A headtorch is an essential for most adventures: from camping, trail running, to mountaineering. Here’s what to look for
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It pays to make a good and thorough packing list before you go camping – many of the easy things to forget, like head torches, become the most valuable items in your possession when you get out into the wild and are designed to make life much easier.
Head torches are a must – not only do they light up the area around you, many of them come with SOS flashing, low-level eye-friendly red lighting and a large amount of battery life suitable for lighting up the space around you on the darkest of nights.
What to look for in a head torch
When deciding what kind of head torch to go for, check out the power of the lighting (measured in lumens), beam distance (you want something adjustable), the battery longevity and the weight.
300 lumens should be good for general camping and reading at night, but if you’re adventuring into dark circumstances (say, spelunking), you’ll want to look for 750 lumens.
The longer the battery life the better, naturally. Some torches come with additional power packs and many are still powered using conventional AA or AAA batteries – be sure to check which version you have before you head out and be sure to pack a spare set of batteries!
Weight-wise, the lighter the better, though of course that leads to a trade off in power and beam length.
The aforementioned red lighting often helps during GPS-reading sessions, or reading a book in a tent when a softer light is more suitable as to not disturb your companion.
In testing these torches, we found that there’s a compromise you may have to make – longer beams and brighter light inevitably sometimes mean a heavier battery back, more batteries to purchase or a generally heavier weight – we’ve noted those torches that are light and feel like a better fit for more active pursued.
When looking at headtorches, consider if you’re heading into wet conditions, and how wet they will be – headtorches have waterproof ratings that cover all eventualities.
IPX4 means splash-proof (ideal for walking or running), IPX6 can take a sudden shock of water (say, if you’re paddleboarding or on a boat) while IPX8 can be submerged (if you end up in the drink, for whatever reason).
Here are some of the best head torches we’ve tested for 2022.
Key Specs: Lumens: 750, Weight: 150g, Tilt Positions: 4, Lighting Modes: 8, Battery: USB Rechargeable
Although it’s towards the higher end of the price spectrum, this option from BioLite really impressed with its 8 different lighting options and brightness capability from 250 lumens to 750 lumens at either end of the spectrum.
We liked the design – its slim-fit construction and moisture-wicking headband were comfortable to wear, it’s lightweight and easily adjustable to different sizes, too.
It comes with a rear red light and has 4 adjustable tilt positions too, so you can always be sure of the right setup to light the way ahead.
Key Specs: Lumens: 450, Weight: 75g, Tilt Positions: 5, Lighting Modes: 4, Battery: USB Rechargeable or AAA Batteries
This Actik Core has been designed for slightly more adventurous activities in mind, and although it’s certainly not the brightest at 450 lumens, it’s geared up for ease of use and lightweight ability.
It’s super light when not running on AAA batteries (you can also charge it via USB with the CORE rechargeable in it already), and we liked the locking function, which means it’s unlikely you’ll be able to turn it on and drain the battery accidentally when you don’t need it.
We’d recommend this option as the best bet for night time running in poorly lit areas, for instance, or perhaps cycling to accompany your bike lights.
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