When going hunting you will often find yourself in situations that are ranging from dim lighting conditions to pitch-black darkness, whether when you’re just arriving before dawn, going or returning to/from your stand, tracking prey under thick overgrowth, taking temporary shelter in caves or even due to a sudden storm that will blacken the sky. In dense forest this is even more frequently the case and daylight hours are significantly shorter. Well, back in the days we would just go with the classical and standard flashlight, trying to work with only one hand or holding it in the mouth while struggling to finish installing that tent faster.
With the advent of powerful and reliable headlamps, those days should be long gone. There are a number of immediate and clear advantages of headlamps over a standard flashlight such as: freeing your hands (or mouth for that matter..), allowing you to go about your business unhindered, the light beam is naturally following your head movement thus illuminating the area you’re actually looking at, they are lightweight and don’t require bulky batteries that a regular flashlight would need for a similar amount of light.
The problem nowadays is that the market has been flooded with a very large number of such headlamps, many of poor quality or with gimmicky features that do more harm than good, so it might seem a bit of a daunting task to sort through all these and make the right call. Thus we decided to do that for you, so you would not end up wasting time and money on failed experiments with sub-par products. Below you will find the very best headlamps that we’ve tested in various situations over long periods of time before having a clear verdict:
Top 5 Best Headlamps for Hunting
The MsForce Headlamp is definitely our top-pick of the lot; it hits pretty much all the marks while retaining an affordable price and offering a wide range of useful features. It is designed with 3 LED bulbs: a large central one and two smaller ones on each side. By combining them, it allows 4 modes of operation: battery saver (1 LED active), medium (2 LEDs active), ultra bright (all 3 LEDs active) and strobe where all the bulbs will flash in quick succession. These are powered by two 18650/3.7V Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries that the product comes already bundled with. While the capacity of the included batteries is 1800 mAh and these should last for a solid few hours, you can buy higher capacity ones (or just another similar set) as backup. An amazing feature is that the batteries can be recharged directly in the headlamp itself using the provided wall plug charger. However, it is a bit unfortunate that it is not USB-compatible. You can still circumvent this by charging the batteries outside the headlamp itself with any kind of charging device that you might already own.
When it’s all said and done, with all three LEDs active, you will obtain a whopping 6000 Lumens beam whose focus can be adjusted by rotating the central lamp. The head can be tilted 90 degrees on the vertical axis and it will stay in that new position even when you move suddenly. The headlamp’s straps are fully adjustable making it easy to be snugly fit. Lastly, while the build of the entire device is quite sturdy, at the time of writing, it does also come with an excellent 7 years warranty, showing that the company really stands behind its product.
In this case the 2nd place is more of a 1.5th place as the Cobiz Headlamp has quite a few similarities with the first one but also a few distinct features that might make it a more sensible choice for your particular needs. Besides that, the choice might ultimately boil down to taste and design preferences. This headlamp is also packed with three CREE LEDs, a large frontal one and two on each side. This setup is what allows the four usage modes: low beam, high beam, all bright and strobe, with the all bright peaking at 6000 Lumens. While this gadget is waterproof, upon inspecting the battery compartment we noticed that the rubber sealing could be a bit better. We wouldn’t advise on completely submerging it under water, but we definitely had no problems using it outside while raining. It is also one of the more comfortable headlamps we’ve tried until now, partially due to the easily adjustable straps and the surprisingly light weight. After wearing it for hours, you could easily forget you have it on, if it weren’t for, you know, the hugely bright light!
Powering the headlamp is done through two 18650/3.7V Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries (included!). If you wish to buy additional such batteries to extend the light-time or simply as a backup, make sure you get the button top batteries and not the flat top ones. And, speaking of charging, this is done directly using the built-in charger of the device along with the provided wall charger. You can of course recharge the batteries separately, using any other regular charger that can accommodate 3.7V ones. The lamp set is 90 degrees adjustable and stays in the exact position that you set it even with constant moving such as running. But one of our favorite features of this headlamp is what we call the “follow light”: at the back of the battery pack there’s a decent sized red light that will turn on whenever the front light is also on. This is very useful whenever someone is walking behind you as it allows them to follow and keep appropriate distance without bumping into you or losing sight of you. Currently the product comes with a 3 years warranty with free replacement policy and this was actually put to the test by one of our hunter friends whose headlamp had an issue. The seller very quickly sent a replacement, without any kind of fuss or excessive scrutiny. Overall, there are overwhelmingly positive reports regarding customer care for this product.
Princeton Tec Remix LED Headlamp
Apart from needing some light when setting up camp, going to/from your stand or any other activity you’ll do when it’s dark outside, sometimes you will need proper visibility during actual hunting at night. But in such situations a very bright headlamp with a powerful beam will in fact scare the animals and ruin your whole experience. In such cases you will clearly need a green or red light headlamp. There has been quite a lot of debate on which one is better: green or red light, but currently the consensus is that it is more a matter of personal preference. Red light seems to be the least observable by the prey of the two, but only by a small margin. Green light however provides a sharper contrast that humans are better at picking up than that produced by red light, especially when it comes to darker animals like wild hogs. No matter which of the two you will chose, Princeton Tec Remix LED Headlamp has got you covered.
It comes in three basic variants: only white LEDs (with two color schemes for the case), white+green LEDs or white+red LEDs. Now this is actually an almost ideal situation: you get the bright white lamp that can be used during you other activities and can switch to the chosen colored light when hunting. Each light color, including white, has two brightness levels between which you can freely switch. All these operations are done using a very solid and large button on top of the lamp, that can be used even when wearing thick gloves but which at the same time is also almost impossible to be accidentally pushed. To power up the lamp you need 3 AAA batteries (which are included!) and of course you can use AAA rechargeable accumulators if you wish to.
This product is designed to be water-resistant to an IPX4 degree (i.e. resistant to water splashes from any direction) so while it is fine in rainy weather, you should not drop or submerge it in water. In case this has happened you should take out the batteries (and replace them completely) and let the headlamp dry completely. The headlamp is attachable with a single strap that can be adjusted as necessary, but there’s no additional cross-strap that would rest on top of your head. Overall it might seem a bit on the barebone side of the spectrum, but it is actually has everything you need from a headlamp. In fact, there’s just no unnecessary fluff that would make it heavier or generate additional points of failure. It does exactly what it says on the tin and that is excellent in our book.
BuckMasters Streamlight 61070
Sometimes less is more and the same could hold true for hunting headlamps. While many such products offer a wide range of features and options, they can prove to be over-complicated or having too many points of failure and might let you down exactly when you need them the most. By contrast, the BuckMasters Streamlight 61070 is straight-forward, simple but at the same time practical and reliable. The lamp is equipped with 3 green light 5mm LEDs disposed in an arc over a central larger C4 white light LED. You can thus cycle through and set it to use either a low intensity single green LED, higher intensity all three green LEDs or just the central white LED. This is actually one of the very few headlamps that offer different selections for green light power which is quite a plus in our view. We also noticed that our night vision was not actually affected when using this product, as we sometimes noticed with other more powerful lamps.
The head can be titled 90 degrees on the vertical axis with a great ratcheting system that prevents unwanted movements. The case is shock resistant and I have managed to actually test that, by mistake, twice in the same day: first time I was holding it by the strap walking towards my truck when somehow swung it and hit a tree trunk quite hard. The second time I wanted to throw it to buddy of mine who needed it but I managed to launch it short and it fell on some rocks. The result: not a single scratch; all the lights continued to work without any issues. Now of course I’m not saying you should go around smashing it left and right, but in case of mishaps it can actually take a beating and it will keep working fine. The main reason for that is the fact that it is not made out of some hard plastic but rather from a sort of molded rubber. And while we’re on the topic of resisting abuse, the headlamp is IPX4 grade water resistant, which means it can be used in rainy weather just fine, but it should not however be submerged under water.
The whole ensemble is powered by 3 “AAA” batteries which are already included. The package also contains an additional rubber strap, apart from the regular elastic one, which is generally useful when you need to wear the headlamp on top of a hat or other head-cover that is made of a more slippery/glossy material. Overall it is a great, simple and easy to use headlamp with pretty much all the basic functions that you generally need when out hunting.
Foxelli MX10 Headlamp
So far we’ve reviewed mostly professional headlamps with very strong LEDs that put out a flood of light but there are days when you don’t really need that, especially if you don’t plan to actual do any night hunting per se. It also happens that many times we will bring along our family as well or kids which see it as a camping trip. For such situations a smaller and more compact lamp with less bright lights are more suitable unless you want to turn the campsite into a disco. Foxelli MX10 Headlamp delivers precisely that: a high quality, compact headlamp that will serve you well for a very long time. We were in fact shocked to find that it weighs a measly 2.4 oz or 68 grams! Even after wearing it for long stretches of time, you won’t ever feel it on your head. It has its own internal battery that you can charge via USB (cable is included!) which provides great flexibility as apart from charging from a wall plug, you can do so from a car or even an external USB battery / power bank. It has a smart charge indicator that will let you know when the battery is full but strangely enough there’s no low battery warning light. You will get three intensity modes (high, medium and strobe) as well as a subtle red light mode which doesn’t impair or affect night vision at all. The red light mode is activated by keeping the button pressed for 1.5-2 seconds.
You can choose from a wide color palette for the elastic strap: black, blue, khaki, neon pink, neon yellow or white so surely there’s one for each taste. The body of the headlamp is tilt-able on the vertical axis, but due to its design it can only go down to a 60 degrees angle with four different stopping points. We were pleasantly surprised to find that this headlamp is IPX5 grade water-resistant, which means it can be safely used in the heaviest of rains without issues. We actually got to test this involuntarily in our very first trip in which we brought the “Foxelli MX10” headlamps with us. We spent about an hour in heavy rain trying to set up our camp before daybreak and I personally was so focused on getting everything done that I didn’t even realize that my headlamp was on. Only after I entered the tent did I realize that the lamp has been with me in the rain all the time and started inspecting it for any kind of damage or fault but really couldn’t find any. Still, it should not be submerged under water, but if you drop it in a puddle and retrieve it quickly, it should be fine.
NOTE: If however you would prefer a similar headlamp, but one that uses regular AAA batteries, you should then check the Foxelli MX20 model which is almost identical in all the other aspects with the MX10:
Don’t forget to check out our top picks for hunting accessories!