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Which flashlights for spelunking are best?

The amateur form of caving is referred to as spelunking. Also known as potholing in some parts, spelunking can be an exhilarating sport for explorers. Because a spelunker goes into dark caves, reliable and adequate lighting is crucial. The primary source of light for a spelunker comes in the form of a headlamp, because the hands are required for other things like holding ropes, keeping balance or even crawling through holes. An excellent light for this job is the Lumen Tactical Fenix HL60R Headlamp

What to know before you buy a flashlight for spelunking


The amount of visible light produced is measured in lumens. This is a good indicator of how bright a light is. A good headlight for spelunking requires a solid brightness level. Keep in mind that not all headlamps can be used for spelunking. If the headlight gives an output of fewer than 150 lumens, it isn’t suitable for spelunking. If you’re in caves with high ceilings, you need a headlamp with an increased number of lumens if you want to take in the sights better. The lumen output should be adjustable to the situation to control the energy used.


When choosing the right headlight, the amount of lumens isn’t the only consideration. You should also think about the distance the beam can reach and the beam type. A long-distance beam, or spot beam, is helpful when spelunking. This is usually the default setting in headlamps. However, a flood beam is generally the best beam type for spelunkers. 


Most flashlights are powered by regular AAA or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. In recent years, USB-rechargeable batteries have become a common sight and are smaller and more convenient. Using rechargeable batteries requires you to carry a power source such as a power bank when going on longer spelunking adventures. 

What to look for in a quality flashlight for spelunking


Water resistance levels are declared by an IP number. Spelunking lights should be no lower than IPX4. This means the light is resistant to splashing from all directions. IPX5 to IPX6 can resist higher pressures of water spray. Premium lights at IPX7 can be submerged in water up to a meter for 30 minutes, with IPX8 allowing for deeper submersions. 

Battery life

Keeping backup batteries is essential, but you don’t want to use them. Making sure that your primary batteries have as long a life as possible gives you peace of mind. The more lumens your light uses, the quicker the battery will drain. Keeping your light at only the necessary brightness ensures you get the most out of the battery life.


Using red LED light in your approach to the cave at nighttime means your night vision isn’t spoiled. It can also be helpful inside the cave when having lunch or reading maps, because the light won’t blind your co-spelunkers.

How much you can expect to spend on a flashlight for spelunking

A flashlight is a life-saving piece of equipment in a cave with absolutely zero other light sources. As such, it’s wise to purchase a quality model. Thankfully, some excellent options are out there that won’t break the bank. Economical headlamps can be found in the $10-$20 range, while premium ones can cost several hundred dollars.

Flashlight for spelunking FAQ

Is one light enough for spelunking?

A. No — you should have three light sources. Most cavers and spelunkers carry a secondary light source with a focusable lens and a high lumen output of around 800. This can be used for looking at things in more detail. A sturdy and reliable third source is the emergency backup. This is usually a regular flashlight and should have a minimum output of 180 lumens. Back-up batteries, stored in a waterproof container, should always be taken, too.

What other equipment do I need for spelunking?

A. Hard hats are often worn by cavers and spelunkers. The headlamp can be fixed onto the hat easily. Clothing worn depends on the conditions in the cave. Warm, insulating base layers are needed in cold conditions. Hiking boots are required in dry caves and rubber boots in wet caves. Ropes are essential for climbing up and down, and knee and elbow pads are optional.

What are the best flashlights for spelunking to buy?

Top flashlight for spelunking

Lumen Tactical Fenix HL60R Headlamp

Lumen Tactical Fenix HL60R Headlamp

What you need to know: This offering by Lumen Tactical is a bright and waterproof rechargeable headlamp suitable for spelunking and other activities.

What you’ll love: This excellent headlamp has a maximum output of 950 lumens. The battery life at the 150-lumen setting is 10 hours. It features a red light for reading maps and a spotlight of 116 meters at the maximum setting. The waterproof level is IPX8, and it comes complete with a USB-chargeable battery and cable.

What you should consider: It’s slightly on the heavier side at 4.3 ounces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top flashlight for spelunking for the money

Nitecore NU20 LED Headlamp

Nitecore NU20 LED Headlamp

What you need to know: This lightweight headlamp is suitable for many activities, including spelunking.

What you’ll love: This headlamp emits 360 lumens at its maximum output with a throw of 79.5 meters. The built-in rechargeable battery lasts 100 hours at the minimum setting. The necessary USB cable is included. It has an IP67 protection rating, meaning dust and water have difficulty getting in.

What you should consider: It doesn’t have a red light feature.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp

Black Diamond Equipment Spot 350 Headlamp

What you need to know: This easy-to-use, lightweight headlamp is suitable for spelunking and other outdoor activities.

What you’ll love: This 350-lumen headlamp has user-friendly technology for adjusting the brightness and is tolerant of water submersion with its IPX8 rating. It’s available in several eye-catching colors at an economical price. It has a 200-hour battery life at its lowest setting.

What you should consider: It’s pretty old-school in its use of AAA batteries and doesn’t have a USB charging feature.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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