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How to choose your head torch?


How to choose your head torch?

From running to ultra-trails and mountaineering, the type of outdoor activity you do will guide your choice to find the right headtorch. Then, several elements should be considered to find the right model. Nowadays, manufacturers such as Petzl or Black Diamond offer a wide range of headlamps for distinct user categories. For each of them, the battery life, output, weight and comfort are among the criteria to evaluate when choosing such an item. One thing is sure, you are guaranteed to find the best Petzl or Black Diamond headtorches on our online store!

The criteria to consider when choosing a headlamp

Do you need a headtorch that will perfectly meet the needs of your favourite outdoor activity? Whether it’s for professional use as a mountain guide or recreational during nighttime trail runs or hikes, you’ll choose your headlamp according to a few essential elements covered here.

Running time

If you need to use your headtorch for long hours, the battery life claimed by the manufacturer should be an element to consider seriously. Depending on the model, it can go from a dozen hours to over 200 hours for the most efficient headtorches on the market. Keep in mind that most of the time, the running time stated on the packaging is not at full power. Make sure the battery life is enough for your need if you have to use the most powerful mode of your headlamp.

Brightness and beam distance

100 or 1000 lumens?

Modern head torches rely on LED for their lighting system. These light emitting diodes are efficient and require little power. The number of lumens corresponds to how bright these LEDs are. While recreational users can be satisfied by around a hundred lumens, more serious adventurers will need one more zero and choose a powerful head torch.

However, keep in mind that the number of lumens greatly affects energy consumption and therefore, battery life. Used at full power, a headtorch will require more frequent charging or battery changing. Depending on your needs, you may prefer a longer running time over a brighter beam. It all goes down to your personal needs, think about your priorities to choose the best headlamp for your use.

Beam width and distance

Depending on the model, beam widths range from 10 to 100 or even 200 degrees. For activities such as trail running, where you travel fast in mountain environments, beam distance is more important than width. You need to see far ahead but don’t really care about what is happening on the sides. A 10-to-30-degree beam is sufficient. On the other hand, for camping, no need to see what is going on over at your neighbour's, but a wider 40-degree beam will improve your field of vision to find your cooking equipment for example.

Power source

Replaceable batteries

While rechargeable battery headtorches are progressively more and more common on the market, replaceable battery headtorches are still a thing. Indeed, they are relevant for a great number of users looking for convenience. When backpacking, it can be easier to carry 3 AAA batteries instead of a bulkier external battery. In addition, these headlamps are generally more affordable than the USB charging models. They will satisfy recreational users on a budget.

Rechargeable batteries

On a trek, it may be difficult to pack a large supply of replaceable batteries. In this case, you’ll need to invest in a rechargeable battery headlamp. These headtorch models are more expensive than replaceable battery headlamps. However, with intensive use, the price difference can be quickly offset by the fact that you don’t need to buy new disposable batteries. For a long backpacking trip, you will need to buy a solar charger to provide enough power to your lamp, even in remote locations.

Headtorch battery types

Headband type

An elastic and adjustable strap is still the main system used by manufacturers. It is the case of Black Diamond which features it on virtually all its models. Some alternatives exist on the market.

In Petzl’s range, the Nao RL features a hybrid strap system, combining a flexible strap on the front with a cord on the back of the head. The adjustable and reflective strap adapts to any skull shape. The cord saves weight and features a back casing with a red light to be seen at night. In addition to guaranteeing optimal comfort, it improves your safety on roads and trails during your adventures.

Still in Petzl’s range, the manufacturer also offers an ultra-compact and lightweight headtorch with a full cord headband. The BINDI weighs only 35 grams and will follow you everywhere on your nighttime urban trainings. The essential accessory to keep in your pocket!


If you’re the type to enjoy going out at night under the rain, make sure to invest in a waterproof head torch. The degree of waterproofness is indicated by IP ratings, ranging from 1 (protection against vertical rainfalls) to 8 (protection against an immersion in water for a time given by the manufacturer). Check the rating of a lamp before buying and make sure its waterproofness degree is compatible with your intended use!

Choosing the right lamp for your use

Which headlamp for camping?

For camping, a basic lamp will do just fine. No need for a long reach, only a wide flood beam to have a decent field of vision in the dark. As this type of lamp is generally not used intensively, you can afford to compromise on running time and weight. Choosing an entry level replaceable battery head torch will save you money that can be spent elsewhere.

headtorch for camping

Which lamp for hiking?

The choice of your hiking headlamp will depend on how you intend to use it. For easy night walks, a simple camping lamp can be suitable, however, if you plan on backpacking or are preparing a trek, your head torch should meet some essential criteria.

Given the somewhat slow pace of a hiker, you won’t need a long reach to anticipate obstacles, but a wide enough beam (40 degrees) to find the right spot to pitch your tent and to make setting up camp pleasant. A good battery life is essential and USB charging is preferable. Charging will be easy with your solar charger. It should weigh less than 100 grams to improve your comfort.

Which lamp for running?

For comfort reasons and to reduce the impact of the head torch on your body, running head torches are broken into two parts: a front part for lighting, and a back part which holds the battery and a small red lamp to keep you visible from cars or other runners during races at night. For intensive use, choose USB charging to avoid spending the price of the lamp in batteries in a year. Battery life is not your n°1 concern as you’ll be home after each run.

The best head torch for ultra trail running

When the time comes to choose a head torch for ultra running, the choice is not as simple. The criteria seen above should be carefully analysed to avoid missing an element that can be detrimental to your next race.

Ultra running will take you through all sorts of physical states and weather conditions, night and day. Therefore, your head torch must feature all the following elements:

  • A strong output and long beam distance: at least 500 lumens are required to offer very good visibility. During and ultra race you may lose your focus. While this situation is as dangerous day or night, it is even more so if you add rain to the obscurity. Therefore, a long, wide and bright beam is essential to reduce risks.
  • A good running time: during an ultra-race, you spend a lot of time in the dark, sometimes more than half the route. A long battery life will improve your confidence when the night settles. Depending on the distance to cover, you can assess the time spent in the dark to choose the right model. In all cases, pack extra batteries!
  • Good waterproofness: you will run in all conditions. From a light shower to heavy rainfalls. In addition, if you trip and fall, your head torch can end up in a stream. An IP rating of 6 is required to be safe during ultra races.

Which head torch for mountaineering?

Just like ultra-trail runners, alpinists spend long hours in the dark for the thrill of it. To help them in their quest, their headlamp must have the same features and guarantee a superior comfort/weight/performance ratio!

The best head torch brands are available from Glisshop

If you need a headlamp (you wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t the case), you’ll find the best head torches from renowned brands such as Petzl and Black Diamonds at Glisshop.

Petzl head torches – technical and efficient

The various ranges from Petzl include powerful, lightweight and efficient head torches. Choosing one the French outdoor lamp pioneers, guarantees you buy a reliable product, designed and developed by experts in the field, and above all, people who love the activities targeted by each lamp.

Black Diamond – basic or high-end models for everyone

Black Diamond lamps range from basic models to powerful, robust and waterproof head torches. They are perfect for your outdoor enthusiast lifestyle. Glisshop is proud to offer products from the American brand, which is based in Salt Lake City, nested between lake and mountain.