What to look for when you’re buying a headtorch for running
- Batteries: Most headtorches run on AA or AAA batteries, but some utilise a rechargeable battery. Consider how easy it will be to change the batteries, bearing in mind you may have to do this in the dark with cold or wet hands and away from a convenient electrical supply to recharge them.
- Tilting head: So you can direct the beam of light, say to the ground, just ahead of you or to the tent guy line you are adjusting, it is important to be able to tilt the head down a little. This needs to be easily adjustable, but not so loose and floppy that it fails to stay in place once it’s set.
- Light output: A headtorch’s light output is measured in lumens. An output of around 80-100 lumens is suitable for camping and general walking, while 200 lumens is ideal for navigating across open hillsides. Higher powers are useful for crossing terrain with few features, or search and rescue, as well as fast-paced activities, such as mountain biking, running or skiing.
- Burn time: The light output will dim over timeas the batteries run down. The burn times provided by manufacturers arenot always based on the same criteria, and they will vary with temperature and function settings, so they cannot always be trusted. Packing spare batteries is therefore always wise, and longer burn times are often a worthwhile benefit.
- Operation: Small buttons are used to operate light output. The two most important points to consider are can the torch be operated with cold, wet and gloved hands in the dark, and could it turn on by itself in a rucksack pocket, leading to flat batteries?
- Colour of light: Most headtorches are provided with standard white LEDs, and generally these are adequate for most purposes. However red LEDs are handy when you want to preserve your own night vision, and green LEDs are useful for reading maps.
- Headstraps: The headtorch is attached to a headband that needs to be adjustable to ensure a secure yet comfortable fit.
To help you decide what kind of torch you’ll need when you head out of the door think about how much light you will need. Around 300 lumens will help you in all but the darkest conditions, while something like 5 or 10 will provide enough light for cars to see you.
- What type of night running will I do?
- Will there be any available light - such as street-lights, a nearby town or village - on my route?
- Will I be heading into the mountains?
- Will I be running local trails?
- Do I run in woodland? Keep in mind there is less background light available.
- Do I choose full moon outings or am I happy with moonless nights?
- How much will I be carrying?
- Is weight an issue and do I mind carrying extra batteries? This is always advisable on longer runs.
- Will I be out for one hour or 12?
- Will I be running solo or in a group? There’s more lighting available in a group due to the volume of headlamp units.