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Get Those Miles! 4 Best Headlamps For Running 2020 [After Sunset]

Are you an avid runner?

Do you like to run at night?

When running at night do you carry a flashlight with you? Do you find it difficult to carry a flashlight while running? If you answered yes to any of these questions you need to look headlamps. Keep on reading to find out why headlamps are a great choice for runners.

Short On Time? Here Is The Bullet List:

Hands Free Mountable Strip Light Option

We actually really like this option. It was originally designed for ultra trail runners with a 5 LED mountable strap connected to a battery. The benefit is that you are hands free and do not have something on your head. With the light lower around your waist or on a backpack strap your eyes will have a better depth of field.

**Below are our more detailed reviews. Click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

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Why You Need a Running Headlamp

As a runner, you have probably found yourself running at night or in the early morning hours. Running when the sun isn’t up is a great way to prevent heatstroke and dehydration. Running at these times also means fewer cars on the road to contend with. Running in the dark can be dangerous. The biggest danger to running in the dark is you are not easily seen. And you cannot see where you are going. A running headlamp lights up the path in front of you and allows you to be seen by approaching traffic. Running headlamps are better than flashlights as they provide you with a hands-free option.

How to Pick the Best Headlamp for Running

Picking the best running headlamp is not easy. You have hundreds of choices that range from inexpensive models to high-performance, high-priced models and everything in between. The best running headlamp for you will largely depend on how you to plan to use your running headlamp. Some models are better for everyday use, while others are geared more towards racing. Here are several things you will need to consider when choosing the best running headlamp.

Beam Quality


Casual runners can use a basic light. Casual running requires lighting up a well-designed path to see where you are stepping next. Rugged terrains, such as hiking trails, need more than a basic light. Beam width and depth is vital to lighting up the terrain to spot potential hazards before they appear. If you run in lighted areas you need a beam that adjusts to the current ambient light.


If you are going to be running for an extended period of time you want a lightweight headlamp. Heavy headlamps aren’t going to add too much weight, but enough to make your head and neck hurt after an extended period of time.


How the running headlamp fits is something else to take into consideration. You don’t want something that pinches or slides around while running. You need something that will securely stay in place. A simple elastic band, when sized correctly can work, but several headlamp bands offer adjustments. The ability to adjust the band to your head ensures a proper and comfortable fit.


You want a running headlamp that is going to perform as you need it to. Performance is linked to features. What features you need to look for depends on how you need the headlamp to perform. If you are going to be outdoors in various elements you want something will work in wet or dry weather.


Consider the style of batteries the headlamp uses. Rechargeable batteries don’t require you to purchase extra batteries, but you have downtime when they need to be recharged. Ordinary alkaline batteries require you to carry spare batteries around or go without your headlamp until you can purchase new batteries. If you opt for ordinary alkaline batteries find a headlamp that uses AA or AAA, as they are the easiest to find. Operating time and settings also need to be considered when looking at batteries.


Nobody wants to purchase a headlamp that is going to break after the first few uses. You want something that you can depend on, something that is durable. Your running headlamp needs to hold up under the most rugged conditions. How durable the headlamp needs to depend on the running conditions you find yourself in. if you find yourself running outside in various conditions look for something that offers impact and water protection.

Best Headlamps for Running on the Market

Best Trail Running Headlamp:

Petzl NAO

Petzl - NAO 575 Lumens

The Petzl NAO is the ideal choice for runners who are looking for an adjustable headlamp that provides optimal comfort. The NAO headlamp uses a rechargeable 2600 mAh Lithium-ion battery complete with a USB port for convenient recharging. Using any USB charging cable a full recharge takes 5 hours. The Petzl NAO is also compatible with ordinary alkaline batteries.  The NAO offers reactive lighting that automatically adjusts the light output from 7 to 575 lumens based on the user’s needs.

Although we feel the Petzl NAO is the best trail running headlamp it does have a slight drawback in terms of battery life. If you are in need of a trail running headlamp that offers an extremely long battery life, check out the Black Diamond Icon. If you opt for the longer battery life you need to know the Black Diamond Icon is heavier than the Petzl. The Black Diamond is also not as comfortable as the Petzl to wear for extended periods of time.


  • Reactive lighting
  • Rechargeable
  • Optimal comfort


  • Computer software not easy to use
  • No strobe


  • Weight: 6.5 oz with batteries
  • Dimensions: 3 inches x 2.2 inches x 1.5 inches
  • Setting: 7 to 575 lumens
  • Runtime: 12.5 hours on autonomy

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Best Lightweight Running Headlamp:

Black Diamond Ion

Black Diamond Ion Headlamp Lighting Aluminum

Runners who want something simple, but powerful find the Black Diamond Ion an excellent choice.  The double powered LED is encased in a modern housing unit. The housing is attached to a simple elastic band that can be adjusted for a secure fit. The Black Diamond Ion is powered by two AAA lithium standard alkaline batteries. With an IPX8 rating, the light can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. Even if water does seep into the battery compartment the light will still work but will need to be dried out entirely.

Users will find that the Black Diamond offers a range of output modes. The Black Diamond can be used on full power of 100 lumens or dimmed down to as low as 4 lumens. The Double Power LED features a strobe and distance mode. The headlamp also features a single red LED used for night vision. Each mode is accessed via a touch-control; you will not find any switches with the Black Diamond Ion.


  • IPX8 Rating
  • Lightweight
  • Various modes


  • Temperamental switch


  • Weight: 1.9 oz. with batteries
  • Dimensions: 2.125 inches x 1.25 inches x 1.25 inches
  • Output: 4 to 100 lumens
  • Runtime: 6 hours on high; 180 hours on low

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Best Budget Running Headlamp:

Princeton Tec Sync

Princeton Tec Sync LED Headlamp (150 Lumens, Gray/Black)

If you are a runner working on a budget and need the best possible light for the best possible price, take a look at the Princeton Tec Sync. Not only is the price of the light just right, it was also 2015 Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice winner. The Princeton Tec Sync features 3 LEDs located inside the modern housing. The adjustable elastic strap securely holds the headlamp in place even rough terrain.

The Princeton Tec Sync requires 3 AAAs, which can be disposable or rechargeable, to power the 2 MaxBright LEDs or the single Ultra Bright Red LED. The headlamp offers 5 output modes. All output modes are selected via a dial selector switch. The switch is easier to use than remembering what button to push or hold for a specific output. The headlamp starts off in the red light setting and goes up from there. Maximum lumens are 90 lumens of bright white light; red light LED will run for up to 125 hours on a single battery.


  • 2 LEDs
  • Dial Selector switch
  • Lithium or alkaline batteries


  • Dial hard to turn
  • Awkward Fit


  • Weight: 2.9 oz with batteries
  • Dimensions: 2.5 inches x 1.9 inches x 1.4 inches
  • Output: 20 to 90 lumens
  • Runtime: 125 hours on low

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Best Running Headlamp:

Black Diamond Sprinter 

Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp - Smoke Blue

Runners from all around prefer the Black Diamond Sprinter. The Black Diamond Sprinter is so comfortable and lightweight you hardly notice it is there. The Sprinter also comes with an added safety feature that impresses most runners, a small flashing red light. The flashing red light is located at the back of the headlamp. The taillight can be turned on or off depending on if runners need added visibility.

The Black Diamond Sprinter is an all-weather light that utilizes a TriplePower LED to emit up to 200 lumens of light. The Sprinter offers three settings: full power, strobe, and dimming. The light emitted is regulated to ensure constant brightness regardless of setting used. The Black Diamond Sprinter comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 6 hours with a 5 hour recharge time.


  • Battery meter
  • Rechargeable
  • Adjustable


  • No lockout mode


  • Weight: 3.7 oz with batteries
  • Output: 4 to 200 lumens
  • Runtime: 4 hours on high; 42 hours on low

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Best Headlamp for Running Final Thoughts

If you do any kind of running before the sun comes up or after the sun goes down you need to invest in a runner’s headlamp. If you are going to use a headlamp to provide you with a hands-free lighting option you want to buy one of the best. The best headlamps for running offer comfort and durability, as well as a reliable performance. When looking at headlamps consider battery and beam quality to find the best lamp suited for your needs. All of the headlamps we included in this article meet the requirements we set forth as to what makes the best headlamp for running. Each of the headlamps offers a range of features that runners will find useful, but each one is better suited for specific reasons. One light is better for trail running, while another is better suited for urban areas.

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