Best headlamps for astronomy and stargazing 2024

The best headlamps you can buy are useful for a range of situations. Whether you're into astronomy and stargazing, or perhaps you simply spend a lot of time working outdoors at night, a good headlamp will go a long way. They can be invaluable for nighttime running — or perhaps you simply want one to read in the dark! Whatever you need one for, we've rounded up the best headlamps right here.

Headlamps come in various shapes and sizes, and cover a wide gamut of budgets. In our list here we've featured headlamps from all price points and we've considered a wide range of uses. They're convenient little gadgets that ensure you can see in the dark while also keeping your hands free. Forget about needing to hold a torch (or get a second person to do so).

Our experts here at Space.com have tried and tested a wide array of the best headlamps. We've considered various factors, like comfort, ease of use, available settings, light intensity and waterproofing. As always, we're only recommending to you items we'd use ourselves, we'd never recommend a product we're not completely happy with.

The best headlamps are great companions to the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography, leaving your hands free to carry your kit and set up your tripod. Or, if you're looking for a place to set up with one of the best telescopes or best binoculars you can use your headlamp and one of the best stargazing apps to find the ideal vantage point.

Tantse
Tantse Walter

Tantse Walter is a photographer and adventurer who's spent more than seven years facilitating global adventurous overseas expeditions. She loves getting into the nitty-gritty of sourcing and planning trips, and choosing the right gear for the job. Tantse enjoys taking creative, bright and bold photos of interesting people and places.

The quick list

Best headlamps we recommend in 2024

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Best for astro

Best for astrophotography: It is USB-C rechargeable and full of features for night use

Specifications

LED Color: White and Red
Brightness (Lumens): 425 Lumens
Runtime: 4 hrs (highest setting), 60 hrs (lowest setting)
Weight: 2.75 oz (78g)
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Battery type: 1000 mAh Li-on rechargeable battery

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Battery weight sits at the back of your head
+
Lots of astro-friendly features

Reasons to avoid

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Not 100% waterproof
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The power cable can tangle in long hair
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Can't lie down while wearing it
Buy it if:

You want to buy from a company that 'does good': BioLite reinvests its revenues to build a commercially sustainable business while bringing safe, affordable energy to families in India and Africa. That's over 3.6 million individuals to date and ambitious plans for the future.

You want to charge using USB-C: That's one of the reasons it sits at the top of this list.

Don't buy it if:

You have tangle-prone hair:  We're literally splitting hairs here — if you have long curly hair, the power cable (that feeds the battery to the lamp) will likely find its way into a tangle with you.

You will use it to read books whilst lying on your back: If you're someone who likes to hold their book above their head to read while lying down, the rear battery pack will be uncomfortable to lie on. 

The bottom line

🔎 BioLite Headlamp 425: A comfortable no-bounce headlamp that's incredibly lightweight. The rear red beam is an unusual feature, handy for group situations.

The BioLite HeadLamp 425 was designed with nightrunners in mind, but it makes a great option for astronomers as well. Whether you're stargazing or a keen astrophotographer, it offers great functionality. We particularly like its power button: It stands out just enough to make it easy to locate and easily pressable even if you're wearing gloves.

In our BioLite HeadLamp 425 review we praised its comfort and security. As with other BioLite headlamps, the battery pack is placed at the back of the band, meaning that the profile of the light at the front is only around 10mm. They have also integrated a red flood and strobe into the rear, giving the headlamp additional uses, especially if you're heading out as part of a group or wearing it over your bike helmet.

Some might not find having a battery pack on the back of your head practical. If you're going to be laid down — whether that's reading in bed or working under your car late at night — it's going to be uncomfortable to lie on. If those are primary uses for you, you might want to choose something else rather than the BioLite HeadLamp 425. But for most other uses where you're upright and moving around, having less weight at the front of your head is a major plus.

Furthermore, having USB-C charging is a great bonus — no need to dig out batteries or find older cables! It charges quickly too: the BioLite can go from empty to full in just about two hours. And when it's in use, we've thoroughly enjoyed its four tilt positions, making it very versatile and allowing you to see both distant and close objects. 

One last plus: by buying it you're even supporting BioLite's mission to reduce CO2 emissions and increase access to clean energy.

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Test Results
AttributesNotes
DesignThe lamp sits flat to your forehead, the battery sits at the back of your head so it's pretty comfortable, its available in three colors
FunctionalityUSB-C charging with a 'reserve mode' that provides an hour of backup light
PerformanceThe battery lasts a long time and it's very comfortable to wear, the red rear flood is novel too

Best general purpose headlamp

Best general purpose: We love this reliable headlamp and its hybrid battery

Specifications

LED Color: White and red
Brigntness (Lumens): 450
Runtime: 2 hrs (highest setting), 130 hrs (lowest setting) 2hrs
Weight: 2.65 oz (75g)
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Battery type: CORE rechargeable battery/ 3 x AAA

Reasons to buy

+
Trusted and respected brand
+
Very light and comfortable
+
Rechargeable battery

Reasons to avoid

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Low level of waterproofing
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Micro-USB charge port, not USB-C
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Plastic housing
Buy it if

You want to use it for stargazing or astro: This headlamp lets you turn the red light on without cycling through white light modes so you don't ruin your night vision.

You like a choice of power options: You can use either three regular AAA batteries or use the included CORE rechargeable battery.

You are most comfortable buying from well-known brands: Petzl is a trusted and respected brand, known for quality and reliability.

Don't buy it if:

You want USB-C charging: The biggest downside to this headlamp is that it uses Micro-USB charging, not USB-C. It's not a deal breaker, we just prefer carrying/storing fewer cables.

You need to be able to use it continuously: You can't use this headlamp whilst it's charging like you can with some other models.

The bottom line

🔎 Petzl Actik Core 450: This is a reliable and durable headlamp with a choice of power options. If you don't mind using a Micro-USB cable to charge, there's nothing else to fault.

There's a lot to like about the Petzl Actik Core 450 headlamp. It comes from a reputable brand; it has a solid build, it's versatile, and it comes with a hefty warranty (two years on the battery and five years on the lamp). You know you're buying a good product with peace of mind. In our review of the Petzl Actik Core 450 we couldn't have been more pleased.

In fact, the only thing we didn't really like about the Petzl Actik Core 450 is the fact it has a micro-USB charger. We'd have preferred a USB-C (who wouldn't?), but it's a small price to pay when everything else is so excellent. This is a multi-functional headlamp with a low-profile body and snug fit. It's incredibly comfortable on your head and can be worn in just about any situation. 

We've found this to be a particularly good headlamp for stargazing. Of particular note is its red light feature: you can turn it on with a long press without needing to cycle through all the white light settings first. It means you have almost no risk of ruining your night vision.

You also get two power options with this headlamp. It comes with a rechargeable battery, but if you find you're out and about and have forgotten to charge it then it will work off three standard AAA batteries as well (although if we're being picky, it's worth pointing out that you can't continue to use the headlamp whilst it's charging like you can with some models on the list).

If you happen to come across it, this is actually the exact same lamp as the TACTIKKA Headlamp (from the same company), but that model is usually found in more specialized fishing/hunting/military stores. There is also a more recent model, the Actik Core 600, which boasts 600 lumens, has a Phosphorescent reflector to help you find it in the dark and a pouch that you can use to make a lantern (for when you're in your tent).

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Test Results
AttributesNotes
DesignLightweight with plastic housing — feels nice in the hand, some might prefer something a little weightier
FunctionalityEasy one button control, lockable, easy to adjust strap and open battery compartment
PerformanceAs you'd expect from Petzl — reliable, versatile with a great battery life

Best for customization

Best for customization: This headlamp is fully waterproof, has rechargeable batteries and is comfortable

Specifications

LED Color: White and red
Brightness (Lumens): 400
Runtime: 5 hrs (highest setting), 105 hrs (lowest setting)
Weight: 3.2 oz (90g)
Waterproof rating: IP67
Battery type: 880 mAh Li-on rechargeable battery

Reasons to buy

+
Fully water and dust proof
+
Customizable modes inc. startup color

Reasons to avoid

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Overkill if only used for sky watching purposes
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Looks different to other headlamps
Buy it if:

You love playing with tech: A unique feature of this headlamp is the 'ModeMaker app' (PC/Mac, not Smartphone) which lets you add more modes to the headlamp (e.g a Knight Rider mode and a party mode). You can design your own too.

You want something waterproof and easy to clean: The silicone design of this headlamp makes it great for wet conditions and super easy to clean.

Don't buy it if:

You don't want people to ask questions: Because they will. This doesn't look like a typical headlamp, and the band doesn't look like a typical headlamp band either, so naturally, people will be curious.

You want to charge using USB-C: This headlamp takes a USB-A charge. Though this is generally more readily available than micro or mini-USB, most people would choose USB-C.

The bottom line

🔎 Knog Bilby 400: A uniquely styled headlamp that gives users complete control in terms of light activation, lighting modes and order of operation. It is easy to wipe clean and is even submersible. 

The Knog Bilby 400 isn't your usual headlamp, but it's a great choice if you're tech-savvy and like your gadgets to be rather unique. It comes from a reputable brand (though Knog's perhaps best-known for its bike lights) so you know you're buying a good quality bit of gear.

Not only does the Knog Bilby look different from everything else in this list of best headlamps — its strap made of medical-grade silicone — it packs in some unique features too. It has a rather novel 'Party mode' and a Knight Rider mode, and with the compatible ModeMaker app on PC and Mac, you can program your own modes for just about anything.

You'll find all of the usual bells and whistles here, which we've talked about in our in-depth Knog Bilby 400 headlamp review. It's dust-proof and waterproof up to one meter, with a rating of IP67. It has a USB-C charger, and its brightness of up to 400 lumens is plenty bright enough for most situations.

We did find, however, that its electronic tilt function wasn't as effective as the manual options found on other headlamps. But we do like its battery indicator and the fact it'll automatically lower the light if it's low on power — it'll do its best to ensure you don't end up in the dark on your way home. With a red light for astro and four brightness settings, we would definitely recommend this headlamp for stargazing if you like the silicone-based design.

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Test Results
AttributesNotes
DesignUnusual looking, band made from silicone — easy to clean
FunctionalityWaterproof and submergible, customizable lighting patterns are quite fun, controls take some getting used to
PerformanceExtremely bright, app is slick (only on Windows/Mac)