To ensure comfort, experts recommend that you try on a headlamp before buying
it with the batteries inserted so you'll feel the full weight and balance.
If you buy online, be sure the retailer offers a good return policy. Most headlamps
let you tilt the lamp to direct the beam an essential feature and expert
reviews suggest considering the following features, too:
isn't always better. Too bright a light can create glare on a
page you're trying to read, bother other people or ruin your night vision.
Reviews warn that the brightest lights are usually spot lights good for
distance vision but not for task lighting.
for adjustable light levels. The lowest brightness setting
provides the longest battery life, and reviews say you're apt to need brighter
light only for a few tasks.
a flood beam LED array for task lighting, a spot LED
for distance. Some heavier headlamps combine both.
comparing output, lux is better than lumens. Lumens gives a
very rough approximation of the maximum light output, but different manufacturers
calculate it in different ways. Lux measurements at a specified
distance provide a more reliable comparison among headlamps, though this information
isn't available for all models.
the cost of batteries. For daily jobsite use near an AC outlet,
consider a headlamp that can use rechargeable NiMH batteries, even though
they usually lower performance a bit. A few headlamps use rechargeable lithium-ion
better. And of course a solar headlamp has no battery cost at all.
voltage regulator keeps light consistent for
a certain number of hours. Without this feature, headlamps start to dim right away and gradually
get dimmer as batteries fade. Headlamps with voltage regulators delay
this, and usually have a battery meter so you have plenty of time to change
- Most headlamps include a flash or strobe mode for alerting rescuers. This
isn't important for most household or jobsite uses, but can be
life-saving for outdoor pursuits. It's also a valuable feature for a headlamp
you keep in your vehicle.
preserve night vision, a red LED is better
than a red filter. Both preserve night vision, but a filter diminishes the light more.
filters that pull down are more convenient
than detached filters. Filters that pack separately are little things that tend to get lost,
and are harder to use when wearing gloves.
if you need a waterproof case. "Waterproof to one meter" means
the headlamp can perform well after up to 30 minutes of immersion in
water up to one meter deep. "Water-resistant" means the headlamp
should survive rain. Divers and cavers need even more waterproof
headlamps; see our Alternative Considerations section below.
travel, consider a solar headlamp
or one that uses batteries that are easy to find. Long runtime between battery changes is also a plus.
A solar headlamp needs no batteries at all. For trips, try to get
equipment that uses the same battery type.
batteries are lighter, better
for cold weather and hold charge longest. Since lithium-ion batteries store for up to ten years, reviews recommend
buying them in bulk for the best price. If you plan to do a lot
of worldwide travel, however, you might want to stick with alkaline batteries
since they're easier to find and less expensive.