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When you work in certain industries or fields, having the best tactical headlamp available can make the difference between being safe or being in danger.
Law enforcement officers, first responders, military personnel, or those in construction, will all benefit from choosing a headlamp that’s ideal for use in their specific work environment.
If you want a quick recommendation, our top pick is the Nightstick FORTEM Helmet-Mounted Dual-Light
The top choices for the best tactical headlamp are:
- Nightstick FORTEM Helmet-Mounted Dual-Light
- FoxFury 940K-010FI
- Life Mounts LED Helmet Mounted Light
- SureFire HL1-C-TN Helmet Light
- Life Mounts NVG Shroud Mounted Light
- Streamlight 69189 Vantage LED Helmet Mounted Flashlight
Choosing the best tactical headlamp will depend on what dangerous and poorly lit situations you find yourself in most often. We have put together some tips on what to look for when shopping.
What Should I Consider When Looking for the Best Tactical Headlamp?
There are a few considerations before buying to make sure you are getting a tool that is suitable for you and the job you are doing.
To do your job effectively, you want to know that your light will be dependable. As well as providing an adequate light source, there may be a risk of dropping it, bumping it or getting it wet. Your light needs to survive all of those and still work well.
Look at the material it’s made with, how strong the mounting system is, and if it is waterproof, shockproof, fireproof, drop-proof, and smoke-proof.
If you aren’t going into smoke-filled buildings as part of your job, then you can afford to be less fussy on that last point, but the lamp you choose should still be durable and able to withstand harsh conditions.
If your tactical headlamp needs to have a specific IP rating, to meet your job’s equipment requirements, be sure to check that before purchasing.
How durable is it? What does IPX6 mean? Read our Ultimate Guide to the ANSI/PLATO FL1 Standard symbols!
You don’t want your headlamp to die right when you need it most. A product with extended battery life that is easy to charge or replace batteries in, is the best choice for a tactical headlamp.
Some headlamps come with disposable batteries, others can use rechargeable batteries, and you can charge some via USB cable. Choose which option works best for you, but the most crucial factor is how long the battery lasts once you have charged it. A run time of 6 hours is the minimum time you should expect from a single charge.
Learn everything you need to know about Batteries with our Ultimate Guide to Batteries!
When you are out in the field, the lighter the lamp, the better. They design most tactical headlamps to fit on the side of a helmet, and you don’t want it to cause your head to tilt over to one side because it’s so heavy.
Look for something lightweight and compact that you will hardly notice when it is on your helmet. It should also be easy to position, so it doesn’t impede face visors or glasses.
A light that has various modes is the best kind. The main light should be bright enough to cut through darkness, haziness, and smoke. There should also be other light modes for different conditions.
A variety of modes is great. You can use the high ones for lighting the way ahead of you, and less bright ones for work right in front of you. A hundred lumens is the accepted standard for commercial walkways. Three hundred lumens, or more, would do a better job of lighting up environments such as a smoky building, an underground tunnel, or a back alleyway.
Most models have white and red lights, and some come with a safety light on the back, which is also bright enough to be seen from afar. Long beams are perfect for illuminating far ahead so you can see what’s coming. Wider but shorter beams are useful for lighting up what’s right in front of you.
Our Lumens, Lux, and Candela article is a great resource to learn more about Lumens and light output
We have looked at various tactical headlamps and evaluated their effectiveness and ease of use. Here are our recommendations for the best tactical headlamp:
Best Overall Tactical Headlamp
The Nightstick is a versatile lamp for all tactical situations, from fires to hurricanes. It comprises two separate lights, a 250 lumens flashlight and a 115 lumens floodlight, which tilts downward at a 45-degree angle. It also has a 10-lumen survival mode, which gives some illumination but reserves battery power for as long as possible.
You can use the flashlight on its own, the floodlight on its own, or both together. The flashlight illuminates what’s ahead, while the 45-degree floodlight allows you to see where you are walking.
This light is easy to mount onto the rim of a tactical helmet as you don’t need any tools. You can operate the buttons even with thick gloves on, and the light beam is powerful enough to cut through thick smoke, making it practical for most environments. The torch uses two CR123A batteries.
- User-selectable brightness.
- Independent 115-lumen floodlight at a 45-degree angle.
- 10-lumen survival mode.
- Compact and doesn’t get in the way.
- ATEX and NFPA-certified.
- Buttons are easy to push accidentally or while in a bag.
Click here to see the Best Headlamps reviewed!
Best Dual-Function Headlamp
The FoxFury headlamp works well as a helmet light or a handheld flashlight. The lamp is easy to detach from the mount, even with gloves on, so it’s one of the more versatile products on our list. The durable aluminum construction makes it water-resistant (up to 1 meter), fireproof, and able to withstand drops from 6.5 feet without breaking.
The mount is a C-Clamp design, with a secure SideSlide lock. Thanks to the tightening screws, it can fit on to almost any helmet or hard hat. The screw threads can, however, become worn out if used repeatedly.
You can choose from three light modes, high, which is 200 lumens, low, which is 70 lumens, or flashing, depending on the situation. There’s also a green rear safety LED light that can be seen from over a mile away.
Some firefighters who purchased this light say that it is a bit too heavy to be comfortable. It also doesn’t fit on some helmets with a face shield or a visor, so it may not be suitable for everyone.
If you wear glasses while you’re on the job, mounting the light too far back could cause a glare from your glasses back into your own eyes.
The light runs off of one rechargeable 18650 battery or two CR123 batteries, for up to 8 hours.
- Functions as a flashlight or side helmet-mounted light.
- Water-resistant, fireproof, and able to withstand impacts.
- Has a visible rear safety LED light.
- Run time of up to 8 hours.
- Uses two CR123 batteries or one rechargeable 18650 battery.
- Three modes of use.
- It won’t mount well if you have a face shield on your helmet.
- Batteries not included.
Most User-Friendly Headlamp
This headlamp wins the most user-friendly award as it’s easy to install and use in most situations, whether or not you have gloves on. It has a no-tool installation system, which makes it simple to mount on the brim of almost all tactical helmets or hard hats. You can install it under or on top of the brim.
The light clamp rotates 360 degrees on the mount for visibility in all directions. The large push button on the back of the light is easy to operate with a gloved finger.
It uses one AA battery, which helps to make it lightweight, and has three modes to choose from—high, at 300 lumens, low, and strobe. It’s also very durable. The manufacturer claims that it is fully weatherproof and drop-proof, but be aware that it does not carry an NFPA or IP safety rating.
The light beam has an adjustable focus and can illuminate up to 1000 feet ahead. It’s also listed as shock and spray-proof,
- No-tool secure installation and removal.
- Adjustable focus.
- Made from a combination of lightweight aluminum and silicone rubber.
- Fully weatherproof and drop-proof.
- Light rotates 360 degrees on the mount.
- Not NFPA-rated.
Most Durable Headlamp
The SureFire HL1-C-TN Helmet Light has the look of a serious tactical headlamp, ideal for stealth and night maneuvers. It’s reliable, lightweight, runs for a long time, and is almost indestructible.
They machine the headlamp body from high-strength aerospace aluminum alloy. The body is watertight, so if this gets wet, it won’t make much difference to the quality of light. It runs off a single 123A battery and has a shelf-life of 10 years, according to its creators. It weighs only 31 ounces, including the battery and mount, so you will hardly feel it while you’re out in the field.
There are three white LEDs, two red LEDs, and a blinking infrared beacon that is used as an identification system (IFF – Identify Friend or Foe).
It has seven different modes to choose from. White light at 19.2 lumens will last about 6 hours on a charged battery, 28 hours on medium strength of 5.0 lumens, or 48 hours on low, which is 1.4 lumens. The red light on high should last 20 hours, on medium 48 hours, and on low, 96 hours. The tertiary IFF beacon should last 120 hours if used on a full battery.
- Made from glass-filled nylon polymer and neoprene.
- O-ring sealed watertight body.
- Easily removable for transfer to other helmets.
- Seven light modes.
- Needs an adaptor for rail systems on helmets.
- Designed for stealth, Low lumens
Best Front-Mounted Headlamp
Most of the tactical headlamps we have been through are mounted on one side of the helmet. This one is unique in that it is mounted on the front, giving a bright beam of light that is straight ahead.
Life Mounts make it to fit any VAS or Universal shroud on a helmet, so it should be attachable to almost any helmet out there. The hinge makes it easy to tilt 60 degrees downwards so you can see what’s right in front of you, or upwards to give a broader illumination.
It’s bright, with a maximum output of 300 lumens, and the button is large and very easy to access. It won’t get bumped accidentally, either, so you don’t have to worry about your battery going flat by mistake.
This headlamp is USB-rechargeable, and the charging cable is included in the purchase. The four modes on the light are high, low, red, and red flash, so it’s useful in most tactical situations.
- Mounted to the front of the helmet.
- Attaches to VAS and Universal shrouds.
- Water-resistant and shock-proof.
- USB rechargeable.
- Four different light modes.
- It can be a struggle to fit on some helmets.
- The plastic hinge is easy to break.
Best Value Headlamp
For a very affordable tactical headlamp, this one does an admirable job. It comes in three different models that have various clip attachments, so there is one to clip to the side of just about any helmet.
The lamp is compact and lightweight, as well as being shockproof and dazzlingly bright. The latest LED technology powers the main beam of 115 lumens. There’s also a blue LED safety light on the rear. The light uses C4 technology, which produces up to three times the output of older LEDs.
Each unit is serialized, so it’s easy to identify your own if you need to. The headlamp body is made from anodized aluminum with a reflective strip, and it’s resistant to chemicals. It’s also IPX7 rated, which is waterproof up to 1-meter for 30 minutes.
This headlamp uses an on/off switch as opposed to a button. It’s effortless to access on the back of the unit, but could accidentally be bumped while the lamp is in a bag.
It is powered by two, 3-volt, CR123A lithium batteries, which are included. This may not be the cheapest product on our list, but It’s probably the best value for money you’ll find on any best tactical headlamp list.
- Compact and lightweight.
- It comes in three different models.
- Affordable and good quality.
- Beam reaches 167 meters.
- Batteries are included.
- The screws on the mount can come loose easily.
Click to see all of our other Headlamp reviews!
The best tactical headlamp should be easy to use, hard to break, and do a great job of illuminating the dark in tactical situations.
The top choice is the Nightstick FORTEM Helmet-Mounted Dual-Light. It has two separate lights, making it great for dark and dangerous situations. It’s also safety certified by various organizations, so you’re getting a premium quality product.