One of the most important pieces of gear in any trail runners pack is your headlamp. It’s required at a lot of races. And something no runner or hiker wants to be caught without after dark. But like most things nowadays there are a ton of options on the market. And finding the right trail running headlamp can be a challenge. With choices ranging from trusted name brands to cheap Chinese knockoffs. So what is the right choice for you? Below we’ll take a look at some of the most trusted running headlamps on the market. From brands that won’t leave you out in the dark… literally.
It should also be noted that you won’t see any headlamps with internal, non-replaceable batteries on this list. Even if you put fresh batteries in it is always recommended to carry an extra set when you’re out on the trails in the dark. Headlamps with internal batteries that you can not carry a backup for should be avoided unless you are looking for something for a local short run.
Trail Running Headlamp for 2021
Why you want it: The Black Diamond Icon offers a lot to love in a trail running headlamp. The over the top strap makes the back loaded battery compartment feel secure when running. It’s waterproof and built to the Black Diamond quality standard. Meaning this thing is tough. The 700 lumens light is powerful allowing you to see as far as you could possibly want. And the settings allow you to dial it in to your liking. There is also a light setting memory so it will be on the same setting when you turn the headlamp off.
Why you may think twice: This Icon is much heavier than other headlamps on this list. A few ounces may not seem like a big deal. But if you’re running long hours into the night, every ounce adds up. There are also a lot of setting options with only a few buttons. This means if you make a change it can be difficult to get back to the setting you like. Especially if you change them accidentally at 3am on the trail.
Black Diamond Icon 700 Review
“Another great product from Black Diamond. I have this light mounted to my type 1 helmet and it exceeds my expectations. The RGB light modes are great when you’re trying to maintain your night vision and the white light modes dominate the darkness without overpowering the situation. Dimmable on all modes, RGB is bright enough to navigate (clearly see the ground) on a moonless night. I found the battery indicator functions per design when using rechargeable AA batteries (I use Goal Zero AA), but will only display 1 led when using disposable batteries. I have had this light in service during subfreezing temperatures and 3+ hour exposures to heavy rainfall/snow fall without incident. Would highly recommend to anyone needing a dependable light for when it counts.”
Why you want it: The PETZL ACTIK CORE packs a lot of light into a small package. This thing is incredibly lightweight. At 75 grams you are not going to find a more ideal headlamp for ultra running and backpacking. It also comes with a rechargeable battery pack that allows you to use either the PETZL rechargeable pack or regular batteries. I really like this design feature.
Why you may think twice: The lightweight design could also be a downside when it comes to durability. And the headlamp is only rated as water resistant. So if you want something that could withstand full submersion this probably isn’t the right product for you.
PETZL ACTIK CORE Review
“I like this headlamp. The red settings are bright and useful for preserving night vision. The 3 levels of white are helpful and provide enough variability. The unit is very lightweight, comfortable, and the lamp pivots on the headband so spot work and simple walking are both accommodated. The build quality is quite good. The only gripe, pushing the single button at different durations to raster between red/white/brightness can be off-putting– it’s hard to get the results you want right off the bat.”
Why you want it: This thing is the tank of ultra running headlamps . It runs in any weather and is fully submersible. The Black Diamond Storm will work under water and is a favorite of cavers for it’s durability. The case fits 4 batteries so the light lasts a long time. And it features much of the same features that come on the Black Diamond Icon. Adjustable light settings, red light feature, tough dim feature, and light setting memory. You can check a more in-depth review on the Black Diamond Storm by click here.
Why you may think twice: If you want a more powerful light for the trail then you may want to look at other options. With 400 lumens the light is lower on the end of light output. The light settings can be difficult to work with, Given you only have a a few buttons to control a bunch of functions.
Black Diamond Storm Review
“I’ve used this headlamp for the past year before I picked up another as a backup. I’ve dropped this in mud, water, off of trees and it still holds up just like I got it yesterday. Battery life is pretty good and I haven’t had any issues with flickering. The only drawback is that the touch dimmer is a bit sensitive so I usually lock the light when caving.”