In this guide we’ll take a look at the best head torches for the UK market.
I’ve compared brightness, battery life, comfort and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Head Torch Reviews
Coast HL6 Head Torch Review
This Coast HL6 Head Torch can produce 344 lumens of light and has three power settings: low, medium and high.
The beam is adjustable from a spot beam to a flood beam with a simple twist of the focus ring. It also has an incredible beam distance of 207 m.
The torch runs on 4 x AA batteries which come included.
One particularly nice feature about this head torch is that the battery pack is detachable and comes with an extension cord. This allows you to clip it to your belt or carry it in a pocket, reducing the weight of the head torch and making it more comfortable to wear.
One set of batteries can power the torch for over 19 hours on the highest power mode.
This torch is very versatile, and the medium setting is fine for simple tasks like walking the dog at night. It is also comfortable to wear and feels secure.
Plus, it even comes with hard hat clips if you need to use it in a setting where a hard hat is needed!
Nitecore LED Head Torch Review
This Nitecore LED Head Torch has plenty of brightness modes to choose from including turbo, high, mid, and ultra-low, as well as two red-light modes.
On the turbo setting, the battery will last for up to 1 hour.
On the mid setting, which produces 33 lumens, it will last for up to 50 hours. It has a beam distance of 121 m.
The red modes are great for using at night: red light doesn’t interrupt your natural night vision as much as white light, so you can use it to read maps without disturbing your eyes.
It’s also less disturbing to wildlife and can even be used for emergency signalling.
This torch’s capacity for producing red light makes this the best head torch if you’re looking for night time versatility.
It’s a waterproof unit that is comfortable to wear and provides all the illumination you need for outdoor activities.
Led Lenser LED Head Torch Review
This Led Lenser LED Head Torch provides up to 220 lumens with a beam that can reach over 130 m.
It comes with a rechargeable battery, mains/USB charger and a belt hook. It can also takes AA batteries, which is handy as a backup, in case you don’t have time to charge it.
There are a variety of settings, including two energy modes: constant current and energy saving; plus four light functions: power, dim, signal and optisense.
Optisense is a smart setting which will automatically adjust light output depending on the environment’s light levels!
On high power, this head torch will provide 220 lumens for up to five hours. On low power, it will provide 20 lumens for up to 20 hours.
This head torch is comfortable to wear and the casing glows when not in use. This means you can easily locate it in the dark, which is ideal for camping or outdoor activities.
Ledlenser SEO5-RD LED Head Torch Review
This Ledlenser SEO5-RD LED Head Torch has three settings: power, low power and signal.
On the power setting, it provides 180 lumens to a distance of 120 metres and will last for 7 hours.
The fully adjustable beam works very well, instantly changing from a spot to a flood light as required.
The torch also has glare-free red light, so it’s practical and comfortable to use at night. The torch is powered by 3 x AA batteries that come included.
The head strap is light and comfortable to wear and the torch casing glows in the dark. This is a great feature as you won’t lose the torch if you put it down when it’s off!
A belt hook comes included so you can keep the torch nearby at all times even if you’re not wearing it.
As headtorches go, this is a great budget option which is practical, comfortable, and powerful.
Olight H2R Nova Head Torch Review
The Olight H2R Nova Head Torch is extremely versatile; it can attach to a head strap, be used as a hand-held torch, or attach to a metal surface (such as a car bonnet) using a magnet.
When attached to the head strap, the torch is comfortable to wear and stays securely in place, even when running.
It is powered by one 18650 battery, which comes included, providing a maximum brightness of 2300 lumens. For reference, outdoor floodlights around the home are normally around 1300 lumens – so this torch is bright!
There are four brightness settings: 650, 150 and 50 lumens, as well as 2300 lumens on turbo mode. It will light up and fade out gradually when switched between settings, to protect your eyes from sudden light changes.
The beam is capable of reaching a distance of 153 m, so it’s suitable for all outdoor activities, and there is also an SOS mode.
The torch is rechargeable, and you don’t even need to remove the battery to recharge it. You simply attach the magnetic charging cable to the torch, and charge it via this connection.
There is also a low-battery warning light, which blinks once per minute when the battery is running low, so you won’t be caught unawares.
The torch features a honeycomb lens which produces a nice natural spread of light, easily helping you see your way over rough terrain.
The brightness modes are excellent, and the standard 600-lumens mode is ideal to light your way when running, walking, or doing evening chores around the campsite.
The lower brightness modes are ideal for reading or fishing.
The battery life on a single charge is very impressive- you can keep it running for up to 2.5 hours on high and 50 hours on low. It’ll last a whole weekend away without needing to be recharges.
Due to its all-round impressive features, super-bright beam and excellent battery life, this is undoubtedly the best head torch available – especially considering its very reasonable price!
Things to Know Before Buying a Head Torch
Whether you are competing in a round-the-world yacht race or simply reading in bed, a head torch allows you to see in the dark whilst still being able to use both hands.
Head torches are an essential item for outdoor night time activities, from walking the dog to camping. Many head torches can also be used as hand torches as well.
There are a range of head torches available, and the best head torch models use LED lights to give bright illumination. Most have a range of brightness settings, and some offer flashing and red lights, too.
Choosing the most suitable head torch for you will depend on your needs, so I’ve been together the following tips to make sure you have all the necessary information to make an informed purchase:
Head torches can be powered by alkaline, lithium, or rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The most important thing about a head torch is that it doesn’t run out of battery power when you need it most. Therefore, you need to opt for the power source that will work best for you and one that you can keep on top of.
These are most likely going to be torches powered by AA or AAA alkaline batteries.
If you buy a head torch which runs off one-use batteries, it is extremely important to carry spare batteries. The benefit of these torches is that, as long as you have spare batteries, you can easily replace the batteries when they’re running low.
Alkaline batteries do not last as long as lithium batteries so you may well find you are having to change them more often. And not all head torches can be used with lithium batteries. So don’t expect to be able to use lithium batteries unless the manufacturer states that it’s possible.
A torch that requires several alkaline batteries is likely to be heavier than one with a rechargeable battery. Therefore, it is handy if the battery compartment can be detached and carried separately in a pocket, such as with the Coast HL6 Head Torch.
Torches with rechargeable batteries may cost more to buy but will almost certainly save money in the long run.
They tend to last longer than alkaline batteries and aren’t as heavy.
You may have rechargeable batteries which can be removed from the head torch, in which case you can carry spares.
However, in some cases, you can’t remove the rechargeable batteries; they will need to be recharged using a micro-USB cable or similar. In this case, you will want to make sure you have a battery pack on you.
The good thing is that, if you are camping or hiking, you will most likely be carrying a battery pack already, for charging things like phones and cameras.
Some head torches with rechargeable batteries will also allow you to use alkaline batteries as a backup. This is great as it gives you the best of both worlds; if you don’t have time to recharge the battery, you can use alkaline batteries when necessary.
Torch brightness is measured in lumens.
As a general guide, 10 lumens is generally sufficient for doing close-up tasks like cooking at a campsite or reading. 500 lumens is considered the minimum required for hiking difficult terrain in winter.
The more lumens being used, the faster your head torch will run out of battery. Look for a head torch with several settings to choose from; this way you can strike a good balance between brightness and battery power.
If you want to be able to throw light further away, make sure your head torch has an adjustable beam. The light from these models can be adjusted from a flood of light to a spot beam. A spot beam will concentrate the light and allow you to reach the full distance capacity of your head torch.
A flood of light is useful for illuminating a whole area. On a floodlight setting, head torches can be hung inside tents as lighting, worn to light the main campsite area, or used when hiking.
Considering a head torch is designed primarily to be worn, it needs to be secure and comfortable to wear.
Make sure you can adjust the strap of the head torch to the size of your head. You should measure your head before purchasing a head torch to be sure that it will fit.
All head torches come with a strap that goes around the head, and some have an additional strap that also goes over the head. Over-head straps are especially useful if the head torch is on the heavy side, for example if it runs off alkaline batteries. Many people prefer to have an over-head strap regardless, as it makes the head torch feel more secure.
Most head torch models are versatile enough to have several different uses. The Olight H2R Nova Head Torch can be used as a headtorch and hand-held torch, as well as a lamp; it can be attached to metal surfaces using a magnet.
Some models are better designed with versatility in mind than others. If you want your torch to be truly multifunctional, make sure that it’s intended for use as both a head and hand torch. It can be inconvenient to end up carrying a head torch when it hasn’t been designed to be handheld.
A head torch with a red-light setting is especially useful if keeping your eyes adjusted to the night is important to you.
A red light doesn’t require your eyes to adjust as much as a white light would; you can use red light to read a map without ruining your natural night vision.
Similarly, red light is less likely to scare wildlife as it is not as jarring as white light.
If you intend to use your head torch whilst doing lots of outdoor activities at night time, you will likely benefit from having a red-light setting.
Head Torch FAQs
The following is a guide to the recommended number of lumens required for a range of activities.
- 10 lumens for close up work such as reading and cooking.
- 60 lumens for walking on reasonable clear paths without the need for much navigation.
- 150 lumens for trail running on reasonably clear paths without the need for much navigation.
- 300 lumens for walking or running with a lot of navigation.
- 400 lumens for navigation in winter conditions when snow covers many landscape features.
- 500 lumens for winter mountaineering on difficult terrain.
Lithium batteries usually fair better in very cold conditions. Alkaline batteries can lose up to 20% power at temperatures of 0°C and below. If you prefer to use a torch with alkaline batteries, then you might like to choose a type with an extension lead that allows you to keep the batteries in your pocket. This will keep them warmer and help them work more efficiently.
Wind-up power head torches make great back up torches. Thanks to their lack of batteries, they’re great for use in an emergency. However, the power will generally run down after only 20 – 30 minutes, and they aren’t as power as battery-powered headtorches. Especially if you want to use a head torch to light your way, you’ll be better off with a batter-powered model.