Outlasting your headlamp batteries is a serious bummer; when traversing through the dead of night, the last thing you need is a burnout two hours before sunrise.  If you’ve got the Brunton L3 on board, you won’t have to worry about your light giving out before your legs do.

Brunton L3 Specs:

  • Bulb type: 3-watt Luxeon LED
  • Beam type: single beam
  • Brightness (lumens): unrated
  • Weight (with batteries): 226g/8.0 oz
  • Maximum beam distance (high setting): 63m
  • Brightness levels: 3
  • Strobe: yes
  • Battery type: 4 AA on headband, or 4 C batteries in external pack.  Compatible with lithium and rechargeable batteries
  • Battery life (high setting, 70 degrees): 140 hours
  • Water resistance: IPX-6
  • MSRP: $153

Brunton L3 Review

Brunton’s L3 gives you reliable simplicity: you turn the light on, and don’t have to worry about it anymore.  Its outstanding battery life – 140 hours on high setting, 200 hours on low – and steady brightness ensure that you will run out of darkness long before losing your beam.

Single-beam Luxeon LED

Another simple aspect is the single beam option; unlike similar trail headlamps, there’s no distinction between flood and spot modes.  The L3 uses a 3-watt Luxeon LED lamp that is concentrated in the central field of vision, directing most of its brightness like a spotlight (see photo below).  The main beam has decent peripheral scatter, but the light distribution isn’t uniform like a pure flood light would provide.

The beam penetrates 63m on the high setting, and its brightness is more than adequate for technical trail running.  Curiously, Brunton doesn’t provide a lumen rating with its specs – so the only way to guess its brightness is to get a couple of similar models from other brands with known ratings, and shine them together in the dark to compare the beams … but who has time to do all that?

Luckily, I’m here to help:

Top: Brunton L3 on high setting. Lower L: Petzl MYO RXP in spot mode at 80 lumens. Lower R: Black Diamond Icon in spot mode at 100 lumens.

Based on comparison to the Petzl and Black Diamond offerings, let’s ballpark the L3 brightness at over 100 lumens, shall we?

With strong brightness and long burn time comes the primary trade-off of the L3, in that its power stores ride a bit heavy, especially if you’re trying to keep a fast pace.  However, you have two different options and a good deal of adjustability to distribute that weight in the most comfortable manner you prefer.

Dual AA external battery packs

One option is dual headband battery packs, each holding two AA batteries.  These can be positioned anywhere on the band; I found the most comfortable location was slightly behind the ear on each side (see above).  Given the increased bulk of two headband battery packs, it would be nice for Brunton to include a top strap for increased stability.

Your other battery option is the external pack, which is a unique feature in this category.  It holds four C batteries, and can be stashed in a backpack or clipped onto a belt.  I experienced a bit of bounce when carrying it on my waist, so I stuck with the headband battery packs. Both power sources are fully compatible with lithium or rechargeable batteries.

Dual power options: waist pack or headband packs

Overall operation of the L3 is fairly simple as well, with a single button for on/off and scrolling through the brightness levels and flash mode.  The button is large enough to use with thin gloves, and beam placement is easy to adjust with the rotating lamp casing.

Good L3

  • Strong beam with steady brightness
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Dual power source options
  • Compatible with rechargeable batteries

Bad L3

  • No flood mode setting
  • Heavy for this category of headlamps
  • No top strap
  • 2 headband battery packs may feel cumbersome

Bottom Line: Brunton L3 Headlamp

The Brunton L3 is a simple, dependable lamp with enough brightness for any nocturnal adventure.  Whether the long battery life is worth a bit of additional bulk will depend on your specific activity.

Buy Now: Find Headlamps at REI

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

1 Comment

  1. Loved this headlamp, after a few years it croaked on me, to bad there not still available. Would buy another one in a heartbeat.

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