Why Red Light First? Unveiling the Benefits and Uses of Red Light in Headlamps

July 12, 2023

For years, the bright lights of headlamps have shown the way to adventurers across the world. These headlamps often come with multiple light settings and brightness levels that allow users to adjust the beam based on their needs. While setting can vary from model to model, one common setting is red light, which, while often ignored, serves a tremendous purpose on various adventures.

The Science Behind Red Light

While red light isn’t as bright as white light, it does wonders for your night vision. Low-light conditions cause our pupils to dilate. Exposure to bright light causes them to constrict. That means that using an intense light at night can temporarily make it harder to see in the dark once the light turns off. Conversely, red light minimizes pupil dilation, thus preserving night vision.

And when you’re on the trail or in the forest after dark, it’s nice to know that red light also has a reduced impact on wildlife. Bright lights can disrupt the natural behavior of nocturnal animals, so red light is often used as outdoor lighting in places where human activities intersect with natural habitats.

Practical Uses of Red Light in Headlamps

Headlamps, in general, are a must-have resource for any nighttime navigation, as it maintains visibility without disturbing night vision.

Red light headlamps are also useful for any nighttime reading, particularly for navigation tools like maps and charts. The red beam can help you read the fine details and designations without the blinding effects of white light, all while keeping your overall night vision intact. That said, it’s important to remember that any details drawn in red will not be visible under a red light.

When you participate in group activities in low-light conditions, it’s important to make sure everyone in the group can see as clearly as possible. Maintaining everyone’s night vision goes a long way in increasing safety, coordination, and communication. With red light headlamps, members can see each other and interact without the risk of temporarily blinding one another.

How To Make the Most of Your Red Light

There are countless outdoor nighttime activities to enjoy, but navigating your surroundings without natural light always poses a challenge — which can be half the fun. Red light provides an excellent solution for almost any night adventure.

For starters, red light headlamps are perfect for camping enthusiasts. Red light doesn’t shine brightly through the sides of tents, so you can wake up in the middle of the night and turn on a light without waking others. It also attracts fewer bugs, creating a more enjoyable camping experience. And with a less invasive light, campers can enjoy the natural surroundings and the star-filled skies without the distraction of excessive light pollution.

Red light’s reduced effect on wildlife can benefit hunters who need to see game at night without scaring it off. While red light isn’t completely invisible to animals, it’s less likely to startle them than white light, a critical consideration that can give hunters an advantage. Of course, hunters aren’t the only ones who benefit from red light at night.

Soldiers and law enforcement personnel can perform nighttime operations in tactical and military situations without sacrificing their night vision. Red light also reduces the risk of giving away their position to potential adversaries.

When choosing a red light headlamp, look for one with easy controls that let you change quickly and easily between settings. You may also want to check if it stays on the red light setting when you turn the headlamp off. Since some lights reset after turning off, this feature ensures that you don’t accidentally ruin your night vision if you temporarily shut off the headlamp between uses. 

Most headlamps with red light offer various adjustment levels so that you can change the brightness accordingly. While red light already uses less battery life than white light, you can preserve your battery life further by choosing a lower red light setting. Higher red lights increase visibility while maintaining the benefits of using a red light.

Princeton Tec’s Red Light Headlamps

As a trusted leader in personal lighting solutions, we know that red light plays an essential role in many nighttime activities. That’s why we’ve worked to create state-of-the-art headlamps that provide the white light you need while equipping you with a red light option for specialized situations. 


Lightweight yet powerful, the Byte headlamp is the brightest 2AA light in our lineup. The red Ultrabright LED provides two settings so that you can adjust the beam based on your lighting needs.


The Vizz goes up to 550 lumens and features three white light modes and one red light mode. Two red Ultrabright LEDs provide close-range lighting while preserving night vision, making the Vizz an ideal choice for nighttime adventures. 

We know how important it is to preserve your night vision — which is why all our headlamps default to red light first. You can switch back and forth between red and white light as needed, but you’ll never accidentally compromise your night vision when wearing Princeton Tec headlamps. Whether you’re gearing up for a weekend camping trip or a tactical mission, our red light solutions make sure you’re ready.