How to choose a head torch

If you’re going camping it’s obviously vital for your night out, but a head torch should also be taken on day walks. It’s not uncommon to underestimate a walk length, and other delays such as navigation errors or injury can mean you staying out until after sunset; on a happier note, you may even decide you want to stay up high to watch the sunset, or walk during the dark mornings and afternoons of winter.

There are a lot of head torches out there, with a large price range from a few pounds to over a hundred. So what are the main features you should look for when finding one suited to walking?

How bright is it?

Torch brightness is measured in lumens. Generally speaking, for use in the hills or out walking, I would not suggest getting anything below 100 lumens. Less than this and navigation becomes difficult as you can’t see much further than the edges of the path. Above this level it’s up to you, and depends on how much money you want to spend and how much you want to see!

How long do the batteries last?

As well as lumens, a torch packaging will indicate how long the torch will last. Apart from the most basic torches, there will be a few settings, allowing you to use a dimmer light to save batteries if the walking is easy, saving the power for the brighter setting if you need to navigate or see something further away. You’re going to want at least a few hours of light for walking after dark, and always carry spare batteries.

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Is the beam adjustable?

Decide whether you want the beam to be adjustable, moving from a narrow intense beam to a wide and more general one. Having the ability to switch between the two can be quite useful when navigating, or just admiring the scenery when someone else is leading!

How easy is it to use?

Ease of use is extremely important as if you’re stuck in a difficult situation you don’t want to worry about how to get your head torch to turn on. Take some gloves into the shop and try using and adjusting the torch while wearing them. If you can’t do it indoors then it’ll be even more difficult when you’re cold and wet.

Alongside ease of use, it needs to be comfortable and the strap must be adjustable, in case you want it over or under a hat. Try it on before you buy it!

Do you want accessories?

More powerful torches have a separate battery pack that’s attached to the torch with a cable. This can then be stored inside your jacket while the torch is on. Since batteries very quickly lose power when they become cold, this is a great addition for winter.

Also consider how you’ll keep it dry. Though head torches do have some waterproofing to shed rain, keeping it dry when it’s in your bag is all part of looking after your kit. Consider getting a small dry bag that you can easily locate when it’s dark.

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