This past fall, in order to set a better example for my Instagram followers, I started wearing a hard hat full-time on the jobsite. I tested a few and settled on one that I really like, the DAX Carbon-fiber hard hat, finding it to be comfortable to wear inside and out in all seasons (you can read my review here). I’ve also found that it provides an opportunity to solve a problem familiar to those who work inside in the winter months: We arrive at the jobsite in the dark, and often it’s dusk when we go home. As any miner can tell you, a hard hat is not only good for protecting your noggin; it’s also a perfect mounting spot for a headlamp.

Enter Milwaukee, which generously sent me one of its Beacon rechargeable hard hat headlamps to test out. While some might consider a headlamp to be an accessory, I now think of it as an important tool that helps light up those dark mornings and evenings. This one is IP54 rated for dust and water resistance, and it has a variable output light that can be used as either a focused spot light or a general flood light. By varying the output, you can extend the battery life. For example, at full 600-lumens brightness, the battery lasts roughly two hours. At 400 lumens, the battery lasts about four hours, while battery life is about 20 hours when the output is switched to 25 lumens. The headlamp strap is equipped with a rear LED that can also function as a personal safety beacon in either a steady or blinking mode, providing 360-degree visibility.

Tim Uhler The headlamp strap is designed to be used with a hard hat.
Tim Uhler A personal LED safety beacon is integrated into the strap, providing the wearer with 360-degree visibility.

I love the fact that this headlamp is USB rechargeable. I can put it on the charger to and from work, or charge it off an adapter for the tool batteries. It takes about 30 minutes of charging for a 50% charge, about an hour for an 80% charge, and two hours for a full charge. I find that I typically keep the light on at medium (400 lumens) or low (200 lumens) so that it lasts all day.

The headlamp weighs a little less than half a pound, so it adds a little weight to the hard hat that at first made it feel a little front-heavy. But I quickly got used to it and now wear it all the time; even when there is enough light to work, I still use this for tedious work where it helps to have a better close-up view, like when I’m shooting on joist hangers or other hardware. At about $100, I think this is a good deal.