Staying agile during the darkest winter nights can be especially hard if you're carrying a handheld torch. Fast becoming more popular, head torches offer hands-free lighting directly in your line of sight. The versatility of the head torch helps you to navigate after dark and we're here to shine light on everything you need to consider before making your purchase:
Lighting Tailored to You
There are four main types of head torch, each of which offer something different to the rest. It is important when choosing a head torch that you consider how and where you will use it. Some specialise in distance or close-range lighting while others offer a combination to meet more of your demands.
LED Head Torch
Developed for short range use, the LED Head Torch is ideal for camping, outdoor cooking, trail running and hiking your way to the highest peak.
They have a very long lifespan and produce a brighter beam than a regular bulb. There lightweight design allows you to move freely without being restricted by heavily designed torches.
Conventional Bulb Head Torch
Conventional models appear unable to compete with more versatile models like hybrid LED/halogen units or high-powered LED’s.
Although they still provide a piercing beam, particularly with a halogen bulb, these reasonably priced models cannot match the battery life of other LED options.
Hybrid Head Torch
The best of both worlds, Hybrid head torches give you a choice between a low level, power-efficient LED option and a halogen beam for distance use.
Although the halogen bulb will use more power, you should be able to rely on the LED for most activities.
Simple functionality allows you to switch between each lighting option, meaning you are covered from the campsite to the mountain summit.
A hybrid will be slightly heavier than a solo option and more expensive.
High Powered LED Head Torch
New generation LED head torches produce a white, long distance beam similar to a halogen but with a much better battery life.
A great all-round option which combines an increased battery life with distance lighting.
Can cost considerably more than other models but will outlast most.
Burn Time: estimated by manufacturers, this is the length of time that the bulb and battery work together to produce light until the battery runs out. This is greatly affected by the lighting mode used i.e. maximum output will reduce the burn time whereas an economy mode will save power.
Battery: Alkaline is the standard battery which is widely available but is quite heavy when compared with lithium batteries. Lithium batteries can be more expensive but last twice as long, are lighter, slimmer and are fully rechargeable without losing any power.
Crucially when purchasing a head torch you should consider functionality, comfort and weight. Below are common features which you should consider:
Technical head torches often have several light settings which can include a wide white beam/floodlight, a focused white beam, a red beam (for discreet close range vision) and a flashing or strobe mode. Some also use maximum and economy modes to provide versatile lighting options which can be used to save battery power where necessary.
Weight and Size
Impact massively on how the head torch sits on your head and can affect your performance level after dark. Some devices designed for running come with separate battery packs which can be worn elsewhere on the body, distributing the weight across your body.
The strap of a head torch can be adjusted to create a secure and comfortable fit which reduces movement and bounce during activities. Some versions have a top strap which goes over the head to enhance stability and security further, perfect for running or climbing in the dark.
A head torch should be easy to operate in the dark, even when wearing gloves. Large buttons and switches allow you to choose between lighting modes easily and quickly.
Impact and Water Resistance
Designed to meet the demands of the trail and work through sudden showers.
Resistance to Temperature
lithium batteries are more cold-resistant that alkaline batteries, making them ideal for seriously cold weather activities.
Some use a wind-up function to create power, meaning they do not rely on batteries.
This will stop the torch from inadvertently turning on and wasting power in your pack or pocket.
With all that said and done, it's time to get outside!