Best headlamps for astronomy and stargazing 2024

The best headlamps you can buy are useful for a whole host of situations. Whether you're into astronomy and stargazing, or perhaps you simply spend a lot of time working outdoors at night, or even walking the dog or going for a run. Purchasing a good quality headlamp will not fail to be a great investment. Whatever your reasons, we've rounded up the best headlamps right here.

Headlamps come in various shapes and sizes and cover a wide spectrum of budgets. In this guide, we've featured headlamps from all price points and 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 getting a second person to do so) if you've got one of the best headlamps at your disposal.

Our picks of the best headlamps have been considered by our experts here at Space.com, many of whom frequently use headlamps when stargazing or shooting astro. Many factors have been discussed in our picks below, such as comfort, ease of use, available settings, waterproofing, customization and light intensity. As always, we're only recommending items we'd happily use — or have used — ourselves.

After you've looked at our round-up of the best headlamps, why not consider checking out our guide to the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography? After all, a headlamp is a great companion. It also many be useful if you're looking for a tool to go along with one of the best telescopes or best binoculars. In other words, a headlamp is an important tool to put in your kit bag.

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

Why you can trust Space.com Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test and review products.

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

-
Not 100% waterproof
-
The power cable can tangle in long hair
-
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.

While the BioLite HeadLamp 425 was initially designed for people who like to run at night, it still proves useful in plenty of other situations, including for astronomers and astrophotographers. Its functionality and design are both great. We particularly love how its power button juts out just enough to make it easy to locate, even if you're wearing gloves.

One of our favorite things about this headlamp is how comfortable it is, which we discussed in more detail in our BioLite HeadLamp 425 review. Its battery pack is placed at the back of the band, meaning you aren't overburdened on your forehead and weight is more evenly distributed.

However, some might find having a battery pack on the back of your head isn't all that 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 a BioLite headlamp, which all mostly share this design choice. 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, 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, which make it very versatile and allow 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

-
Low level of waterproofing
-
Micro-USB charge port, not USB-C
-
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.

The Core 450 is versatile in that it comes with a rechargeable battery but can also run on standard AAA batteries. We love that it gives us options and a sense of security: if it runs out of charge, you can simply pop in some batteries until you can next charge it. It does mean carrying around some batteries, but it's worthwhile for extra peace of mind. 

It's worth noting that the Petzl Actik Core 450 is the exact same product as the TACTIKKA Headlamp, which comes from the same company. However, the TACTIKKA is targeted towards fishing/hunting/military niches, but it may mean you come across it in different stores. There's also a newer model, the Actik Core 600, which is a little brighter (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

-
Overkill if only used for sky watching purposes
-
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. 

This is far from your typical headlamp, but if you're into gadgetry and like your tech products to stand out, there's a good chance you'll like the Knog Bilby 400. It's innovative, well made and comes from a good brand (although one that's better known for bike lights), so it has a lot going for it.

The Bilby 400 looks very different from the other headlamps on this list. It's made from medical-grade silicone, which helps keep it light and easy to clean. But it also packs in some useful and other not-so-useful (but innovative) features. In terms of the useful, if you've got the compatible ModeMaker app on PC, you can program your own modes to do just about anything. And the not-so-useful? There's a rather novel 'Party mode' and a Knight Rider mode — we'll leave you to have fun with those.

Along with those slightly obscure features, 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 found 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. A replacement strap is available for a very reasonable price also.

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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)

Best multi-functional headlamp

Best for multi-purpose use. This is one of our favorite flashlight meets headlamp combos

Specifications

LED Color: White
Brightness (Lumens): 2500
Runtime: 2 minutes (highest setting), 12.5 days (lowest setting)
Weight: 5.6 oz (161g)
Waterproof rating: IPX8
Battery type: 21,700 tailored lithium-ion

Reasons to buy

+
Small and pocketable (as a flashlight)
+
The magnetic base is handy
+
Useful proximity sensor

Reasons to avoid

-
Huge as a headlamp
-
No red LED
-
Uses a specific charging cable
Buy it if:

You use a flashlight for different hobbies or jobs: The three 'mounting' options make this a versatile flashlight — clip it to your pocket or bag, attach it to your head with the provided head strap, or attach it to something magnetic e.g the bonnet of a car or a tent pole.

You require a very bright light: This is the brightest light on our list at 2500 lumens and a reach of 544 feet/600 meters.

You want something strong and robust: This light is very sturdy and can even withstand being dropped on hard ground. It also boasts IPX8 waterproofing.

Don't buy it if:

You primarily want a headlamp: While the Olight Perun 2 can be used as one, it is pretty heavy to have on your forehead, not to mention the size of it. It's tiny for a flashlight, but massive for a headlamp.

You want USB-C charging: This light can only be charged with its own dedicated charging cable.

The bottom line

🔎 Olight Perun 2: A robust and versatile flashlight that can be used in a multitude of situations thanks to it's three mounting options including occasionally being worn as a headlamp.

The Olight Perun 2 is more than just a headlamp. It's essentially a handheld flashlight that can be slotted into a head mount. Technically, that means it's not your traditional headlamp, but we love its multifunction and think it's an underrated piece of equipment. 

You don't just have to hold the flashlight in your hands, either. Its base is magnetic, so you can attach it to things like tent poles or tripods — and it also comes with a pocket clip, so you can attach it to the front of your jacket, or a bag for example. Failing that, you can of course attach it to your head strap and use it as a standard headlamp.

It does mean it's a little bulkier than other headlamps on the list, but it's a small price to pay for the swathe of other functions you're getting here. In our Olight Perun 2 review (where we awarded it an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars) we praised its ultra-bright 2500 lumens, which can reach up to 544 feet — it's the brightest on this list. However, it lacks a red LED option which may be a turn-off for stargazers who need to preserve their night vision.

That extra size, however, means that the Perun 2 is unusually robust for a headlamp. For starters, it has an IPX8 waterproof rating, which makes it suitable for continuous immersion in water. Additionally, it's made from anodized aluminum, making it super strong. We've dropped one on hard ground from a height of one meter — and had no adverse effects at all. 

We'd recommend the Olight Perun 2 for people who want to use their headlamp for multiple uses. If you're the type of person who's going to use it for camping, late-night dog walking, fishing or transporting stuff around in the dark, we think you'll love this. But if you're wanting something lightweight and with a red light function, you're better off looking elsewhere.

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Test Results
AttributesNotes
DesignPrimarily a small flashlight but can be worn as a headlamp with the provided headstrap, albeit pretty chunky. We liked the magnetic base and pocket clip, and used them often
FunctionalityNice pocketable flashlight with different brightness settings, there isn't a red light though
PerformanceTurbo mode is exceptionally bright, battery life seems good but there isn't a battery indicator apart from a vibration when the battery is less than 10%

Best headlamp for comfort

BioLite HeadLamp 330

Best for comfort: This headlamp is designed to provide enjoyable, hands-free astro

Specifications

LED Color: White and red
Brightness (Lumens): 330
Runtime: 3.5 hrs (highest setting), 50 hrs (lowest setting)
Weight: 2.4 oz (69g)
Waterproof rating: IPX4
Battery type: 900 mAh Li-on rechargeable battery

Reasons to buy

+
Light and compact
+
Lock button to prevent accidentally powering on 

Reasons to avoid

-
Low waterproof rating
-
Has been superseded 
-
Micro USB charging (not USB-C)
Buy it if:

You're a runner: If one of your hobbies is running, this is an ideal headlamp thanks to it's 'no bounce' design. It also won't get in the way when you're looking through your scope or viewfinder.

Don't buy it if:

You have tangle-prone hair:  As with the BioLite 425, due to the design of power cable (that feeds the battery to the lamp), you will likely find you get your hair stuck a few times when you take it off.

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 330: An affordable lightweight headlamp from an admirable company that's easy to operate and comfortable to wear. ★★★★ 

If you're on a budget, we can easily recommend the BioLite 330 as one of the best headlamps on the market. It might not have the brightest light, but it's so tiny that you'll likely not even know you have it strapped to your head. As long as you don't need a super-bright light, this is a headlamp well worth considering.

Because of the BioLite's 'no bounce' design, it rests flat against your head and won't move around. Technically, it's a feature that's been designed with runners in mind but we can't think of any situation where a light that doesn't bob around won't be helpful. It's particularly handy when you're operating a telescope or camera because, crucially, it means the torch won't get in the way of a viewfinder.

We're pretty big fans of the fabric strap of the BioLite HeadLamp 330, too. It's made from an absorbent wicking material, which keeps it dry. Perfect if you're using it for late-night runs, but it'll come in handy in just about any situation. The reflective strip on the band is a nice touch, too, making the headlamp easy to find in the dark and, more importantly, keeping you visible to other people.

The one downside? It's micro-USB rather than USB-C, but it's not a dealbreaker. We'd still rather have that than have to change batteries regularly — and we do love the power indicator which shows you how much charge is left. 

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Test Results
AttributesNotes
DesignA flat to your forehead headlamp where the battery sits at the back of your head with a comfortable reflective headband
FunctionalityA lock mode to prevent accidentally powering on, Micro USB rather than USB-C
PerformanceThe no-bounce design is comfortable, build quality is excellent

Best headlamp for the environment