A good bright headlamp always comes in handy if you’re planning to go riding, hunting, or walking your dog on ill-lit back roads. Unlike a few years back, headlamps are becoming cheaper each day. Heck, you could get yourself a bunch of these with 100 bucks. But as expected, those cheapo $20-ish headlamps tend to break down so easily. The bad news is that they don’t care where they decide not to shine again. That could be somewhere in the middle of a pitch-dark rural road or as you coast down a hill at night. This article outlines the best headlamps under $500.
To avoid such experiences, it’s advisable to shy away from cheap knockoff headlamps. Go for a unit that honors its guarantee on durability, reliability, and value for your money. And though the best of the best headlamps under $500 are price-sensitive and might cost you a hefty amount, they always pay off for themselves pretty easily.
Read on to discover the 5 best headlamps under $500 for 2018.
Tactical 5.11 Headlamp- military-grade construction, durable, 286 lumens, 2 light modes, 8-25 hours runtime
As I told you earlier, durability is a critical factor that you need to throw into the equation when purchasing the best headlamps under $500. The 5.11 has been the ‘’it’’ since its inception thanks to its military-grade design. This is a Search-and-Rescue (S+R) unit made of high-impact polymer to ensure that the headlamp survives lots of punishment probably for decades. It also has an aluminum heat sink to prevent heat build-up.
It’s a good option for hikers, mountaineers, professional runners, hunters, and anglers. You could also go for it if you want a reliable hands-free lighting device for your DIY activities around the home.
Headlamps can either be fit directly on the head or on riding or rescue helmets. Whichever the case, the strap needs to be comfortable and keep the headlight in position. The 5.11 H3 Headlamp features an elastic and fully adjustable headband with rubber grips that make the lights stay put even when running or jogging. And the top strap is removable for the deep helmets too.
2 powering options
If asked for one reason why the H3 is amongst the best headlamps under $500 in 2018, my answer right off the bat would be its versatile power options. How would you like a headlamp that uses both rechargeable batteries and the AA batteries? Uniquely, the battery pack has a lock out switch that eliminates any possible accidental activation.
2 lighting modes
Tactic 5.11 H3 has 2 independently switched working modes; high and low. It has 2 floodlight LEDS, and a spot LED. Importantly, all the LEDs have interchangeable HIGH and LOW modes, and they can be used together in any combination.
- Uses rechargeable and single-use batteries
- Elasticized headband has incredible grip
- Lock out switch unwanted activation
- Batteries have negative polarity protection
- 2 modes
- 8-25 hours of runtime
- No heat build up
- It’s heavy at 2 pounds
Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp- easy and clean, 180-lumen output, automatic reserve mode, 3 adjustable modes
Clean and Easy to use
At around 0.2 pounds (quite a wide weight difference from the H3 above), Petzl Tikka XP is the best light headlamp under 500 out there. This weight coupled with its bright light (not ultra bright though) makes it an ideal option especially if you intend to have a tank-heavy rescue helmet on.
Unlike the H3, this is a single-piece LED headlamp with no separate battery bin and wires to make it bulky. You can easily slip it into your coat or trouser pockets without looking awkward or suspicious. The strap is also easy to put on and has buckles to help you find your comfortable fit.
Tikka XP pumps out 180 lumens from 3AA/LR03 batteries. Though this light isn’t the highest for a headlamp within this price range, it’s still bright enough (65-meter lighting) for low-speed biking, running, camping, and fishing. The sweet spot is that this headlamp Petzl technology to ensure constant brightness throughout the AA batteries’ cycle.
Automatic Reserve mode and low-battery battery
This is the sweet spot with the Petzl Tikka. You see the worst thing that could happen in the woods is the batteries to drain out when least expected. Petzl’s brilliant idea of a mode that minimizes battery usage for a longer life is a genius. It also has a blinking light that signals the need to replace the batteries. In fact, at the lowest battery levels, energy-saving red light illumination is automatically switched on to give you extra time to complete your tasks.
- Easy-to-use push-button
- Compact and light
- Automatic power-reserve mode
- Low energy alert
- 3 modes including strobe
- Ships with batteries
- Not rechargeable
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
The latest headlamp in Black Diamond line- the Storm- is an improved version of the previous model. It packs a punch in performance, and it’s also more durable. Its most outstanding feature is its IP67 rating. This means that it’s fully submersible in water up to 1 meter for about 30 minutes. Needless to say, this is your ‘it’ headlamp if you’re an angler or intend to use it outdoors on a rainy day.
The storm is also fully dust-proof. You can, therefore, use in dusty environs with zero risks of affecting its performance or durability.
Illuminates far and wide
Compared to Petzl Tikka, Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is brighter and more solid. It lights up around 78 meters at its max white-color setting, and its beam also has a wider diameter. This is the best headlamps under $500 for cycling on tricky trails since you’re able to see a longer and wider part of the road.
Red and Green vision
Are you looking for the best headlamps under $500 for hunting? The Storm could be it. Besides the white light that’s common with all others, this one offers red and green visions. Science proves that red and green lights are friendlier to animals than the white light. As such, you can go as close as possible to your targets without startling and scaring them away.
These lights are also friendly to oncoming motorists and other campers or runners. Moreover, these modes help in saving the power.
Power Tap technology
The Storm also scores several additional points when it comes to ease of usage. To change from the bright to the dim setting, all you do is simply tap its side. That said, you can easily switch between the modes as you cycle or run.
- Red and green lights
- Tap to change brightness
- Easy to change the batteries
- Illuminates further and wider
- IP67 rating
- It’s light
- Good battery life
- Several color options
- Cycling around the modes is tiresome
Streamlight 14514 Sidewinder Compact II Military Model Angle Head Flashlight, Head Strap and Helmet Mount Kit
Brightest Headlamp under $500
Streamlight 63104 is the brightest headlamp under 500 on this list. It derives its power from 2 rechargeable CR123A lithium batteries. To your benefit, this headlight ships with a pair and can be used right away.
This hands-free lamp emits a 540-lumen blinding light that can reach up to 172 meters. But this is made possible by the use of the latest LEDs that promise over 50,000 hours of lifetime. Double this with the batteries that can be used for up 10 years and you have one of the most dependable headlamps on earth.
Lights the furthest
It’s also important to mention here that this headlamp can irradiate up to 172 meters ahead. So if you’re in need of the best running and cycling headlamps under 500, this could be yours.
Most durable headlamp
The ProTac HL has more in store other than a bright light. It’s also one of the most durable headlights that we’ve come across in most headlamps reviews. It’s made from high-quality 6000 series aircraft aluminum and has an anodized finish. The manufacturer claims that it has been 1-meter drop-tested. It should, therefore, withstand numerous impacts in camps, hiking, and fishing expeditions.
Easy to use
ProTac HL ships with an elastic headband for mounting it on the head and a rubber headband for helmets and hardhats. Besides using it while mounted, you can as well place it on desk or table and use it from there. The only downfall with this is that it’s not dimmable.
- Brightest headlamp under 500
- 1-meter impact tested
- 10-year shelf life batteries
- Lights up to 172 meters
- IPX4 rated
- Not dimmable
SureFire HS3-A-BK Maximus Rechargeable Variable-Output LED Headlamp
Bright and comfortable
SureFire Maximus is another amazingly bright headlamp under 500 with its 450 lumens. This brightness is way beyond what you could ever require for any activity. It features a high-power LED fitted next to a custom reflector that boosts the illumination to give you a wide beam with an incredible reach. The beam can penetrate even the densest fog, dust and smoke. Thus, SureFire comes out as the best headlamps under $500 for rescues.
Despite being ultra-bright, the beams of light remain within the users’ natural field of vision and do not leak back to your eyes. Importantly, you select your required amount of light from 1-450 lumens simply by turning a knob.
A nice feature here is that the both the light assembly and the battery compartment are held in one unit. This makes it easy to put it on and adjust the band to a comfortable level. Again, unlike with the H3, there is no bopping up and down or mind-squeezing with the SureFire Maximus.
Speaking of the strap, it’s made from a breathable and moisture-wicking material that keeps your forehead cool throughout the operation. It also has a comfortable forehead pad that adds to your comfort while preventing it from sliding up and down.
Charge it from various sources
SureFire’s multiple recharging options make it the best headlamps under $500 for the money. It ships with both an AC and a cigarette charger. This makes it easy to maintain it at full charge since you can charge it from wall sockets or as you drive.
- Easy to adjust the beam
- Brightest headlamp
- Comfortable moisture-wicking strap
- Rechargeable battery with long life
- Multiple recharging options
- IPX4 water resistant
- 900 adjustable light assembly
- A little bit heavy
Conclusion about the best headlamps under $500
So which is best headlamps under $500? Well, we could say that it’s ProTac since it’s the brightest of the bunch. It also seems to be the most durable. Unfortunately, it lacks the dimmable feature and could, therefore, be quite disturbing to motorists and those around you. The SureFire Maximus becomes the best headlamps under $500. It’s durable, has multiple charging options, and it’s easy to customize the beams of light.