With hunting season fast approaching it’s time to take stock of your gear. What needs to be repaired? What needs to be replaced? And what items could you really use that you don’t yet have? You’re going to need a good hunting GPS if you don’t already have one, a great pair of hunting boots to keep your feet warm and dry, a first class hunting knife and of course a great hunting headlamp. Whether you’re heading out for an epic elk hunt or need upgrade your coon hunting lights your hunting headlamp will help determine not just your level of success, but your level of comfort and safety as well.
The Best Hunting Head Lamp
Below we’re going to take a look at the 10 best hunting headlamps and what makes them so good. These are presented in no particular order and remember; these choices represent the opinions of our review panel. As such your opinion may differ.
The Luxolite LED hunting headlamp looks like something out of a sci-fi movie and performs like it came from the future. At 168 lumens it’s without a doubt one of the strongest hunting headlamps on the market and when used in conjunction with your camping lantern you’ll have no problems navigating the campsite on the darkest nights. The Luxolite hunting headlamp weighs a bit over 3 ounces and so you’re not going to get a head or neck ache from wearing it and the lamp itself has full vertical adjustability so you can direct the light where you need it without having to crane your neck.
You have your choice of strong, even white light or red night hunting lights and those options are further broken up into 4 white modes (high, medium, low and SOS) and 2 red light modes (strobe and steady). Another great feature of the Luxolite hunting headlamp is that it’s fully waterproof so whether you drop it in the stream or you’re walking in a steady rain there won’t be any performance issues. Top it all off with a limited lifetime warranty and a very attractive price point and you have one of the best hunting lights.
- Weight3.04 ounces
The Streamlight BuckMasters Trident pretty much embodies no frills design. This is a minimalist hunting headlamp that kicks out 80 lumens off its central C4 LED bulb and also gives you the option of switching to 3 green LEDs at 20 lumens each. Those green LEDs will help you preserve your night vision and have the added benefit of not spooking your game. This hunting headlamp is extremely easy to operate even if you’re wearing heavy gloves in mid-winter.
The lamp is powered by 3 “AAA” batteries and there are multiple ways to detect when the batteries are low including a flashing red LED and low-level indicators. It’s also a breeze to direct the light where you want it because the head tilts a full 90 degrees. Run time on the C4 with 3 new batteries is approximately 5 hours and on the green LEDs about 20 hours. And finally the rubber head strap keeps the light anchored firmly in place regardless of your choice of headwear.
- Weight8.8 ounces
Like the Streamlight this Internova Ultra Bright LED hunting headlamp sports a simple design that provides a variety of illumination options. The lamp draws its power from 3 AAA alkaline batteries that will provide up to 16 hours of clear, effective illumination. While the marketing for this lamp tends to describe it as being all things to all people there’s little doubt it’s at its finest when employed as a hunting headlamp.
The Internova LED hunting headlamp features 4 different settings for different situations. The “high” setting is great for when you’re setting up camp after dark. “Low” is good for when things have calmed down and you just need to see your way around without tripping. You can also change modes and convert it to a red headlamp for hunting, while “strobe” will alert people miles away across the valley that you need assistance.
- Weight2.4 ounces
The Bushnell H250L HD Rubicon hunting headlamp features a more involved design than either of the two hunting headlamps we reviewed already. It still sits close to the head like a good hunting headlamp should but the feature set is more robust and the lamp has a decidedly more upscale feel to it. The Rubicon boasts 250 lumens of brightness that can be further boosted to a pretty incredible 312 lumens. With that much light you’re basically recreating daylight in the campsite, and that can be a great thing that makes life in the wild a little easier at the end of a long day.
With spot and floodlight modes, Bushnell’s TIR (Total Internal Reflection) optics that outperform standard reflectors and a regulated circuit that keeps the power flowing nice and smooth the Rubicon is taking no prisoners in its quest to be the best head torch. There’s also Red Halo mode designed to bring the light without interfering with your night vision. And the cherry on the cake is the battery lockout that prevents your batteries from being drained accidentally.
- ModelH250L AD
- Weight3.84 ounces
The Browning Nitro hunting headlamp is a pretty astonishing example of how versatile a simple piece of gear can be. Looking at the Nitro you might assume it’s a one-trick pony with an on/off switch and not much else but you’d be mistaken. First off the unit utilizes a CR123A Lithium-ion battery instead of standard AAA alkaline batteries. This means more dependable performance and less waste. The battery also has a decade long shelf life so if you purchase this hunting headlamp today you won’t have to replace the battery until 2027. The head strap is thick, comfortable and adjusts easily and the lamp swivels up and down to accommodate your needs.
There are 2 levels of white light performance (high and low) along with both blue and red lights that won’t spook the game or interfere with your night vision. On top of everything else the Browning Nitro provides 135 lumens of illumination when set to ‘high’. Pretty remarkable for a hunting headlamp that only weighs a few ounces. While it’s not the cheapest hunting lamp on our list it may be the best hunting headlamp given its combination of power and compact size.
- Weight6.4 ounces
The Hoey Ultra Bright LED hunting headlamp shares some design cues with the Luxolite reviewed above and may even be a slightly better value depending on your needs and tastes. First of all it kicks out a very welcome 180 lumens of smooth, dependable illumination. There are 5 available light modes including high, med and low white light and steady or SOS red light modes. The overall feel of this hunting headlamp is very comfortable and since it tips the scales at a mere 2.4 ounces it’s not going to give anyone a neck ache.
The Hoey Ultra Bright is built to last. It’s fully waterproof so you can wear it in a downpour without worrying. It’s unaffected by heat or cold and is one of the more reliably shock-resistant hunting headlamps on the market. It comes with 2 rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries that provide up to 45 hours of runtime per charge. It’s also one of the best looking compact hunting headlights out there if that is of any importance to you. All in all this is one fine compact LED rechargeable headlamp and if the features don’t convince you the astonishing low price just might.
- Weight2.56 ounces
The Petzl Tactikka RGB hunting headlamp has a slick profile that belies its serious performance characteristics. This is a small hunting headlamp that means business and proves that right off the bat by pumping out 250 lumens of brilliant clear LED light. There are 3 white light settings that can be cycled through via repeated touches of the single button. 3 AAA batteries provide the power and the whole unit sits very comfortably on the head. The light is also compatible with the CORE rechargeable battery if you want a more environmentally friendly power source.
Slip the Petzl Tactikka one when the light starts to fade and it will provide you all the illumination you need to navigate tough trails or to set up your camp in the snow in the densest forest. You can also choose RGB colors to preserve your night vision and/or to make sure you don’t spook that 12 point buck you’re pursuing. Hunting headlamps don’t come much more simple, straightforward or effective then that Petzl Tactikka RGB hunting headlamp. If those qualities appeal to you then you can’t go wrong here.
- Weight3.04 ounces
The Petzl Strix VL hunting headlamp has a serious profile that perfectly expresses its serious performance and toughness. As with other Petzl hunting headlamps all the action is upfront with both the battery housing and hunting headlamp itself part of the same mechanical cluster. Somehow though Petzl manages to pull this off without the lamp looking unbalanced or bulky. One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the lamp mechanism itself. It swivels both horizontally and vertically so you can really deliver the light exactly where you need it.
One thing to be aware of with the Strix however is that this is not a “light up the horizon” type of hunting headlamp. While it will provide plenty of red light to keep you upright and not spook the game it’s designed to be more of a close-in tool. So if you need to field strip your weapon after dark or find your way to the latrine this is the best LED headlamp for those types of tasks. It also has those military design overtones Petzl is known for and that make their headlamps for hunting distinctive.
- ModelE90AHB C
- Weight3.52 ounces
The Lightess LED Motion Sensor hunting headlamp is perhaps the busiest looking hunting headlamp on our list. But in spite of the fact that it looks like a throwback to the early 90s it delivers where it counts and even has one nifty feature no 1990 hunting headlamp ever had: contact free activation. The Lightess LED hunting headlamp features 2 thick, comfortable and fully adjustable camo head straps and produces an impressive 200 lumens. While it does go through batteries pretty quickly the Cree XP-E LED bulbs it uses can throw light 320+ feet and have a lifespan of 50,000 hours.
Lightess market their hunting headlamp as having “hands free” operation. That’s not entirely accurate. What it does provide is “contact free” operation. You still need a hand, but you don’t have to touch anything; just wave your hand and the motion sensor will power up the lamp. Another thing hunters will like about this lamp is that it weighs in at just 3.1 ounces so there aren’t going to be any neck aches from wearing it, even for extended periods of time.
- Weight4 ounces
With the Panther Vision CUBWB LED hunting headlamp we’ve saved the best, (or maybe one of the strangest hunting lights), for last. The Panther Vision CUBWB is a beanie-style pullover cap made of comfortable compression fleece which also happens to have 4 LED lights embedded at the front of the cap. Each LED is tiny but pumps out 48 lumens. You’ll get as much as 50 feet of forward illumination from 2 of the lights while the other 2 shine down in front of you so you won’t lose your footing.
The CUBWB is powered by 4 CR2032 coin cell batteries that are hidden in the band of the cap and you’ll get up to 43 hours of operation out of those batteries. One more thing hidden in that band is the on/off switch. All this micro technology and discreet engineering allows the moisture wicking fabric of the cap to do its job keeping your head warm and dry. All in all the CUBWB hunting headlamp from Panther Vision will provide years of service for about the cost of a pizza.
- BrandPanther Vision
- Weight2.08 ounces
Hunting Head Lamp Buyers Guide
Hunting can be a strenuous, tiring activity and the last thing you need is to be stumbling around in the dark when you return to camp. That’s why having the right headlamp is so important. Below we’ll outline the things you should look for when shopping for a new hunting head lamp.
Type of beam – Ideally this should not be an either/or proposition. You should always seek out a headlamp that can provide both a flood (or wide) beam and a spotlight to illuminate distant objects and provide you a clear view of the path ahead.
Lumens – When it comes to LED lamps the traditional method of measuring by watts simply doesn’t apply. You need to use a more accurate measure, and that would be “lumens”. Lumens measure the total amount of light emitted from a source. While the lumens generated by a particular light will vary depending on how the light is focused, in general the higher the lumens the brighter the light.
Operational Modes – The more tasks you can get your headlamp to perform the better off you’ll be. There should be SOS, flood and spotlight modes along with several brightness modes when it comes to the white light emitted by your lamp. In addition your headlamp should have red, green or blue light that will allow you to preserve your night vision and not spook the game.
Beam Distance – The ‘spotlight’ feature should effectively light up the path ahead for at least 250+ feet. This will allow you to see any hazards in the terrain or furry adversaries from a big enough distance that you should be able to avoid or prepare for them.
Power Source – Most hunting headlamps derive their power from 3 AAA alkaline batteries. It’s the industry standard. There are some however that utilize more environmentally friendly rechargeable batteries such as the CR123A Lithium-ion battery utilized by the Browning Nitro. The one drawback of Lithium-ion batteries is where/how to recharge them.
Weight – The last thing you want is a poorly designed headlamp that weighs so much it gives you neck aches to wear it for any length of time. Ideally your lamp should weigh in at 6-7 ounces or less with the batteries installed.
Water Resistance – A hunting headlamp that isn’t at least water resistant won’t be much good. While it doesn’t need to be waterproof to 30 meters you should be able to wear your headlamp in a light rain or snow without performance being affected. If they can also withstand being dropped momentarily in a large puddle or stream, all the better.
Adjustability – Many of today’s best headlamps provide vertical tilting capabilities so that you can illuminate the ground in front of you without having to look down to do so. A few headlamps will also provide side to side adjustability, but the need for this ability is not as pressing.
Power On/Off – Most hunting headlamps today feature the standard on/off button although there are an increasing number that allow you to power the headlamp up by merely waving your hand near it. This type of contact free powering up is great for those times when the night is black as ink.
Hunting headlamps have become as essential to the hunting experience as high quality boots or a good compass. We hope the above reviews help you make an informed decision when it’s time to purchase your own hunting headlamp and don’t forget to stop back regularly for more useful product reviews and guides from Gear Hungry.