If you're sleeping out under the stars, you'll need a good headtorch. Whether you enjoy sunrise hikes or just like being able to read a bit before bed, a solid headlamp is an invaluable tool. But with so many options available today where do you start to look?
We know that finding the best headtorch for your needs can be challenging.
After the summary table below, we discuss the key things you should look for in your torch, followed by detailed reviews of the best models available.
How to Find the Best Head Torch
Deciding on a headtorch can be a difficult choice, but it helps if you know what to look for. We recommend keeping an eye out for these characteristics:
Not all headtorches are created equal when it comes to light output. Some are significantly brighter than others, and brightness can be important if you’re using your torch to climb or hike at night.
Headtorch light output is traditionally measured in lumens. While a brighter headtorch can be useful, remember that a high lumens count often means more energy consumption, so you might have to change or recharge the headtorch’s battery more often.
The most important thing that a headtorch does is project light in front of you so you can see. Beam distance is the measurement of how far a torch can project a useable light. While a headtorch might have a high light output, it might not project that light very far. If you’re hiking at night, you’ll want a headtorch with a long beam distance.
If your headtorch can project 10,000 lumens over 500m but its batteries won’t last more than 10 minutes, it’s probably not a very useful device. Longer headtorch run times mean you have to change batteries less frequently, but this longer runtime often comes with a decrease in light output.
Modern headtorches come with a variety of different settings, from strobe/flashlight to red light. Some people only need or care about having a single white light while others need a variety of modes for hunting or hiking purposes.
Many headtorches also allow you to adjust the brightness settings so you can have a high beam when you need it but conserve energy when you don't
Now that you know what to look for in your headtorch, let’s move on to the reviews. Coming up, we have detailed reviews of five of the best headtorches on the market.
Head Torch Reviews
#1 Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
The Storm is Black Diamond’s do-anything headtorch. Completely waterproof and submersible up to 1m, this bright headlamp pumps out 375 lumens in three colours and a variety of light settings. The headtorch’s brightness adjustments let you choose the setting that’s right for your needs so you don’t unnecessarily drain the battery.
The Storm is a great, solid headtorch, perfect for campers and backpackers. It is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of backpacking yet versatile enough to be used in a variety of activities.
- Lightweight (110g)
- 350 lumens
- Three colours and strobe settings
- Brightness adjustments
- Waterproof and dustproof
- Only uses disposable batteries
professional mountain guide
"I’ve used this headlamp for a number of years and it does not disappoint. It is easy to adjust the brightness setting, making it useful for both hiking and reading. I have not been brave enough to submerge it in water, but it’s held up just fine in heavy rain."
professional mountain guide
#2 Petzl Nao+ Headlamp
Boasting an outstanding 750 lumens of light output, Petzl's NAO+ is a headlamp that's ready for anything. It's ultra-powerful, durable, and water-resistant, so you can take it on any trip. It's easy to flip through the flood, mixed, or focus beams, even with gloves on, too.
One of our favourite parts about the NAO+ is the lock function, which prevents the headlamp from accidentally turning on in your pack and wasting energy. It's a bit expensive, though, and has a relatively short run time (15h), so we recommend the NAO+ for climbers and hikers on short but intense nighttime adventures.
- Very bright - 750 lumens
- Flood, mixed or focus beams
- Easy to operate with gloves on
- Lock function to prevent accidental power-up
- Can only use a rechargeable battery
- Max burn time of 15h
- Very Expensive
#3 Petzl Reactik+ Headlamp
The Reactick+ is Petzl’s modern take on a classic headlamp design. Lightweight and water resistant with up to 60h of burn time, this is a headlamp designed for longer backpacking trips. With multiple settings, you can feel confident using it in any situation.
Plus, it’s compatible with alkaline, lithium, and rechargeable batteries, so you’ll never be without power. You can even connect it to a smartphone app so you can program the brightness settings to save energy.
- Lightweight (115g)
- Water resistant
- Up to 60h burn time
- Multiple settings
- Compatible with alkaline, lithium, and rechargeable battery
#4 Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
The Icon is Black Diamond’s brightest headlamp and is specifically designed for intense adventures that demand high-output lighting. Featuring a huge 500 lumens light output and up to 200h of burn time, the Icon is no slouch of a headtorch.
It’s waterproof up to 1 meter and has three colour modes and is brightness adjustable, so it’s easily customised to meet your needs. The only downside is that the Icon’s harness head strap and removable battery pack add weight and might be uncomfortable to some users. Overall, it’s a solid headtorch built for adventure.
- 500 lumens
- 200h max burn time
- Three colour modes
- Brightness adjustment
- Harness strap might be uncomfortable
- Removable battery pack
- Heavy (230g)
#5 Petzl Tikka Headlamp
The Tikka is Petzl's classic, budget-friendly headtorch. Built with simplicity and compactness in mind, the Tikka is incredibly light (86g) and easy to use. It has an impressive 240h of burn time for its 200-lumen output.
One of our favourite parts of this headlamp is that it's compatible with disposable and rechargeable batteries, so you can always power it up. We'd recommend this headtorch for people who need a small torch for camping, but don't intend to use it for night hiking or climbing.
- Light (86g)
- Disposable or rechargeable battery
- Three light modes and red light
- Simple to use
- 240h max burn time
- Only 200 lumens
- Max beam distance of 40m
At the end of the day, there can be only one winner of the headtorch review roundup. The top prize in this review goes to the Black Diamond Storm for its great combination of durability, brightness, and functionality. Ultimately, it’s about finding the headtorch that’s best for your needs.
About THE AUTHOR:
A professional mountain guide and experienced outdoor educator, Gaby enjoys travelling and exploring the world’s most remote locales.
As a writer and editor, Gaby has written for a variety of climbing and travel blogs, news sites, and climbing magazines.
She is currently finishing a master’s degree in outdoor education but in her free time, Gaby loves a strong cup of coffee and searching for the next great adventure.