Accessories

The ULTIMATE List of the Best Trail Running Headlamps [2019 Edition]

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Whether you prefer running at night, sneaking out for a long jog after a hectic day during the chilly winter evenings, or honing your racing skills before sunrise every day, as a trail runner, you’ll run in the dark at some point.

However, you’ll be glad to know that lack of visibility, while running on a dark trail, is no more a problem. The companies catering to the needs of trail runners have made their lives a lot easier by offering a wide range of trail running headlamps.

These headlamps offer a greater visibility to the runners on even the darkest trails. They also come with a plethora of features that make night running an amazing experience.

How to choose the best trail running headlamp?

Choosing a trail running headlamp is not a cakewalk. There are truckloads of brands that have launched unusual headlamps featuring coming of age features. This makes it very confusing for a runner to zero-in on the best one.

Here are a few parameters that should be kept in mind while choosing a trail running headlamp. Let’s look at them one by one.

The fit of the lamp

The head often squirms while running. This is inevitable, and hence, you must select a headlamp that fits the head. Many lamps come with a single headband, but the biggest issue with them is that they fail to stay in place and slip while running. What could be more annoying than that?

You must look for the headlamps that come with two straps. Some headlamps feature a second strap to secure the light at a place. The second strap runs from back to front over the top of the head.

You must try the headlamp in the store and, run to check if the light stays in place.

The brightness of the lamp

You need a very bright lamp for trail running. Generally, the headlamps made explicitly for camping feature 20 to 40-lumen maximum lighting. For trail running, you would need a light with a minimum 100 to 120 lumens brightness capacity.

While running at night, you must get a clear vision of the trail to ensure safety. A bright headlamp offers a higher view and so, you must not compromise on this factor.

Furthermore, you must look for a headlamp with adjustable brightness so that you can adjust the brightness according to the task you are performing other than running (like reading a map).

Focusable beam

Many headlamps come with this feature. These lamps allow you to adjust the beam to broader and diffuse from narrow and focused. This works well on a trail with varied conditions. You can change the beam according to the state of the path.

This also ensures greater safety. A thin beam offers greater visibility of the edges of the trail. While focussing the beam allows you to see the other trail conditions.

Weight and balance

Do not opt for bulkier headlamps. Opt for the lamps that your head can bear easily. Buy the headlamps that come with a separate battery pack at the back to counterbalance the light at the front.

Control

Look for headlamps with easy controls. Look for lamps with buttons that can be controlled even when the headlamp is on your head. More precisely, look for the powers that can also be managed while you are wearing gloves.

Another factor to consider here is protected on-off button.

Water-resistance

This is generally the last thing that people consider while buying a headlamp. For them, not running in the rains is the reason enough to overlook this significant feature.

Vegetations are often dewy or damp at night, and hence, you must look for a water-resistant trail running headlamp.

Best Trail Running Headlamps in 2018

As already mentioned, many brands come up with the headlamps loaded with unmatched features. If it is difficult for you to understand which headlamp is the best for you, we have a little help in hand.

Here, we are reviewing the best trail running headlamps. Let’s look at what’s the latest and the best in the market these days.

Listed below are the best trail running headlamps:

Petzl Pixa 3 Pro Rechargeable Trail Running Headlamp

Type   Trail Running Headlamp 
Brightness  55 Lumen  
Battery  2 AA batteries 
Illumination Range   75 m 
Battery Life  Up to 12 hours  
Weight  10 oz.  
Price  $95.94 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Notable Features

  • Best multi-beam headlamp
  • Best for proximity lighting
  • Offers long-range vision
  • Use of CONSTANT LIGHTING technology
  • Waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes (IP 67)
  • Rechargeable offers better longevity

Pixa 3 Pro by Petzl is one of the best headlamps for trail running. It offers great longevity. It comes with multi-beam light that is fully adjustable and hence, you can run on any trail without any worry. You can adjust the brightness for close-up or long-range vision. The headlamp comes with three lighting modes that can be adjusted according to proximity and distance. The beacon can be rotated to 45 degrees to adjust the beam.

It features 2 AA batteries that can work for up to 12 hours, given they are used on low setting. The headlamp can bear crushing weight of up to 80 kg and fall up to 6.6 ft.

Pros   Cons  
High performance  Slightly expensive 
Rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery  Not the lightest weight variant  
Long battery life   
Heavy duty   
Durable    
Washable elastic headband   

Why buy Petzl Pixa 3 Pro?

If you are looking for a trail running headlamp for an extended night running regime, then will be the best pick for you. It is a high-performance headlamp with an incredible battery life and is a heavy-duty product. The three lighting modes make it a great product.

Petzl NAO Trail Running Headlamp

Type   Trail Running Headlamp 
Brightness  300 Lumen 
Battery  2 AAA and LR03 Battery 
Illuminating Range  135 m 
Battery Life  12 hours 
Weight  6.5 Ounces 
Price  $179.60 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Notable Features

  • High-performance
  • Two Cree LED lights; one flood and another spotlight
  • Padlock feature
  • Manual and RLT (Reactive Lighting Technology)
  • Water Resistance Rating: IPX4

Petzl NAO is another promising Petzl headlamp for trail night running. The headlamp features RLT, i.e. Reactive Lighting Technology. The chip automatically dims or brightens based on what you are looking at. For instance, if you are reading a map, the light automatically adjusts to 120 lumens and if you are looking at something that is very far away, the light automatically brightens up. This feature also attributes for an extended battery life.

The headlamp features two straps and hence, you need not worry about fit. It is resistant to water for up to 10 minutes. The product features two AAA and LR03 batteries that are compatible with USB chargers, as well as Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries.

There are 2 lighting modes namely, reactive lighting and constant lighting. The reactive lighting adjusts the beam strength based on where the lamp is focussed. This saves the battery. Another lighting mode, i.e. constant mode is the manual control. You can adjust it to high or low beam power.

Another notable feature of the Petzl NAO is the lock function. The function avoids accidental turning-on of the light.

Pros   Cons 
Reactive lighting that automatically adjusts to low- and high- lighting situations  It is a little highly priced 
Lightweight   
Durable   
Rechargeable battery, also compatible with USB connection   
Better performance under low-temperature situations   

Why buy Petzl NAO?

Petzl NAO is a great choice for trial runners to don’t want heavy lamps on their head. It is an extremely lightweight product and perfectly fits everyone. The lock function saves the battery from getting drained by making sure that the light does not get turned on accidently. Overall, a durable and useful product for trail runners in low-temperature areas.

Black Diamond Icon Trail Running Headlamp

Type  Trail Running Headlamp 
Brightness  500 Lumen 
Battery   2 AA batteries 
Illuminating range   125 m 
Battery Life   50 hours on high and 200 hours on low setting 
Weight   8 Ounces 
Price  $74.94 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Notable Features

  • Tri-strap design featuring better stability
  • QuadPower LED Spotlight
  • Programmable brightness memory
  • Different lighting modes
  • Powerful battery

Touted as one of the most powerful headlamps, Black Diamond Icon is indeed the best. The trail running headlamp comes loaded with many amazing features.

The headlamp offers the output of 320 lumen, which is more than enough for an optimum visibility. The best thing is that you can adjust all the features according to your preference. You can adjust the headlamp to night-vision mode which is available in red, blue, and green. If you wish for a lighter weight, you can remove the battery pack.

The headlamp comes with QuadPower LED spotlight and a DoublePower white LED light offering a great range of visibility. You can adjust the brightness level according to the needs. The lighting modes include strobe, dimming, and RGB night vision.

If adjusted on low setting, the headlamp works for up to 200 hours and this is simply incredible. If adjusted on a high setting, the lamp works for 50 hours.

A three-level power meter shows the remaining life of the battery.

Pros  Cons 
Robust, High-power  Expensive 
External display showing the remaining battery life   
High battery performance   
Tri-strap construction ensuring that the headlamp stays in the place while running   
High- performance even in wet conditions   
Different lighting modes   

Why Black Diamond Icon?

Black Diamond Icon trail running headlamps is one of the sturdiest headlamps on the market. The tri-strap pattern makes sure that the headlamps stays in place no matter how fast you run. Running is rains? Don’t worry, it is a water-resistant product.

Petzl TIKKA Trail Running Headlamp

Type  Trail Running Headlamp 
Brightness  200 Lumen 
Battery  Petzl CORE rechargeable batteries 
Illuminating Range  80 m 
Battery Life  250 Hours 
Weight   3 Ounces 
Price  $29.95 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Notable Feature

  • Lightweight
  • User-friendly design
  • Wide beam capability
  • Glow in the dark locator to locate the headlamp in the dark
  • Hybrid: Can be charged with standard, as well as Petzl CORE rechargeable batteries
  • User-friendly

Petzl TIKKA is a fine-quality headlamp that can be considered as an ideal option for urban running. The headlamp features 200 Lumen light brightness and wide beam capability.

The headlamp is equipped with three lighting modes namely, proximity, movement, and distance vision. The lamp is weather resistance and hence, you can use it in damp and wet areas. The illumination range of the headlamp is up to 80 meters.

One notable feature of this trail running headlamp is that it is a hybrid headlamp. This lamp can be powered with the standard batteries and also, the special Petzl CORE rechargeable batteries. The push button system makes light selection an easy task.

Pros   Cons 
User-friendly  Absence of an overhead band for better stability 
Three lighting modes   
Washable headband    
Glow in the dark feature    
Lightweight and durable    

Why Petzl Tikka?

Petzl Tikka is one of the most user-friendly trail running headlamps on the market. The headband can be easily washed and cleaned. The “glow in the dark” feature makes the headlamp stand out from the crowd. However, the absence of an overhead stability band makes it less preferred.

Petzl Reactik+ Trail Running Headlamp

Type  Trail Running Headlamp 
Brightness  220 Lumen 
Battery  Lithium-ion battery 
Illuminating Range  80 m 
Battery Life  2.5 Hours at full capacity, 5 hours in standard mode, 10 hours in maximum autonomy mode 
Weight   3.5 Ounces 
Price  $70.95 (Check out the latest rates here!)

Notable Feature

  • Reactive lighting technology
  • Mixed beam feature
  • Easily rechargeable using integrated USB port
  • Washable and adjustable headband
  • Compact design
  • Optimized battery life

If you’re looking for a headlamp that is lightweight and compact, then Petzl Reactik+ headlamp of trail running can be an ideal choice for you. The incredible features of this headlamp will make sure that you run safely and comfortably at night. The headlamp comes with a multi-beam lighting feature and the reactive technology which adjusts the intensity of the beam according to your surroundings. The headlamp is water-resistant and allows you to concentrate on your run without manually controlling the light. If it runs out of battery, you can easily recharge it using the integrated USB port.

Pros   Cons 
Compact design  A bit on the expensive side 
Self-adjusting beam intensity   
Washable headband    
Good battery life    
Lightweight and durable    
Water resistant   

Why Petzl Reactik+?

Petzl Reactik+ is the best trail running headlamp out of the lot. It comes with a good battery life and a compact design. The reactive technology adjusts the intensity of the beam according to the trail conditions. With Petzl Reactik+, you can run stress-free at night even if it is raining. The headlamp is water-resistant!

Useful Tips for Trail Running at Night

So now that you are well aware of the best trail running headlamps available on the market today, we’d like to share with you some useful tips for running at night.

Tips for running at night:

Make yourself comfortable to 2D viewing

When you run with a headlamp, you do not see the shadows because the light source is very close to the eyes. This makes the trial look two-dimensional and flat. You must train yourself to run efficiently with the 2D view of the terrain.

This might need some practice. You must start with easy trails and then graduate to complicated ones.

Keep a check on battery power

Adjust the brightness of the headlamp according to the path. You must use a low power setting to preserve the battery.

Adjust to the brightness that could easily light up the trail. On uphill, you can bring the power down. Do not forget to keep spare batteries with you, especially if you are out for a more extended run.

Understand uphill and downhill

As already mentioned, you can adjust the setting at low power when you are headed uphill, but if you are moving downhill, you might need more brightness and power.

When walking downhill, you need to be extra cautious. You need extra brightness and wide beams to give you a clear view of the trail ahead.

Keep a spare headlamp handy

You must take care of the headlamp and also, carry an extra one with you. Use fresh battery when you head out for trail running.

Not just keep extra batteries but also, a spare headlamp. If in case, the bulb burns out or the lamp fails, you would have an extra one at your disposal.
You need to be extra-cautious while running at night.

Go slow

If you are new to night running, you must go slow and steady. Start from more natural trails and then gradually, move to the complicated ones.

You must first make yourself comfortable to nigh running. You can satiate your adrenaline later.

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