More and more people are taking up trail running and equally, a lot of people are running in the dark, whether it be on quiet roads or out on the trails. There are many obstacles out there, so what better way to tackle them than a high-quality head torch to guide you through the dark and keep you safe.
In this review, we will outline the very best head torches for running. However, before buying a head torch there are a number of things you should consider. Below we will outline what we, and hopefully you, would highlight as important factors when considering buying your head torch.
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HEAD TORCH BUYING GUIDE
Surely this is obvious right? You will be surprised. Dependent on the torch and what it does will have a big impact on battery life. It’s similar to a phone in many ways, where the more going on in the background will drain the battery. This is why we have only added head torches with excellent battery life in our review. We want to make sure that a torch running out of power is not something you need to worry about when you’re on your run.
Some of the head torches on review will also be rechargeable, so that is a consideration going forward.
Believe it or not, even a couple of ounce difference in weight can make the difference when you’re wearing a head torch. Excess weight can be uncomfortable, it may cause the light to move about and you find yourself having to adjust whilst on the run. All of these things you can do without when you’re out running.
For that reason, although we have a variety of weights with the head torches on review, we have also ensured there is enough stability on the torch so it will be comfortable for you whatever the situation.
As you will notice within the reviews, price doesn’t always mean it’s the best quality. However, the reviewed items are on the list because they are great at what they do. The higher the cost may mean different features on the torch that you are looking for. So the main word here is value and we hope that the torches here offer that for you.
EASY TO USE
Yes, you read that right. Ease of use is very important indeed. You might be out on a cold night and wearing gloves. Do you really want to have to remove them to operate a head torch? I certainly wouldn’t which is why larger buttons in the right position are helpful. Not only that, what if you need to change the batteries? That needs to be an easy option too.
The last thing you want is a flimsy, cheap torch that’s going to break the minute you drop it. You need a torch that’s going to cope with a bit of rough handling without any issues. Of course, it’s always going to be useful if it’s waterproof as well – we don’t all get the chance to run in dry climates all the time now do we. That’s also true for running in hot or cold conditions as well – no overheating or freezing is an important feature too.
This is not a mistake. When you’re choosing your head torch you need to consider the use or environment your going to be running in. If you’re a trail runner, are you going to be out in areas with no light at all? If so, you need to consider the brightness of the lamp (lumens), the depth of the beam and the width of the beam. You basically need as much of a lighting range as you can.
You might be running in an area when there is a small amount of light, in which case you won’t need the same lamp as you would on the trails. Unless of course, you plan to do both.
With all this in mind, let’s get on with the review of the best head torches for trail running.
- Very Light at 3oz
- 200 Lumens of Brightness
- Easy to Use
- Good Value for Money
- Only Water Resistant
- Not for Dark Trails
Currently retailing at $29 the Petzl Tikka is a great little head torch that is great value for money. At 200 lumens it’s not the brightest on review but it’s great if you are running in partially lit areas or out on a hike.
There is one button on/off switch which also controls the various light settings on the torch. There are 3 light settings, the brightest being the 200 lumens and a red light setting also. These settings aren’t adjustable like more expensive models but still get the job done when used in the right environment. The lamp also glows in the dark, so if you dropped it you won’t have an issue finding it quickly – which is a nice touch.
It’s important to note that the lamp is water-resistant and not waterproof. This is still adequate when using in light rain or showers, but I wouldn’t want to be out in it all night.
The battery life is excellent being quoted at 60 hours on the lowest setting. If you are running on the highest setting of 200 lumens then it’s around 3 hours. Chances are, you won’t be on the highest setting in a low light area so there is plenty of life in the torch.
In summary, the Petzl Tikka is a great torch for low use or low light environments. It’s lightweight and is also great value for the money. However, if you plan to purchase a head torch for anything more than this then you need to consider something better from the list. This torch definitely has many benefits, but for hardcore users, it won’t quite do it for you.
- Great Brightness 300 Lumens
- Great Locking Feature
- Reacts to Lighting Conditions
- Poor Instruction Leaflet
- Phone App is Buggy
The Petzl Reactik+ is a Multi-beam, rechargeable, intelligent headlamp that is connected, thanks to the MyPetzl Light mobile app. It features reactive lighting technology that automatically adapts light intensity to the needs of the user. With 300 lumens of power, the REACTIK + headlamp offers outdoor enthusiasts a compact and rechargeable solution.
Effectively, the Reactik+ torch is a great option for dark environments. With 300 lumens it is very bright with a good beam that will keep you safe on the trails. Petzl has made this torch so it reacts to the lighting around you – basically giving you the lighting required for the environment, therefore, saving battery life where required. The lamp can also be connected to your phone via an app. You can adjust brightness levels and beam type from your phone rather than on the torch itself. However, the main feature of the app is to help with battery life. The app will tell you the battery life remaining so you can adjust the brightness settings to conserve the life of the batteries. It will adjust the number of lumens based on the life of the battery you require. For example, if you needed 8 hours, it will adjust the brightness so that it lasts 8 hours.
The wearing of the torch is also comfortable with a single band that splits into two at the back of the head. This allows it to sit comfortably on the head and avoid any bounce when you are running. The adjustment of the strap is also extremely easy via two buckles.
Some may think the torch is a little expensive as it retails at around $90 currently. However, with the ability for the torch to adapt to the light settings for maximum battery life it is a fantastic option for your night time running.
- Amazing 750 Lumen Brightness
- Great for Technical Trails
- Long Battery Life
- Slightly Heavier than other Models
The Petzl Nao+ is your perfect partner on those dark technical trails. With up to 750 lumens brightness it’s like a car headlamp!!! You certainly won’t be worrying about any potholes or trip hazards with this on your head guiding you. It also has a battery life of 8 to 15 hours depending on the settings, so this is plenty of life to get you through a whole night if required. It also has a beam distance of up to 140 meters which is fantastic.
The torch weighs in at 185g, so although it’s one of the heavier torches on review, it’s not a weight that’s going to be that noticeable as the torch sits very comfortably on your head.
As with the Petzl Reactik+, the torch can be set via the mobile app to react to your settings and change the light levels dependant on battery usage required. It will also change depending on what you are doing – for instance, if looking ahead into the dark you will have a bright setting, but if you looked down at your watch, for instance, the light will dim. The torch is also has a battery pack that can be recharged via USB. There is also a mini power pack that can be purchased separately, which allows you to charge on the go if required.
In summary, the torch is a little on the expensive side as it currently retails at around $150. However, with the quality, robustness and all-round lighting options, it might just be the last head torch you need to purchase.
BLACK DIAMOND STORM
- Excellent on Trails
- Long Battery Life
- May Feel Bulky Due to 4AAA Batteries
The Black Diamond Storm is an excellent head torch at $40 currently it’s a very reasonable price and is one that should be on your list of considerations. It has a bright wide beam at 350 lumens, making it an excellent all-rounder for low lighting and trails alike. The maximum beam distance is logged at 90 meters which is excellent for out on the dark trails.
It is fully waterproof and dustproof so you can be assured that this torch is going to last you a long time due to its great robustness. It doesn’t come with all the fancy gimmicks of some of the more expensive torches, it just does it’s job very well. The torch is powered by 4 AAA batteries which add to the weight slightly at 4oz, but this isn’t really noticeable at all. What it does do is give the torch some excellent battery life where it will run up to 5 hours on full light setting – this is better than any of the torches in its category. On the lower setting, the torch will run for approximately 40 hours which is excellent too.
Overall, if you are looking for a great all-around torch that’s a very good value for money, with good battery life then look no further than the Black Diamond Storm. It might just be the best decision you can make.
PETZL ACTIK CORE
- Very Light
- Wide or Narrow Beam Option
- Good Value for the Money
- Battery Life not Great on Full Power
The Petzl Actik Core is a great value head torch for both dim lighting and trails. At max lighting of 350 lumens, it is more than adequate for those very dark nights. It also comes with two lighting patterns which are wide and mixed. All Actik Core torches are supplied with a CORE rechargeable battery which can be charged via a Micro USB Port. Alternatively, it also takes 3 x AAA Batteries – these can be useful when the charge is running low and you need to replace on the go.
At a weight of 3.6 oz, it’s very lightweight and fits the head comfortably with its single band that can be adjusted easily. During usage, I found that there was little movement whilst running and it felt very comfortable on my head.
The 350-lumen beam will last around 2.5 hours, so your not going to be running all night with this. However, there is a setting of 100 lumens that you could just about get away with on the trails but is probably more suited to low-level lighting areas – or a full moon. The light beam can also be focused so you can set it to look ahead or closer to your feet. This is a nice option depending on what type of trail you are running on.
In conclusion, the Actik Core is a very reasonably priced torch at $65 currently, with a good brightness setting for the price. Although the 350 lumen setting only lasts for around 2.5 hours with the rechargeable battery pack, it’s very easy to swap out for 3AAA Batteries whilst out on the run. The torch is very lightweight and comfortable to wear and is generally a very good all-rounder for your night time running – just make sure you have spare batteries.
LEDLENSER MH10 RECHARGEABLE
- Great Battery Life
- Very Easy to Operate
- Good Value for the Money
- Easy to Adjust
- Rechargeable Only
The LedLenser MH10 came out of nowhere for me as a head torch option, but man was I surprised. It has ended up being my new favorite torch and will take a lot to beat in my opinion. At a cost of $95 currently it may seem like a lot, but believe me, this is an incredible value for money and here’s why.
A full charge will take around 6 hours but this will allow the torch to last at least 7 hours on the full 600-lumen setting – that is outstanding. The 250-lumen setting will last way beyond 10 hours so you don’t need to worry at all through the night. There is also a red light on the back so you can be seen by anyone from the rear.
The light setting is very simple too, so the focus is achieved by simply twisting the front of the torch. It’s literally that easy. In turn, this allows the beam to shine anywhere from 20 to 150 meters so you have a great line of vision wherever you are.
The light is also very comfortable to wear and is adjusted very easily on the head. At 5.5 oz it’s not the lightest torch on review, but due to how well it sits on your head you really don’t notice it at all. The light itself can also be tilted back and forth which is great when the terrain under-foot is changing giving you that feeling you are always safe.
The LedLenser MH10 as stated above has become my favorite go-to torch and is great value for money. The ease of use is great because the last thing you want 10 hours into a race is to have to fiddle about trying to operate a light. The is definitely worth considering if you plan to do night time activities regularly.
There we have our list of the best Head Torches for Trail Runners 2019, I hope that the review has helped you decide what the right torch for you might be.
If you are looking for a great budget torch then the Black Diamond Storm is a great option to consider.
But my number 1 choice if you are out at night a lot is, without doubt, the LedLenser MH10 – an absolute beast of a head torch that won’t let you down.
Is there a torch that you have used that you feel could have been on the list? Let me know and I would be happy to do a review.
Please feel free to add any comments or questions below and I will respond as soon as possible.
If you’re looking for any other kit for your running then why not check out some of my other reviews:
All the best and happy trails,