How Many Lumens Do I Need for a Headlamp?

Have you ever wondered how many lumens do I need for a headlamp? 

I’ve been using head torches for many years but to be honest, I only discovered the meaning of “lumens” last year. Although not essential to know, it does help to understand these things in order to know how to choose a headlamp for camping. But what are lumens anyway?

Let’s take a look at lumens and why they matter so much for a camping headlamp.

What Are Lumens Exactly?

Lumens refers to the unit which is used to measure the output of light. This basically means it’s the extent of light from a torch/lamp/bulb that is visible to the human eye. 

The more lumens in a head lamp, the further the beam can travel. Light is obviously a necessity out in the wild but how many lumens does a camping headlamp need? 

Quick answer: 300+ lumens is the recommended number of lumens for outdoor use. 

How Many Lumens Do I Need for a Headlamp?

how many lumens do I need

You’ll probably get away with using any old torch for a camping trip. However, unless staying on a campsite, I do think a decent headlamp is needed. Because wild camping usually takes place far from towns, cities and places with artificial light. If there is no moonlight, you might be surprised by just how dark it gets and a quality headlamp is always going to produce more lumens than a cheap one.

And maybe you already have a lumen headlamp and want to know is 250 lumens enough for camping? It should be and a torch with 250 lumens is pretty strong but I do have to say it again – you really notice the difference with a high quality headlamp that has a higher number of lumens.

For instance, I’ve been using a Petzl Actik Core for the past five years which is equipped with 450 lumens. The strength of this beam is always noticeable in dark forests or during dark nights. It doesn’t look remarkable but people often compliment my torch and say they’d like to have one themselves!

Lumen Head Lamp Vs. Lumen Flashlight Vs. Lumen Lantern

Believe it or not, you can find lights with up to 2000 lumens but I personally recommend something above 300 lumens. You will appreciate the extra brightness if you go camping a lot or if you enjoy a spot of wild camping out in the countryside.

And there are different types of lumen-lights from which to choose:

Flashlight Lumens

Some campers prefer to carry a lumen flashlight and I do see the appeal. Flashlights  project a narrow beam and it’s sometimes nice to carry a light by hand. That being said, I’m not sure the benefits are strong enough to choose one over a head lamp.

Lantern Lumens

Camping lanterns are really cool. You might not care to have one but they can light up a camp space or inside the tent in a way that no other light can. I see these as being a bit of a luxury because a lantern alone is not enough when you go camping as you really do need something that can project light in a specific direction.

Headlamp Lumens

I always recommend a head torch for camping. The reason for this is because a head torch frees up the hands and this is important. You need those hands to pitch the tent and cook and to do just about everything else when you go camping. It’s just not the same with a flashlight and many of the best lumen-based lights are head lamps.

What Lumens Head Torch Do I Recommend?

I have a couple of favourites. Both of the following are high quality and I’d be happy to take either on a camping trip. But the Petzl is a bit more comfortable and it’s outperformed my expectations for so long I have no reason no reason not to pick it!

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp SS21


Ledlenser MH5 Headlamp

As always, this is just my opinion and you always have to do what’s best for you!

Derek - The OG
Derek - The OG
Likes camping, coffee and writing about the best camping gear people should know about!

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