Trail running is perilous in its own right. So it stands to reason that Active Junkies do it in the dark. It's just more of a rush – rocks and roots pop up out of the ground to trip you up, trailside cliff drops yawn into blackness on either side of you, and low-hanging branches threaten to clothesline you at every turn. Needless to say, a good headlamp is key. This is also true of night road running when visibility means safety, both seeing and being seen.
We’ve pulled together some of our favorite and top-performing running headlamps from Black Diamond, Petzl and Nathan. Check out our top picks below.
Weighing just 4 ounces, the headlamp cranks out a max of 160 lumens, has IPX 7 water resistant properties (which means it can survive heavy rain and a meter of submersion for half an hour), and houses a QuadPower LED, two SinglePower white LEDs and two SinglePower red LEDs. This running headlamp includes a feature called PowerTap, which allows you to transition from full brightness to dim settings just by tapping the side of the headlamp. We took the headlamp out for a series of evening trail runs, and the Storm provided a soothing amount of light in full-power mode. The trail lit up for a good 20 feet ahead, throwing any potential obstacles into vivid relief. With the 160 lumens blasting, we were able to run and sprint with confidence. The Storm is killer for overnight races, as the 4AAA batteries are easily replaceable on the trail if you burn through the 125-hour burn time (on the brightest setting).
Best for: Trail running and road running, especially if the weather threatens to turn
Also weighing just around 4 ounces, this headlamp is a heavyweight on features, functions and overall performance. When more control of your nighttime environment is essential, this Petzl quite literally dials in beam pattern, brightness and burntime with their free app. The Reactive Lighting technology senses surrounding light and adjusts the brightness accordingly, saving battery power over the course of your run. The 300-lumen running headlamp can be locked to prevent accidental travel and pack activation, the Petzl headlamp shines through with multi-beam lighting for safe navigation (combining a wide beam and long-throwing output). Recharged in under 5 hours, this headlamp comes with an IPX-4 water resistance rating so you don’t have to worry about splashes or sprays on the road or trail.
Best for: Regular nighttime runners looking for a compact and smart headlamp
Flying through the night in wilderness and urban settings is pure joy, as long as you’re both seen and able to see. Tagged as the “Run-Right Light” by Nathan, Active Junky’s been waiting for this range of output (288-lumen max) with illumination at both foot level with two canted floodlights and out in front, thanks to a long-throwing spotlight. A reliable 1,500mAh rechargeable battery in Halo Fire is at the core, managed for optimum output. And ready to light it up with the Auto-Strobe sensor’s response to oncoming car headlights. Reviewers were impressed when confronted by this storied brand’s hardcore response to the realities of running. Past rechargeable lights have left us skittish about their all-night endurance. Interactive, intelligent running headlamps likewise have been gimmicks in search of an application. Not with the Halo Fire.
Best For: All-year road, trail and off-road running, adventure travel