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The 8 Most Affordable And Brightest Headlamps (Review)

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Three years ago, I went on a tiger safari in India with my husband and four kids. Without question, it was an extraordinary experience. We stayed in beautiful tents just outside of the game park and at night, it was incredibly dark. Unfortunately, I arrived unprepared and relied on my i-phone to guide me along dark paths. However, the light was shallow and hardly lit up anything beyond a few feet. One night, I literally stumbled upon a tiger outside our tent and survived physically unscathed (emotionally…well the jury is still out). Had I brought one of the brightest headlamps discussed in this article, I would have seen the tiger hundreds of feet away, and I would have never placed my life or the lives of my children in danger.

Whether you enjoy hiking or biking at night, hunting and fishing before or after the sunrise or sunset, camping, or like me, traveling to places where man-made conveniences such as outdoor lights may not be readily available, having a reliable and bright headlamp is an absolute necessity.

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Are The Brightest Headlamps The Best?

The focus of this article is the most affordable and brightest headlamps. That is a very specific focus. When people want the brightest headlamps, this usually suggests that they want to see as far and wide as they can. If a light is too intense in a small space, then typically you become blinded from the light or everything within its trajectory is whited out and indecipherable. In other words, it accomplishes the exact opposite for what you were hoping.

The good news is that most of the 8 headlamps discussed in this article have different lighting modes for many purposes. Accordingly, you can go out on an evening hike and see whether there is any danger hundreds of meters or feet away, and then, climb into your sleeping bag and read a book.

What Are Lumens?

The Lumen (symbol: lm) is the unit (like grams or ounces for weight) used to measure the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source.

Lamps of all sorts are now commonly labeled with their lumen output, in addition to its electrical power (watts). To put this into context, a typical 60 watt light bulb in your home produces between 700- 1000 lumens. A 60 watt “white or bright” light will yield higher lumens than a 60 watt “yellow or warm” light.

Lumen Output

Logically, the higher the lumen amount, the brighter the light. The brightest headlamps with the highest lumens will also illuminate a bigger area, and often further too.

However, we are all limited by our eyesight. Generally, the human eye can see approximately 500 meters or 1600 feet (1/3 of a mile). That is normally accomplished with headlamps offering 5000-12,000 lumens, depending on the number of LED lights, the settings, and the target of the light.

A “zooming” option is a means to focus direct light to a specific and defined point hundreds of feet ahead of you. For those of the brightest headlamps that offer this feature, you can rely on fewer lumens, often as little as 1000-2000 lumens, if you are able to locate the target.

How The Reviews Are Organized

I have chosen 8 of the most affordable and brightest headlamps on the market. They are listed in the order of cost – four are $20.00 or less, and four are between $20-$40 – although costs may vary from time to time. I would double-check prices if any of these interest you.

The 8 Brightest Headlamps

Here are 8 budget-friendly brightest headlamps. Each of them are packed with excellent features that should meet all of your camping, hiking, fishing, biking, and hunting needs, or any indoor activity that requires hands-free and intense light.

OUTERDO Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 12,000 Lumens – irradiation range 500 meters or 1650 feet
  • Light source: 6 LEDs
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)
  • Working time: 4-9 hours depending on setting
  • Can turn 90° down
  • Charging method: USB with cable included
  • Can be used while charging
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries but you can switch it on with only one battery.
  • Taillight
  • Adjustable head strap
  • Weighs 127g or 4.4 oz

Light Modes: 8 Settings

  • 2 Middle lights on
  • Outside lights on
  • All lights are on
  • All lights flashing.
  • Glare.
  • Low Light.
  • Red light warning.
  • Red light SOS.

Potential Downsides

  • The red charging light does not switch off to indicate it is fully charged. However, after a few hours, it is properly charged. Do not regularly overcharge (all night) or the battery will drain faster.
  • Front tilt to 90° is a permanent plastic feature that would be difficult to repair if broken.
  • Some find it a bit bulky.

Conclusion

OUTERDO Rechargeable Headlamp is one of the brightest headlamps for a budget-friendly price. It supplies super bright light with the maximum irradiation distance reaching 500 meters. Without question, you can see the surroundings very clearly in the dark. On the flip side, it provides a dim light setting which allows you to conserve battery life and read a book without being blinded.

The headlamp comes with a stretchy and adjustable head strap that fits over a helmet and is suitable for adults and kids alike. It is water-resistant so suitable for most outdoor activities.

Tupwaid Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 10,000 Lumens – irradiation range 600 meters or almost 2000 feet
  • Light Source: 8 LEDs
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable and cable included
  • Charging time 2-3 hours
  • Battery life 4-10 hours with all lights on
  • Light can be adjusted by 90°
  • Red safety taillight
  • Adjustable & elastic headband for convenient wearing
  • Weighs 200g or 7oz

Light Modes: 8 Settings

  • Main beam.
  • Side beam.
  • All beam.
  • SOS strobe.
  • Strong beam.
  • Warm beam.
  • Red light.
  • SOS red strobe.

Potential Downsides

  • The bulb may not stay in place when running.

Conclusion:

The Tupwaid Rechargeable Headlamp is one of the brightest headlamps on the market at a very affordable price.

For the price, you get a lot for your money. This headlamp has 8 modes to satisfy most indoor and outdoor activities – from hiking, fishing, biking, fixing your car or trying to find something in your knapsack – all without blinding you or turning everything in its path indistinguishable from the bright white light.

In addition, the time to recharge the batteries is very low adding to its convenience.

Aoglenic Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 12,000 Lumens – irradiation range 500 meters or 1650 feet
  • Light Source: 5 LEDs
  • Zoomable
  • Lamp swivels 90°
  • Adjustable headband for adults or kids
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • Can also use three AAA batteries
  • USB rechargeable and cable included
  • Charge time is 7-8 hours
  • Weight – 280g or 9.8 oz
  • Battery life is approximately 5 hours on full brightness and 10 hours for low beam or strobing.

Light Modes: 4 Settings

  • High Beam: Only turns on the middle light.
  • Low Beam: Switches on the two sidelights to create a wider glow.
  • All Bright: Lights up all three bulbs for maximum visibility.
  • Strobe Mode for emergencies. 

Potential Downsides

  • Discourages using it when charging.
  • Only 4 light setting modes and no colored light.

Conclusion

The Aoglenic Rechargeable Headlamp is a super bright and affordable headlamp. It offers a zooming function so you can easily change your focus from broad illumination to a narrow long-range beam, and cast a bright and powerful light exactly the way you need it.

This headlight is equipped with a high-quality sweat-resistant headband that is easy to wear, without sliding, and fits both adults and kids. In addition, the battery box is equipped with elastic fabric for additional comfort.

Unlike other bright headlamps, you can replace the rechargeable batteries with 3 AAA disposable ones in case you won’t have access to a recharging source.

Suvom Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 10,000 Lumens – irradiation range 500 meters or 1650 feet
  • Light Source: 5 LEDs
  • Zoomable
  • Red safety light on the back of battery pack
  • 90° adjustable light
  • Elastic and adjustable headband
  • IPX5 Waterproof Level – (Protection against low-pressure water sprayed by a nozzle with a diameter of 6.3 mm)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable with USB cable included
  • Car and wall charger included
  • Weight – 400g or 14.39 oz
  • Takes 4-5 hours to fully charge

Light Modes: 4 Settings

  • Lowest
  • Medium
  • Brightest
  • Strobe

Potential Downsides

  • Battery life is only one hour on the brightest mode. However, 3-4 hours on lesser intense modes.
  • On the heavier side.
  • Only 4 light settings and no colored light.

Conclusion

The Suvom Rechargable headlamp is one of the best, most affordable, and brightest headlamps with an IPX5 waterproof rating. This means that the headlamp will still work after being directly sprayed with water. It also has a zooming function for increased functionality.

In addition, unlike other headlamps discussed in this article, three recharging methods are included in the cost: USB, car, and wall chargers.

On the downside, battery life is shorter than other manufacturers and it is heavier than other choices. However, for the price, what you do get is phenomenal.

Cobiz Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 6000 Lumens
  • Light Source: 3 LEDs
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable with USB cable included
  • Comes with case
  • Safety taillight
  • 90° pivot
  • Zoomable
  • Adjustable headband
  • 291g or 10.3 oz
  • Takes approximately 8 hours to charge.

Light Modes: 4 Settings

  • Low, which turns on the middle light only
  • Medium, which switches on the two sidelights to create a wider glow.
  • High, which lights up all three bulbs for maximum visibility.
  • Strobe

Potential Downsides

  • Can’t use headlamp while charging
  • Can’t use disposable batteries in place of rechargeable batteries
  • Low mode is too bright for reading. The light goes from bright to superbright.
  • No colored lights.

Conclusion

Even though the Cobiz Rechargeable Headlamp only has 6000 Lumens, three LEDs, and four lighting modes, this is one of the most affordable and brightest headlamps available. Like the other headlamps in this article, it is waterproof against rain and splashes, pivotable, and zoomable. As an extra feature, the headlamp comes with a case to protect it against damage.

Boruit Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 5000 Lumens – irradiation range 300 meters or 1000 feet
  • Light source – 3 LEDs with one center white light and two side red lights
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable with a USB cable and US plug included
  • Charging time – 8-10 hours
  • Running time 4.5 hours
  • Adjustable head strap
  • 340g or 12.1 oz

Light Modes: 3 Settings

  • High white light
  • Low white light
  • Red light

Potential Downsides

  • Takes a long time to charge.
  • It is not zoomable.
  • No strobe light for emergencies.

Conclusion

The Boruit Rechargeable Headlamp is not the brightest headlamp in this article but it is extremely bright with a range of 300 meters or 1000 feet.

What makes this headlamp unique is the primary role that the red lights have. This makes this headlamp an excellent choice if you are a hunter, beekeeper, or sensitive to bright white light.

Neither bees nor other animals are spooked by a red light. In addition, you can use the red light in your tent or other enclosed areas for an effective light source without disturbing others or needing to adjust to bright white light.

Dook Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 12,000 Lumens
  • 360° rotating headlamp
  • 7 light modes and two switches
  • Adjustable sweat-resistant headband
  • IPX5 Waterproof Level – (Protection against low-pressure water sprayed by a nozzle with a diameter of 6.3 mm)
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 2 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable with USB cable included
  • Portable case

Lighting Modes: 7 Settings

  • 4 Levels of white light
  • White strobe
  • Red
  • Red strobe

Potential Downsides

  • More hands-on than other headlamps. You need to rotate the headlamp for different light sources.

Conclusion

The Dook Rechargeable Headlamp is one of the brightest headlamps that offers a more streamlined look. Notwithstanding it offers 7 lighting modes, including 4 different levels of white light, a bright red, and strobing red, there is only one central light source. Instead, the headlamp rotates 360° which not only allows you to direct the light in the direction you want but also rotates different light modes to the front.

The Dook headlamp is rated IPX5, a higher level of water resistance than most headlamps at this price point. This means that it can withstand more direct water than rain, although it still can not be submerged in water. As a plus, this headlamp comes with a case.

Eornmor Rechargeable Headlamp


Features

  • 6000 Lumens – irradiation range is 800 meters or 2600 feet
  • Wide lamp cup extends the scope of the range
  • 14-18 hours battery life with bright light or 27-35 hours with weak light
  • Charging time 16-18 hours
  • External battery pack design: the weight of the headlamp is 5 oz or 141g with the external battery weighing 11oz or 300g.
  • External battery can be fixed at the waist
  • Lamp holder can rotate 60°
  • Power: removable and rechargeable 6 x lithium batteries
  • USB rechargeable with USB cable included
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (protection from rain and from water splashes)

Lighting Modes: 2 Settings

  • Strong and weak white light

Potential Downsides

  • It can not be tilted.
  • Battery pack is sealed and batteries can not be replaceable.
  • May find carrying around the external battery pack to be a hassle.
  • Long charging time.
  • No zooming option.

Conclusion

The Eornmor Rechargeable Headlamp is one of the brightest headlamps with extraordinary long battery life. With one charge (albeit a very long charge at 16-18 hours), you can receive between 14-35 hours of battery life depending on the light setting.

In exchange for this long battery life and affordable price, you have a couple of limiting factors. Most significantly, there are only two light settings and the battery pack is not attached to the elastic band of the headlamp. Instead, you have to carry it around separately. However, the cord is long enough to attach to your waist or stick in your jacket pocket.

For those who need an exceptionally long charge and a very bright long and wide range light, this headlamp is definitely a fantastic choice for you.

Buyer’s Guide To The Brightest Headlamps

Battery Life

The battery life of a headlamp depends on three factors: the size of the batteries, the brightness of the light (amount of lumens), and the proper care of the rechargeable batteries.

Generally, the higher the lumens, the shorter the battery life. However, if there is more or bigger battery capacity, then this would offset the demands placed on the headlamp by higher lumens.

All things being equal, if battery life is important, you have three options:

  • Choose a headlamp with a smaller lumen output.
  • Keep the setting on your headlamp to low light.
  • Find a headlamp with a large battery capacity.

Proper Care Of Your Batteries

One of the biggest complaints when it comes to the brightest headlamps is battery life. I have read countless reviews where the buyer complains that the rechargeable batteries died after only a few uses or within a couple of months.

Although I don’t know the specifics of each of these complaints, I can tell you that the daily and long term life of batteries are directly impacted by the proper care and handling of these rechargeable batteries. If you do not follow the guidelines from the manufacturers, then you run a high risk of permanently draining the life of the batteries and reducing the long term use of the headlamps.

Tips For Long Battery Life

  • Follow the instructions from the manufacturer about the length of time that you need to charge the batteries before their first use.
  • After that, follow the instructions about the length of time you need to charge the batteries after each use.
  • Do not overcharge the batteries.
  • Do not let the batteries completely drain before recharging. The light output should weaken when the batteries are running low. This is when you should recharge the batteries.
  • If you go for long periods in between using your headlamp, you should recharge the batteries every three months or so, even if you do not plan to immediately use it.

Conclusion

For an affordable price, you can find some of the brightest headlamps with amazing features that will handle most of your indoor and outdoor needs. A “hands-free” flashlight alternative is an excellent option to keep you safe and active, even when the sunsets.

16 Comments

  • I must admit that I never considered a rechargeable headlamp to be a priority. I use a headlamp often and my husband even uses one at home to read and check on the kids at night. My main criteria has been fit. This article opens my eyes to many other considerations! Thank you!

    • I totally agree. Until I had some scary situations in the middle of nowhere in the dark, I never appreciated how important a headlamp could be!

  • I have recently been considering buying a headlamp for night riding as I like to snowboard through the trees and other areas that are not that well lit at night. Thanks for the very thorough reviews. Lots of things to consider!

    • For that activity, then I would definitely recommend one of these bright headlamps. I am an avid skier and I can’t imagine not seeing a tree or a stump while barreling down a hill. Stay safe!

  • oh my god.. the story about the tiger. I felt my stomach turn. Glad nothing happened! but yes, I have had some bad situations too from not being able to see in the dark properly. Once almost walked off a cliff in Yosemite while watching the meteor shower. but I am also partly blind so I will def need to invest in one of your suggestions above. Thanks!

    • Holy smokes! First of all, I love the idea of being in Yosemite and watching a meteor shower. How amazing. But, yes, it sounds like a very bright headlamp would be ideal for you.

  • Although I hope that I’ll never find myself in a situation like this, a headlamp comes often…handy when travelling. How often do I miss having a third hand?!? I’ve experienced shortages in many places when travelling – a headlamp is the best tool in that situation.

    • Yes, lesson learned! You begin to think your I-phone is the answer to everything, but in terms of a flashlight, it is very, very limited!

  • As someone who loves being out in nature, this post really spoke to me. I could only imagine what you went through emotionally that night in India. There are of course a million + different scenarios that could occur at night, for which you would need effective and reliable light to stay safe. This is such an educative article on what to look for in ensuring you get the best lighting option, depending on your environment and personal needs. Thank you for sharing your research on the various models here to assist in choosing – all of them seem very cheap to me when you consider what might be at stake.

  • Such a great list and headlamp recommendations. The headlamp is a must-have for me on every trip. It has come in handy many times in the least expected moments. I even take a headlamp for a short hike.

  • Wow, although I’ve never had a headlamp myself, they sure do seem to be extremely handy whenever I see someone else with one! Thanks for the tips on choosing which one to buy when I make the purchase 😁

    • You are welcome. It’s like a lot of things in life – you don’t realize you need it until something happens in the moment and then, you will never be without one ever again!

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