Headlamp Vs Flashlight

Headlamps and flashlights provide a mobile source of light for hikers and campers. While most people will make a fire at night, headlamps and flashlights are much brighter and can be safely taken into a tent or shelter.  Additionally, if you are on the move at night (a trip to the bathroom or night hiking), both are useful.

While both headlamps and flashlights have their uses, one may be better in some uses than others. This article will explore the pros and cons of each and analyze which is most appropriate in which situation.


A headlamp is an essential piece to carry with you especially when travelling in the night. It is a hands free flashlight that allows you to use your both hands on other activities while still shining the light on the focus area. The lamp portion is attached to elastic straps which is fixed on the head. Headlamps come in different sizes and shapes with varying quality.

Pros of headlamps

Headlamps give you a hand free access to allow you read a book, climb into a cave, search through your backpack in the night or do any other activity that requires you to use your both hands. Plus, if you want to hold it, you can always hold it with your hand.

Some headlamps, especially those that that cost over $30, have a spotlight mode that casts quite a long beam which is a big asset for finding things in the dark such a poorly marked trail back to the campsite or the car.

Headlamps are extremely lightweight. They weigh no more than a few ounces which makes it easy to walk around when fixed on the head.

Headlights are also very compact and they can easily fit in a back pack.

Most headlamps are made using tough material that are water resistant making them ideal to operate in rain storms. This makes them attractive for us in places where the weather condition is unpredictable.

A favorite feature of headlamps is the red LEDs which is great when you want to get up early to capture sunrise images. This feature is also great for preserving the natural night vision.

There are so many uses of headlamps, if you want to light up a tent, strap it on a backpack and aim the light at the roof.

Some headlamps have a lock function that prevents turning on incidentally when in the bag

Cons of Headlamps:

Headlamps are generally not as powerful as flashlights

In order to be efficient, they must be clipped or affixed

In order to turn the beam of light, you must turn your head which can be quite inconveniencing when you are not moving in that direction

Some headlamps maybe too big or too small

The light produced may at times be unsatisfactory

You will need to carry extra batteries

Some headlamps have a short life

Headlamps are be fragile and can easily break though this typically only includes cheaper models.

Handheld Flashlights

Handheld flashlights is what comes to mind when the word flashlight is mentioned. They cover a wide range of power levels and styles and due to their versatility, they are a go to option for a variety of hobbyists and professionals.

Pros of Headlamps

Most flashlights have an adjustable beam pattern strength and length.

Flashlights are extremely versatile and they produce good quality light.

Most have decent water sealing capability

Some flashlights have a signaling feature.

Flashlights are more versatile than headlamps

Some flashlights are super beefy and can be used for self defense

Cons of Headlamps

A handheld flashlight cannot stay attached on its own

The light produced by flashlights can seriously damage your eyes if you look directly to it.

Some flashlights are susceptible to static electricity

If you fail to supply a flashlight with the right voltage at a constant rate, it can easily get damaged.

Headlamps vs Flashlights – Which is better?

The debate for headlamps vs. flashlights may never be settled as they are both great in what they do hence no need to make a choice. Choosing one that will suit you best depends on your preference as well as the activity being carried out. Get a headlamp when you need to use your both hands and buy a flashlight when you need more power and versatility.

No matter what you choose, or if you decide to get both, be sure to invest in a high quality flashlight that will do the job perfectly and consistently. Do not go for a cheap flashlight as it may not perform as expected. It is prudent to invest in a flashlight that will last for years to come.

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