Headlamps: Ratings of Sources
The editors of OutdoorGearLab.com put 28 headlamps through extensive hands-on testing, then rate them each in categories like trail finding, proximity lighting, battery life and overall brightness. Each headlamp also receives a comparative overall score out of 100 possible, a thorough review that explores the ins and outs of its field performance, and a brief comparison to similar models.
The author, who's been using and wearing headlamps for more than 20 years, puts more than 30 headlamps through hands-on testing for qualities like lighting distance and beam shape, then gives extensive reviews for each of the top-performing headlamps. His reviews are well-balanced and include helpful photos that document the beam brightness and shape.
The editors of Backpacker magazine and an unspecified number of testers subject hundreds of products to hands-on testing in order to select 13 "Editor's Choice Award" winners for the 2015 gear round-up. Just one headlamp -- the Princeton Tec Sync -- makes the cut. The gear editor describes the Sync headlamp as "as simple and intuitive as it gets."
The author provides a short review for each headlamp, based on the results of hands-on testing. Although the seven headlamps in this roundup don't receive comparative rankings, Paul Cuno-Booth awards two editor's choice designations, and he's not shy about highlighting both the positive and negative aspects of each headlamp's performance.
The author tests each of these headlamps briefly (taking each one on a run for up to two hours) and issues comparative rankings out of 100 points possible, along with a single "best in class" designation. Each headlamp gets a comprehensive review with individual ratings in categories like comfort, brightness, ease of use and features.
Pete Stoughton subjects an unspecified number of headlamps to hands-on testing and provides a short review for each. No comparative rankings are issued, but he's very transparent about his testing methods and offers a great balance of pros and cons for each headlamp, coming from the perspective of an experienced trail runner.
In response to a reader question, the author names four of the best mid-range headlamps he's tested. No comparative scores are issued and he doesn't go into detail on how extensive the testing was. That said, he provides a good balance of pros and cons for each headlamp's performance, along with basic specs. OutsideOnline.com also publishes a couple of other reader Q&A articles on headlamps for running and high-tech headlamps.
It appears that the headlamps in this roundup were subjected to hands-on testing, although the author doesn't give details of how that was done. What is clear is that he provides a balanced consideration of the pros, cons and features for each headlamp, along with brief commentary on the industry in general and a link to a useful headlamp buying guide.
Amazon.com offers several thousand listings for headlamps. Buried among all the generic models are a number of high-quality headlamps for hiking, camping and running; some models receive thousands of user reviews. We noted standout models as having an average score of 4.5 stars or better after at least 20 useful user reviews.
REI.com stocks several dozen types of headlamps for all uses -- most of them very high quality models. There aren't as many user reviews here as on other retail sites, but the users tend to be fairly savvy about what they're buying and how they use it. Standout models receive a rating of 4 stars or better.