Whether you’re getting an early Alpine start to reach a mountain summit as the sun rises, heading out on a night hike, or just settling down in your tent for the night – the value of the best head torches for hiking cannot be underestimated – especially when the days get shorter and the dark nights start to draw in.
Top 10 best head torches for hiking in the UK 2021
I took all these factors into account while testing for the best head torches on the market. This is what I found, starting with the top 10 best head torches for hiking…
This is a great head torch for people who like to travel light, and it’s also a handy option as your backup. Pack it in the bottom of your rucksack and you’re probably going to forget you’ve even brought it out with you, until you find yourself desperately in need of a light source, with your main torch out of juice. The Bindi comes in at the extremely low weight of 35g and has an impressively compact size but, with a full beam of 200 lumens, there’s still a good power to it.
The strap is just a thin bit of bungee, but it holds surprisingly well, it’s comfortable and is easy to adjust. There are also reflective strips embedded within it to make you more visible to others. The lithium-Ion is non-replaceable and is charged via a micro-USB port.
2.Black Diamond Spot 325
Black Diamond is one of the go-to brands when considering a headtorch purchase, we’ve certainly been impressed with their offerings in recent years and the Spot 325 is no different. The Spot collection was initially launched in 2017 with a 200-lumen model, it then got an update to 300 lumens in 2018 before seeing a complete overhaul for 2019, becoming what we see here. This overhaul hasn’t just involved an increase in power, they’ve also reduced the size of the entire unit, added a new mode selector, and updated the LED.
Power modes on this are able to be changed through the simple press of the main button on the top of the headtorch, whilst a smaller button located on the side allows for switching between the lens mode settings, including; dimming, strobe, red night-vision, and lock modes.
3.BIOLITE HEADLAMP 200
BioLite’s latest headlamp, the Biolite HeadLamp 200 is one of the best running head torches around, for a bunch of good reasons. It’s bright, light, comfortable, easily adjusted, and has a decent battery life, all without costing the earth. A broad fabric headband at the front grips heads, hats, and helmets alike, while the wide elasticated strap adjusts easily by pulling two glove-friendly sliders. A small reflective panel on the back provides some rear visibility for night running escapades.
BioLite’s ‘no bounce’ design does what it says on the tin, and that distance is pretty good for most applications, with a spot out to 50m lighting the way in all but whiteout conditions. An easy-toggle multi-press on the main button flips between hi/lo beam, strobe and a red light for reading maps at night.
4.PETZL DUO S HEADLAMP
Caving is a serious business, especially when it comes to lighting. One misstep or wrong move could cost you or your caving teammates dearly, so above all other outdoor activities, you need to pick the very best head torch you can find for caving. And that comes in the form of the Petzl Duo S.
Knocking out an astonishing 1,100 lumens of power in Boost mode, this stunning rechargeable head torch is IP67 rated. You can immerse it in freshwater down to a 1m depth for up to 30 minutes. It does weigh 370g (13oz) including the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, so you will certainly know when you’re wearing this headlamp, but it has far too many killers features to let us worry about the weight.
5.LEDLENSER MH7 outdoor headlamp
At 600 lumens and capable of projecting 200m ahead, the LED Lenser MH7 is a ridiculously bright head torch. If you’re looking for one of the brightest head torches on the market, this is the one for you. I find my vision is incredibly sharp at the highest setting: I can make out every detail and it almost feels as if I’ve put a pair of glasses on. However, it’s pretty antisocial – because it’s utterly blinding to look at directly.
The extreme brightness means that it’s well-suited to gung-ho adventures, such as caving, perhaps – but less so jogging through the suburbs at night. The spot set makes a neat, round, circular-focused beam that can be tilted up and down easily to focus on objects in the distance. A twisty bezel attached to the light means you can make the beam larger or smaller (like adjusting a camera lens).
6.Coleman CXS+ 200
The Coleman CXS+ 200 is a feature-packed head torch that’s perfect for everything from all-night activities to working outdoors. It fits nicely to the head, and beams out a decent 200 lumens of power on its maximum mode (there are five in total), making it perfect for trail running and climbing. Its lowest power mode lasts for up to 50 hours and you can swap light modes by simply waving a hand in front of the torch, which saves fumbling about with gloved hands when on a bike or on the end of a rope.
Activate the internal light sensor, meanwhile, and the CXS 200+ will automatically adjust the beam brightness depending on whether you’re looking at something up close or in the distance. The internal lithium-ion battery isn’t easily replaceable, but you can top it up with the supplied USB cable – pop a USB charger in your bag and you can even recharge it on the go.
7. Nitecore HC65
The Nitecore HC65 headlamp’s headline-grabbing specs include its ultra-bright max output of 1000 lumens and its impressive IPX8-rated waterproofing. But take one look at this beast and you can see it is built for serious outdoor use, with an anodized military-grade aluminum casing that feels extremely rugged.
The headlamp itself boasts multiple light settings, ranging from turbo mode – which throws the 1000 lumen max output up to 110m, with a burn time of about an hour – through to ultralow, which restricts performance to just a single lumen but can keep this up for an impressive 800 hours. There is also auxiliary white and red-light illumination for proximity work, ideal for tent use.
8.HEAD TORCH BY ALIEN SCOUT
This cheap and cheerful head torch may look like it’s for kids only, but it’s actually one of the best options on the market in terms of being a true all-rounder. The Alien Scout head torch is a little comical by name when compared to its counterparts but it is shockproof, waterproof, easy to use, and pretty sturdy. This lightweight and ultra-bright head torch would serve its purpose for anyone engaging in hiking and trekking.
Alien Scout’s head torch features a powerful 168 lumens spotlight designed to shine light up to 100 meters. but due to its low price, the design doesn’t match up to some of our other competitors. Because of the way the LEDs are laid out, most of the light is centered in one spot and there is no way of differentiating between spot lighting or peripheral.
9. COLEMAN BATTERYGUARD LED HEAD TORCH
In this setting, battery life is a meager 2.5 hours, but switch it to ‘low’ and you’ll have a run time of 200 hours (really). There is a trade-off though, in my eyes low would only be used for reading or when conserving battery life is essential – it’s that dim. The red light works well though, and the beam angle is easily adjustable, even with gloved-up hands. I did find the light beam in the high setting to be more focused than I would have liked, lighting up a central focal point well, but leaving peripheral space dim.
The BatteryGuard system helps to prevent battery drain while the torch is in storage, which is great, and there’s a lock on the top of the torch to help prevent unwanted turn-ons in your rucksack, though this is still a little too easy to switch on.
10. KNOG BILBY
Putting aside the fact it sort of makes you look like a Star Trek extra wearing a futuristic headdress gizmo, the Knog bilby is a genuinely innovative reinvention of the humble head torch. With a body and strap made from matte-finished silicone, the design is contemporary and sleek – and very comfortable to wear. Inside an opening in the silicone band sits a removable headlamp pod. Take it out to charge via USB; slide it back in to use – it works faultlessly.
Design-wise, this is all clever and unique stuff from the Australian brand. But how does the Knog bilby perform out on the trail? We were pretty impressed. The 400 lumens maximum provided bright illumination of our route (it lasts for up to five hours), while the five LEDs – which deliver mid, wide, and down-light beams in various combinations – provided versatile light through seven different modes. Fully waterproof to 1m, the bilby was also burly enough to take out in torrential Cumbrian downpours.
How to choose the best head torches for hiking?
The most obvious feature of a head torch. How many lumens (measurement of brightness) does the head torch in question emit? They’re there to provide lighting in dark situations, after all. The brightness of a head torch will inevitably influence both the battery life and weight – as it takes more batteries to power a bright beam for long periods.
Reactive Lighting: Reactive lighting is a fairly modern addition to head torches. It is essentially the ability to adjust the brightness of the torch’s beam based on how light or dark the surroundings are – similar to that of your smartphone screen adjusting its brightness based on the surrounding light.
Burn time is obviously a big deal, particularly when you’re going without power for multiple days, or you know that you’ll need to consistently use the head torch on high power for long periods – night navigation comes to mind. Standard head torches on their highest output will only normally last maybe 2-3 hours, whereas on their lowest setting they might run for over 100 hours.
Rechargeable or Replaceable Batteries:
The choice between a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or AA or AAA batteries is something to consider. An alkaline-powered head torch will go through a lot of batteries in its lifetime, and consequently, you’ll be leaving behind a fairly hefty footprint on the environment.
You may even find that you need a couple of different head torches. With the cost of torches dropping over the last decade it is much more affordable to buy the head you need. And there are so many options on backpacking, trekking, and travel torches with numerous sizes and price points. You can choose the best head torches for hiking in the top 10 best.