Headlamps are light sources that attach to a person’s head or helmet with flexible straps. They are used in dark or low-light environments where personnel need the use of both hands to perform an operation or activity. Applications for headlamps include mining, camping, plumbing, car repairs, cave exploration (spelunking), firefighting, search and rescue operations, and scuba diving. As task lighting, headlamps are often used as an alternative to handheld flashlights or fixed light sources. Although many headlamps are powered by batteries or a battery pack, products that use solar power and energy-efficient light emitting diodes (LEDs) are also available. Headlamps with strobe lights can be used to signal a person’s location, or as an emergency beacon. Typically, strobe mode requires more energy.

LED headlamps provide bright light over short, medium, and long distances. They may include a head strap or be designed to attach to the bill of a baseball cap. Depending on the application, LED headlamps can shine blue, red, white and/or infrared (IR) light while cutting through smoke or haze. Helmet-mounted products are lightweight, shockproof, and designed to attach above or below the brim of hard hats and fire helmets. Product specifications for LED headlamps include lumens and candela peak central intensity. Some products are waterproof, super bright, or chemically-resistant. Others are equipped with a swivel clamp and are designed to rotate up to 360 degrees. Although many head torches are still powered by lithium batteries or battery packs, solar LED headlamps with small solar panels are also available.

Solar headlamps may include an LED array for a wider beam and a strobe light for alerting rescuers. Often, they require 8 to 12 hours to charge. Night vision headlamps are equipped with a removable red filter that changes the LED array from white light to red light. Headlamps that do not use LEDs may incorporate high intensity discharge (HID) lamps instead. HID lamps use electrical energy to excite a metal halide. They provide a very high light output but are still small in size. Emergency headlamps for rescue workers and other emergency services personnel are designed for demanding environments with smoke or high heat. Diving headlamps are sealed to prevent the ingress of water.