7 Best Red Light Headlamps of 2023

Last Updated on 27/08/2023

best red light headlamps

The best red light headlamp will help you maintain your night vision when moving around in the dark. Most headlamps now come with a red light setting, but the brightness and battery life of these vary. Red LED headlamps can be useful for reading, hunting without startling animals, and camping without either attracting insects or blinding your fellow campers.

Using a backpacker’s headlamp around camp, or on a hike, can be frustrating. Often you find that with it on, you are blinding others around you, or struggling against the reflection of whatever you want to read. But you need to be able to see what you’re doing, right?

A red light headlamp can be a useful way of overcoming a lot of the problems that occur from using a normal, white light headlamp. This article is going to look at all the reasons you might want to choose a red light headlamp, as well as what to look for when you go to buy one.

Best Red Light Headlamps

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment - Storm 400 Headlamp - Graphite

  • LUMENS: High 400 lm, Med 180 lm, Low 9 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red / Green / Blue
  • WEIGHT: 120 g / 4.2 oz with batteries
  • RUN TIME: High 5 hours, Low 150 hours

The Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is one of the best multi-color headlamps out there and is very practical for doing anything at night. The headband is comfy and easy to adjust to suit your head or can be attached to a caving helmet if needed. Although using four AAA batteries adds some weight, it doesn’t feel top-heavy or unstable, which is great for jogging in those early mornings and winter evenings.

Multiple beam settings let you easily switch between full-beam and low-beam in both proximity and distance modes. In addition to this, you also have the strobe and red, green, and blue light settings which are ideal for hunting, filming, or keeping a low profile at night. The central LED is what provides the brightest output, and then the top right smaller LED is for close proximity. The bottom right LED is multicolored for the blue, green, and red light settings.

You operate the main headlamp with a main on/off button on top, which also flicks between settings. Next to this is a smaller button that operates the red light and multicolored LED, which makes turning the red light on just one click away. On the right-hand side, you have a touch-sensitive button that instantly switches to maximum output with both the full beam and proximity lenses turning on at the same time.

One neat feature is that whatever setting you have it one when you turn it off, the headtorch remembers the exact setting. This is perfect for the red light, as you will never startle anyone or anything if you turn it off and on again. Another cool feature is that if you press and hold the main button for 2+ seconds, you can actually dim the beam like a dimmer switch.

VERDICT: If you want a red light headlamp that has all the features you will ever need, then we highly recommend the Black Diamond Storm Headlamp for hiking, camping, and hunting.

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Fenix HP25R V2.0 Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp

Fenix HP25R V2.0 1600 Lumen USB-C Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp, 2 X Fenix Rechargeable Batteries with EdisonBright USB Charging Adapter Bundle

  • MAX LUMENS: High 1600 lm, Low 5 lm, Red 5 lm, Plus 9 more light settings
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 238 g / 8.4 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 2 X Fenix Rechargeable 5000mAh 21700 Batteries
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours, Low 1400 hours, Red 400 hours

The Fenix HP25R V2.0 Rechargeable CREE LED Headlamp is the next level up from the Black Diamond Storm in terms of power and burn time. This really is a beast in the turbo mode and will illuminate close to 1000 feet into the distance, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. Designed for construction workers and rugged environments, this is a headlamp I know fellow campers will enjoy.

It is powered by two powerful 5000mAh batteries that would be enough to charge an iPhone two times. The button to the left operates the spotlight and can be pressed multiple times to advance through the settings. The button on the right activates the auxiliary lights, which start with three modes in the floodlight setting until you get to the red beam. The red LED light is nothing special, to be honest, but it does have an SOS feature that will last an incredible 800 hours.

VERDICT: If you want a powerful headlamp with a red beam setting that you know you can depend on for work or play, this is a top pick for sure. It is designed to be used outdoors in all weather and will get you through your shift every night. Whether you are working, hiking, camping, hunting, or bike riding, this is an epic headlamp to own. An absolute toy for adults who like outdoor gear, and a headlamp I would use for caving.

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PETZL, ACTIK CORE Rechargeable Headlamp with 450 Lumens for Running and Hiking, Black

  • LUMENS: High 350 lm, Med 100 lm, Low 59 lm, Red 2 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 75 g / 2.6 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: 1250 mAh CORE rechargeable battery (included) or 3 x AAA
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours, Med 7 hours, Low 160 hours, Red 40 hours

The PETZL ACTIK CORE Headlamp is an excellent rechargeable headlamp for camping because it offers dual battery options and has the red LED feature we are looking for. The best way to make the most of this is to take a power bank with you so that you can quickly recharge the CORE battery to full power in just 3 hours. If you need to use the headlamp while your battery is recharging, you can always take some AAA’s or buy a spare CORE battery.

The headlamp is fairly foolproof in that it only has one button that flicks through the modes, which is great if you’re wearing gloves. To turn the red light on, you simply push and hold the main button for 3 seconds, and then you can also have a flashing red light by pressing the button once. The flashing red light is great if you are jogging, riding a bike, or even walking at nighttime on the road, for example.

VERDICT: We love Petzl climbing gear, and we love their headlamps too. The ACTIK CORE Headlamp is one of the best rechargeable red light headlamps for camping that will last the night and can be recharged the next day quickly.

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Princeton Tec Tactical EOS LED Headlamp

Princeton Tec Tactical EOS LED Headlamp (Black)

  • LUMENS: High 60 lm, Med 21 lm, Low 59 lm, Red 6 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 103 g / 3.6 oz
  • RUN TIME: High 4 hours, Med 55 hours, Low 60 hours

The Princeton Tec Tactical EOS LED Headlamp isn’t the brightest or the highest tech, but it is one of the best headlamps with red light features. There is no switch to swap between different LEDs. Instead, there is a sliding red lens that can be opened and closed with a finger so that you get similar brightness but in color red. This gives you the full power of the main bulb instead of a much smaller red LED.

Designed for and used by the US military, the Tactical EOS Headlamp is rugged and durable to brush off drops and falls as well as submersion down to 1 meter. Don’t expect to light up the sky on full beam, but you can definitely expect more than the stated burn time of 4 hours on the max setting. We used this headlamp for many months before needing to replace the batteries.

VERDICT: If you want a waterproof, abrasion-resistant, and just all-around rugged headlamp with a red light function, then this will last you a long time. The brightness is good for hiking, camping, bike riding, and jogging but not bright enough for anything above a 5-meter distance.

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COAST FL78R Rechargeable Tri-Color LED Headlamp

COAST FL78R 530 Lumen Rechargeable Tri-Color LED Headlamp with Twist Focus

  • LUMENS: High 530 lm, Med 260 lm, Low 65 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red / Green
  • WEIGHT: 91 g / 3.2 oz
  • BATTERY TYPE: Li-ion Rechargeable Battery or 3 x AAA
  • RUN TIME: High 3.25 hours, Low 23 hours

The COAST FL78R Rechargeable Tri-Color LED Headlamp is another rugged option that has the benefit of a focusing beam. Simply twist the lens to toggle between the focus spotlight and close proximity wide beam. You might not think this is a big feature, but you actually end up using it all the time when camping. On top of this, you get the red and green LEDs which are perfect for keeping your headlamp light discreet.

This model is the rechargeable option and is a little bit larger than the Coast FL68. You can also get a size larger with the FL88, which has a larger lens. You recharge from the base of the headlamp without having to remove the battery, which means you can use it as you recharge with a power bank.

VERDICT: This is a simple red LED headlamp that will last a long time and has a very bright main beam. The benefit of the green light is that it is better for reading and sitting with friends than the red light. Overall, a solid choice.

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Black Diamond Icon 700 Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment - Icon 700 Headlamp - Graphite

  • MAX LUMENS: 700 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red / Blue / Green
  • WEIGHT: 300 g / 10.6 oz with batteries
  • RUN TIME: High 7 hours, Low 190 hours

The Black Diamond Icon Headlamp is very similar to the Storm Headlamp ranked number 1, but it is slightly more powerful and unfortunately a lot heavier. On the plus side, this does feature a top strap which prevents the heavier headlamp from sliding off your head. And the fact that the battery pack is at the rear means the weight is more balanced and actually feels lighter on the front end.

The advantage of the greater power and size is that it can shine brighter and for longer, which is a bonus if you are using it all night long or for an entire week’s trip. The multicolor LED on this seems brighter than other headlamps, which may be due to the lens, which helps increase the red light. Unlike the Storm Headlamp, you don’t have a separate button for the red LED, but you can access it from the off position by pressing and holding the button for 3 seconds.

Another cool feature added by Black Diamond is the lock which is activated by pressing the main button for 6-7 seconds. This means that you will never suffer from the realization that your headlamp has been on inside your backpack all day because it turned on by pressing against something in your bag. Once you have the red light setting on, the headlamp has a memory so that whatever light is on when you turn it off – is the setting that is there when you turn it on.

VERDICT: This is an awesome headlamp with red, blue, and green lights as well as a powerful main beam. It is heavier and isn’t rechargeable, but you can use rechargeable batteries, and it is balanced, so it kind of breaks even at the end. Given a choice, we would definitely go with the cheaper and arguably better Storm headlamp, ranked in the top position.

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Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp

Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp Lighting Orange

  • MAX LUMENS: High 180 lm, Low 5 lm
  • COLOR RANGE: White / Red
  • WEIGHT: 120 g / 4.2 oz
  • RUN TIME: High 2 hours, Low 100 hours

The Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp is a classic that has been around for many years now, and this is the most up-to-date version. The simple design features the main spotlight and proximity floodlight, which combine to give the maximum output of 180 lumens. The third bulb is a red LED that is perfect for staying low profile without losing visibility.

It weighs exactly the same as the black Damond Storm but uses disposable batteries instead of rechargeable ones. You used to be able to get a rechargeable version called the Tikka RXP, but the burn time was not very good, and I don’t think they make it anymore. Still, this is a great little headlamp that is compact and lightweight for keeping in your backpack or pocket.

VERDICT: The Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp is an awesome headlamp if you don’t need something to light up an entire field. It runs on AAA batteries which last a long time and are readily available around the world. It is the kind of headlamp you can always rely on when the sun sets.

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red LED headlamps

What is a Red LED Headlamp?

A red light headlamp can be switched from white light to a less bright red light beam at the click of a button. With most red-beam Petzl headlamps, you simply press and hold the main button for 2-3 seconds, and it will switch. Most of the time, the headlamp will remember this mode so that when you switch it on in the dark, it doesn’t startle anyone or anything.

It is unusual to find a headlamp that only has a red light option. Most red light headlamps are primarily white beam headlamps but have a red light option. When we talk about red beam headlamps, we are actually referring to headlamps that have a red beam function or setting on top of the standard white beam.

What Are Red Light Headlamps Used For?

There are many reasons why you might want to switch from white light to red light when using your headlamp. More often than not red light headlamps are used for close proximity vision and do not have the lumen output or brightness to see far into the distance. Here are some of the most common reasons people use headlamps with a red beam:


Many animals, including hogs, deer, and coyotes, are unable to distinguish red light. This means that when you’re out hunting, you are far less likely to spook your target by using red light rather than white light.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can go shining your red light straight into the animal’s eyes. They will still be able to see the source of the light, as we can with infrared lights.


Is there anything quite as magical as looking up at the stars? If you’re a budding astronomer, astronavigation enthusiast, or just love some good old-fashioned star gazing, you don’t want to ruin your experience with a bright, white light. If you use a red light headlamp, you maintain your night vision once it’s turned off and can instantly enjoy the stars.

Social Camping

No one is going to thank you for walking around camp with your headlamp blinding them. A red light headlamp means that you won’t just blind them, but once you stop talking with them, they will still have their night vision intact.

Red light also doesn’t shine through tents in the same way as white light. You’re much less likely to wake your fellow campers when using a red light than using white light.

Avoiding Flying Insects

Flying insects are more attracted to white or blue lights than they are to red or orange lights. Using a red light headlamp means you avoid having a swarm of bugs trying to fly ahead of you and stay in the light. If you want to get bitten less, inhale fewer bugs, and enjoy camping more, then red light is the way to do so.

Rear Bike/Jogging Light

What about when you’re not at camp? If you’re out on a trail, or especially on the road at night, you can use your red light as a rear light to make yourself more visible.

Turning your headlamp around and putting it onto a red beam is useful for bikes, runners, and walkers on busy roads. Even on trails, this can be useful to warn others that you’re ahead of them.

Map reading

The glare from a map, or any instructions, can be blinding under a headlamp with a white beam. With a map, too, you’re going to need your night vision back pretty quickly if you’re planning to walk by the light of the moon. Red light can be useful to read instructions or to read a map.

Remember, though, that contour lines on maps are often red or orange. These do not show up under a red light, and if you are relying on them for navigation, you may need to use a green or white light to navigate.

77outdoor D25LR LED Rechargeable Headlamp, Powerful Lightweight Head Flashlight with 90 High CRI Bright White Light and 660nm Deep Red Light, USB Charging for Camping, Hiking, Hunting

Benefits of Red Light Headlamps

There are many benefits to using headlamps with red beams. Here are just a few:

More Discreet

You can go more unnoticed with a red light than you can with white light. Whether you’re hunting or avoiding bugs, most animals are far less sensitive to red light, and you can avoid attracting or startling them. Around camp, you are less likely to irritate your fellow campers and can camp more discreetly using a red light headlamp.

Preserve Your Night Vision

Your night vision is one of your most useful assets when you’re out in the wilderness after dark. A white light very quickly ruins your night vision, especially if you look at an object close up with your headlamp on. Red light can be used without impacting your night vision, so you can still see where you’re going once you turn the lamp off.

This is especially beneficial for hunters who want to move unnoticed through the forest. Equally, if it’s a relatively bright night and you can walk confidently without a torch, you don’t want to ruin your night vision by reading a map with a bright white lamp. A red light lets you check where you are going before going back to your night vision.

Less Intrusive

Red lights don’t just go unnoticed by animals, but they’re less intrusive to the human eye, too. If you’re in a hostel or have a tent mate, you won’t wake them as easily if you use a red light headlamp rather than white light.

Lowering the light pollution is also a great way to avoid drawing attention to your camp, too. If you want to camp unnoticed, stick to the red light.

Preserve Battery

Your headlamp is useless if you run out of battery. Most white lamp headlamps have various settings which use up batteries at different speeds. A red light on a headlamp will use far less battery than white light, so you don’t have to worry about needing to change batteries as regularly.

red light on headlamp

What to Look for in a Red Beam Headlamp

There are certain things to look for when it comes to buying your red beam headlamp.

Red Beam Function

You should check that your chosen headlamp has a red light setting rather than just assuming. Most headlamps do have a red light setting, and this is usually indicated on the box or in the instructions. If you’re still not sure, you can check online or contact the manufacturer.

Easy Control

Different headlamps use different controls. Some have push buttons, while others use dials or knobs. Switching between white and red light settings is a quick and easy task on some headlamps. Others flick between flashing lights, different brightnesses, and alternate colors without any real coordination.

If you’re going to use the red light on your headlamp, it is useful to have a lamp you can change quickly and easily between settings. Otherwise, you can end up giving away your position or ruining your night vision while trying to set up your red light.

Multiple Brightness Settings

Similar to how you would choose different settings on your main white beam, you may want different brightnesses on your red beam. Dimmer settings are useful for reading or your immediate area, like the inside of your tent. A brighter setting is more useful for hunters or for moving around in forests.

Lumen Output

How bright is your headlamp? Is it bright enough for your needs? What about when you’re using a red light?

The brightness of a headlamp is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens of your headlamp, the brighter it will be. A headlamp with a red light setting will be given a different rating than a white or red light.

Battery Type

There are different styles of batteries used in headlamps. There are disposable or rechargeable batteries. Different styles of batteries give different outputs and also weigh different amounts.

For a full rundown of battery types, check out our article here. When buying your headlamp, you should ensure that it uses your preferred style of batteries.

Battery Capacity

Battery capacity directly affects how long your headlamp will last. This is measured as lumen hours on a torch.

You usually get more lumen hours by using heavier, more expensive batteries. When choosing your battery type for your headlamp can be a balancing act between cost, weight, capacity, and output.

We hope you enjoyed this guide to the best red light headlamps. Let us know which you went for in the comments.

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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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