Caving Lights – Pick The Best Headlamp for You

Caving Lights

Cavers, miners, and adventures have been using caving lights since fire was invented. It started with a flaming torch on a stick, and now we have headlamps with over 2300 lumen bright.

What headlamps are used now? 

There are three types of caving lights that are stilling being used nowadays. They include LED headlamps, standard headlamps, and Carbide lights.

Let’s dive into the different headlamps to see which ones work best and recommend for any caver.

What types of Caving Lights are Available?

There are two good choices and one dangerous choice if not used right, with three possible options for caving headlamps.

Carbide Lamp

This option isn’t seen as much anymore, but this was the preferred headlamp option for cavers and miners before LEDs and standard headlamps.

The basic working principle is carbide and water chemically react and form a small stream of gas out the front nozzle where it is burnt. The flame is in front of a metallic mirror to concentrate the light.

Think of it as a torch on your head. It’s not the ideal option considering the apparent risks, but we still see spelunkers wearing this kind of light.

Standard Caving Light

Like a standard flash, the standard was really the first option that didn’t involve a flame. It’s been around for years and was an excellent option for many of those years.

The best standard headlamps can put up to 1000 lumen of light out, which is excellent.

1000 lumen is the equivalent of producing a beam of like that goes up to 200 yards. That’s two football fields. For those of you, one the metric system, that’s 150 to 200 meters. That’s a lot of light for a little headlamp.

The issue with this technology is that the battery life is not that long. In fact, a lot of cavers would prefer the carbide lights over the standard headlamps because the standard ones would burn through so many batteries on each trip. Causing a lot of waste and being pretty expensive.

The technology has improved over the years allowing batteries to last long and allowing rechargeable options.

LED Headlamp

LED headlamps are, without a doubt, the brightest and longest-lasting caving lights on the market. The brightness of these headlamps ranges typically from 400 to 2300 lumen—more than doubling the standard lamp.

But more impressively, the benefit of these caving lights is the battery life and bulb life. Both outlast a standard headlamp by a long shot.

This is why we recommend LED headlamps over any other options.

What to Look For in a LED Caving Light

Here are the key features that you want to look for when buying a LED caving light.

  • Battery – The type of battery determines the running costs and reliability of the headlamp. So we recommend rechargeable batteries.
  • Brightness – As we mentioned, some headlamps are going up to 2300 lumens, which we believe is excessive for caving. Max lumens around 1000 is recommended.
  • Weight – You’ll be strapping this light onto your caving helmet, so the lighter, the better. The good news is that most newer models are very bright.
  • Waterproof or Water-Resistant – Most cave that you go into will have water or at least be damp. So it is good to make sure your light is waterproof or at least water-resistant.
  • Mount Type – We recommend a headlamp with a strap that you can mount on your helmet.

There are a few other items that you will want to consider, like beam type, battery life, and light color. These are all dependent on your style of caving.

Our Top Recommendations

As we mentioned above, we highly recommend going with an LED headlamp. Now the question is, which LED caving light should you buy? From the beginner to the expert caver, either the Petzl Duo is top of the line. Or the Fenix HP25R LED headlamp, which is a more affordable but good option.

You’ll also notice that both of our recommendations are around 1000 lumen. This is more than enough power for most caves.

Both options also have rechargeable batteries, which will save you tons of money in the long run.

Let’s go through the pros and cons of each recommendation.

Petzl Duo S 1100 Lumen Headlamp

The Petzl Duo S is an elite-level headlamp that is used by a large number of cavers around the world. It is easily the most reliable caving light on the market. The last thing you want to happen when you are deep in a cave is to have your headlamp break.

Take a Closer Look At the Petzl Duo S on Amazon


  • One of the top brands in caving and climbing
  • Powerful 1100 lumen light
  • Face to Face Technology – Is it the feature that makes it stand out from the rest.  It automatically dims when you face others with a light, so you don’t blind them.
  • Five Modes – Low-intensity flood beam, proximity, movement, rapid movement, distance.
  • The most reliable headlamp on the market
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Impact and water-resistant


  • Price – all the features come with a higher price tag

Fenix HP25R 1000 Lumen Headlamp

The Fenix HP25R is another excellent option. It’s not as bright or has as many features are the Petzl Duo S, but the price tag makes up for it.

When at its max, the bean can still reach over 180 meters, and the headlamp is waterproof.

Take a closer look at the Fenix HP25R on Amazon.


  • Affordable Price
  • Soft floodlight beam with a max beam angle of 90°
  • Red light for nighttime illumination and alerting
  • Rechargeable Batteries
  • Waterproof


  • Not as many features as the Petzl Duo
  • Can only use max brightness for a short time, around 1 hour and 30 minutes

Caving Headlamp Summary

There are other great headlamps on the market, and we have seen better results from the LED headlamps that we mentioned above.

We hope that you found this article helpful and that you could find the perfect caving light for you.  Please reach out if you have any questions.

Need Gear to Go Caving or Spelunking?

If you are planning a caving adventure, you want to make sure that you have the right gear.  Check out our beginners guide for caving equipment.


Lee G.

I love the outdoors! Everything from hiking, climbing, rappelling, and caving.

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