Best Tactical Headlamps of 2020 – Ultimate Top Picks

Headlamps can really make or break your ability to survive in a SHTF situation. It can be a gamechanger to be able to see what you are doing without needing to use a hand to hold onto a flashlight. Read on to learn more about these products and how they can best serve your needs.

Comparison Chart of the Best Tactical Headlamps


Smarterlife LED Headlamp Flashlight

  • Our choice of best overall tactical headlamp
  • Only requires a single double A battery to work
  • Has multiple different light settings, with white and red light
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DanForce LED Headlamp

  • Our choice of runner-up for best tactical headlamp
  • Red light will not attract mosquitoes and other bugs
  • Light is bright enough to illuminate even in rainy conditions
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COSOOS Rechargeable Headlamp

  • Our choice of best tactical headlamp for the money
  • Head strap is versatile enough to fit any sized head
  • Comes with everything you will need to get it running
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QS USA LED Headlamp

  • Tough and durable, will last for quite a while
  • Battery is rechargeable and will last for a long time
  • Versatile enough to be used for a lot of different tasks
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Bell + Howell Taclight Headlamp

  • Lens can be moved around to a variety of angles
  • Ideal for those looking for a running or biking lamp
  • Light protrudes from forehead to avoid shining in users’ eyes
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What Are The Best Uses for a Tactical Headlamp?

Headlamps are not only useful in intense situations. There are many other great ways to utilize them as well:


If you are sick and tired of getting out of shape whenver Daylight Saving Time hits and it is more treacherous to run or bike in the dark, investing in a great headlamp can really change the game for you. Say goodbye to your fears and run or bike with confidence.

Home Improvement

If you are trying to clear out your basement or attic, or trying to adjust something within your car’s engine, a headlamp can make a difference when it comes to having both hands free and still being able to see into dark corners.

SHTF Situations

Of course, this is the main point of a tactical headlamp – when things get crazy and you need to be able to see in order to survive. Hopefully, these situations are extremely rare, but you can never really be too prepared, can you?

How to Choose a Tactical Headlamp

How do you know what the best headlamp for you is? Here are some qualities to look out for:

Battery Life

Your headlamp will become nothing more than a heavy hat if it is no longer able to illuminate your path. Make sure you find yourself a model with a long lasting battery life that you will be able to count on.


The thing about light is that it changes. You are not going to want a headlamp that just shines on the brightest setting no matter what and has no means of adjusting and preventing your battery life from being drained as the sun rises. Find yourself a lamp with multiple brightness settings.


If you are using this headlamp on a regular basis, you want something that will honestly feel as though you are not wearing anything at all. A lot can go into this, including weight of the lamp itself as well as strap design. Invest in something that works for you.

Quick Take | Best Tactical Headlamps

Before diving into our review of the best tactical headlamps, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Tactical Headlamps

Since you are now more aware of how to use a headlamp and what to look for, here are some actual products:


  • Stays in place well.
  • Nice build quality.
  • Comfortable, will not hurt your head.
  • Lightweight, will not wear your neck out.
  • Red color helps it stand out inside your bag.


  • Has a cheap looking aesthetic.
  • Not designed to fit smaller heads.
  • Does not have padding between the back of the light and your forehead.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the wide variety of different light modes offered by this product. It has both white light and red light settings. The white light settings are high, medium, low, and strobe or flashing. The red light settings, which provide stealth night vision specifically designed for tactical situations, are high or flashing.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked that this light, unlike many of its competitor brands, requires only a single double A battery to work. And its battery life lasts for quite a long time (though admittedly not as long if you are running the light on the high setting all the time).

Who Will Use This Most

Many runners say this is a great option to use while running at night. And, if you are looking for a true tactical headlamp with a stealth mode option so that you can see others but they can’t see you, it would be difficult to find one better than the Smarterlife.

What Could Be Improved and Why

When you first turn the light on, it automatically kicks into high power mode. If you do not realize this or do not remember to click it into the lower power settings (unless of course you need the high power light), it can drain the battery pretty rapidly.

Bottom Line

The Smarterlife LED Headlamp Flashlight is a phenomenal product option and our best overall pick. Just remember to click it out of high power mode once you turn it on.


  • Well made.
  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Strapping is thick but adjustable.
  • Lightweight, will not strain your neck.
  • Light is adjustable and easy to manage.


  • Switch is stiff and difficult to press
  • Side lamps have a tendency to move around.
  • Main central light will die before the smaller ones on either side do.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers say that they love this headlamp so much, they have bought two or even three so that if something goes wrong with one, they will always have a backup option immediately available. They especially appreciate how bright the light is, saying that it illuminates the entire surrounding area even in intense conditions like pouring rain.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were happy with the red lens feature, which is ideal for still being able to see but not for attracting bugs and other unwanted guests such as mosquitoes. We also loved how long the battery life lasts on this bad boy – almost five hours of straight consecutive use.

Who Will Use This Most

Users report that this is an incredibly versatile lamp, great for fishing at night, hiking at dusk, setting up camp at sunset, night hunting, grilling in the dark, doing late night construction work, and early morning runs. So, the takeaway is that this lamp is pretty much perfect for whatever you want to accomplish with it.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The rubber seal on the battery case is not particularly tight, which means this lamp is not the most water resistant model out there.

Bottom Line

The DanForce LED Headlamp is a star of a product and a clear choice for our second overall option. Pay attention to the battery case, though, to make sure it does not corrode or rust.

Best for the Money:
COSOOS Rechargeable Headlamp


  • Easy to use.
  • Has a flashing “SOS” mode.
  • Button is soft rubber and easy to operate.
  • One central bright light, so is lighter than many of the three light models.
  • Has a super long battery life (over five hours of continual use), and the battery can be recharged to reduce waste.


  • On the bulkier side.
  • Zoom feature is difficult to use with just one hand.
  • Included battery is difficult to fit into the battery case.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers like that this product comes with absolutely everything you would ever need to operate it, including the lamp, the head strap, the rechargeable battery and the plastic battery case, the battery charger, and the USB charging cable. No additional purchases needed with this bad boy!

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were stunned that it is possible to buy a tactical headlamp of this quality at such a low price. You would think that at this price point, you would be compromising on functionality or at the very least comfort when you choose this model, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Who Will Use This Most

If you anticipate this headlamp being used by multiple people with different sized heads, such as with both kids and adults, this is a great product option for you because its head strap is comfortable and fully adjustable.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Its on/off button is incredibly easy to operate, which in some circumstances is a big plus, but a few users say that while they were carrying this lamp in a bag the button was accidentally pressed and the lamp was drained of some of its battery life.

Bottom Line

The COSOOS Rechargeable Headlamp is a top notch product that will save you a ton of money. Just be careful when packing it up so that it does not unexpectedly turn on.


  • Comfortable to wear.
  • Has a wide angle of view.
  • Durable, will last for a long time.
  • QS provides great customer service.
  • Has three settings: on, dim, and strobe.


  • Charging port is complicated to figure out.
  • Battery pack has some gaps and is not water tight.
  • Does not come with included operating instructions.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers like that this headlamp is versatile enough to be used in a wide variety of applications. Its strap is flexible enough to be put on over a hard hat, so it can be used in construction projects, as well as working on cars and illuminating the dark corners of the engine – along with all the typical uses such as cycling, camping, etc.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked that the battery with this product is rechargeable, so it minimizes any waste. It also feels quite substantial and well made, as if it could stand up to a lot of use and abuse.

Who Will Use This Most

This model is ideal for anyone who anticipates using a headlamp for their everyday work. It will also do extremely well in a tactical situation because of how tough it is, so there is some flexibility in use there.

​What Could Be Improved and Why

Multiple users report that after about an hour and a half of continuous use, this model begins to feel a little warm to the touch.

Bottom Line

The QS USA LED Headlamp is a fantastic product option that is noticeably tough. Keep in mind it can heat up a bit after extended use, though.


  • Has a wide angle view.
  • Can be zoomed in or out.
  • Comfortable and adjustable.
  • Comes with a two year warranty.
  • Has three different modes: high, low, and strobe.


  • Not very durable.
  • Not water resistant.
  • Bell + Howell does not provide good customer service.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers liked the versatility of movement with the lens, which can be bent to different angles. This feature is particularly excellent for those interested in using this product while running, biking, or any other sort of higher speed activity that requires looking down at the path in front of you. It can also easily be adjusted back to see the area straight ahead.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked that this light is designed so that the lamp part protrudes slightly from your head, so that you will never have to worry about any light getting in your eyes. We also appreciated its wide angle view.

Who Will Use This Most

This model would be great for those seeking a headlamp for running or biking at night or the early hours of the morning. Users report it also works great for rescue work, camping, grilling, and organizing darker spaces such as basements and attics.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Compared to many of the other models on this list, the battery life on this model does not last for a particularly long time.

Bottom Line

The Bell + Howell Taclight Headlamp is an awesome product option with some great design features. You will likely have to replace the batteries more often, though.

Why You Should Consider Getting a New Tactical Headlamp

The features on newer headlamp models are not just newer and cooler – they can make a real difference. Here is why you should upgrade your old model to a newer option:

Red Light Options

Today’s headlamps are specifically designed for tactical situations, and many have a red light setting so that you can still see what is directly in front of you, but others around you are not able to see you.


Your headlamp is not really going to serve you well in a tactical situation if it shorts out at the slightest hint of rain. Today’s headlamps’ water resistant features have been improved to the point where many are basically waterproof.

Rechargeable Batteries

In an era of climate change, it is always better to reduce as much waste as you possibly can. Forget needing to throw out old batteries and constantly buy new ones – today’s lamps have rechargeable systems so you can use the same batteries over and over.


Tactical headlamps are a wise investment for anyone seeking to be fully prepared for any sort of intense situation that may come your way. They are also great for everyday use, whether when exercising or when doing home improvement projects. Whatever you plan on using your headlamp for, you will not be able to go wrong with a product from our list.