by | Dec 29, 2020 | Outdoor Fun, Reviews, Z

Last Updated: Oct 19, 2021 @ 11:23 am.

What's the best running headlamp? As someone who runs three times a week—and in the deepest of winter darkness—I can tell you the big difference a good headlamp can make. A comfortable yet secure fit is key, but a headlamp that can adjust for different conditions is also important. To find the best running headlamp, we tried out 7 different models. Then we asked the running enthusiasts among our parent readers for their favorites. Here are the ones we'd recommend.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep things independent, we don't take money or freebies from brands we review! Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Lightweight Headlamp

Weighs just 1.48 ounces
We loved this USB rechargeable headlamp—no batteries makes it much lighter and less bulky than other brands. And that is perfect for running. Also helpful: motion sensor for hands-free on/off.
$15.99

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Best Lightweight Headlamp: 500 Lumens USB Rechargeable Headlamp 

As a runner, I can attest to how much weight matters when it comes to headlamps.

Headlamps that use alkaline batteries can be heavy . . . ridiculously heavy. And that can be very annoying when running.

That’s why after trying out several brands of running headlamps (and asking the runners among our parent readers for their feedback), the winning lights tended to be the most lightweight. And of that bunch the Hoxida 500 lumens USB rechargeable headlamp came out on top, after my tests.

This thing weighs just 1.48 ounces. Yep, that’s not a typo—less than 2 ounces. Compare that to fancy brands that can weigh nearly half a pound.

And it works well—bright at 500 lumens, but can be adjusted for different conditions. 

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Weighs just 1.48 ounces.

• Good battery life: we got 4 hours out of the unit on high. It took us about three and half hours to fully charge the unit.

• USB battery rechargeable = no batteries to replace.

• Decently bright for running in the dark.

• Adjustable light levels, including a SOS strobe.

• Motion sensor turns the light on or off. You can wave your hand to turn the unit on or off. That’s helpful if you are working with dirty hands and need to turn off the light to talk with someone . . . you don’t have to get that grime on the light.

• Affordable.

What Needs Work

• Folks either love or hate the motion sensor. Some folks say it is too sensitive and we see that point. However, we still liked this unit overall.

• Limited ability to adjust the beam up or down. Yes, you can adjust it about six degrees . . . but that isn’t much. If you need this feature (so you can see the ground a bit closer or farther away), you may want to consider this next recommendation.

• A bit bouncy, which annoys some runners.

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Best Budget Friendly

7 light modes, including red
The 45 degree adjustable angle and water resistant design are the two features we love the most about these headlamps. And the price! Yes, they use batteries, but they are perfect for running.
$13.99

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Best Budget-Friendly Headlamp: GearLight LED Headlamp Flashlight

Yes, running headlamps can get rather pricey—those fancy-pants brands seem especially spendy. 

But there is good news: we found an affordable two-pack of headlamps that works well for running or light duty use around the house: GearLight’s LED Headlamp Flashlight. 

Yes, they use 3 AAA batteries, so they are a bit heavier/bulkier than other headlamps. But on the plus side, they last MUCH longer on a set of batteries than the USB rechargeable headlamps do.

In a real world test, we got about 5 hours out of these headlamps when running on high. That compares to three to four hours using a USB rechargeable headlamp like the ones we recommended above.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Comfortable to wear.

• Good brightness for running.

• Decent battery life (5 hours on high, according to our test).

• 45 degree adjustability.

• 7 light modes, including SOS, red beam on low and strobe.

What Needs Work

• Replacing batteries = more money over the long term. If you plan to use a headlamp frequently, it may be less expensive over the long term to go with a rechargeable model.

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Best No-Bounce Light

Bright: 500 lumens of light
Easy to use and lightweight, this strap-on light is nicely designed—we liked the reflector straps and rear safety light. Battery life (4.5 hours) is good and it is USB rechargeable. A bit pricey.
$34.99

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Best No-Bounce Light: AVANTO Chest Running Light

And now for something different.

One of the biggest drawbacks to most lights for running is the bounce effect—since the light sits on your head, it moves when you do . . . and that can be annoying for some folks.

In that case, we’d suggest trying a light like AVANTO’s Chest Running Light. As the name implies, this one straps across your chest and is easy to use.

I tried this and was impressed with the design—there is a front white light, red back light, and reflectors on the straps. All this makes it easier to be seen from all angles.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• USB rechargeable batteries. And they include the cord!

• Adjustable strap = great for all body types.

• No bounce!

• Lightweight at 3.5 ounces.

• 2 brightness modes.

• Bright at 500 lumens.

• 4.5 hours of run time—that’s what we got in a real world test.

• Rear red safety light.

What Needs Work

• Exposed wire is a bit clunky. There is a wire that runs from the light to the battery back in back—this runs along the strap and is a bit clunky in design. It would have been nice of the wire was hidden in the strap.

• Pricey.

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Best Running Headlamp for Kids

Weighs just 3.2 ounces
The comfort and adjustable strap are the stars here—just the right amount of light for running at night. Easy on the wallet, this headlamp also has a red light mode for camping.
$9.97

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Best Running Headlamp For Kids: Foxelli Headlamp Flashlight

This is our pick for best running headlamp for older kids and teenagers—a well-built headlamp that is super lightweight. We like how comfortable it is to wear and the adjustable band fits a wide range of sizes.

What We Liked

• Includes 3 AAA batteries.

• Headlamp can be tilted for different angles.

 Bright. This light has three modes: 45, 80 and 165 lumens. That’s good enough for most runners, especially if there already is some ambient street lighting.

• Comfortable to wear.

• Red mode is helpful at night.

• Waterproof.

• Battery life is good at 4.5 hours in our real world testing.

What Needs Work

• Batteries aren’t rechargeable.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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