The best headlamps for hunting are waterproof, lightweight and include a red, green or blue light mode. The red, green or blue (RGB) modes will protect a hunter’s night vision while hiking in the dark. Plus, RGB light is far less likely to alert big game animals while you’re hiking to your hunting spot.
The best headlamps for hunters also include adjustable beams that let them pierce through the darkness along a trail but also drop the power to conserve battery. Of course, the main point of having a headlamp for hunting is to give a hunter hands-free light. If you’re quartering a big game animal in the dark, being able to direct light wherever you’re looking is darn near essential.
Plus, hunting headlamps are surprisingly durable and reliable for the price — the best hunting headlamps are waterproof, made by reputable companies, and they rarely fail. If you’re trying to figure out how to spend your money on flashlights and headlamps for hunting camp or hunting trips, we recommend that you invest in one of these hunting headlamps . . . and spend less on a flashlight. These hands-free headlamps for hunting are lighter and more versatile, and therefore, more important to the kinds of hunting we like to do.
Better yet, if you get injured or lost and need to build a shelter and fire in the dark, a hands-free headlamp instantly becomes a key survival tool.
Best Headlamps for Hunting 2018
There are a lot of great headlamps available for hikers, backpackers, and trail runners, but we narrow the field considerably with our hunting headlamp recommendations. If you hike into the woods before dawn, you’ll want a headlamp with a red, green or blue mode. And if you hunt in the evening, a bright and dependable headlamp designed for hunting can give you an extra boost of confidence to take your shot right before dark.
As for beam distance and lumens, buying a high-quality hunting headlamp with good optical components tends to be more important than the exact specs. Stick with reputable manufacturers and you’ll be good to go.
1. Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
The Black Diamond Storm is one of the best all-around headlamps for hunting, backpacking, hiking and fishing. The newest version pumps out a whopping 350 lumens of light and has improved peripheral lighting. It also boasts an IPX7 waterproof rating so you can run it in the rain without fear. We’re big fans. The only downside is that you definitely have to read the instruction manual to figure out how to use it: It has a touch-sensitive housing that lets you transition between full power and dim modes, as well as transition between red, green and blue modes. The brightness memory feature lets you turn the light off and on at the brightness setting you prefer without switching back to full power first. For hunters, you can activate the red, green or blue LEDs without cycling through a white mode. A lock mode prevents accidental activation while in your hunting pack.
Max Beam Distance: 80 meters
Run Time: 22 hrs on high; 160 hrs on low
Batteries: 4 AAA
Weight: 3.9 oz
The Petzl Tactikka +RGB is easy to use and has an IPX4 water resistance rating, which also means the Petzl Tactikka +RGB can shed some rain. While the 250 lumens doesn’t scream raw power, the quality of the beam is excellent at all brightness levels, which helps with trail navigation as well as nighttime tasks. In fact, the white spotlight on high produces a consistent beam of light that is far more usable than 250 lumens might suggest. The red, green or blue modes work well, too. All-in-all, the Petzl Tactikka +RGB is comfortable, solid and comes in a sweet camo pattern.
Max Beam Distance: 90 meters
Run Time: 80 hrs on high
Batteries: 3 AAA
Weight: 3.1 oz
3. Cabela’s Alaskan Guide RGB Headlamp by Princeton Tec
The Cabela’s Alaskan Guide RGB Headlamp by Princeton Tec is one of our favorite headlamps for hunting because it’s dirt-simple to use. All you have to do is push the button and can cycle through five modes, red, green or blue and white in high or low. Better yet, red comes on first, so you don’t have to cycle through the white to get to red — to get to white, just push and hold for a second or two. So easy. The main LED lamp puts out 300 lumens in high. Of course, Princeton Tec is a great headlamp manufacturer in its own right, but this Cabela’s branded model gets our nod because we’re fans of Cabela’s and the company’s overall customer service and dedication to hunting and outdoor gear.
Max Beam Distance: 73 meters
Run Time: 53 hrs on high; 150 hours using red, green or blue LEDs
Batteries: 3 AAA
Weight: 2.9 oz
Recently upgraded, the newPrinceton Tec Vizz puts out a remarkable 420 lumens and is dimmable in all three modes. The Vizz has a Maxbright LED for a powerful spot beam or a pair of white Ultrabright LEDs for a white flood beam. Two red Ultrabright LEDs come in for preserving night vision and handling the headlamp needs of hunters. The waterproof level is IPX7. There’s one more nifty feature: The translucent switch acts as a low battery indicator. Finally, did we mention that the Vizz is Made in the USA? It is. Gotta appreciate that. (Just make sure you get the new 420 lumen version, not the older 165 lumen model.)
Max Beam Distance: 78 meters
Run Time: 110 hours
Batteries: 3 AAA
Weight: 3.2 oz
5. Cabela’s Alaskan Guide XP Green Headlamp by Princeton Tec
The Cabela’s Alaskan Guide XP Green Headlamp by Princeton Tec is the heaviest headlamp on this list but it’s also the most powerful. The four AA batteries are mounted in a pack in the back while the lamp is in the front, which helps balance out the 9.8 oz load. What do you get with all this power? A whopping 550 lumens that spotlights out to 120 meters on high or a surprising 67 meters on low. The housing is waterproof to an IPX7 rating, too. What’s particularly nice about this Cabela’s version are the four, count them, four green 5mm LEDs. The combination puts out one of the best hunter-friendly green beams available — if you have aging eyes that don’t see as well in the dark as they used to, you might appreciate the extra power in the Cabela’s Alaskan Guide XP Green Headlamp.
Max Beam Distance: 120 meters
Run Time: 70 hours on high; 150 hours using green
Batteries: 4 AA
Weight: 9.8 oz
Like we said, there are a lot of great headlamps available these days, many of which have red, green or blue lights that make them versatile for hunting. Not everyone sneaks into the forest in the wee hours of the morning, though, and if you don’t, you don’t have to get an RGB hunting headlamp. Still, save yourself some hassle and choose a waterproof headlamp.
Meanwhile, here are a few more solid lighting options that are great for hunting that we just had to mention:
Coast FL75R Rechargeable Focusing LED Headlamp
Coast tends to produce headlamps that are aimed more at industrial or work-related uses, but Coast has attracted some outdoor adventure lovers, too. The Coast FL75R Rechargeable Focusing LED Headlamp is, obviously, rechargeable, but better yet, it features a twist-focus beam. By twisting the optics around the lens, you can go from Coast’s ‘Ultra View Flood Beam’ to its ‘Bulls-Eye Spot Beam.’ The output is a whopping 530 lumens on high with a maximum beam distance of 156 meters. Also has a red beam for hunters. Comes with a battery pack, USB charging cord and AC and DC adapters. One more thing: It has an IPX4 waterproof rating.
Browning Night Seeker RGB LED Cap Light
The Browning Night Seeker RGB LED Cap Light is a great backup hunting headlamp. At 15 lumens, it’s not particularly powerful, but it is versatile. It clips to any ball cap. In addition to two white LEDs, it produces red, green and blue light, too. At less than $15, it’s a great stocking stuffer gift for hunters and the kind of backup we like to keep in a pickup’s glove box or with an ATV or UTV.
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp
The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is nearly as good as the Black Diamond Storm — and may be actually better depending on what you care about most. As a hunting headlamp, it only produces red light while the Storm lets you choose between red, green and blue. The white light lumens drop down to a respectable 300, but so does the weight — it’s down to 3.1 oz, mainly because it uses only 3 AAA batteries instead of 4. It’s still waterproof, though, and the maximum beam distance is 80 meters. You can get 30 hours of burn time on high (better than the Storm) and 125 hours on low (less than the Storm). What about price? The Spot is about $10 less. Because some guys seem to see a bit better with green light than red light in the dark, we usually recommend the Storm. But if you like red just fine, the Spot is a better buy.
Bonus: The Best Ultralight Lantern
The BioLite SunLight Portable Solar Light is one of the coolest ultralight lanterns we’ve ever seen. First, it produces 100 lumens of dimmable white light. The light output is a very broad, lantern-like beam — bright but not harsh. Hang it in your tent or above camp at night and you can cook or work on hunting gear. It has up to 50 hours of runtime. You can charge it via USB in about 2 hours . . . or let the sun charge it through its built-in solar panel in about 7 hours. You can set it to produce a red night-vision light or cycle through a whole spectrum of colors in party mode. It has an IPX4 water resistance rating and it weighs just 3.4 oz. It’s a little under 3.5 inches square and less than 1 inch thick. We take our SunLight Portable Solar Light pretty much everywhere — camping, backpacking, to hunting camp . . . and of course, it goes into the hunting pack on some evening hunts that have poor access where we might appreciate the extra light.