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When you are in a survival situation, every second counts. If you take an extra few seconds to find something in your kit, it could mean all the difference between life and death.
Whether you need to navigate your way through a forest, or find the first aid kit in the dark, you need your hands-free at all times in a survival situation. This is the reason why a headlamp works way better than a normal flashlight in such situations. It ensures that your hands are free and that the light source won’t get knocked out of your hands.
Also called headtorches, survival headlamps are extremely convenient and useful. When you’re outdoors in the dark, a headlamp has a variety of applications, but they also have applications around the house, especially when you need both hands and don’t have anyone else to hold a light for you.
Not only is a headlamp an important tool in your bug out bag or survival kit, but also useful to have at home. You never know when you will need it. In this article, we give you the breakdown of the best survival headlamps you can add to your preps or bug out bag.
At a Glance: Our Choices for The 7 Best Survival Headlamps
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each headlamp.
Why You Should Consider A Headlamp As Part Of Your BOB Or Survival Kit
You should never head outdoors without a light source. When we think of a light source it usually means a flashlight. But when you’re navigating your way in the woods or hiking up a hill, you need your hands for other purposes (balancing, walking properly, holding onto a weapon, and so on). Besides, a flashlight can get knocked out of your hand at any time, and you will be left without a light source.
The basic function of a headlamp is to provide hands-free illumination. Although there are several headlamp accessories and attachments available, a headlamp is usually not used a multipurpose tool. When you’re buying a headlamp, you must first consider its hands-free capabilities and then its brightness.
The brightness of the headlamp depends on what you use it for. If you don’t need a long-range illumination for tasks like hunting, you can settle for a headlamp that is meant for activities close at hand.
Some of the other things to look for in a survival headlamp are distance, battery life, weight, and comfort. Your choice of headlamp should ideally have both floodlight and spotlight settings. The former is useful for all kinds of activities while the latter is used to focus on a distant object. When there is no power source close by, the battery life of the headlamp becomes vital.
Ideally, you should opt for a headlamp that has both high and low light settings for different activities. Most important of all is the size and weight of the headlamp. That weight should depend on the size of your bag and also on your comfort level wearing the device on your head.
Water and shock resistance are also important qualities that a survival headlamp must possess because you never know when you will encounter rain or water while outdoors. Some headlamps can survive rain and dunking, while some can only survive splashes. If you want a headlamp that’s durable, always choose an LED headlamp because they have great impact resistance.
Having discussed the features of a survival headlamp, it’s now time to look at the reasons why you must include a headlamp in your backpack or kit. Here are five of the reasons why you need a survival headlamp with you when you’re out in the wild.
Reading a map: Whether you’re stranded and trying to find a way, or looking for game, referring to a map is vital. A headlamp lets you read your map, as well as navigate your way in the dark.
Repairing a vehicle: When your vehicle stops working in the middle of nowhere, your repair skills and your headlamp help you survive. No one likes to be stranded, so your headlamp helps you repair your vehicle in any light condition and get moving.
Inside a tent: From putting up a tent to reading inside it, a headlamp can also double as a lantern when positioned right. You can use your headlamp as a night lamp for reading as well as for keeping away wild animals.
Finding things inside the kit: Whether you need to find a knife or a first aid box, your headlamp is the only reliable light source that will help you see outdoors. When you have a survival headlamp with you, no time is spent scrambling in the dark looking for an essential item.
You also need a headlamp when you’re not outdoors. For instance, during a power outage, a headlamp will let you go about handsfree around the house and perform repairs if necessary. If you have a headlamp with you, a number of tricky situations can be easily navigated.
Let’s not forget either walking your dog at night! Or any dog! It is a lot easier with a headlamp. It is not easy holding the leash and a flashlight; a headlamp is awesome in these situations since you know you have to hold onto the leash.
The Top 7 Survival Headlamps
Petzl – ACTIK
Petzl’s beginnings were in caving, and it led the company to start manufacturing tactical utility products. The ACTIK headlamp is one such utility and survival product from Petzl, impressing with its quality and performance. Whether you want to navigate a mountain trail or run at night, this powerful headlamp is perfect for all-round use.
It’s comfortable and lightweight, and the adjustable band lets you choose how snugly you want the band to sit. The ACTIK holds two types of batteries – three AAA batteries, or core battery rechargeable via USB. Although the rechargeable battery is sold separately, it is indeed useful to have a battery that needs to be thrown away once drained.
The headlamp has two beams, wide and narrow, and they can run both simultaneously and independent of each other. It produces 300 lumens of light, which is extremely powerful, considering how lightweight and compact the device is. A full charge lasts for 60 hours on the bright setting, and up to 260 hours on the low five-lumen setting. The beam is bright enough to reach 90m at maximum.
The ACTIK is rated to IPX4, which means it can survive occasional splashing and rain. It offers both white beam and red beam for different purposes. The device also comes with a five-year guarantee.
Conclusion on the Petzl – ACTIK: At $40, this is a convenient, lightweight, and powerful headlamp for all purposes. Made of high quality, durable materials, the headlamp is splash resistant and can be used with either a core rechargeable battery or AAA batteries.
You probably don’t need it though when you are in your home and in your bathroom when all you have to do is press a button and the light turns on.
Pelican Progear 2760
If you are aware of the brand, your first thought will be “since when did Pelican start making headlamps?” Pelican has always been known for making remarkable dive lamps, so when they also offer headlamps, you have to be assured of the quality. Whether you want to paint your kid’s room or stay out late landscaping, this headlamp from Pelican is a multipurpose device.
Tough and sturdy, thus lightweight headlamp is comfortable to wear and adjustable for the fit. The Progear is powered by three AAA batteries (included), which means you need to throw off the batteries once they are drained. There is no option for a rechargeable battery.
The headlamp produces 204 lumens of light for two hours. There are two other settings, low and downcast, which are 95 and 42 lumens respectively. The headlamp can be controlled by a single button.
On a single click, all three LED beams are turned on, with a second click, it is reduced to low, while another click will activate the downcast setting. To activate the red beam, you need to hold the button down. The device is rated IPX4, which means it is splash resistant and may not survive being dunked in water.
Conclusion on the Pelican Progear 2760: Whether you are heading outdoors or need a headlamp for yard work, the Progear 2760 is a good choice at under $40. Tough, lightweight, and powerful, the headlamp is convenient to use and comfortable to wear.
You don’t want to wear this though when at the movies watching another brilliant Star Trek or Transformers movie. Bumblebee would consider that unnecessary!
Black Diamond Storm
Black Diamond has always produced capable, powerful headlamps, and the Storm is just one example. The Storm has three versions, launched in 2015.
The key difference among the three is the power. While the 2017 version has 350 lumens, the 2016 version had 250 and the 2015 version 160 lumens. There is hardly any difference in the exterior or other features of the headlamp.
The device weighs 3.9 ounces, and is waterproof up to one meter of water. There are three different night vision modes: red, green, and blue. There are two beam settings, spotlight, and proximity.
There’s also an additional feature called Brightness Memory, which lets you switch the lamp on at your chosen settings. The PowerTap Technology is for quick transition between full and dimmed power, with a separate button on the side for this function. The headlamp also has a strobe function, which is useful for emergency situations.
At 350 lumens, you get bright illumination at the maximum setting. This dustproof device is lightweight, and the band is adjustable for a comfortable fit. It runs on four AAA batteries that are included, and has a battery indicator.
Conclusion on the Black Diamond Storm: The 2016 version is a top rated headlamp on all online stores, and this 2017 version is even better, and more powerful than ever. At $50, not many headlamps over such a variety of features and power, so this is one device to check out.
You don’t need to get this for your dog though – they don’t want to wear it no matter how comfortable the Black Diamond Storm is!
Energizer Vision HD+
If you’re looking for a headlamp under $20, the Energizer Vision HD+ is a good choice. Lightweight and comfortable, this headlamp comes in three different color options, and offers a surprisingly stellar quality at only $16. It has shatterproof dustproof and waterproof lenses, and is light enough at 4 ounces to carry in your bag or wear around your head.
The powerful LED light has Smart Dimming Technology that gives you full control over brightness and runtime. The band is stretchable and breathable, and can be adjusted for the right fit or taken off for washing. This 250 lumens headlamp lights up to 70 meters, and comes with high, low, spotlight, floodlight, and night modes. Three AAA Energizer MAX batteries are included with the headlamp.
Whether you go for early morning runs or ride your back late in the night, this headlamp is perfect for all round use. Given the price, the quality you get is remarkable.
Conclusion on the Energizer Vision HD+: At this price, Energizer offers a shatterproof, waterproof and dustproof headlamp featuring a stretchable, washable band, and several different settings. The device is a fine first headlamp for a newbie.
No, you don’t want to wear this to a museum, that would be ridiculous!
The HC30 from Nitecore is like a flashlight that you can wear on your head. This detachable light comes with a number of different settings: Turbo (1000 lumens), high (400 lumens), mid (210 lumens), low (70 lumens), and ultralow (1 lumen).
The device is powered by either one 18650 battery or two CR123 batteries, and has a beam distance of 162 meters. The device is waterproof, and submersible up to two meters. This is one of the brightest headlamps of today, and will illuminate your way no matter what purpose you use it for.
The lamp can be swiveled up or down up to 90 degrees, with the adjustable nylon headband comfortably sitting on your head. There’s also a special head switch for one-handed operation, and direct access to turbo mode without going through the other modes.
The full metal body is impact resistant up to 1.5 meters. Something unique about this headlamp is its temperature regulation, which prevents overheating and keeps the device comfortable to wear.
Conclusion Nitecore HC30: There is not much to complain about the HC30. Ease of use, detachable, lightweight, different settings, and waterproof body make the device one of the best to own.
There is one place you don’t want to wear this though and that is to your college to class – the Nitecore HC30 will not impress anyone else in the classroom. That is attention you don’t want!
If you are looking for a heavy duty headlamp and money is no object, then it’s hard to find a match for the Fenix HP15UE. Of course, a heavy-duty high-performance device isn’t going to be cheap or lightweight, but if you are fine with those tradeoffs, this is a brilliant device to have.
There are multiple brightness settings, such as burst (900 Lumens), high (400 Lumens), mid (150 Lumens), low (50 Lumens), eco (10 Lumens) and SOS (50 Lumens). The beam distance is 178 meters. The device is splash resistant. With 60-degree tilt mechanism, the device comes with a strong elastic band and adjustment buckles.
Conclusion on the Fenix HP15UE: If you’re looking for a heavy-duty headlamp, the Fenix HP15UE is a good option, even though it’s more than $60 and heavy because of the weight of the battery pack.
Just don’t buy this for your wife on Valentine’s Day – that would probably not go over well.
Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight
One of the cheapest headlamps on the market is the Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight. Whether you need to fix the circuit box or go camping, this handy little device is perfect for all-round use. The lamp has the CREE-3W LED technology with a 60-meter beam, along with a wide variety of white and red light modes, and a 45-degree tilt. It weighs only 3.2 ounces, and the band is easily adjustable and ergonomically designed.
With three AAA batteries, the lamp has an exceptional 45 hours of run time. Comfortable to wear and easy to use, the headlamp is splendid for all purposes whether you’re a pro at headlamps or getting your first.
Conclusion on the Foxelli Headlamp: For $15, you get surprisingly good quality with the Foxelli headlamp. Easy to use by both newbies and professionals, this versatile, durable, and powerful headlamp has multiple settings, a comfortable headband, and is a must in your survival kit.
No, don’t need this headlamp when you are driving your car – that would be obscene!
Despite all our advancements, we still can’t see in the dark, and that’s why we need a headlamp at all time in our survival kit or at home. Whether you’re heading outdoors to a desert or into the wild, a survival headlamp will never let you down.