Finding The Best Headlamp for Caving: A Complete Review

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Are you trying to find the perfect light source for your next caving adventure? Here we’re going to review some of the top caving headlamps in the market. Some of these are incredibly powerful, while others are adequate and more affordable. Depending on your needs, we are sure to find the best headlamp for you.

A headlamp is a special tool (a light source) that is affixed to the head. It is particularly helpful for cavers since caves often have dark conditions and you need hands-free lighting to move inside them. Besides, headlamps have many other benefits; they are rather light (no pun intended), have no risk of dropping, and they will shine directly wherever you are looking.

Below are our top headlamp picks for caving, though some of these will work fine for other activities as well. We aim to cover each budget and hopefully help with other types of venture, but these headlamps are primarily being covered for caving purposes.

How to Measure Light Output for Your Caving Headlamp

When talking about light, whether it’s for your flashlight, headlamp, or simply a bulb for a room, you can measure it in different ways. See the chart below for three of the main terms involved with discussing the strength of these light sources.

Because caves are so dark at times, it’s important to know just how powerful your light source will be. You want something that will clearly illuminate your surroundings, so you don’t miss anything, but you also don’t want to have a ton of extra light that you won’t be using.

There are always more powerful lights available, depending on your needs. But in this article, we will try to focus on what’s needed for cavers in most situations.

In most cases, having about 1000 lumens is enough for a larger room, and many cavers opt for less. Some light sources are significantly stronger, and are better used for secondary, backup light when more light is needed.

A chart shows the difference between lumen, lux, and candela, to be used when measuring caving headlamp outputs.

ArmyTek Wizard C2 Pro LED Headlamp

Best Headlamp #1: Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Max XHP70.2 LED Magnet Rechargeable Headlamp 4000 Lumens w/ Free Eco Sensa Magnetic USB Charging Cable Included
LCLEBM 4Pcs 3600mAh Flat Top 3.7V 30A Rechargeable Battery with 1 Bay USB Charger and Storage Holder Case for Fan Spotlight Flashlight,Camera and More
18650 Battery Pack

The ArmyTek Wizard C2 Pro is an XHP50 LED headlamp with an advertised maximum output of 2500 Lumens. It comes with a bicycle mount, magnetic USB charging cable, 2 O-rings, and a 18650 battery (3500mAh). Most 18650 batteries offer 3000-3400mAh from what I’ve seen, though this replacement on Amazon is slightly better.

Used by cyclists, a bicycle mount is included with this headlamp. What’s interesting, and what sets it apart from some others, is that it’s really a flashlight, headlamp, and bicycle light, all-in-one. For caving, this can be a big asset, considering you do want separate light sources. Perhaps you already have a headlamp and just want a strong second flashlight or backup headlamp in one.

If so, you’re in luck. The ArmyTek Wizard C2 Pro can be carried in your hand like any right-angle flashlight, or attached to your helmet, belt, or even your jeans. If you happen to need a secondary light source and don’t like this for your headlamp, it works just as well to carry it, and the long battery life will suffice for most trips. Its magnetic tailcap will allow attachment to metal objects, which is convenient and not something you find with every headlamp.

It also comes with 2 O-rings, which works quite well for those caves with running water. The multiple modes on this light will come in handy in almost all situations, so this is a safe and affordable bet for your primary headlamp. One interesting mode is the “strobe light” mode, which will come in handy if you are ever in need of deterring any animals from coming closer to you.

We’ve covered this headlamp more extensively in its own article here. Check it out if you are looking for a closer look!


While this is clearly a multi-faceted tool and will be more than enough for beginners, therein lies one disadvantage. Beginners are not going to be as comfortable with tons of settings, and this one is a little more complicated than others. Luckily, the manual provided helps clarify a lot of its functionality. You shouldn’t have too much of an issue, but you will want to hold on to that manual just in case.

It’s also a bit large compared to a few other headlamps, which are covered below. However, it’s not so large that it should cause any serious concern.


Dimensions: 4.4 inches (11.2 cm), with 0.8 inch (2.0 cm) body diameter.

Weight: 4.07 oz (115.4 g)

Throw: 430 feet (131 m)

Our Score: 4.3/5


Several toggle-able modes for multiple situations

Clips into headband easily, and stays immobile

Can clip on to metal objects with the magnet

Water resistant up to 32 feet (10 m)

Battery can be replaced for even longer usability

Has a Strobe light mode for self defense


A bit confusing to figure out the modes – read the manual!

A bit

Petzl Duo Z2 Caving Headlamp

Best Headlamp #2: PETZL, Duo Z2 430 Lumens Headlamp Black/Yellow

The Petzl Duo Z2 is one of three models under the Petzl Duo class, and one of two that is designed more for cavers. This is a standout headlamp, and a bit on the pricier side. However, with some of its

In 2018, Petzl released the Duo Z2, a bright yellow and black colored lamp with a black headband. It’s powered by four AA batteries, making it extremely easy to accommodate with some of your other devices. It advertises a 430 Lumen maximum output, which is on the lower end compared to some strong headlamps. But 430 lumens is definitely enough for caving.

With the IP67 rating, it’s completely waterproof under most conditions.

One convenience of this headlamp is the way it fits beautifully with the Petzl caving helmets, including some we’ve covered in that article. Petzl helmets often come with mountable plates, while other brands will require an additional adhesive to get the headlamp to stay on.

The 3 LEDs provide a wide beam, a hybrid semi-focused beam, and a narrow, focused spot beam. Switching between the four standard modes is relatively easy, but it’s a bit limited because of the way it’s designed. You can switch between these modes with a knob on the side. The strongest “Boost mode” is activated by rotating the knob and holding for two seconds, and then reverts to the previous setting after 5 seconds. Thus, you cannot use the maximum setting for longer durations.


Mode 1: 50 lumens for 15 hours; Mode 2: 120 lumens for 6.75 hours; Mode 3: 220 lumens for 2 hours; Mode 4: 180 lumens for 2.75 hours; Boost mode: 430 lumens (switches back after 5 seconds)

If you’re looking for a good quality headlamp using AA batteries, there are some other alternatives that may be better than the Petzl. However, if you are a fan of Petzl and already use their headlamps, you may still opt for the Petzl Duo Z2 either way, and will likely get a lot of long-term use out of it.


Dimensions: 4 x 1.76 x 1.58 inches (10.2 x 4.47 x 4 cm)

Weight: 12.7 oz (360 g)

Throw: 328 feet (100 m)

Our Score: 4/5


Waterproof with IP67 rating

Simple to use, works well with Petzl helmets

AA batteries are cheap to replace

Rugged, durable quality

Looks good in terms of design


A bit expensive for what it offers

Cannot utilize maximum brightness for long

Not the strongest or most efficient light

Fenix HP25R v2.0 Rechargeable Headlamp

Best Headlamp #3: Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp, 1600 Lumen Spotlight, 400 lumens Floodlight and Red Light, USB-C Rechargeable with LumenTac Organizer

A worthy alternative to the Petzl Duo Z2, the Fenix HP25R v2.0 Headlamp provides an incredible 1600 lumens for over 900 feet (290 m). In addition, it’s about 60% of the price of the Petzl Duo Z2. Let’s take a look at the Fenix HP25R and determine if it’s really as good as it looks at first glance.

With 1600 lumens, you’ll have more light than you’d likely ever need inside a cave. The Fenix HP25R 2.0 Headlamp comes with a 21700 rechargeable battery, and boasts runtimes (for the floodlight) unlike almost any other caving headlamp I’ve personally seen.

The battery fully charges in about 4 hours, and an indicator turns red and flashes when the battery is below 50, and 25% respectively. It comes with 3 cable clips and 4 helmet clips, and a spare O-ring as well.

Made to be comfortable and safe, the headlamp is paired with a highly reflective and breathable headband. Made from durable materials, the headlamp can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -31 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Given an IP66 water resistance rating, this headlamp can tolerate any harsh outdoor environments.

The weight is mid-range, at 8.4 oz, and it’s IP66 rated, which means it will withstand high pressure water sources, but should not be completely submerged beyond 2 meters.

One interesting design choice here is that the battery compartment is located in the rear, separate from the light.


Eco: 50 lumens for 56 hours; Low: 150 lumens for 24 hours, Med: 400 lumens for 8 hours, High: 1000 lumens for 4 hours, and Turbo: 1600 lumens for 2 hours

Floodlight: Low: 5 lumens for 400 hours (!), Med: 150 lumens for 24 hours, High: 400 lumens for 8 hours

As you can see, this headlamp lasts a LONG time. There is no way you’ll be in a cave for 400 hours, but it’s great to know that your primary light source will not be giving up early.


Dimensions: 2.36 x 1.85 x 1.3 inches (6 x 4.7 x 3.3 cm)

Weight: 8.4 oz (238 g)

Throw: 951 feet (290 m)

Our Score: 4.8/5


Water-resistant with IP66 Rated

Incredible brightness for 4-8 hours

Very long lasting


Sturdy against rugged use

Easy to switch between modes (single-click)

Reflective material for improved visibility


A bit on the heavier side

Might be overkill for beginners or smaller caves

Nitecore NU33 Headlamp, 700 Lumens

Best Headlamp #4: Nitecore NU33 Rechargeable Headlamp, 700 Lumen USB-C White, Red and Reading Lights, with Lumen Cable Organizer

The Nitecore NU33 Headlamp is a straightforward, affordable headlamp with several modes and features. This model was made as an upgrade to the Nitecore NU32, which had been a bit disappointing. Nitecore makes many headlamps, some better than others, but the NU33 is certainly one of the better ones.

The Nitecore NU33 Headlamp itself comes with 3 LEDs, and allows you to tilt it in one direction (downward). A simple on/off switch and toggle button are on the top, to switch between several modes.

With a max of 700 lumens, and a throw output of 147 yards (123 meters), it’s more than enough light for just about any cave. If you’re walking through some tight corridors with a group, you won’t be using this mode. Instead, you’d likely be using the “Medium” mode, which puts out 60 lumens for 38 hours.

While this headlamp doesn’t have the incredible strength or battery life of others on this list, it’s a great budget light source for smaller caves and beginning cavers. It’s incredibly light, so you will hardly notice it compared to some other headlamps.


High (200 lumens for 9 hours), Turbo (700 lumens for 4 hours)

Floodlight: Low (50 lumens for 47 hours), Ultra-low (6 lumens for 147 hours), and even a few Red Auxiliary modes.

The included USB-C Cable is all you need to charge this headlamp, which makes it convenient. However, the 2000mAh battery itself cannot be removed, which is definitely a drawback in some cases. Some headlamps make it easier for battery replacement, and if this makes a difference to you, keep it in mind.


While the Nitecore NU33 can handle most caving climates with moderate dust and some moisture, it has limitations. It is not completely waterproof, so you do not want to take this with you either underwater or in a lot of rain.

All in all, this is a decent choice especially on a tighter budget. Its lower intensity modes are great for stationary tasks, and moving slowly through a cave or small confined spaces. Its long battery life will also be more than enough for just about any of your expeditions.


Dimensions: 2.45 wide x 1.4 tall x 1.8 inches tall

Weight: 3.7 oz (105 grams)

Throw: 440 feet (134.4 meters)

Our Score: 4.1/5


Straightforward and easy to use

Great on a budget

Headband is reflective which adds to visibility

Extremely lightweight


Multiple modes for effective use without draining the battery


Cannot remove the battery

Not completely waterproof

ThruNite TH30 V2 LED Headlamp

Best Headlamp #5: ThruNite TH30 V2 LED Headlamp, USB C Rechargeable Head Lamp, Ultra-Bright 3320 Lumens Including Rechargeable Battery and Headband, Water Resistant for Camping, Hiking, Hunting, Cycling Cool White - CW

Coming soon.


When it comes to choosing the best headlamp, you will naturally want to consider brightness, lighting modes, and power source. But weight and comfort matter too. Don’t opt for the most expensive headlamps just because they’re expensive. Sometimes, the money is worth it, but others, you may end up with a powerful light that doesn’t feel natural on your helmet.

As we’ve mentioned in the Petzl Duo Z2 review, some headlamps also go well with the right caving helmets. Be sure to decide based on the helmet you already have, or the one you plan to get. You may require additional adhesives or adjustments to get the right fit for you.

We hope some of these headlamps fall within your budget as well. The best headlamps will offer versatility in features and give the best performance in almost any caving condition, wet or dry. Our favorite is the Fenix HP25R V2.0, but it’s understandable if you find it to be overkill. Which do you like the most?

If you’d like more information on what features to look for while shopping for your caving headlamp, check out our buying guide here.

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