The Best Sailing Headlamp For Night Passages

best sailing headlamp

Getting the best sailing headlamp for night passages is essential for a safe and comfortable journey. Sailing at night is one of the best sailing experiences out there, but it can be a little intimidating at first and it’s something you’ll want to be fully prepared for before you set off. Having a decent sailing headlamp will make your night passage that little bit smoother, and every little really does matter out there.

Quick Guide To The Best Sailing Headlamp

Things To Consider In The Best Sailing Headlamps

the best headlamp for sailing being used on a night passage
The best sailing headlamp – This post contains affiliate links

We’ve put together a list of some of the best sailing headlamps out there, that we’ve used or that have come highly recommended by sailing friends. Before you start shopping though, here are a few things to take into consideration.

Red Light Is Essential

There is nothing worse than white light when sailing in the dark. Your night vision disappears immediately and you are suddenly plunged into darkness. For anyone that has ever made the mistake of turning on a white light while sailing at night you’ll know how disorientating it can be to have your vision disabled.

A sailing headlamp is useless without the ability to turn on a red light without cycling through a white one first. The best sailing headlamps will have the ability to activate and deactivate red only mode without there being any danger of turning on a white light by mistake.

Is Your Sailing Headlamp Waterproof?

a sailing boat on a night passage
Check the waterproof rating on your sailing headlamp

This is pretty important in a sailing headlamp. The chances of your headtorch getting wet while sailing are pretty high, and saltwater causes rust and obvious other failures. The best sailing headlamp will be waterproof or pretty much waterproof to avoid it being destroyed in the first few days of use. Ratings of IPX67 or IPX67 are best for sailing, with IPX67 being the tougher of the two.

Check The Red Brightness

When we bought our first sailing headlamps we didn’t think to check the brightness of the red light, only the white. In a sailing headlamp the most commonly used light, and therefore the most useful, is the red light. The red light on our sailing headtorches was pretty lame. We could see, but only just.

Before you buy your sailing headlamp make sure you check the brightness of the red light primarily. The white light is usually bright enough, and we would recommend carrying a decent torch on board anyway for shedding serious light on a situation!

What Batteries Does Your Sailing Headtorch Take?

the moon reflecting on the sea during a night sail, lit only by the best sailing headlamp
Consider these things before buying a headtorch for sailing

There’s nothing worse than a sailing headlamp that runs out of battery when you need it most. The best sailing headlamp will have rechargeable batteries (most take AAA, but don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest!) so that you can always have spare batteries at the ready to swap in the middle of your night shift if necessary.

Have a USB battery charger so that you can charge at the helm if you need to.

Our second sailing headlamps have built in rechargeable batteries which we love. They’re much more powerful so they last a lot longer, they’re lighter and more waterproof.

The only downside would be that if it happens to run out of battery at the wrong time you’ve got no choice other than to take it off and charge it. We always carry a spare anyway (our old sailing headlamps) that we keep fully charged, so this isn’t a big deal for us, but it’s something to consider.

The Best Sailing Headlamps

The Black Diamond Storm

At just under $50 this sailing headlamp isn’t the cheapest on our list, but it isn’t the most expensive either! The Black Diamond range of headtorches get a lot of love for a reason, they’re rugged, go anywhere headlamps and are a good choice for sailing.

The red and white lights are both impressively bright and it has a decent battery life. It’s waterproof and pretty hard wearing.

The biggest problem with these sailing headlamps is that it’s not the easiest to keep them on a red light. They come with a few too many fancy lights for our liking – red, white, green, blue, strobe. It’s a little too confusing! They also take 4 rechargeable batteries giving them a longer life but also making them slightly heavier.

Nightcore NU32 Sailing Headlamp

The Nightcore NU32 is another great option on the cheaper side. It has all the features that a good sailing headlamp should and is plenty bright enough for sailing at night. We love that you can lock modes to make sure there’s no accidental switching.

The biggest downside to this sailing headtorch is the battery life. It doesn’t run for as long as some of the other options on here, so you’ll have to be prepared to give it a regular charge and it will probably be worth carrying a spare just in case.

Exposure Raw Pro Edition Sailing Headlamp

The Exposure Raw Pro Edition is the most expensive of our best sailing headlamps, but totally worth it. We don’t own this headtorch ourselves (because all our money goes on fixing the boat!) but if we had spare cash then this sailing headtorch would be our top choice.

Having seen one of these in action we can understand why it gets rave reviews and has a bit of a cult following. It is fully waterproof (IPX8) – our friends used this for spearfishing, made of aircraft grade aluminium and utilises a bicolour LED. It’s very small and light, you hardly know you’re wearing it.

Apparently it can give up to 25 hours of continuous light, though we didn’t put this to the test. The real bonus of this sailing headlamp is the powerful red light it has. I would say it’s the most powerful we’ve seen.

It charges via mini-USB lead, so you’d need to make sure you charged it during the day if you were sailing longer passages, but will a battery life of 25 hours it shouldn’t be so much of a problem.

This is almost certainly the best sailing headtorch we’ve seen, but it does come at a significant price!

Princeton Tek Sync Sailing Headlamp

The Princeton Tec Sync is a great budget option. At under $30 this sailing headtorch meets most night passage needs.

It’s easy to find the red light without having to cycle through from white and it’s powerful enough to meet most basic needs. It takes rechargeable batteries so you can always swap them over if they run out on passage.

The biggest downside to this sailing headlamp is the fact it isn’t waterproof, it only has a rating of IPX4, which means it’s water resistant not waterproof. If you’re after a budget option because you know you won’t be night sailing very often then this will probably be fine, just don’t expect it to last a long time in wet conditions!

Hopefully this has helped you to narrow down your decision making process when trying to buy the best sailing headlamp. Let us know in the comments below if you’ve had experience with any of there, and how you’ve found them. It’s always useful to hear another perspective!

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