Few pieces of outdoor gear are as useful (nor so crucial) as a headlamp. Whether it’s for hiking and night, setting up camp, getting caught out later than you expected, or simply finding the toilet when nature calls in the wee hours… you’ll be wanting a good one!

Of course there are plenty of options available, so help cut through the confusion and get you seeing brightly, we have compiled a simply guide to headlamps. Specifically we’ve chosen to focus on rechargeable options, for a variety of reasons that will be discussed further down.

Types of headlamps:

So there are a LOT of options out there on the market. From cheap toy-like rubbish from your local junk shop, right up to head-mounted light canons that are brighter than a road-train’s headlights! A good compact and well made torch somewhere in between is what most people will need, so that’s what we’re looking at. Of course if you’re after a more specific high-end model there are some great models out there, but you probably already know what you’re looking for anyway.

Why choose rechargeable:

So I’ll list all the reasons you should buy rechargeable. Firstly, it’s going to be cheaper. Sure the initial cost will be higher, but over the life of the unit, you will spend much less given you’ll bot be buying lots of disposable batteries. It’s better for the environment. In short, less batteries in landfill the better. Most of the models featured, and we’ll point out which ones, will even allow you to use both a rechargeable battery OR disposables, for when the need arises.

But of course for some people a rechargeable might not be suitable – Such as times when you’re unable to be near power, and/or wish not to carry a separate power bank or solar charger. But given that all of the models use a USB charging connection, the same as your mobile phone and many other small gadgets, it’s pretty likely you’ll have some way to charge a headlamp anyway.

Battery Technologies:

Over the years battery technology has seemingly only improved. Gone are the heavy NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) cells of yesteryear. Today the most prolific and efficient batteries you’ll come across will all likely be Lithium Ion (or some version of this). These are long-lasting, lightweight and can be recharged many many times.

Specs explained:

So what do all these numbers printed all over the box mean? Will let’s have a look at each, and shed some light.

Lumens/ Output – Refers to a unit of measure, which gauges the total quantity of light emitted in all directions by a light source. So in general, the higher the rating, the brighter the output of the headlamp.

Burn Time – This is how long the light stay on for and will really depend on the brightness mode used. Typically this data will be given as a range, where the lower number is when max output is used. Whilst the higher/longer number for when a low (or power-saving mode) is in use.

Distance/Reach – Exactly as it sounds, how far will the lamp throw a beam ahead of you. Again if there’s a range given it’s for the lowest – highest settings available.

IPX Rating – This refers to the weather sealing of the device – Typically the higher the number, the more water and dust resistance is has. Practically speaking, anything with an IPX rating of 4 or higher will be fine to withstand the usual abuse of rain, creek crossings and dusty adventures.

Models at a glance:

Below are the 5 headlamps we’re going to compare in this article. All are already available from Paddy Pallin, or will be in the near-future.

Brand Model Min-Max Output Burn Time (Hrs) Distance/Reach WP Rating Weight
Black Diamond Iota 150 Lumens 2 H – 40 H 7m – 40m IPX4 56g
Black Diamond Revolt 300 Lumens 30 H – 175 H 8m – 80m IPX8 97g
Petzl Actik Core 5 – 350 Lumens 2 H – 160 H 7m – 95m IPX4 82g
Petzl Reactik + 30 – 300 Lumens 2 H – 15 H 35m – 110m IPX4 115g
Petzl Reactik 40 – 220 Lumens 3.5 H – 12 H 30m – 65m IPX4 115g
LED Lenser MH6 10 – 600 Lumens 10 H – 120 H 20m – 150m IPX6 93g
LED Lenser MH10 20 – 200 Lumens 5 H – 30 H 40m – 120m IPX4 158g


This BD Iota the smallest, lightest and least bright model we’ve compared. That’s not to say it’s a slouch, still putting out a respectable 150 lumens. The battery is not removable, so you’ve just got the micro USB charging option. The Iota is designed as a headlamp that you’ve always got in the bag. It’s not got the longest battery life, nor is it super bright. But it’s small and unobtrusive enough that (hopefully) you’ll always choose to throw it in, just in case.


The bigger brother to the Iota, the Revolt has been recently updated. It was already a popular and well specced option, but now has a much brighter 300 lumen output (**Note output is only 175 Lumens with the included NiMH rechargeable batteries). Batter life is still great, with up to 30hrs on the bright setting. There’s also an option to run standard disposable batteries (3xAAA) if the needs arises. The IPX8 rating means it’s also on paper the toughest and most weather resistant unit we’ve compared.

PETZL Actik Core

Petzl have always been synonymous with quality and their headlamps are well respected. The Actik Core is a great torch, with an illuminating 350 lumen output and only weighing 82g. The Core removable Lithium battery isn’t the longest lasting around, but you can buy extras and carry a spare. Like the revolt you can also use 3xAAA batteries if needed.

PETZL Reactik+

The Reactik+ is a bit different to the other models, in that it uses Petzl’s reactive lighting technology. This is basically a light sensor that detects variances in terrain, changing the light output and spread accordingly. Great for trail running for example where you’re moving quickly through an ever-changing environment. There’s also a function to sync to an app via blue-tooth, allowing for even more customization over the settings. For those times when all the high-tech modes aren’t needed, there’s also a standard ‘constant lighting’ mode. The lithium pack is removable and 3xAAA batteries can be used with cradle (sold separately).

PETZL Reactik

The Petzl Reactik is basically same as the the Reactik+ model, but without Bluetooth and a lower max output (220 Lumens). So similarly, it has reactive lighting which is great for trail running, along with a constant lighting mode. Again the lithium pack is removable and 3xAAA batteries can be used with cradle (sold separately).


LED Lenser basically do one thing which is make LED lights, and they do it well. Their MH series is new and designed specifically for the outdoor user. Their trademark focus-able beam is present, along with a tidy lithium battery unit. AAA batteries can be used too. The specs don’t standout in any specific area, but overall this is a solid performer.


The MH10 is the brightest model we’ve compared, but it’s also the heaviest and bulkiest. Whilst all of the other torches have a single casing with the batteries and lamp all in together, the MH10 has a separate rear compartment to house it’s hefty lithium battery cell. The output is a very generous 600 lumens, but don’t expect the battery life because of it. Again you can buy spare battery to extend the usage. That bright beam is focus-able too, so you can really pierce the darkness!

Summing Up

The article wasn’t intended to be a shoot-out to determine which is the best head-lamp. All of the 7 models we’ve included are excellent options. Which you choose will depend on how you intend to use it and which features are more important. Generally speaking if you spend a lot of time hiking, navigating, running, cycling and climbing at night – the brighter the better! Whilst is general use, around camp, walking and just having it handy if needed – then something dimmer with a longer battery life might be more suitable.










About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. He loves spending time in the outdoors whenever possible - be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or just being on the road - He'll take any excuse to get into the mountains! He also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Drop in and say hi!

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