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2 November 2021

Best head torches

Camping, dog walking or hiking - the best head torch will help you to see and stay safe. See our top picks
Joel Bates
A group of joggers wearing head torches

The best head torch is essential gear for situations where a bit of light will help you to stay comfortable, safe and free from difficulty.

Whether you're a runner, a dog walker, a camper or a night hiker, you'll need a comfortable, durable head torch that suits your needs for brightness and beam width.

In February 2021 we tested seven rechargeable head torches available from the likes of Amazon, Black Diamond, LED Lenser, Petzl and Screwfix to find out which ones we like best.

We'll tell you which ones we found the most comfortable and easy to use, which we prefer for different activities, and why brighter doesn't always mean better.

See our full results below to find out which head torches we recommend.

Pricing and availability last checked: 2 November 2021.

The best head torches

Only logged-in Which? members can view the head torch test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the head torches we tested. Join Which? now to get instant access to our recommendations below.

Black Diamond Revolt 350

Cheapest price: £30.44, available at Amazon, also available at Black Diamond

Claimed lumen 350

No. of brightness settings Three

IPX waterproof rating IPX4

Battery replaceable? Yes

Other key features 93g, tiltable, red light setting, strobe setting, charge indicator, reflective material, button lock

We found the Black Diamond Revolt 350 comfortable to wear in our tests. We also took several other key factors into account, such as build quality, how easy the controls are to use, and how much the head torch bounces when you're walking and running with it on.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

BioLite Headlamp 330 head torch

BioLite Headlamp 330

Cheapest price: £51, available at Blacks, also available at BioLite, GO Outdoors

Claimed lumen 330

No. of brightness settings Five

IPX waterproof rating IPX4

Battery replaceable? No

Other key features 68g, tiltable, red light setting, strobe setting, charge indicator, reflective material

The Biolite Headlamp 330 has the smallest light of all the head torches we tested, although at 330 claimed lumen it should still be brighter than many competitors with bigger lights. Its size could also appeal to runners if it doesn't bounce around too much when you're on the move.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

LEDLenser H7R.2 head torch

LED Lenser H7R.2

Cheapest price: £67.72, available at Amazon

Claimed lumen 300

No. of brightness settings Three

IPX waterproof rating IPX6

Battery replaceable? Yes

Other key features 136g, tiltable, flood and spot settings, rear caution light

LED Lenser is a favourite brand with mountaineering, diving and other outdoor sports fans. Its top-end head torches can cost hundreds. But if you're asking yourself which is the best LED Lenser head torch at a more palatable price, we put this one through our tough tests to find out if you can still get top quality without having to splash out more.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Lifesystems Intensity 230

Cheapest price: £30, available at Blacks and GO Outdoors, also available at Amazon (out of stock)

Claimed lumen 230

No. of brightness settings Seven

IPX waterproof rating IPX6

Battery replaceable? No

Other key features 86g, tiltable, red light setting, strobe setting, charge indicator

The Lifesystems Intensity 230 has more brightness settings than the other models we tested. With seven options to choose from, you should be able to read without waking your partner, and light up the outdoors on your walks. 

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our results and find out whether other head torches with fewer settings proved to be better or worse.

Petzl Actik

Cheapest price: £29.94, available at Amazon, also available at GO Outdoors, Sports Direct

Claimed lumen 350

No. of brightness settings Three

IPX waterproof rating IPX4

Battery replaceable? Yes

Other key features 78g, tiltable, red light setting, strobe setting, reflective material

Petzl's Actik head torch doesn't come with a rechargeable battery included. You can use three AAA batteries instead, but if you want the rechargeable Petzl Core battery you'll need to pay around £25 extra. We tested it using the Petzl Core battery to see if we think it's worth paying the premium.

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Victoper V3000R

Cheapest price: £17, available at Amazon

Claimed lumen 6,000

No. of brightness settings Four

IPX waterproof rating IPX5

Battery replaceable? Yes

Other key features 309g, tiltable, red light setting, flood and spot settings, strobe setting, rear caution light, charge indicator

No, the claimed lumen isn't a typo. Victoper says the three lamps on the V3000R blast out a whopping 6,000 lumen. Packing in such power made it the heaviest head torch we tested by some distance.

Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results and find out if you get an ultra-bright torch at the expense of comfort.

How we tested these head torches

To find out which head torches we think are best, we got hands-on with all seven to put them through a series of tough tests.

We selected and bought seven bestselling rechargeable head torches that came widely recommended by a range of online publishers and retailers. We aimed to cover both leading brands and smaller companies at a range of price points.

Brightness

We used a light meter to measure lux in our tests. Unlike lumen, lux measures brightness over an area rather than simply the brightness of the bulb.

However, we felt that a brighter torch might not always be better. The brightness, width and reach of a head torch's beam can be both a pro and a con depending on what activity you use it for, so we didn't think we could fairly say one brightness or beam width was preferable to another.

Ease of use

To assess whether a head torch was easy to use, we checked how easy it was to put on and adjust, how comfortable we found it to wear, whether it bounced when walking and running, and how straightforward the controls were to use, both with bare hands and with thick gloves on.

Battery life

On a full charge we found that every head torch lasted well over three hours, so we decided it was a more useful test to separate them based on how much charge you get after a short spell of charging.

We drained each head torch of power, plugged it in to charge for 10 minutes, and recorded how long each torch lasted. We stopped the timer when the head torch either died completely or became so dim that it would be useless to wear.

Weight

Heavy, cumbersome weights on your head are never desirable, so we weighed each head torch and rated each, praising lighter models and penalising heavier ones. 

Durability and water resistance

Head torches are meant to be taken out for adventures, whether that's around your local neighbourhood or out into the wilds. To test their durability, we dropped each head torch on to a patio from head height, and subjected it to water relative to its IPX waterproof rating claims.

How we picked these head torches

We picked seven rechargeable head torches from leading brands and retailers, shortlisting ones that were bestsellers and that came up regularly in online search.

Which is the brightest head torch?

Head torches range from as little as 10 lumens to well into the thousands. Although there should be a basic level of brightness, how brightly a torch will illuminate an area depends on which beam setting you use as well as how many lumens the  torch has.

For example, a head torch with more lumens on a flood setting will spread its brightness over a larger area, so may not appear as bright as a torch with fewer lumens that uses a spotlight beam, which concentrates all of its light into illuminating a smaller area.

The gallery below shows the same torch using its flood and spotlight settings. It's easy to see how much the brightness varies depending on which beam setting you use.

Beam setting brightness example

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at

So although the brightest head torch will generally be the one with the most lumens, you should also pay attention to what beam settings it has to optimise the brightness.

Head torches with both flood and spot beams will give you the most options for getting the reach and width of your beam the way you like it. Different levels of brightness and beam width will be preferable for different activities. Brighter doesn't always mean better.

Head torch settings explained

  • Brightness settings are handy for different activities and to conserve battery life. Low brightness settings emit a dimmer light and use less power, whereas the maximum brightness setting will use the full lumen capacity of the head torch and drain the battery more quickly.
  • Red light settings turn the existing brightness settings of your head torch red. Red light is less striking than white light, which helps to avoid dazzling your companions and disturbing wildlife.
  • Strobe settings use the brightest torch setting to flash in quick succession. This is useful for drawing attention in emergency situations.
  • Beam width settings determine the size of the area that the head torch will illuminate. Most head torches use a floodlight setting that spreads light over the widest immediate area possible, but some also have spotlight settings that can light up a smaller area that's further afield.

How many lumens do I need for a head torch?

It depends on what you're using the head torch for.

For close-up activities, such as night-time reading or checking your tent for leaks, you may only need as little as 10 lumens.

For night running or dog walking, a head torch with around 200-300 lumens should be plenty.

But as mentioned above, the beam settings of the head torch are just as important as the lumens. Take into account how big an area you're looking to illuminate, as well as how brightly that area should be lit.

Compare our tent reviews.

Why do head torches have red lights?

Most of the head torches we tested have red lights, which is a useful feature for those who want to avoid the harshness of white light while still being able to see.

Red light is much less likely to dazzle a companion if you were to look directly at them while your head torch is on. And if you're looking for wildlife at night, red light is far less likely to spook animals than white light.

How bright is a 100 lumen torch?

This isn't straightforward question to answer without also taking into account the width of the beam, but generally speaking a 100 lumen torch on a spotlight setting should be bright enough for you to scan across a room or a small garden.

For outdoor pursuits where where it's important to see further, you'll most likely want a head torch that has more than 100 lumens. All of those we tested are at least 200 lumens

What are IPX waterproof ratings?

IPX is a rating scale widely used to determine exactly what level of water resistance you can expect a product to have. The higher the IPX rating number, the more resistant to water you can expect it to be.

The IPX rating scale used by a variety of international standardisation bodies uses the following common ratings:

  • IPX0 - no protection from water
  • IPX1 - resists water that drips vertically on to the product
  • IPX2 - resists water that lands on the product at a 15-degree angle or less
  • IPX3 - resists water sprays up to a 60-degree angle
  • IPX4 - resists water sprays from any direction
  • IPX5 - resists sustained but low-pressure water sprays
  • IPX6 - resists sustained, high-pressure water sprays
  • IPX7 - can be submerged to depths of 1m for 30 minutes
  • IPX8 - can be submerged to depths beyond 1m as specified by the manufacturer.

There are some additional ratings that are rarely used and unique to certain countries, but you're unlikely to come across them when buying a head torch.

Head to our expert advice on outdoor clothing to read up on the best walking boots and waterproof clothes.