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Gear Reviews

The 4 Best Headlamps and Lights of 2021

Light up your hike with these smart picks, from an ultralight headlamp to an upgraded set of string lights.

These products are featured in BACKPACKER’s 2021 Gear Guide. For the full product reviews—and a ton more perks—become an Active Pass member today. We take our responsibility to provide readers with fair and accurate gear advice seriously, and when you make purchases based on these reviews, we may earn a commission.

Silva Trail Runner Free

Best Overall: Silva Trail Runner Free

Pick up this headlamp, and you’ll notice right away that there’s something missing: wires. Unlike most other lights with external battery packs, the Trail Runner Free weaves its wires straight into its stretchy, knit headband, making it comfier and less prone to tangling on hair or catching on a tree branch. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

BioLite HeadLamp 750

BioLite HeadLamp 750

While they generate less waste over their lifespan and can top up from any USB port, rechargeable headlamps have one downside: They tend to drain faster and shine less brightly than their alkaline equivalents. BioLite’s new model bucks the trend; it’s bright enough for almost anything you might need to do in camp, and can last for a whopping 150 hours on low. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

Black Diamond Flare

Black Diamond Flare

Most emergency headlamps are just that—last-ditch lights for when things go wrong. With the Flare, Black Diamond designed a lamp that’s compact enough that it can slip into a breast pocket, but capable enough to provide all the light we needed on dawn patrols and short overnights. The Flare’s dustproof, waterproof aluminum body is about the size of a thimble, and it runs off coin batteries that last for about 4 hours on high. Buy Now / Read the Full Review

MPOWERD Luci Color String Lights

MPOWERD Luci Color String Lights

Since their debut in 2019, MPOWERD’s rechargeable string lights have been a staff favorite for gussying up a campsite. This year, they’ve gotten an upgrade with an all-new colored lighting mode, which lets users toggle them to six different hues—blue, violet, turquoise, green, pink, and white—or set them to cycle through the entire rainbow. Buy Now / Read the Full Review