Mom Goes Camping

Best Kids Headlamps for Camping and Backpacking, As Chosen by an Outdoorsy Mom

best kids headlamps for camping

I highly recommend that you get your kids – even little kids — their own headlamps for camping. A headlamp means they will be able to do things like play flashlight tag and walk around camp at night without tripping over everything. Oh, and they’ll stop stealing your headlamp if they have their own cool kids headlamp.

I’ve got two kids – currently 3 and 11 years old – and they’d both used a variety of headlamps over the years.  I also talked to a lot of other outdoorsy parents about what their kids favorite headlamps were.  Based on our experience, I’ve compiled a list of the best kids headlamps for camping and backpacking.

 

Quick Picks:

Best Headlamp for Kids 8+: Foxelli 180 Lumen USB Rechargeable
It’s very affordable yet still durable and feature rich.

Best Headlamp for Really Little Kids: Petzl Tikkid
The headlamp only gets to 20 lumens and is angled downwards so won’t harm eyes. It is also cool-looking and has a decent battery life.

Best Value: Black Diamond Spot Lite 160
This is a durable and feature-rich yet affordable headlamp that your kids will be able to use for years to come.

Best for Serious Adventuring: Black Diamond Storm 400
It’s bright, insanely tough, has lots of colors and lots of great features.  You’ll want one for yourself too!

 

Comparison

HeadlampLumensSettingsBatteriesTilt
Foxelli 18050, 180Low, high, red, red flashing, SOS1200mAh rechargeableYes
Petzl Tikkid4, 20Low, high, strobe3xAAANo
Princeton Tec Bot5, 30Low, high, strobe2xAAYes
Princeton Tec Byte 10052, 100Low, high, red2xAAAYes
Black Diamond Spot Lite 1606-160Dimmable white, red, strobe, lock2xAAAYes
BioLite No Bounce 2005-200Dimmable white and red, strobe700mAh rechargeableYes
Black Diamond Storm 4008-400Dimmable white, red, green, blue, strobe, lock4xAAAAYes

 

Can Kids Just Use Adult Headlamps?

For the most part, my kids use the same headlamps that I use, especially because adult headlamps usually have more features than the cheap kids headlamps. However, not all adult headlamps are good for kids.  The main issue is that headlamps can be very bright.  My toddler always wanted to look at the light – which could damage her eyes.  My older daughter has a tendency to point the headlamp in people’s eyes when talking to them, so could damage other people’s eyes that way. A lot of headlamps are also too bulky for kids to wear.  And some are too difficult for little kids to use, such as when they have complex dimming features.

So, yes, your kids can use an adult headlamp.  Just make sure you choose one with features (see below) which make it suitable for children.

My daughter (at age 9) wearing one of my Petzl headlamps. The strap is a bit wide on her but it otherwise is great.

 

Features to Look for in Kids Headlamps

Most headlamps specifically marketed to kids are really cheap and gimmicky.  Instead of simply looking for cute designs when choosing a kids headlamp, make sure you get the features which really matter.  These include:

  • Small size and thin strap: Some headlamps are really bulky on little kids. And the strap may be too wide to be comfortable.
  • Adjustable tilt: Trust me, your kid will end up blinding you each time they look up to talk to you if you can’t tilt the headlamp light downwards!
  • Red light setting: This should be on ALL headlamps (not just ones for kids). Otherwise you’ll wake everyone in the tent when you have to get up at night.
  • Blue and green lights: These aren’t mandatory but kids really like playing with the green and blue light settings that some headlamps have.
  • Good battery life: Kids tend to use headlamps more than adults (in part because they forget to turn them off). So good battery life is really important.
  • Not too bright: Avoid getting a headlamp which is over 200 lumens for young kids. The high brightness might damage their eyes when they inevitably look into the light.
  • Durable: You can’t expect your kids to take good care of a headlamp. So either get them a cheap one (and expect it to break quickly) or invest in a good headlamp capable of taking a beating.

 

 

Best Kids Headlamps Reviewed

Foxelli 180 Lumen USB Rechargeable

Best for: Budget headlamp for kids 8+

Features

  • Batteries: 1200mAh rechargeable
  • Lumens: 180 (high), 50 (low)
  • Settings: Low, high, red, red flashing, SOS red
  • Colors: White, red
  • Battery life: 40 hours (low), 5 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

Foxelli makes a few cheap headlamps that are good for kids, including this one with a rechargeable battery.  As you’d expect from the price, it is a simple headlamp – but it still is pretty durable and performs well.  Just push the large button to turn it on.   There is no memory function so you have to cycle through all the modes each time you turn it on again. To get the red light mode, hold the button for 1.5 seconds.  Since kids probably don’t need a lot of lighting settings, this is a good first headlamp. Just make sure to bring a power bank as the battery life isn’t that great and the rechargeable battery will eventually lose their charge as they age.

Buy It Here

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Very affordable price
  • Simple to use
  • Different color options

Cons

  • Battery life not best
  • Not many white light settings


 

Petzl Tikkid

Best for: Toddlers and little kids

petzl kids headlamp Tikkid

Features

  • Batteries: 3xAAA or CORE rechargeable
  • Lumens: 4 (low), 20 (high)
  • Settings: Low, high, strobe
  • Colors: White
  • Battery life: 110 hours (low), 61 hours (high)
  • Tilt: No

Review:

I have a few Petzl headlamps and really like them for their durability.  Their Tikkid headlamp is also made to handle some serious abuse. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have as many features as other Petzl headlamps.  There is no red light feature. While there’s no tilt, they did angle the light downward so your kids are less likely to blind you.

The Tikkid only gets up to 20 lumen on high, which is pretty dim.  This will keep your child’s eyes safe but isn’t really bright enough for a child to walk around camp at night. For this reason, this is only a good headlamp for really little kids who won’t be walking alone anyway.  The battery life is great, there is automatic shutoff, and the large button is intuitive to use.

Buy It Here

Pros

  • Automatic shutoff after 1 hour
  • Light angled downward
  • Low lumens keeps eyes safe
  • Battery case secured closed
  • Very durable
  • Easy to use
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No tilt
  • Only white light
  • Need screwdriver to open battery case


 

Princeton Tec Bot 30 Lumen Kids Headlamp

Best for: Really little kids (second pick)

princeton tec bot headlamp for kids

Features

  • Batteries: 2xAAA
  • Lumens: 30 (high), 5 (low)
  • Settings: Low, high, flash
  • Colors: White
  • Battery life: 11 hours (low), 6 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

Here’s another headlamp designed specifically for little kids.  It only gets up to 30 lumens so you don’t have to worry about your kids damaging their (or your) eyes.  There is no red light mode but at least this kids headlamp actually tilts.   The headlamp only requires two AAA batteries so is very lightweight, but that does mean the battery life is pretty short.

The biggest annoyance with this kids headlamp is that you have to open the battery case with a screwdriver.  Sure, this helps protect the case from accidentally opening but it’s a pain in the butt to change the batteries.  Lots of people complained that they stripped the screw trying to open it.  That’s the reason it didn’t get the #1 pick for best headlamp for little kids.

Buy It Here

Pros

  • Low lumens keeps eyes safe
  • Battery case secured closed
  • Tilts
  • Easy to use
  • Only two AA batteries

Cons

  • Only white light
  • Need screwdriver to open battery case
  • Battery life not great


 

Princeton Tec Byte 100 Lumen Headlamp

Best for: Kids who wake up a lot at night

Princeton Tec Byte 100 lumen headlamp for kids

Features

  • Batteries: 2xAAA
  • Lumens: 52 (low), 100 (high), 4 (red)
  • Settings: Low, high, red
  • Colors: White, red
  • Battery life: 8 hours (low), 5 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

The reason that this headlamp is great for kids who wake up a lot at night is because the default mode is the red light.  Most other headlamps require you to hold down the switch to turn on the red light (which they inevitably forget and then blind themselves with the brightness).   The Byte headlamp also has other nice features for kids, like being simple to use and fairly durable.  The headlamp actually tilts so you can angle it downwards.  While the battery life isn’t great, it is because the headlamp only requires two AA batteries – thus also making it lightweight.

Buy Here

Pros

  • Red mode is default
  • Easy to use
  • Fairly durable
  • Very lightweight and comfortable
  • Only 2 batteries

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • No very low white light mode


 

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160

Best For: A headlamp your kids can use for years to come

black diamond spot 160 lite for kids

Features

  • Batteries: 2xAAA
  • Lumens: 6-160
  • Settings: Dimmable white, red, strobe lock
  • Colors: White, red
  • Battery life: 60 hours (low), 2 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

The Spot Lite is a Black Diamond’s lightweight headlamp.  Because it only uses two AAA batteries and has a thin strap, it is a great headlamp for kids.  There is a bit of a learning curve to the headlamp but older kids will quickly figure it out.  If they don’t, then the memory feature is there to help them get to the same setting they had when they turned the headlamp off.  Considering that there are only two batteries, the battery life on the headlamp is great.  It has enough features and is durable so your kids can use this headlamp for years to come.

Buy Here at Black Diamond or Here on Amazon

Pros

  • Dimmable
  • Lock mode and memory features
  • Ultralight
  • Good battery life
  • Waterproof and very durable

Cons

  • Slight learning curve


 

BioLite No Bounce HeadLamp 200

Best For: Lightweight rechargeable kids headlamp

Biolite 200 headlamp for kids

Features

  • Batteries: 700mAh rechargeable
  • Lumens: 5-200
  • Settings: Dimmable white, dimmable red, white strobe, red strobe
  • Colors: White, red
  • Battery life: 40 hours (low), 3 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

The BioLite 200 regularly gets mentioned as one of the best camping and backpacking headlamps.  It isn’t specifically made for kids but the strap is adjustable and the sleek design means it fits small heads well.  Because the headlamp gets up to 200 lumens, it isn’t a good pick for very little kids.  However, it’s great for older kids – especially if you want a feature-rich headlamp that they can use for years to come.

The rechargeable battery is only 700mAh though, which accounts for the terrible battery life.  Note that the headlamp does tilt within the casing, allowing the strap to remain flat against the head for the “no bounce” design.

Buy Here

Pros

  • Dimmable white and red modes
  • Lightweight and very comfortable for adults and kids
  • Memory and lock mode features
  • Reflective strip on headband

Cons

  • Poor battery life
  • Strap isn’t removable


 

Black Diamond Storm 400

Best for: Serious young adventurers

Black Diamond Storm 400 headlamp for kids

Features

  • Batteries: 4xAAA
  • Lumens: 8-400
  • Settings: Dimmable, red, green, blue, strobe, and lock
  • Colors: White, red, blue, green
  • Battery life: 150 hours (low), 5 hours (high)
  • Tilt: Yes

Review:

The Storm 400 headlamp is one of Black Diamond’s newer headlamps.  It isn’t made specifically for kids but they will love it because of the four color options.  The headlamp is also bright enough for playing games in the dark (and tough enough to handle the inevitable drops which happen) or even nighttime hiking.

As with other Black Diamond headlamps, there is a slight learning curve to figure out how to switch between the modes.  My 10 year old still gets confused if she hasn’t used it for a while.  But the memory feature means the headlamp will turn on with the same setting it last had, so you can just dim it to whatever brightness you need and leave it there.

Buy Here at Black Diamond or Here on Amazon

Pros

  • Dimmable
  • Gets very bright
  • Completely waterproof and insanely tough
  • Battery life monitor
  • Brightness memory

Cons

  • Needs four batteries
  • High learning curve
  • Brightness could harm eyes
  • Slightly heavy
  • Pricier option


 

Tip: Don’t forget to check out Black Diamond’s Outlet section for huge discounts on really good headlamps.

 

Kids Headlamps Which Didn’t Make this List

There are a lot of really bad kids headlamps out there.  Take this super-cute owl headlamp you can buy on Amazon.  It looks cool – but it lacks useful features and breaks really easily. Plus, it has a speaker.  Your kids push a button and it makes owl sounds. Not only does this drain batteries faster, but it will drive you crazy!Unfortunately, even some of the best brands didn’t have their kids headlamps make the list.  My daughter got the Black Diamond Wiz headlamp and it stopped working after a couple days (she didn’t even drop or bang it).  The headlamp also lacks useful features.  The only real cool thing about it is the multitude of color options and neat design — but those don’t make it worth getting.

I also excluded Energizer headlamps because they were either too bright or didn’t have a red light.  For the price, you are better off getting a Black Diamond  headlamp anyway. And the Coleman kids headlamps didn’t make the list because it isn’t very durable.

 

What headlamps do your kids use? Let us know in the comments below.


Image credit: “Camp Bedtime” (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) by evilpeacock
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About the author /


Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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