10 Best Petzl Headlamps in 2024 | Headlamps Made By Petzl

Last Updated on 08/03/2024

Best Petzl headlamp

In this guide to the best Petzl headlamps, we share the best past and present models and why we think they are so good. You will learn which is the brightest, most waterproof, most comfortable, and has the most extended battery life as well as our experience using them for things like hiking, camping, and running.

Petzl headlamps are among the most trusted and respected in the world. They are used by professional cavers, miners, ultra-marathon runners, and in many extreme conditions to provide light in total darkness.

Petzl headlamps are reliable, bright, allow for hybrid battery supply, have a long burn time, are durable, often waterproof, comfortable, easy to use, compact, lightweight, and have some very innovative features that you can’t get with other headlamps.

This guide shares my experience with ten different Petzl headlamps that I bought myself and have not been paid to review. These are my favorite headlamps, and I hope you can see why I like them. Read our summarized reviews below and check out our buyer’s guide further down the page.

Best Petzl Headlamp


Petzl IKO Headlamp

PETZL, IKO CORE Rechargeable LED Headlamp with Lightweight Headband and 500 Lumens[a]shop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 500 lm / Low 6 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White
  • WEIGHT: 79 g / 2.8 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE
  • RUN TIME: High 2.5 hours / Low 100 hours

It is hard not to like the Petzl IKO Headlamp. First off, it is very lightweight, and because the battery pack is at the back, it feels even lighter as it is so well-balanced. The lamp body on the front is skinny and low profile but puts out an impressive 500 lumens when needed. On the medium setting, you get 100 lumens and a 9-hour battery life which is what most people will use in one night.

Secondly, the headband is awesome. It is semi-rigid but can still be folded up into a tiny pouch. Because it is semi-rigid, it is one of the best Petzl headlamps to wear around your neck, pointing downwards. When you are wearing it on your head and doing some exercise, the lack of fabric means that you don’t get a lot of sweat build up (much like on the Bindi). The toggle adjustment is also very easy to tighten and feels very comfortable.

The last feature worth pointing out on this lightweight and well-balanced Petzl headlamp is that the pouch it comes in is made from special translucent fabric that turns it into a lamp. Check out the link to Amazon to see what I mean; it is perfect for hanging from the roof of your tent at night.

VERDICT: Best for sports and camping.

The Petzl IKO Headlamp is like a more lightweight and streamlined version of the NAO RL or NAO+, which means I liked it before I even tried it. It is perfect for so many situations, whether you want a grippy and breathable headlamp for jogging or something you can wear on your neck for bushcrafting on an evening. We love this Petzl headlamp at Gear Assistant.

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Petzl Swift RL Headlamp

PETZL, Swift RL Rechargeable Headlamp with 900 Lumens & Automatic Brightness Adjustment, Blueshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 900 lm / Low 10 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: 2 x White
  • WEIGHT: 100 g / 5.5 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 2,350 mAh Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours, Low 100 hours

The Swift RL is the comfiest Petzl headlamp out there, all thanks to the innovative headband design. The headband not only has padding on the forehead, but it also has a unique adjustment system that works way better than a traditional headlamp headband. This alone makes it amazing for active sports like running, cycling, and skiing, but other features also complement its use.

It has a whopping 900-lumen output so that you can light up the trail over 150 meters away. It rarely ever reaches this high beam which is only available on the reactive lighting setting. Instead, you are more likely to experience around 750 lumens unless you are in pitch-black darkness. At full power, the battery will last about 2 hours, or if you are in reactive lighting mode, this can be extended up to 30 hours.

A couple of downsides to this otherwise winning headlamp are that it doesn’t have a red light, and it requires a special Swift battery that isn’t compatible with any other Petzl headlamp. Other than that, it is one of my favorite headlamps for everyday wear, and I pretty much exclusively use the reactive lighting setting.

VERDICT: Best for comfort and everyday use.

The Petzl Swift RL Headlamp is about 2-3 times more expensive than the basic Petzl headlamps, but in my opinion, it is worth it. You get more than enough light output; the battery run time is above average; it’s comfortable, easy to use and adjust, has reactive lighting, and even has a lock on it, so you don’t drain the battery accidentally in your backpack. If you can afford it, this is the best Petzl headlamp for all-around usage.

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Petzl Bindi Headlamp

PETZL BINDI Headlamp - Ultra-Compact Rechargeable Headlamp Designed for Everyday Athletic Activities - Blackshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 200 lm / Low 6 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 35 g / 1.2 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 680 mAh rechargeable battery
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours / Low 50 hours

The Bindi is the best Petzl headlamp for backpacking and ultralight hiking because of its brightness, weight, and compact size. Yes, the e+ LITE is lighter, but this is much more functional for everyday use. The fact that it can shine up to 200 lumens for 2 hours from such a small battery is remarkable.

The medium setting is 100 lumens and has a burn time of 3 hours, so if you want to use it for a night run, you can use it on full power, or if camping, then you can run it on low so that it lasts the entire weekend. You can charge it up in about 30 minutes using a power bank too, which is why it works so well for backpackers who already carry a power bank.

How does this compare to the Swift RL for jogging? The Bindi headlamp is much lighter and less than half the price, but it isn’t as bright or comfortable and doesn’t have reactive lighting. Still, the simple toggle adjustment strap is very easy to use and means you don’t sweat as much on your forehead.

VERDICT: Small but mighty and has a battery life that stands up to other larger headlamps.

The Petzl Bindi Headlamp is my favorite for travel because of its size, weight, durability, and functions. Honestly, it stands up to other headlamps far better than I thought it would and makes me reconsider carrying heavier headlamps with similar battery burn times. I suspect this will become one of the more popular Petzl headlamps people buy this year.

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Petzl Aria 2 RGB Headlamp

PETZL ARIA 2 RGB, Compact, Durable, Waterproof headlamp with White, red, Green and Blue Modes, 450 lumens, Black/Yellowshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 450 lm / Low 7 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red / Green / Blue
  • WEIGHT: 106 g / 3.73 oz with batteries
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours / Low 100 hours

The Aria 1 and Aria 2 are two of Petzls newest headlamps, and what makes them so cool is that they are 100% waterproof and have green and blue LEDs as well as the usual white and red. This makes the Petzl Aria really good for things like hunting and fishing, where you need to be outdoors in all weather and can use different colored light to remain undetected from prey.

The Aria 1 is the same as the Aria 2 apart from it being slightly less powerful, and so a little bit cheaper too. Alongside the multi-colored LEDs, you also get a double white beam, so you can have a wide floodlight as well as a mixed-focus beam. This will give you about 100 meters of visibility at maximum output. If you want people to see you from a distance, you can use the strobe setting, which will run for 300 hours and is visible from over 700 meters away.

I find the output and settings much the same as the Aktic headlamp from Petzl, but the added benefit of being waterproof means you don’t have to worry about it breaking in heavy rain. After trying to find out why you might need a blue or green light, it turns out they can help you stay hidden from wild game but also helps you to see into murky water at night if looking for fish or crocs.

VERDICT: Best for hunting and fishing.

The Petzl Aria 2 RGB Headlamp is as waterproof as the DUO range and as compact as the classic Tikka. It is perfect for wet weather, hunting, fishing, and even military use because of the red, green, and blue LEDs. Worth it just for the waterproofing but not the brightest of the bunch.

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Petzl Nao+ Headlamp

PETZL, NAO + Programmable, Rechargeable Headlamp with 750 Lumens and Automatic Brightness Adjustmentshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High: 750 / Low: 120
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 185 g / 5 oz with batteries
  • BATTERY TYPE: 2,600 mAh Rechargeable Lithium-Ion
  • RUN TIME: High: 6.5 hours / Low: 15 – 25 hours

The Nao+ is the best Petzl Headlamp for cycling and jogging along busy roads because it has a super bright front LED as well as a red LED on the back so cars can see you from both directions. It also features reactive lighting so that cars can see you from a distance but aren’t blinded by your front light as they get closer. You can read our full review of the Petzl Nao+ here.

There are multiple brightnesses and two modes to choose from: reactive or manual. Both offer more than enough light output for any outdoor activity, even if traveling at high speeds. The headlamp is also linked to the MyPetzl App, so you can customize settings for different activities.

A mighty but small rechargeable battery sits at the back of the headlamp so that the whole unit sits very balanced on your head instead of being front-heavy. You can run the headlamp on high all night, but you get more battery life if you use the reactive lighting setting. If you need to use the headlamp for multiple nights in a row, you can either take a spare and alternate as they charge or if you’re more organized than me, you can remember to recharge it through the day.

VERDICT: The Petzl Nao+ Headlamp is great for faced paced sports and activities that require a headlamp to stay on your head in one place. The rear red light is a great idea and works well with the design to spread the overall weight evenly across the front and back of the headband. Getting harder to find now that the Petzl Nao RL has replaced it.

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Petzl Actik Headlamp

PETZL ACTIK CORE Headlamp - Rechargeable, Compact 450 Lumen Light with Red Lighting for Hiking, Climbing, and Camping - Blackshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 450/600 lm / Low 2 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 98 g / 3.5 oz 
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours, Low 100 hours

The Petzl Actik Headlamp is a more powerful version of the Petzl Tikka Headlamp. Compared side by side: Using three AAA batteries, you get 450 lumens (100 lumens of extra output), and using the rechargeable CORE battery, you get 600 lumens (150 extra lumens). This equates to a maximum burn time of 100 hours on the lowest setting and 2 hours in the highest light output mode.

The Petzl Actik is a hybrid headlamp which means you can run it on multiple battery types, which is great for backpackers and campers without a plug socket. You can, of course, use a portable power bank to recharge it, but just being able to use both types is a big advantage.

Things I like about this headlamp are the powerful output, red LED option, hybrid battery compatibility, and the simplicity of the design. It is foolproof to turn on and off even with thick gloves on, and you can easily tilt it down to the angle where you want it. It works best for activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting, where you aren’t bobbing up and down so fast that it slides down your head.

VERDICT: The Petzl Actik Headlamp is the next level up from their flagship Tikka headlamp, which has been around for over 20 years now. It has the same design and hybrid battery requirements but has a higher lumen output to give you visibility up to 115 meters away. For a trusty headlamp with extra brightness, this might be the best headlamp made by Petzl for you.

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Petzl Zipka Headlamp

PETZL, ZIPKA Compact Headlamp with 300 Lumens and Retractable Cord for Hiking and Camping, Blackshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 300 lm / Low 6 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 65 g / 2.3 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours / Low 120 hours

The Petzl Zipka Headlamp is ultra-compact with a retractable cord headband that makes it simple to pack or even keep in your pocket. Unfortunately, this was discontinued around 2021/2022, and now you only have the BINDI and the e+ LITE; if you want a small and compact headlamp that doesn’t take up a lot of space. This is a shame because it has some really cool features.

The retractable headband is not very comfy on the sides but is ok on the front and back. It also isn’t very stable when it is on your head, so it isn’t suitable for sports like jogging or running. It is great for things like camping, festivals, and walking the dog, where you might need to keep it in your pocket some of the time. You can also wear it on your wrist if you want to.

What stands out about this Petzl headlamp other than the retractable strap? Firstly, it is incredibly lightweight, which does help it stay on your head with such a thin headband. The battery light is decent enough so long as you don’t use it at the max output the whole time. The older version of this headlamp had 4 LEDs, but the last version has a single LED which I prefer.

VERDICT: The Zipka Headlamp is the best Petzl headtorch for keeping in your pocket because of its compact size and light weight. It isn’t available everywhere, but you can still pick them up for relatively cheap. If you don’t use it in turbulent situations like jogging or mountain biking, the thin strap works well enough but might not be for everyone.

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Petzl Tikka Headlamp

PETZL Tikka CORE Headlamp - Rechargeable, Compact 450 Lumen Light with Red Lighting, for Hiking, Climbing, and Camping - Greenshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 450 lm / Low 7 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 94 g / 3.3 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3 x AAA or Rechargeable Petzl 1250 mAh CORE
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours / Low 110 hours

The Tikka Headlamp was Petzl’s first LED headlamp, released over twenty years ago. It has had multiple upgrades and improvements over the years, but its basic function and reliability have remained pretty much the same. I still have the first Petzl Tikka I bought at least 15 years ago and it still works today.

The Tikka is one of the cheapest Petzl headlamps, along with the Tikkina and e+ LITE. Speaksinging of the Tikinna, it is almost identical to the Tikka in every way apart from it having 50 lumens less light output. So if you are looking at both and don’t know which to buy, just get the Tikka. They both have roughly the same run time, beam distance, hybrid battery compatibility, red LED function, and an IPX rating of X4, which is water resistant but not for submersion.

On the updated version, you still get the same basic operation of three brightness settings controlled with a single button, which, if you hold down, activates the red LED setting. Foolproof really. You can use this headlamp for pretty much any general use and get days of battery life on medium or low settings.

VERDICT: Everyone should own a Petzl Tikka Headlamp, and it makes a great first headlamp (they even have a kid’s version of it called the Tikkid). It is only the basic model, but it still beats most other headlamps out there for reliability and battery life. If you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-range floodlight, then this compact little torch will serve you well for most daily needs.

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Petzl DUO Headlamp Range

PETZL, Ultra-Bright Headlamp, 2800 Lumensshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 2800 lm / Low 20 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White
  • WEIGHT: 360-390 g / 12.7 – 13.7 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 3200 mAh Lithium-Ion battery
  • RUN TIME: High 1.5 hours / Low 72 hours

The DUO line is Petzl’s most durable and heavy-duty option, designed for things like caving and mining. They are completely waterproof down to 1 meter and can be submerged up to 3 meters for 10 minutes when needed. They require an entire article just to explain the differences between all three, but here are some of the key points.

The DUO Z1 and Z2 have extra certifications that make them safe to use in explosive environments, while the DUO S has just a CE and UKCA rating, and DUO RL has a CE rating. The lumen output can be as high as 2800 lm on the DUO RL or as low as 430 on the DUO Z2, and the price difference is pretty huge.

Because the battery pack is on the back, the headlamp sits very balance on your head even though it is heavier than other Petzl headlamps. This works especially well when the headlamp is mounted on your caving helmet with the battery pack at the back.  A simple side switch is easy to use with thick gloves on and can be locked when not in use to avoid draining the battery.

The power packs are a substantial 3200 mAh Lithium-Ion battery that recharges in 4 hours and can last for around 24 hours on the lowest setting. You can buy a couple of these to keep handy in case you end up in a cave longer than anticipated. The entire unit with the battery is Petzls heaviest and bulkiest which is you won’t see many thru-hikers with one.

VERDICT: The Petzl DUO RL is the biggest, brightest, most durable, and latest headlamp for caving, which will be overkill for most people. But if you need a safety-certified headlamp for professional and industrial use, this is the one I would recommend. If you don’t mind the extra weight, then this is the kind of headlamp you don’t have to worry about breaking – it’s as tough as nails.

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Petzl e+ Lite Headlamp

Petzl E+LITE Headlamp - Ultra-Compact Emergency 50 Lumen Headlamp, Designed for Hiking, Climbing, Running, and Campingshop outdoor gear

  • LUMENS: High 40 lm / Low 20 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 26 g / 0.9 oz with batteries
  • BATTERY TYPE: 2 x CR2032 batteries
  • RUN TIME: High 3.5 hours / Low 9.5 hours

The e+ Lite is Petzl’s smallest, most lightweight, and cheapest headlamp available. It only has a maximum output of 40 lumens which gives you about 13 meters of visibility, so it isn’t really on the same level as other Petzl headlamps. But that was never the intention. This little head torch is designed as an emergency headlamp or backup.

Because it is so small and compact, it’s not a hassle to carry in your pocket or tuck into your backpack just in case your main headlamp breaks, runs out of battery, or you lose it. You can’t really use it as your sole headlamp because the battery capacity is so small, and the light output is so low. Because it is designed for emergencies, the strobe light setting will last for up to 95 hours and can be seen at least 100 meters away.

The whole unit is IP X7 rated, which means it is fully waterproof in 1 meter of water, tested for 30 minutes. Another safety feature is the dual-purpose adjustment toggle which is also a whistle and can be used in an emergency. The switch works like a watch dial to move through the settings and also locks into position, which all works well.

VERDICT: The Petzl e+ Lite is the best emergency headlamp you can get, in my opinion, and if you need a backup for your main headlamp, then look no further. You can wrap the whole thing up into a tiny bundle that weighs next to nothing and takes up no room in your bag. If you are into caving, then this is good as your third backup headlamp. Or if you are running an ultra marathon, you can keep this on your for when night falls.

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Petzl headlamps on arm gear assistant

Why Choose a Petzl Headlamp?

Petzl headlamps have one of the best reputations in the world for personal lighting as well as for rock climbing equipment. There are lots of reasons to get a Petzel headtorch, but what sets them apart from other headlamp brands? Here are some of the reasons I almost exclusively wear Petzl headlamps unless I am caving or diving underwater:

  • Petzl has built a reputation for quality, and its customer service is second to none.
  • Reactive lighting is more advanced than most car headlamps and controls how much light is emitted based on how dark it is, using a sensor.
  • Long battery life is another reason to use Petzl headlamps. Unlike other headlamps that try and make their torch the brightest with little regard for battery life, Petzl understands that battery life is equally important.
  • Constant light is something Petzl has developed for their headlamps to ensure that the LEDs don’t dim as the battery drains. It ensures you get full light until the very last drip of power, and yes, all Petzl headlamps warn you well before the light cuts out.
  • Innovative headband designs from Petzl are so far beyond everything else out there it’s almost embarrassing for other headlamps. They have extra comfortable options, semi-rigid options, cord bands, helmet-compatible attachments, and different ergonomic designs that might help.
  • Petzl has a number of certifications that make some of its headlamps safe to use in dangerous environments like around explosives or flammable gas.
  • Durability is a given with Petzl headlamps, and having owned close to a dozen now, I have never broken one or had one stop working.
  • Button functions on Petzl headlamps are very good. You can do things like press and hold to change the LED color, click four times to lock it, and operate it with thick gloves on.
  • Weight, including batteries, is important for hikers and backpackers, and Petzl headlamps are incredibly lightweight and compact.

As you can tell, there are many reasons to choose Petzl and not many reasons not to. And no, Petzl did not pay me to write this; I get a kickback if you use my links, but I am not in partnership with them.

Are Petzl Headlamps Worth The Money?

Petzl headlamps might cost more than your average cheap headlamp, but they are 100% worth the money.

If reliability, brightness, battery compatibility, burn time, durability, features, comfort, weight, and size are more important than the price, then get a Petzl. If you would rather save $20 or get a headlamp with 100 LEDs that runs through batteries in 10 minutes, then go ahead.

One of the many issues I have with cheap headlamps is that they often break (sometimes within a few hours). That doesn’t happen with Petzl lamps, and if it did, I am sure Petzl would replace it immediately because they care about their product and have excellent customer service.

selection of my favorite Petzl headlamps

Guide to The Best Petzl Headlamps

When trying to decide which Petzl headlamp to buy, first try and think about what your priorities are. If you want max brightness, then the DUO RL might be the right one, but if you want a lightweight headlamp you can go jogging with, then you might want any of the BINDI, SWIFT RL, or the IKO. Here are some of the features that I like to base my decision on when shopping for a headlamp from Petzl:

Brightness

Headlamp brightness is measured in lumens. Higher lumens mean it is brighter, but other factors like beam pattern and lens type also affect performance. You only need around 100 lumens to see about 45-50 meters into the distance, which is more than enough for most activities. The only time I use higher lumen outputs is if my dog disappears on a night and I have to look for her.

The brighter your headlamp shines, the faster your battery gets used. This is why most people stick to a low or medium brightness when possible and another reason why you don’t need a headlamp as bright as the sun.

Beam Distance

Beam distance is closely linked to the brightness and lumen output but is also get influenced by the type of lens and beam pattern. All of Petzl’s headlamps on their website show you how far each setting will shine, which is handy. Think about whether you need a headlamp that shines 200 meters into the distance or if being able to see 30-100 meters would be enough. Most of the time, it would.

Battery Type

Deciding whether to get a rechargeable Petzl headlamp or one that takes disposable batteries used to be a much tougher decision. Now, most of Petzl’s headlamps allow for both, thanks to the CORE battery pack. Being able to recharge your headlamp saves you a ton of money on batteries and is much better for the environment. But disposable batteries are so convenient and available all around the world – even in places where you can charge up your headlamp.

Weight and Size

For most people, the weight and size of a headlamp are insignificant. But to ultra-light hikers and backpackers, a smaller, lighter Petzl headlamp has many advantages. Thankfully there isn’t an awful lot of weight in any headlamp, although the DUO range is certainly the bulkiest and heaviest. The BINDI and e+ LITE are the two smallest options available. 

night jogging with a Petzl headlamp

Beam Options

Many petzl headlamps will have multiple white LED’s for the main beam. Often, one of these is a floodlight-style lens that shines a wide beam of light to cover a large area, and another is more of a focused spotlight. You can normally alternate between the two as well as combine them for maximum output. These beam options can come in handy in different settings and situations, but not all Petzl lamps have that many options.

Headband

Petzl headbands are phenomenally good and certainly the best in the world. The Swift RL has the comfiest headband which has padding on the forehead and is easy to adjust. The Bindi uses an elasticated cord with a toggle which is foolproof and great for jogging as well as keeping in your pocket. Then you have the semi-rigid frame of the IKO, which makes it great for wearing around your neck, as well as some others. Their original headband is fine, but nothing much different from other brands.

Waterproofing

Not all Petzl headlamps are waterproof, but many are. Look for the IP rating to check if your headlamp is waterproof. I like to look for an IP X7 rating which means it is safe to submerge under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. This ensures that no matter how much it rains or if my backpack gets soaked, the headlamp will still work. IP X7-rated headlamps are also protected from dust particles and abrasions.

Helmet Compatibility

You can adapt most Petzl headlamps to clip onto a helmet. If you are a caver or rock climber, then this is what you will want to do most of the time. I recommend using a headlamp that has a battery pack at the back so that your helmet stays balanced on your head. Examples of this would be the DUO range, IKO, or NAO+.

Ease of Use

All Petzl head torches are so easy to use that a toddler can do it. They are often designed with a single button or switch that you can operate with one hand, even with thick gloves on.

When you get a new Petzl headlamp, you should always read the manual, as it will often teach you something you didn’t know about how much the button can do. You can do things like press and hold three times to accomplish one thing or press it fast four times to do something else. I made the mistake of thinking my Petzl headlamp was broken or out of battery when in fact, what I had done is locked it by mistake. 

Red Light Setting

Red lights are incredibly useful once you learn why. If you wake up in the night, you should always use red light because A) it doesn’t disturb other campers, and B) it doesn’t disturb you by waking you up more than you want or removing your night vision for 5 minutes. Not all Petzl headlamps have them, but most do. Some even have a red light on the back so that people can see you as they approach from behind.

 


We hope you got a lot out of this guide to the best Petzl headlamps. Petzl makes headlamps for everyone and is one of the best headlamp manufacturers in the world.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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