What are the Best Headlamps for Reading?

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If you are in a hurry, my pick for the Best Headlamp for Reading is the  Foxelli USB Rechargeable headlamp

High performance lights are great, but for kids you a more subtle light they can use to read by or do some other simple task.  And you don’t want them blinding everyone on a dark night.  Here’s some of the Best Headlamps for Reading to choose from

Here’s the quick list for review:

What to look for in a Headlamp for Reading

Keep in mind these items when looking for a headlamp for your kids

Red Light

I really am a big fan of any style of LED light that has an easy to use Red Light option. Often people go for the brightest light they can get but I find it is just as often that what is needed is a light that doesn’t mess up everyone’s night vision while they want to read or move around in the dark.

My kids also use red lights in the truck to read during nighttime drives.

Size/Comfort

A reading headlamp is a very specific purpose for an LED light to fulfill, so I have one dedicated to the task. It is very small and kept in my tent bag, and light enough on my head for me to forget I’m wearing it.

Brightness

As discussed in the Red Light section, brightness isn’t everything and in this case you want one that is very dim. That being said, it should have an option for a brighter mode if you need to find you way to relieve yourself in the middle of the night.

kelvin color chart

Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output

Color Temperature

Here is another area I’m rather picky on. With the onset of LED lighting and screens it’s become painfully aware that a ‘white’ light bulb actually comes in a number of shades from amber to blue. These shades are identified by a Color Temperature rating.  Here is more information on Color Temperature.

Amber bulbs promote relaxation at night, much like a campfire did throughout human history. Campfires are identified with a color temperature range of 2700K to 5000K and commonly labeled as ‘Warm White’.

Blue bulbs promote alertness, much like the sunrise does. These are identified with a color temperature over 5000K and are referred to as ‘Cool White’.

Blue lights at night cause your body to become alert and makes it difficult to sleep. I try to stick to warm white lights whenever possible for the hour or two before bed.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Flashlight Tint to learn all about how important Flashlight Color Tints are.

Battery/Charge

I have a strong preference for a rechargeable reading headlamp. Small, comfortable headlamps will sometimes use a watch style battery to save space. I find these types of batteries frustrating because they are typically more complicated to change, and I never seem to have the right one.

Headlamps that use single ‘AA’ or ‘AAA’ cells are acceptable, but anything bigger than that becomes more noticeable and cumbersome while wearing them.

Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!

Reviews

Fenix HL23

The Fenix HL23 is a rugged little headlamp with an aluminum housing instead of plastic. Not surprising it has an IPX68 rating, meaning it is dustproof and submersible to 2 meters and has an impact resistance of 1 meter. The light has an adjustable angle and comes in a neutral white option for a more pleasing amber tint to the light.

This little torch is powered by a single ‘AA’ battery and can last up to 110 hours on the lowest setting of 3 Lumens and can brighten the night at the highest setting of 150 Lumens. It is very light weight, only about 67 grams when using a lithium ‘AA’ battery.

Pros

  • Neutral white option
  • Very light weight
  • Shockproof and Waterproof
  • Long battery life on low setting

Cons

  • Not USB rechargeable
  • No red light option

OLIGHT H1R Nova

The Olight Nova is a very versatile light. This is actually a palm sized every day carry (EDC) light with a head strap option. It also uses an included belt clip and a magnetic base which can stick to metal surfaces and walls.

The light is adjustable from 2 Lumens up to a 600 Lumen turbo mode to light up the campsite, and has a pleasing neutral white tint.

A specialized USB charging cable charges the Olight with a magnetic interface, or you can swap the rechargeable cell for a CR123A battery. Both will power the Olight for a whopping 6 days on the lowest setting.

This torch is so small and convenient that I would want to carry all the time, not just at night.

Pros

  • Requires specialized charging cable
  • Unit gets hot with higher output modes

Cons

  • USB Rechargeable
  • Neutral white tint
  • Long battery life
  • Shockproof and Waterproof to IPX8

Click to see all of our other Headlamp reviews!

Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp

This is the headlamp my kids use on long drives and camping trips. They love to read and I originally got these lights so the kids could read in the truck during long, dark drives without blinding me. The USB charger is very convenient, the charge is long lasting and the units are lightweight and durable.

The light is waterproof to IPX5 standard, which means it is made to withstand conditions similar to your shower.

I also like the the ability to tilt the headlamp 60 degrees, allowing you to point it to the ground to avoid shining it in people’s eyes.

My biggest complaint is that the color of the white light is cool (blue) and not warm (amber), but that’s a minor point considering he 30 Lumen red light can be used.

Pros

  • USB Charge
  • Red Light
  • Light and compact at 2.4 ounces
  • Tiltable Body

Cons

  • Would be perfect with an Amber light instead of a Blue one
  • You have to cycle through all modes to turn it off

VITCHELO V800 Headlamp

The Vitchelo V800 is very similar to the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp in features, except that it uses 3 ‘AAA batteries instead of a rechargeable cell. The headlamp is a bit heavier than the Foxelli at 3.1 ounces, and the battery drain is really bad. Users report needing to change batteries every few days.

This light does have a nice feature to make turning it off a bit quicker. The Mode button will cycle the light through the various modes, but once it is on a mode for more than 3 seconds the next time you select the Mode button will turn it off.

Pros

  • Fast and easy turn-off
  • Red light option

Cons

  • Heavy battery drain
  • Fixed position

Black Diamond Storm Headlamp

The Black Diamond Storm has Red, Blue and Green colored lights along with a multi-mode white light which can adjust to 350 Lumens.

The build is excellent with an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning you can submerge it to 1.5 Meters and it’ll still work. Even though this head lamp is a bit heavy at 3.9 ounces, the head strap is very comfortable to wear for long periods.

The light angle is adjustable, and the unit runs on 4 ‘AAA’ batteries which last a whopping 120h on low mode and 40h on high mode. There are also more high-end features such as power switch lockout to keep it from turning on accidentally in your bag, and brightness memory technology so it retains the same brightness level after you turn it off.

To top it all off, every unit I have seen has a natural white light instead of a blue light, giving it a slight amber color that is very easy on the eyes, although not as amber as a warm white.

Most headlamps on this list have been selected for the single purpose of reading. This light, however, is a good choice if you need want only one headlamp that is higher performance for climbing or trail running that also pulls double-duty as a reading light.

Pros

  • Red, Green and Blue lights
  • Waterproof and Dustproof
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Brightness memory technology
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Uses ‘AAA’ batteries instead of being rechargeable
  • Pricey compared to other options

OxyLED USB Rechargeable Headlight

The OxyLED USB Rechargeable Headlight has almost everything I look for in a reading headlamp. It’s lightweight at 2.4 ounces. There is a red light option, separate spot and area white lights, takes ‘AAA’ battery cells but comes with rechargeable ‘AAA’s which are recharged through a USB cable in the light. That is likely to be a useful feature, as the rechargeable ‘AAA’ batteries only seem to hold a charge for up to 7 hours of use with a 2 hour recharge time.

The build quality leaves something to be desired. Although it does have an IPX6 waterproof rating, it seems to self-destruct when not handled with care. As a reading light it performs well and shouldn’t see much abuse, so mileage may vary. No promises if you step on it in the dark though.

Pros

  • USB rechargeable
  • Replaceable ‘AAA’ cells
  • Red light
  • Separate Spot and Flood lights

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Poor build quality

Click here to see the Best Headlamps reviewed!

Conclusion

For the purpose of reading, the headlamp that stands out on this list is the Foxelli USB Rechargeable Headlamp. This light is a great value, has good build quality, and hits all of my feature preferences with USB recharging and an integrated red light.

Honorable mention here has to go to the Black Diamond storm headlamp. This headlamp has a very high build quality and durability, and the Storm goes above and beyond with its’ features such as power lockout and brightness memory technology. I also love the neutral white color of this light and the slight amber tone it has. The only failing in my book is a lack of USB charging, but that is offset with the long life it gets from the 4 ‘AAA’ batteries powering it.

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