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Best Fishing Headlamps of 2023

Here are our picks for the best fishing headlamps.

by Lake-Link Staff

If you're like us, seems like preparation for every fishing trip is halted in search for a working headlamp, the wearable lighting most likely buried in a garage-full of fishing, hunting, and camping gear... So we're left to picking up a headlamp en route, kind of like the routine of buying cheap, gas station polarized sunglasses before hitting the boat ramp...

We've bucked this trend and now always keep a headlamp (or several) hanging from the rear view mirror. That way, when you need 'em they'll always be close at hand. Not sure if that's legal according to the DMV, but it's what we've been doing.

Along the lines of fishing headlamps, we've tried a lot of different models over the years. Some are good, while others are less good. Seems like you get what you pay for.

Headlamps fall into two basic categories: battery-powered and rechargeable.

Both have their merits, especially if lose chargers like we do. But most new headlamps accept the same USB-input and output plugs and cables used by cell phones. That helps.

Multi-Colored Lamps Are Best for Fishing

The first thing we recommend when investing in a fishing headlamp is to find one with multiple-colored lighting. A good fishing headlamp should have a white spotlight, flood light, as well as any combination of red, green, and blue lighting options.

While white light is great for finding stuff in the boat or back of the truck-and a spot valuable for illuminating the water (where legal) to locate shallow-roaming fish or netting a trophy-colored lights are much easier on the eyes (and the eyes of others) when you've actually got lines in the water. And fish are less prone to spook with colored lights than they are with a jarring white spot or flood.

For example, blue lighting is a valuable option if you fish hi-vis yellow, green, or orange line. Blue light makes these colored lines easier to see at night, revealing where your bait is located-even bites.

Here are our picks for the best fishing headlamps out there-at least from what we've tried over the past couple years. We could very well be leaving out some winners, so it's up to you to do some research, too, and make your own decision.

Best Overall: Vapor Trail Scents (VTS) 10 Watt Display

MSRP: $74.99

While wandering the aisles of the recent Archery Trade Association show in Indianapolis, we stumbled upon a small manufacturer of scents, a really cool scent diffusor, and an array of headlamps. The Mississippi-based owner of the company walked us through his many products, including this headlamp designed for night bowfishing, alligator hunting, and frog gigging. A lightbulb went off (no pun intended) and we ordered one as soon as we got home.

The 10 watt Display Headlamp is the company's original and best-selling light. Built around a super-bright Cree LED bulb, the 'lamp puts out 960 lumens on a tight beam and is purported to clearly light up objects 450 yards away.

What we like most about it (besides it's crazy brightness and distance) is it includes a red, blue, green, and orange snap-in lens for various night fishing (or hunting) situations.

The built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery has a lifespan of 20 hours on low beam and 10 hours on high beam along with a build-in LED display that alerts you of how much batter life you have left in both percentage and hours. And it all weighs in at under 10 ounces.

Again, designed for coon, rabbit, and hog hunters in the South, it's proven great on the ice thus far and we can't wait to try it on open water.

Oh, and besides selling the units to hunters and anglers across the country, the owner told us he sells countless Vapor Trail Scents 10 Watt Headlamps to railroad workers. That says a lot...

If 960 lumens wasn't enough, the company does offer an even brighter headlamp extremely popular with coon hunters and frog giggers but but it doesn't come with any additional color lenses. We need to find out if the lenses are interchangeable between models.

Most Affordable: Energizer Vision Ultra HD Rechargeable Headlamp

MSRP: $26.99

For just under 30 bucks, the Energizer Vision Ultra HD Rechargeable Headlamp comes with the following features:

  • Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Non-Removable battery (USB Cable Included)
  • Fully charges in 4 hours
  • 400 Lumens
  • Up to 15X Brighter than Standard LED Technology
  • Red and Green LED mode to preserve night vision
  • Energizer Smart Dimming technology to control light intensity
  • VisionGuard protects vision by gradually increasing light intensity
  • IPX4 water resistant with shatterproof lens construction
  • Long Run Time in High and Low Modes
  • 7 Modes: High, Low, Wide - Low, Red, Flashing Red, Green
  • Six tilt positions
We've bought a few of these over the past couple years for anglers in the family and they work well. They charge fast, have 400 lumens of brightness, and feature all the colors needed but blue. Definitely not bad for the price.

Most Compact: Cabela's by Princeton Tec Alaskan Guide RGB Headlamp

MSRP: $39.99

Personally, this has been our favorite multi-colored, compact headlamp over recent years. Designed by Princeton Tec for Cabelas, the Alaskan Guide RGB Headlamp is ideal for most low-visibility fishing situations. All you have to do is read through the reviews on the Cabela's web site and you'll discover why the product has almost five out of five stars.

Features include a Maxbright LED spotlight that casts a pretty good distance, 3 ultra-bright flood beams in red, green, and blue, and it's water-resistant for use in the rain, sleet, or snow.

Operation couldn't be easier. A 5-mode switch allows easy switching between modes and the entire lighting element features a pivoting action that allows you to direct and aim each beam of light precisely where you need it.

If you're looking for a compact and ultra-light (2.75 ounces) headlamp with long run-time off AAA batteries - and multiple-colored modes-you should definitely take a look. Ours have seen some serious action and never let us down.

Most Dependable? Black Diamond Storm 500-R Headlamp

MSRP: $74.99

While we haven't tried this Black Diamond Storm 500-R headlamp, it has been recommended by a rock climber from Utah who slept on ledges during summit ascents and needed the best headlamp he could find.

For starters, the Black Diamond Storm 500-R headlamp features proximity and distance modes; dimming, strobe, red, green, and blue night vision; as well as lock mode.

The first thing we noticed in the specifications is it's IP67 waterproof-tested to operate at least 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes, so if you do drop it in shallow water, it should still work fine after retrieval. And no, it doesn't float, but I'm sure a little bit of foam glued in the right places would fix that.

Features include:

  • 500 Lumen max output (high mode: 360 feet distance; medium 180 feet distance; low 36 feet distance)
  • Rechargeable: Powered with integrated high capacity 2400 mAh Li-ion battery with micro-USB charge port
  • Recycled elastic headband featuring comfortable next to skin Repreve fiber construction
  • PowerTap™ Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power
  • Brightness Memory allows you to turn the light on and off at a chosen brightness without reverting back to default setting

Must-Have: Milwaukee Tool LED Headlamp

MSRP: $34.99

The only headlamp on our list that doesn't feature multiple-colored light modes, Milwaukee Tool's LED Headlamp is that headlamp you want to keep in the truck for nighttime roadside emergencies-or just as a backup in case another headlamp goes down. Like pretty much every other product else Milwaukee Tool makes, the headlamp is quality. Features three brightness settings and 350 lumens of maximum brightness. Requires three AAA-size batteries.

Note: Milwaukee Tool also makes numerous other battery-powered and USB-rechargeable headlamps we haven't tried, but are probably worth a look.

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