hours but is barely adequate when walking.

The two flood light levels are only 8 and 40 lumens: not really enough for walking but fine for camp or indoor use. They last 43 and nine hours respectively.

The Radiant 250 has a non-removable rechargeable battery. There’s a simple battery life indicator, which glows green when there’s more than ten minutes’ life left and red when there isn’t (which isn’t very much warning).

There are two buttons: a reasonably sized one for the spot beam and a smaller one for the flood and red lights. There’s no lock, and only a gentle press is needed to turn the torch on.

I have had it switch on in my rucksack. So it needs to be packed carefully. For short trips the Radiant 250 is okay but there are more powerful headtorches with better battery life at a similar weight and cost.

easy to use, flood and spot beams, battery life indicator

no lock, battery life not that good, can’t change battery

Princeton Tec Apex 550 Review

Princeton Tec Apex 550 Review
  • Power: up to 550 lumens
  • LEDs: 1 Maxbright white LED, 4 Ultralight white LEDs
  • Batteries: 4x AA alkaline, lithium, rechargeable
  • Light modes: 2 spot, 2 lood, 1 lash
  • Output distance: 15-120 metres
  • Burn time: 7-150 hours

The Apex is a powerful headtorch with excellent battery life. It’s heavy and bulky, but if you want long battery life with a bright light it’s a good choice.

Part of the weight comes from the four AA batteries, which are held in a solid case that sits on the back of the head. You can use this headlamp for reading as well.

The light is regulated for the first part of the battery life, then slowly dims with time. There are spot and flood beams, each activated by a different switch so there’s no need to remember button press sequences.

Unusually the switches are under rather than on top of the lamp. There’s no lock but a very firm press is needed to switch the torch on, so I don’t think there’s much risk of it coming on accidentally.

Spot and flood each have high and low light levels. The most powerful is Spot High but this only lasts two hours. It reaches 120 metres. I’d only use it if I wanted to briefly pick something out that far away.

Spot Low reaches 67 metres, which is more than adequate for walking, and lasts 10 hours regulated and 96 hours in total. Flood High is fine for walking too, reaching 43 metres and lasting 8 hours regulated and 100 hours in total.

battery life, power, battery life indicator

heavy, no lock

Best Headlamp For Skiing

Olight Array Headlamp Review

  • Power: 50-400 lumens
  • LEDs: 2 white, rear red ring
  • Batteries: 2000mAh lithium rechargeable
  • Light modes: 2 mixed beam, 2 low beam
  • Output distance: >80 metres
  • Burn time: 2.5-13 hours

This is an unusual head torch. It’s compact yet quite heavy as it’s made from aluminium alloy, which means it’s tough – the other head torches are plastic.

It has a rear battery pack with a built-in rechargeable battery. This is charged with a proprietary magnetic charging cable, which is easy to use but which means you can’t use a standard USB cable.

The Array and charging cable come in a neat zipped hard case that weighs 75 grams. The Array does have a USB connection. This is on the side and connects the battery with the lamp.

It closes with a metal clamp. Once unfastened the torch cannot be switched on. The button for the torch is on the side of the USB connection rather than on the lamp.

Battery life is poor, a maximum of 13 hours on the 50 lumens low beam and just two and a half hours on the 400 lumens high mixed beam. The low beam is a wide spot and uses one LED, the mixed beam is spot and flood together and uses both LEDs.

Each beam has high and low settings. The 100 lumens low mixed beam has a battery life of six and a half hours and is okay for walking.

On the back of the battery pack is a ring of red LEDs that act as a battery life indicator and a safety light. This can’t be turned off on its own. The Array is a high-quality head torch. I just wish the battery life was better.

tough, good lock, battery life indicator

no lock, battery life not that good, can’t change battery

Best Trail Running Headlamp

BioLite 330 Headlamp No-Bounce Rechargeable Head Light Review

  • Power: 5-330 lumens
  • LEDs: spot, lood, red
  • Batteries: 900mAh lithium rechargeable
  • Light modes: 4
  • Output distance: 16-75 metres
  • Burn time: 3.5-40 hours

The Biolite 330 is an interesting lightweight and compact torch. It’s designed to be comfortable and not to bounce when running and has the lamp housing integrated into the headband, so it curves round the forehead.

The battery pack sits on the back of the head. The head band is also made of soft wicking fabric, so it doesn’t get sweaty. It really is comfortable.

The battery, which can’t be changed, isn’t that powerful and battery life isn’t that good, especially on full power. That said, it equals some much heavier headtorches. It uses a standard USB cable for charging.

The Biolite has spot and flood beams. Both together provide the maximum 330 lumens. The spot on maximum power gives 230 lumens, the flood 100 lumens.

In each mode the light can be dimmed by holding down the button. At half power the spot light is adequate for walking.

This neat little headtorch is a great choice for day walks when it won’t be used much, as a back-up to a heavier, more powerful torch, and for carrying in summer just in case.

lightweight, comfortable

can’t change battery

Best Rechargeable Headlamp For Work

GP Xplor PHR15 Head Torch Hands Free Task Rechargeable Review

  • Power: 5 to 300 lumens
  • LEDs: 1 white
  • Batteries: 3x AAA rechargeable or alkaline
  • Light modes: 3
  • Output distance: 25-157 metres
  • Burn time: 5-69 hours with alkaline batteries, 3-42 hours with rechargeable batteries

The GP Explor is a fairly simple lightweight headtorch at a low price. The beam has a bright central spot and a wider less bright spread, combining spot and flood beams, though it’s more the former than the latter.

There isn’t a red light. There are three light levels. The middle one is fine when walking. The brightest one is best avoided unless essential as it shortens battery life drastically.

The lowest level is okay in camp but barely adequate when walking. Cycling through the levels just requires single presses of the button. Holding the button down for two seconds in any mode switches on a distance sensor, indicated by the button glowing red.

This makes the light dim and brighten according to the closeness of objects, which is useful. It does use more battery power though. When the battery runs low the distance sensor automatically switches off.

There’s a battery life indicator and a button lock – press for five seconds for this. Three rechargeable batteries are provided and can be charged while in the torch via a USB connection in the side. Alkaline batteries can also be used and last longer than the rechargeable.

distance sensor, lock, battery life indicator, cost

battery life could be better

Best Rechargeable Headlamp For Hunting

Led Lenser MH8 Rechargeable Headlamp Review

  • Power: 20-600 lumens
  • LEDs: 1 white, 1 red/green/blue
  • Batteries: 1550 mAh lithium rechargeable / 2x AA alkaline
  • Light modes: 5
  • Output distance: 40-200 metres
  • Burn time: 7-60 hours

The MH8 is very similar to the MH7, which we reviewed last year. So similar in fact that the two torches have the same instruction sheet, which, as I commented before, isn’t as clear as it could be.

The main difference between the two torches is that the MH8 has white, red, green and blue light options, the MH7 just white and red. Once you work out the sequence of button presses the MH8 is quite easy to use.

There are four main light options. Of these I ind Mid Power the most useful. This has 170 lumens and a battery life of ten hours. It’s excellent for walking. The 20 lumens Low Power is great in camp and usable for walking on good paths.

It lasts 60 hours. The light can be varied sleeplessly from spot to flood by twisting the knurled dial that makes up the lamp housing.

This is simple and easy to use, ultralight headlamp, There’s a lock too, which requires holding the button down until the red light lashes.

The MH8 comes with a rechargeable battery with a nonstandard magnetic charging connection that’s easy to use but does require a special cable. Alkaline batteries can also be used.

variable light, battery life indicator, lock, can change batteries

quite heavy, non-standard charging connection

Best Rechargeable Headlamp for Mechanic

Lifesystems Intensity 235 Review

  • Power: up to 235 lumens
  • LEDs: 1 Cree XPG3 S2 white, 2 5mm red
  • Batteries: rechargeable
  • Light modes: 4 white, 2 red
  • Output distance: 15-85 metres
  • Burn time: up to 110 hours

The Intensity 235 is great value for money, quite light, and easy to use. It’s basically the same as the Intensity 230, which I’ve reviewed before. This is an easy fit for mechanics.

An extra 5 lumens at full power really doesn’t make any noticeable difference. I wouldn’t use it much like that anyway as it uses up the battery quickly.

The mid light level is okay when walking, the low level for around camp. Lifesystems doesn’t give the lumens or the battery life for the different modes. The 110 hours will be for the lowest brightness, the 235 lumens will have the shortest battery life.

The rechargeable battery is built-in so can’t be changed. It charges with a standard USB cable. As with other head torches with built-in batteries I’d carry another head torch as back-up rather than try to use the Intensity 235 while it’s charging.

The beam is a combination of spot and flood – not as focused as a pure spot nor as wide as a full flood. It works fine. Cycling through the modes is easy: just a series of single presses of the large button.

There isn’t a lock and the button can be easily pressed so careful packing is needed so it doesn’t switch on accidentally in the rucksack.

low cost, lightweight, battery life indicator

no lock, battery can’t be changed

Things to Consider When Buying

Batteries

AAA or AA are the most common sizes of battery for headtorches. Alkaline batteries are standard, and many models come with these.

NiMH rechargeable batteries are the most economic and the most environmentally friendly. Lithium batteries last longer, especially in the cold, and weigh less though they are more expensive.

However not all headtorches can use these. Check if the manufacturer says they are okay. Some headlamps come with rechargeable batteries. These may be removable so ordinary batteries can be used if necessary, or fixed in place with USB connections for recharging.

Ease of use

Buttons and switches should be easy to operate when wearing gloves but should not be easy to switch on accidentally. Some headlamps have locking devices to ensure the latter can’t happen.

The modes sequence should be easy to remember. Changing batteries in the dark and with cold fingers should be simple to do.

Headstraps

These need to be soft, comfortable and easily adjustable.

Usable light

LEDs will continue to glow feebly as long as there’s a smidgen of energy left in the batteries. This isn’t much use.

Makers’ maximum times are often those at which the light is just strong enough to be useful. Changing or charging the batteries before this stage is reached is a good idea.

Light levels

All bar the simplest headltorches have different light levels so you can have a very bright light for night hiking or identifying distant objects and less bright lights for closeup use and longer battery life.

Beam

Beams can be flood or spot. The first is useful for lighting an area such as a campsite or tent, the second is useful for throwing the light the farthest distance and pinpointing a distant object.

Many headlamps have both flood and spot beams. The distance a beam shines is determined by the power of the LED and the batteries.

With regulated headlamps there is a constant low of electricity to the LEDs and after an initial decline the light will maintain the same brightness for a set amount of time and then decline again rapidly.

With non-regulated headlamps the brightness declines quickly at first and then more slowly throughout the life of the batteries.

Pivoting lamp

The lamp housing should pivot easily so the beam can be directed.

NOTES: weights include batteries as supplied. Output distance and burn time are for steady white light not red light or strobe light. All the headtorches have pivoting lamps and comfortable adjustable headbands, and are water-resistant. They were all tried while wearing medium-weight gloves. Specifications other than weight are those provided by the companies.

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