Unless you have the ultimate flexible schedule, chances are, you’re often logging miles either before the sun rises or after the sun sets – especially in the darker winter months.
It can be hard enough to drag yourself out of bed for a long run on a cold winter morning, let alone when it’s pitch dark outside and you suddenly have the added trouble of staying safe.
Headlamps for runners is one of the most important pieces of gear for any runner hitting the road for a pre-dawn or post-twilight workout.
A good running headlamp not only illuminates your path so that you can spot clear footing and avoid tripping, twisting your ankle, and other injuries, but it also makes you visible to passing cars – both key to running safely in the dark.
But with so many to choose from, it can be a little tricky to know which is best. And that’s what we’re here to help with!
In this article, we’ll cover how to pick the best running headlamp for you, and then list our pick of the top 8 running headlamps for everything from trail to traffic to budget.
Let’s get into it!
The 8 Best Headlamps for Runners in 2023
How to Pick Running headlamps?
The right running headlamp for you will vary on a few things – but there are two things you should always look for when picking your running headlight.
The best headlamps for runners are lightweight, powerful, and have ample battery life that reliably exceeds the duration of your longest run.
This is crucial, so that you’re not left fumbling in the dark with a dim, useless glow the last few miles of your run.
A good running headlamp should also be adjustable so that it stays put without bouncing or sliding down while your head jostles with each stride or bump you encounter. If a headlamp is a pain to wear, you’ll rip it off in frustration, defeating the purpose altogether.
Fortunately, headlamps for runners have come a long way since their inception.
What were once bulky, heavy, disposable battery-consuming behemoths, are now sleek, powerful, rechargeable torches that make wearing a headlamp while running in the dark feel safe and that much less daunting.
The 8 Best Headlamps for Runners
Now it’s time to jump into our pick of the best running headlights. Ensure you can see and be seen running in the dark with our picks for the best headlamps for runners below.
Lumens: 165, Battery: Three AAA batteries (included) – up to 45 hours, Weight: 3.2 oz, Water Protection: IPX5
|One-click minimalist design||Battery compartment is delicate|
|Tiltable body for maximum visibility||Red light is quite dim|
|Wide choice of colors||Uncomfortable on longer runs|
When it comes to electronic products, it’s often advisable to spend a little more so that you don’t end up with junk. However, when it comes to headlamps for runners, it turns out you can get a pretty mighty and dependable little product even on a tight budget.
The Foxelli MX20B Headlamp is undoubtedly the best inexpensive headlamp for runners. The performance and features far exceed its $10 price tag.
Plus, Foxelli backs the running headlamp with a lifetime warranty, completely mitigating the risks usually associated with buying cheap headlamps for runners.
The Foxelli MX20B Headlamp has three power levels, a red light mode, and an SOS mode for emergencies. On high, the maximum brightness is 165 lumens and the beam extends 50 meters.
One downside is that the headlamp does require three AAA batteries. However, even with the batteries, the total weight is just 3.2 ounces, making it a good headlamp for runners who want something lightweight. Batteries last about 4 hours on high and up to 45 hours on low.
Finally, the Foxelli MX20B Headlamp is designed specifically for runners, with features such as a waterproof rating of IPX5 for wet and soggy runs and an angle-adjustable front panel to best illuminate the trail ahead.
Lumens: 200, Battery: 1 Rechargeable Lithium Ion Battery (included) – up to 40 hours, Weight: 1.75 oz Water Protection: IPX4
|Stays firmly in place with no bouncing||Control button can be fiddly|
|Durable||Tilting mechanism is a little too loose|
|Rechargeable via micro USB|
The best headlamps for running should be so light and comfortable that if it weren’t for their beam, you’d forget you were even wearing them. No running headlamp better delivers on this wish than the BioLite HeadLamp 200. At just 50 grams (1.75 ounces), this extremely lightweight headlamp is as unobtrusive as it gets.
The moisture-wicking head strap is comfortable and completely eliminates any bouncing or slipping of the headlamp even if it’s sleeting out or you work up a sweat.
The beam has a flood distance of 8 meters and a spot distance of 50 meters, which allows you to have ample forewarning of the road or trail ahead, even if you’re running fast.
This running headlamp has four lighting settings, allowing you to choose the brightness and lighting pattern that best fits your environment. The 700 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery runs for 3 hours on high and 40 hours on low on a single charge. BioLite backs the headlamp with a one-year warranty.
Lumens: 900, Battery: 1 Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (included) – up to 100 hours, Weight: 3.5 oz, Water Protection: IPX4
|Two-part design for stability||Some users may find the changeable lighting distracting|
|Reactive Lighting mode gives a longer burn time||Big reduction in battery life at max power|
|Reflective headband for visibility at night|
Trail runners often need a super bright running headlamp because the forest is not only free from the added light from street lamps, but the shelter of trees also blocks moonlight. As such, the woods can be extremely dark before sunrise and after sunset.
The PETZL Swift RL is one of the best headlamps for runners tackling off-road miles in the dark.
This rechargeable running headlamp features an impressive 900 lumens with automatic, reactive brightness adjustment, which adapts to your surroundings and needs. This saves battery and optimizes your visibility and comfort.
There is also a battery light indicator, easy operation with one button, and a comfortable headband with reflective stitching for added safety. The headlamp is backed by a five-year warranty.
Lumens: 400, Battery: Rechargeable With Integrated USB – up to 105 hours, Weight: 3.2 oz, Water Protection: IP67
|Good resistance to dust and water||Button configuration can be confusing (although it’s adjustable in the app)|
|Modemaker app unlocks a huge library of light modes|
|No charging cable needed|
Increase your visibility to oncoming traffic with the Knog Bilby Run 400 Headlamp. This unique design features a stay-put silicone strap instead of the usual fabric or woven straps on most headlamps for runners. This minimizes sweating and makes the headlamp easy to clean, low profile, and very lightweight.
Moreover, because the silicone strap is clear, the red side lights shine right through it, alerting cars of your presence.
There is also a unique red light halo effect, which has been specifically designed to increase the safety of runners. This is definitely one of the best headlamps for runners who traverse the shoulder of dark and winding roads.
The Knog Bilby Run 400 Headlamp has seven pre-programmed lighting modes with four brightness settings per mode, making this one of the more customizable and versatile running headlamps. The beam has an impressive range of 100m on the brightest setting.
Finally, there are five separate LED lights: a high beam to see by, two elliptical beams for mid and wide beam angles, a red light, and downlights for reading, and the running headlamp is fully rechargeable in four hours via micro USB.
Lumens: 500, Battery: CORE rechargeable battery (included) or 3 AAA batteries (not included) – up to 100 hours, Weight: 2.87 oz, Water Protection: IPX4
|Quick and easy to adjust on the go||Light beam is fairly narrow|
|Folds for storage||Battery must be removed for charging|
|Reflective rear accents for better visibility at night|
Instead of the stretchy straps you typically see on the best running headlamps, this model features a thin, flexible, and lightweight AIRFIT headband designed to minimize aerodynamic resistance and stay firmly in place.
Its unique design also makes it very versatile – it can be worn around either your head, neck, or a helmet, or attached to a tree or tent pole when your run is over. You can even use it as a freestanding lantern!
The light is clean and crisp, with a single button allowing you to switch between two types of beams (flood or mixed) and 3 lighting levels, whilst the location of the battery pack at the back keeps the unit well-balanced and comfortable.
It folds easily to a nice compact shape and comes with its own storage bag, so it’s easy to stow away and a perfect accessory for trail running.
Lumens: 260, Battery: 3 AAA Batteries (included) – up to 35 hours, Weight: 3.5 oz, Water Protection: IPX4
|Pivoting head||Can feel warm with extended use|
|Wide and spot beam modes||Instructions are poor|
|Very soft headband|
Illuminating up to 80m in high mode, this headlamp gives you plenty of bang for your buck and has some pretty great features considering its low price.
These include 7 light modes and smart dimming technology that adjusts the light when necessary, saving you from wasting battery power when a full beam isn’t needed.
There’s also a red night vision mode, plus ‘Next Push Off’ technology, which makes it easy to turn the headlamp straight off without having to click through multiple cycles.
It’s also durable enough for off-road runs in rugged terrain, with a tough body that withstands a 1m drop test, resistance to water, and a shatterproof lens.
The thin strap is lightweight and comfortable, plus it’s adjustable for a perfect fit.
Lumens: 200, Battery: CORE rechargeable battery (included) or 3 AAA batteries (not included) – up to 50 hours, Weight: 1.23 oz, Water Protection: IPX4
|Ultra-compact and easy to store||The very thin cord can pinch if you don’t get the right fit|
|Control sequence is easy to remember||No cover on charging socket|
|Reflective thread in headband for visibility|
The ultralightweight Petzl Bindi Headlamp is the best running headlamp for those that prefer a ‘barely there’ look and feel.
But don’t let that simple design fool you – this is still a fantastic little headlamp for training in urban environments, with a ‘full tilt’ mechanism that allows you to see your surroundings clearly whether you wear it on your head or neck.
Using Petzl’s 50:50 Brightness-To-Burn-Time ratio, it retains 50% of its original brightness halfway through the burn time, which gives it the edge over many of its competitors that only achieve 20 to 30%.
You get two beam patterns (flood or mixed) and there’s a useful lock function that prevents the headlamp from turning on accidentally and draining your battery.
Lumens: 750, Battery: 1 Rechargeable Lithium Ion battery (included) – up to 150 hours, Weight: 1.75 oz, Water Protection: IPX4
|3ft cord for pass-thru charging on the go||May slip a little on petite users|
|Boost option for 30-second bursts of max light||Pins holding the battery to the band are fragile|
|Rear power unit keeps pressure off your forehead|
With a brightness of 750 lumens, the beam on this mighty running headlamp has a flood distance of 15 meters and a spot distance of 150 meters, which is 1.5 times the length of a football field!
There are eight different lighting modes, including modes that automatically dim when you’re under street lamps to save batteries and aid visibility, and other modes that will stay bright no matter what. For safety, there’s a rear red light that can strobe or glow solid to increase so that cars can clearly see you on the road.
This is also one of the best headlamps for runners tackling ultramarathons or epic multi-day adventure races, as the 3,000 mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery affords a run time of 7 hours on high and 150 hours on low.
Lastly, features of this running headlamp include a front panel that can be tilted up or down with one hand, easy operation even with gloved hands (which is an excellent perk for cold winter mornings), water resistance, and a lightweight, 125-gram design. BioLight backs this running headlamp with a one-year warranty.
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