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Which Headlamp Is Best for Running?

July 26, 2022

A female and male running on a trail at night in the dark. Both wearing FLEXIT Headlamps and backpacks.

Running at night can be a fun activity, but it can also be unsafe. That is if you don’t have the right lighting device. With plenty of portable lighting tools in the market, you might find it confusing to choose which one is best for running.

To cut the chase short, the most suitable lighting device for running is a headlamp. And if you want the best headlamp for running, you can’t go wrong with STKR Concept’s FLEXIT Headlamp Series which encompasses the FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5 and FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 6.5.

Learn more about these quality headlamps that could make your running experience an even more enjoyable one.

Why Should You Need Light When Running?

Visibility and clarity. Those are the two reasons why you should have light when running. And by that, we mean running at night.

Naturally, you don’t need to bring any lighting device when you run or jog in the morning. Unless of course, you start your run at dawn when it is still pretty dark.

Nevertheless, bringing a lighting device, especially one that you could wear, is always beneficial. Aside from illumination for the sake of better visibility, having a light source with you also ensures your safety and protection.

You might opt for a handheld lighting device such as a pocket light or flashlight, but you have to remember how difficult this choice could be. Running with your hands full is tricky and adds to the physical burden.

Is It Weird to Go Running at Night?

No, it’s not weird to go running at night. In fact, a lot of people prefer to jog or run at night.

First, most people only find time after work, usually when it is dark. So, they pretty much have limited options in terms of time.

Second, people feel more energetic and calmer when they run at night. This is because they often assume that they run faster after sunset than when they do in the morning.

Another reason could be to beat the heat of the day. Whatever your reason for running at night is, know that doing it at that time is not unusual. So just go for it.

Is It Easier to Run in the Dark?

If you have never gone running at night, you might wonder why people still go for it despite the limited visibility.

Apparently, running at night makes you feel faster. 

There is a common phenomenon a lot of runners experience called optic flow. Simply put, optic flow is the perception that you go faster than your normal pace when objects are perceived closer to you.

When it is dark, runners are often influenced by optic flow, thinking that they are moving faster as the dark makes the surroundings easier to pass through due to focused vision.

Now the truth is, you’re most likely running at the same pace as you do during the day. But running at night is more motivating and, for some people, more mentally relaxing as there are fewer distractions.

 

James modeling a flexit headlamp 2.5 from STKR Concepts with hiking gear in front of mountain scene

Is Trail Running Safe at Night?

Generally, it is relatively not as safe to run at night, but with the right protective gear and planning, you can still run without compromising your safety.

Likewise, your familiarity with the trail should also be considered. For example, never run on a new trail at night, as you will increase your risks for injuries and danger.

Also, if the trail is familiar yet is known to have challenging off-road surfaces, consider another time of the day to do your jog or run on that path.

To make trail running safer at night, walk any new trails for the first-ever experience to get an idea of what you will be running through next time. Also, make sure to get yourself a really good headlamp with added peripheral vision lighting to help increase safety.

What Do Runners Wear in the Dark?

Unlike a regular day run, people who choose to run in the dark should prepare special clothing and equipment to keep them safe from hazards on the dark trail or from other threats nearby.

Reflective Clothing and Accessories

It is important to secure reflective clothing when running at night. Leggings and tops with reflective materials are available in sports stores. However, if you don’t have these attire, you can always go for reflective accessories such as bands, clip-on LEDs, reflective vests or jackets, and shoes.

The purpose of reflective items on you is for other people to see you in the dark, especially traffic as their headlights will light up your reflective clothing and accessories.

For example, if you love running on a sidewalk or anywhere near a road, cars won’t have any trouble seeing you around. Therefore, you could avoid such accidents.

man hiking up in the mountains wearing an STKR headlamp kneeling down and looking at a map on the ground

Lighting Device

One of the wisest decisions you can make when running at night or in the dark is to bring or wear a portable lighting device.

There are plenty of choices when it comes to light sources. But the best option out there is to wear a headlamp.

First, headlamps are easily wearable, so you don’t have to hold them while you run. Your arms will naturally swing for balance during a run making it very hard to use handheld flashlights.

The mere fact that you place it on your head allows your eyes and the light to always be tracking in the same direction for maximum visibility.

And, of course, headlamps are highly convenient, making them the perfect choice.

Should I Wear a Headlamp While Running?

Yes, wearing a headlamp is ideal for running, so don’t hesitate to wear one. It is more comfortable compared to any other light source. Plus, it’s easier to run with a headlamp.

For starters, you don’t need to hold it by hand. And, of course, you can focus the light based on your direction, making you more focused on running than worrying about visibility.  

How Do I Choose a Running Headlamp?

A headlamp can either make or break your run. That is if you don’t choose the right one that speaks to your comfort and lighting needs.

While headlamps, in general, are undoubtedly helpful when you are having your evening run, wearing low-quality and easily loosened headlamps can ruin the experience big time.

So, it is only fitting to look for headlamps based on ideal standards. So, check out the qualities you should look for when choosing a running headlamp that will definitely not leave you frustrated.

 

white studio pic of the back of a FLEXIT Headlamp with 4 icons below that read: lightweight 5.8 oz, USB rechargeable, weather resistant, 5 modes.

Criteria for a Good Running Headlamp

1. Fit and Comfort Level

You wouldn’t want to run at night with an ill-fitting headlamp. You’ll take more time readjusting your band just to tighten it or find the comfortable fit that allows you to run without interruption. In the same way, a headlamp that causes pain and discomfort is not worth wearing.

So, when looking for a good running headlamp, make sure that it is comfortable to wear, and the fitting is just right. How do you do that? Look for the following:

Strap adjustments: Headlamps should come with strap adjustments to ensure proper fitting. Otherwise, you might be running then stopping to pick up your headlamp when it falls off your head. Moreover, strap adjustments should be comfortable and not press on your head too much.

Soft materials: Find a headlamp made of soft materials that do not constrict or put too much pressure on your head. Some headlamp products add layered foam to ensure comfort fitting.

2. Size and Weight

An ideal headlamp does not add too much weight to your head. Imagine running at night and feeling burdened by your lighting equipment. You will most likely hate the experience, not to mention the pain and pressure you’ll feel.

Headlamps by design should be lightweight and compact. But some manufacturers go out of their way to provide ultralight headlamps.

3. Optimum Brightness

It’s utterly useless to wear a headlamp that produces dim or inadequate light.

For example, you are running on a challenging trail. Your level of safety can be influenced by the level of visibility when you’re running. So, you can only imagine how risky it would be if your headlamp is not effective at what it does.

Having said that, make sure to find a headlamp that generates optimum brightness at a distance that widens the scope of illumination.

How Many Lumens Do You Need for Running?

When choosing a headlamp for running, get the one that has at least 200 lumens. However, this would depend on the type of running you intend to do and the track or trail you are set to run on.

If you’re taking a slower running pace on tracks that are not completely dark, then a headlamp with 200 lumens will suffice. However, if you’re running during a starless or pitch-black night, then go for a headlamp with higher lumens, about 300 and above.  

Why Should You Always Check the Number of Lumens?

The brightness of the light is measured by lumens. It is the standard measurement for the luminous flux of any light source. As a rule of thumb, the lesser the lumens, the dimmer the light. 

If you want to learn more about lumens and the right set of numbers for specific work and activities, simply click here to access our brightness article.

FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 180 degree halo lighting banner showing a persons silhouette and the light their getting by having a long distance spotlight and a wide-angle flood light in the same headlamp
Beam Type

You will find that most traditional headlamps only have spotlights that direct illumination in one straight direction. While this is pretty much standard, it is always beneficial to have a wider beam angle for optimum brightness.

Spot Light

A spotlight is set to provide visibility on a specific area. It illuminates and enhances your distance vision much like a traditional flashlight lets you see out at a very specific small area. The downside to headlamps featuring only a spotlight is that they give you limited tunnel vision.

Flood Light

Floodlights are broad-beamed and light up a larger area similar to a lantern. In addition, modern headlamps like the FLEXIT headlamps include powerful floodlights that simulate a halo effect. With this design, your peripheral vision is illuminated, which eliminates the need to turn your head around as much during your run letting you look around with your eyes, not your entire head.

4. Light Modes

A headlamp that has multiple light modes has increased convenience and performance efficiency. While brightness influences visibility, different light modes suit various environmental conditions such as the level of darkness.

Other night modes can increase your safety such as red lights on the back or a flashing front light can both help warn traffic that you are present.

fisherman looking thru tackle box using a flexit headlamp pro red lighting mode by STKR Concepts
Red Night Vision

Depending on where you run, you may want to preserve your night vision. With that, having a red night vision mode is fitting. You can light up super dark areas with red light to minimize retinal dilation.

Other modes include different angular positioning and lighting arrays depending on the number of spotlights and floodlights.

While it is ideal for a headlamp to have many light modes, it is also important to check their runtime or battery life, considering you might be using these modes altogether.

5. Runtime

Runtime is simply the measured time between switching the headlamp on until the brightness reduces to nonfunctional based on battery output. 

Night runs don’t often take too long. However, a longer runtime will allow you to be more confident either to extend your running activity or get home safely. In addition, the assurance that your headlamp will not die down is essential to lessen your anxiety while on the track or field.

Having said that, choose a headlamp with a battery runtime that does not go less than 3 hours. If you are aiming for a headlamp that has different light modes, check the runtime for each mode.

white studio pic of a Headlamp Pro 6.5 battery compartment featuring a 18650 Lithium-ion Rechargeable battery

6. Battery Type

Headlamps are highly portable with batteries you can either replace in one use or recharge after it runs out of power. Standard AA and AAA batteries are used, but some products prefer larger sized lithium-ion batteries.

Nonetheless, it is more practical to go for rechargeable batteries. First off, it’s economical. You don’t have to dispose of a set of batteries and purchase another pair. Simply throw them in a charger and reuse them whenever.

You can also recharge the batteries easily either by using a portable power bank or finding a nearby outlet.

If you use replaceable/disposable batteries and your headlamp loses its juice in the middle of your run, you should bring spare batteries to maintain your light. Otherwise, you will be facing a potentially unpleasant situation.

7. Durability

There’s no point in investing in a headlamp if it doesn’t last for a long time. So durability is essential in any purchase. That’s a standard rule.

When it comes to headlamp durability, check the materials used. A sturdy battery case is preferable, along with materials that do not easily corrode or break.

8. Weather and Water resistance

Resistance against hard weather conditions and water damage is imperative for a headlamp. 

Running during the night means that you will not simply be facing the darkness that comes with the time but the low temperature and the chances of being rained on.

While you may argue that deciding to run during these conditions is unwise, it is still best to always run prepared. Therefore, choose a headlamp that is weather or water-resistant.

9. Headlamp Bulb

Portable lights like headlamps may come with different light bulbs. But nowadays, most running headlamps share a common bulb type.

If you are familiar with mining headlamps or wheat lamps, they used to have mounted incandescent bulbs. However, since the lighting industry adapted several innovative solutions, these types of bulbs were replaced by LED technology.

With that, modern headlamps nowadays use LED lights because of their many advantages including:

Energy efficiency

LED lights use 75% less energy than any other lighting bulb or panel. Hence, if a headlamp uses LED, you can expect longer battery life.

Longer lifespan

Nothing lasts forever, but with LED technology the bulb usually lasts longer than the device. Because of this, you won’t have to keep replacing bulbs like with older lighting devices.

Instant lighting

With LED lights, you don’t have to wait for the bulb to warm up before achieving full brightness. Instead, once the light is up, illumination is switched on in an instant.

No heat emissions

It’s pretty unpleasant when you wear a headlamp that heats up on your head. However, the heat emission is something you don’t have to worry about with LED lights considering the nature of its lighting system does not need any chemical interaction that produces residual heat.

10. Ease of Use

Wearing a headlamp should not be complicated. But this is not the case for all types of headlamps. And this has something to do with fit and comfort. For example, headlamps with adjustable straps and flexible bands are easier to wear.

If you can test your headlamp prior to purchase, then that’s a great way to assess if it’s easy to wear. Also, check to see if the controls are intuitive. Can you use every function without having to consult a diagram 5 or 6 times?

11. Additional Features

You may have narrowed down your search to a few running headlamps that all seem to share the same essential qualities. Now it’s time to dive into the additional features to really narrow down your search.

Nowadays, most headlamps are designed with functionality, comfort, and efficiency in mind. So what are some of the additional features to look for?

Hard Hat Compatibility

It’s always a plus point if a headlamp is multipurpose. If you are into activities that require a hardhat, such as spelunking, then having a headlamp compatible with this headgear is a win.

Light Control

Being able to control the light intensity and beam distance is useful not just in running but when doing other activities in the dark. In some cases, you may not need too much light, especially if you are trying to protect yourself. Hence, if your headlamp has light control, it’s easier for you to shift intensity.

Multiple Lighting Arrays

Almost every headlamp is designed with a spotlight-style lighting array. It’s usually a single beam shooting straight out from the center of your forehead in a small focused tunnel of light.

To help add more light to fill up the area outside of that tunnel giving you better peripheral vision, look for a headlamp that features area or flood lighting in addition to the main spotlight.

Battery Level Indicator

It’s always a bummer when you go for a run, and then suddenly your headlamp just stops working because of low battery. In this scenario, a battery level indicator would have been helpful to peek at just before starting the run. It gives you a head’s up if your battery needs immediate recharging.

 

man and woman hikers wearing hiking packs and headlamp pro 6.5 hands free lights by STKR Concepts

What Is the Best Running Light?

The best running light is definitely a headlamp. It’s wearable, comfortable, and provides optic direction that not only makes your path visible and clear but it also makes you easier to notice from afar.

Nonetheless, when choosing a headlamp for your run, always consider the standard criteria for comfort and efficiency. While all headlamps are designed for the same purpose or function, not all headlamps are on par when it comes to qualities and features.

To help you save time and trouble looking for headlamps suitable for your run, we’ve prepared vital information about the FLEXIT headlamp series that we feel are the best running lights.

 

white studio pic of both the 2.5 and 6.5 pro FLEXIT Headlamps by STKR Concepts

FLEXIT Headlamp Series

Here is a headlamp series you can use not just for running but in any activity you do at night or in the dark.

STKR Concepts designed these headlamps to enhance visibility not just with unidirectional illumination but with broad brightness scope using side floodlights. This halo lighting style provides better clarity for your peripheral vision.

Moreover, both headlamps under this series are compact and easy to wear. You can run for an hour or two without feeling too much pressure on your head. Likewise, they are also made of durable materials resistant to the threat of damage brought by harsh weather conditions.

Check out the FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5 and FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 6.5 and learn why they are the best headlamps for running.

 

white studio pic featuring a front and a back pose of the FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5 with product title

FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5  

The FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5 is equipped with a lightweight foam layer making it easier to wear for hours.

It employs halo lighting at 180 degrees, illuminating your peripheral vision. This wide-angle of brightness is particularly useful if you’re running next to a public highway or road. The extended scope makes you more visible for vehicles to further ensure your safety.

This headlamp has two flood lights on the sides and an adjustable spotlight you can move up and down towards a specific focal position.

Here are the key features of the FLEXIT Headlamp 2.5.

  • Brightness: 250 True Lumens
  • Battery: 3x AAA (included in the purchase)
  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Runtime: up to 12 hours
  • Weather-resistant
  • Hard hat compatible
  • Light Modes: high spot/high flood, high spot, medium spot/high flood, low spot/high flood, and high spot/flashing flood and rear red

 

red or white light output plus flashing hazard flexit headlamp 6.5 pro white studio poster

 

FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 6.5

If you’re looking for a headlamp that has wide-angle illumination and completely customizable brightness settings, then you better check out the FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 6.5.

Its halo lighting style stretches at 240 degrees. With 250 lumens of CREE spotlight, you don’t have to worry about high visibility performance. The LED layout that includes dual-side floodlights eliminates tunnel vision. This simply prevents a lot of head-turning so that you can stay focused in one general area.

One interesting and undoubtedly highly useful feature with this headlamp is the built-in USB rechargeable Li-Ion battery with a battery level indicator. You don’t even have to take the battery out to charge it as the Pro 6.5 has a built-in charger in the battery holder. Just plug in the supplied USB cable directly to this headlamp for ultra convenience.

Also, you can control the lights and shift from one mode to another using the independent controls located at the right temple of your head. It also has an adjustable spotlight and an option for red night vision.

Here are the key features of the FLEXIT Headlamp Pro 6.5.

  • Brightness: 650 True Lumens
  • Battery: Rechargeable 3350 mAh 18650 lithium-ion
  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Runtime: up to 55 hours
  • Weather Resistant
  • Battery Level Indicator
  • Comfort-fit foam
  • Light Modes: spotlight, floodlight, and red light

Summary

Using a headlamp when running at night is probably one of the wisest decisions you can make as far as convenience and safety are concerned.

Not only are you given optimum visibility, but you can also get the assurance that you feel nothing but comfort with a headlamp.

Of course, you can achieve this if you choose the best headlamp for running. Hence, don’t think twice about grabbing a FLEXIT Headlamp. 


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