When it comes to finding the right headlamp, it can be difficult to pick through a mountain of confusing stats on lumen counts, run times, beam distance throw, and numerous brightness modes. At first glance, it may seem like a no-brainer to go for the headlamp with the highest lumen count. However, it’s a little more complicated than that. As your lumen count increases, your run-time decreases. Lumen counts for headlamps can range from 25 lumens, all the way up to 1400+ lumens. In all reality though, 300 lumens is all the average person needs for everyday use. We’re going to break down some of the most popular models for outdoor or workplace use and their lumen counts to help you make an informed decision on your new headlamp.

Lumen Counts Explained

bright headlamp in forest

First off, what exactly is a lumen? A lumen is the total amount of light coming out of your headlamp. The higher the lumen count, the brighter and stronger the headlamp. Seems simple enough. However, this is where it is important to do your research when looking into different brands and models. Lumen rating systems used to be a little bit like the Wild West, there was no standard way to measure it so brands were able to get away with advertising outrageous lumen counts without any real regulation.

Thankfully, nowadays brands have adopted a standardized method for measuring lumen levels. Headlamps testing protocols are measured by the total lumens, beam distance, durability, and the total time to get down to 10% battery life. This change helped wrangle in some of the more outlandish claims made by my knockoff brands. Headlamps that used to be rated at 60 hours had to drop their ratings down to 2-3 hours of usable battery life. This made it much easier for shoppers to trust whether the product they were purchasing was actually going to perform as advertised and for quality brands to fight off knockoff competitors in the industry.

Lumen count is one of, if not the most, important stat to consider when buying a headlamp, but it’s not the only one. In all actuality, you won’t be using your headlamp at max brightness most of the time… that would drain your battery pretty quickly. You should be looking for a perfect sweet spot between lumen count, run time, and beam distance. To find that, think about how you’ll be using your headlamp and your particular lighting needs. Two headlamps with the same lumen rating might look completely different in practice. Maybe one headlamp produces a wide, floodlight while another might shoot a narrow beam over a long distance. Both of these lights, on paper, are the same but are designed for entirely different uses.

Recommended Lumen Count for Outdoor Use


A headlamp with a brightness of at least 300 lumens and a flood light beam is the most useful for any kind of general outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or climbing. These headlamps throw bright light over a larger surface area but not quite as far as a spot light beam headlamp. A spotlight headlamp might be very useful in instances of seeing the trail up ahead of you or spotting wildlife in the distance.

Of course, if you want to have your cake and eat it too, you can get a versatile headlamp that can do both. The Fenix HM65R is one of the most multifaceted headlamps on the market. It features both a flood and spot light that can be used independently or combined to create a total max lumen count of 1400. It can also be used on high, 400 lumens, for up to 21 hours. We recommend this headlamp for any outdoor enthusiast who likes to stay out past dark.

Recommended Lumen Count for On the Job

fenix headlamp

When at work, getting a little extra light on what you’re doing can be the difference between a job done and a job well done. For on-the-job, we suggest the HM61R. This headlamp can send a max of 1200 lumens over 474 feet (that’s over an entire football field) and has a 300 hour run time on eco mode of 5 lumens. It is equipped with a neutral white light, designed for better visibility and color rendering. It’s rugged enough to withstand the elements while still being light enough to allow for extended wear time without becoming uncomfortable. To put it plainly, this headlamp can get the job done.

All Purpose Headlamps

Whether you’re a home inspector, a mountaineer or just simply someone who can appreciate quality craftsmanship, we have a headlamp, flashlight or lantern to fit your lighting needs. Fenix has been a leader in lighting for decades and continues to innovate new ways to make more efficient, versatile lighting solutions for everyday use. Check out our full line of headlamps and other Fenix products.