7 best head torches for hiking in the UK

Finding the best torch can be a bit of a pain – especially with so many different companies throwing their hat into the ring.

Best Head Torches for UK Adventures

Picture this – you’re on a fantastic hill walk, enjoying your time in the countryside. You got out the door a little bit later than you would have liked this morning, but the route is only supposed to take a few hours and you’ll be back before dark.

In an ideal world, everything goes to plan and you’re back to the car before you run out of daylight. In the real world, you’re stumbling down semi-technical terrain as the daylight rapidly fades and you wish you had something other than an iPhone 7 lighting the way. It’s a situation that we’ve pretty much all managed to get into at one time or another. 

Nobody needs a head torch until they really need a head torch. It’s unlikely that you’ll get caught out more than once without one of these inexpensive headlights – we all learn our lesson after the first. Packing away a simple head torch in your hiking rucksack is something that we always recommend, regardless of the time of year. 

So which head torch should you buy and what should you be looking for when searching for the best head torch to complete your list of essential hill walking kit?

Author’s top pick

Black Diamond Spot 350 Head Torch

Best value head torch – Black Diamond Spot 350

What to look for in a head torch for walking? 

There are a handful of important features that you are going to want to skim through and check off as you search for the best head torch to fit your needs.

Brightness

The brightness of a head torch, given in lumens, is probably the most important feature that you’re going to want to look for in a head torch. 

The number of lumens varies between models with a range of around 100 to 1000 covered in our list of the best below. The average maximum lumens of a head torch sits around the 300 mark and offers ample light for most walkers and hikers. 

Maximum burn time 

The maximum burn time, given in hours, is the maximum amount of time that the head torch can emit light before a recharge is required. 

Most head torches offer a low light mode that is good for reading at night or making your way around the tent. The maximum burn times can range between 20 and 200 hours although some head torches are easier to recharge than others. 

Multiple lighting options

The majority of head torches available today come with multiple lighting options, with the bulk of torches at least offering a maximum and minimum brightness. 

Other lighting options that may be included in a head torch package include a red light mode, useful for preserving your night vision, and a strobe mode for emergency situations. Typically, it’s good to have a range of different brightness options as well as these additional modes for maximum flexibility in lighting. 

Ingress Protection Rating

The ingress protection rating, given as IPX4 (for example), is the figure that highlights just how resistant a head torch is to dust, dirt and water. 

For walkers and hikers in the UK, this rating is particularly important thanks to our less than ideal, shall we say, climate. With rain often coming in sideways when we least expect it, the last thing that you want is for your head torch to decide it likes the weather less than you do. 

We would recommend going for a rating of IPX8 where possible as this ensures that the devices can be fully submerged underwater although this is a rare trait of the humble head torch. IPX6 and IPX4 aren’t quite as capable as the elite-level IPX8, but should suffice in the majority of situations in the UK. 

Other important features

There are a range of other important features (and not so important features) that can be considered when choosing the best head torch. 

This can include the weight of the accessory, the type of power source (batteries vs. rechargeable), the band material, colour choice and of course, budget. You can view our top head torches for hiking, climbing, running and whatever else you like to do in the great outdoors below!

The best head torches by category

Reading in a hurry? Check out our bullet-pointed list below to find the best head torch for you!

1. Black Diamond Spot 350

The Black Diamond Spot 350 is our overall favourite headtorch available this year available at a bargain price!

The feature that really sets the Spot 350 as the best head torch available is the Ingress Protection rating with a fully waterproof (IPX8) design that is absolutely perfect for UK adventures. 

For your money, you’ll also get a huge maximum burn time of 200 hours at 6 lumens and a maximum power of 350 lumens for 4 hours with a distance of 86m. All this comes from an impressive headtorch costing around the £30 mark. 

The Black Diamond Spot 350 is powered by 3x AAA batteries and although there is no option of recharging, the 200 hour burn time will see a pack of Duracell bought less than annually.

Author’s pick – Best value head torch

The Black Diamond Spot 350 is the best value and our overall top pick for a hiking head torch. 

Black Diamond Spot 350 Head Torch
  • Bargain price for a superb headtorch
  • Great maximum burn time of 200 hours
  • Multiple modes including red light
  • Fully waterproof (IPX8)

2. GP Xplor PHR15

The GP Xplor PHR15 is a super simple head torch that comes with everything you could need when heading out after dark in the hills. 

The budget-friendly example offers a total of three different brightness levels as well as a flashing mode. The Xplor PHR15 also comes with an auto-dimming sensor, adjusting the light when your surroundings change to preserve battery life.

Thanks to the clever tech, the GP offers a maximum burn time of 69 hours at 5 lumens as well as a 5 hour burn time at the maximum power of 300 lumens with an impressive 157m maximum beam length. The IPX6 rating is once again what sets the head torch apart with the second-best rating on our test, second only to our favourite Black Diamond Spot 350. 

The rechargeable AAA batteries do let the head torch down slightly with the performance dropping off as the power drains and the weight of the lamp is a little bigger than others in the list.

GP Xplor PHR15
  • Budget-friendly headtorch
  • Three brightness levels and flashing mode
  • A long maximum beam of 157m 
  • Water-resistant (IPX6) 

3. Petzl Tikka

The Petzl Tikka is a simple and compact headtorch that acts as the go-to for plenty of hillwalkers, runners, climbers and more.

The Tikka is the cheapest head torch on our list with buyers finding themselves with a handful of change from just £25. There’s a handful of different colours out there available for the fabric band making it not only stylish but a perfect gift for walkers

The Petzl Tikka does offer a handful of impressive specs with a maximum power of a huge 200 lumens for 2 hours and a long maximum burn time of 120 hours at 6 lumens. Power is supplied with 3x AAA batteries, although a rechargeable pack can be purchased separately if so desired. 

What lets the Petzl Tikka down in comparison to the GP Xlpor and the Black Diamond Spot 350 is the Ingress Protection rating of IPX4, only covering splashes and light weather. However, for the price, it’s a compromise that might be worth accepting.

Petzl Tikka
  • Well priced budget headtorch
  • High burn time of 120 hours
  • Tiltable headlamp for the best angle
  • Multiple modes including red light

4. BioLite HeadLamp 200 

The BioLite HeadLamp 200 is one of the best head torches if you’re searching for a lightweight and minimalistic design.

Weighing in at just 50g, the BioLite is the lightest example in our list of the top head torches and by some margin. This dedication to weight-saving alongside a carefully crafted headband makes for the most comfortable head torch up for grabs. 

The lamp can be tilted to find the perfect angle to suit whatever activity you’re completing and the light mode can be switched between the bright 200 lumens and the dim 5 lumens. These are complemented with a strobe and red light mode, impressive for the lightweight package. 

All this weight saving does come at a cost in performance and the maximum power of the lamp is just 200 lumens for 3 hours with a maximum burn time of just 40 hours at 5 lumens. The head torch can, however, be recharged thanks to a rechargeable Lithium-ion pack.

BioLite Head Lamp 200
  • At 50g, the headtorch is the lightest in the list
  • Comfortable and pleasant to wear
  • Strobe and red light mode
  • Tiltable headlamp to find the perfect angle

5. Lifesystems Intensity 500 

The Lifesystems Intensity 500 is the most powerful head torch in the Lifesystems lighting range, although this means that the torch comes with a slightly larger price tag. 

The mid-range headtorch offers a high maximum power at 500 lumens for 2.5 hours, although compared to the Petzl Tikka’s 600 lumens, this isn’t quite enough to impress. Paired with a low maximum burn time of under 22 hours and the higher price tag is a little confusing. 

However, the Intensity 500 comes into its own when it comes to the usability and innovation of the head torch. The light can be activated with a motion sensor by waving a hand in front of the beam to turn it off or on. Multiple light modes include 500, 240 and 30-lumen options alongside a spot and floodlight choice that gives users full customisation. 

The pack can be powered by either a rechargeable Li-polymer pack or 3x AAA batteries and comes with an ingress protection rating of IP64, ensuring that the head torch is both dust and splashproof.

Lifesystems Intensity 500
  • Activated with motion sensor (by waving a hand)
  • Spot and floodlight options
  • Rechargeable Li-polymer pack and 3x AAA option
  • 500 lumens and 150m of beam distance

6. Petzl Iko Core

It’s rare that a company creates something truly unique in the world of head torches, of all things, but that’s exactly what Petzl have managed to accomplish. 

The Iko Core is one of the strangest head torches that we’ve ever seen, in the best way possible. It’s a great looking, cleverly engineered torch that does away with those often uncomfortable fabric bands. 

The modern design uses a semi-rigid design to fit much in the same way that a pair of sunglasses wrap around the head. What this translates to is an impressively comfortable head torch with the weight balanced perfectly around the band. 

The Iko Core is more than a gimmicky design and the specs of the lamp are just as impressive as the looks. Maximum power of 500 lumens for 2.5 hours and a maximum burn time of 100 hours at 6 lumens is bordering on some of the best in our list. 

A 1250mAh CORE rechargeable pack is used to power the pack alongside the option of 3x AAA with a weight of just 79g. The ingress protection rating could be higher as it sits at just IPX4, although this shouldn’t detract from just how good this really is.

Author’s pick – Best overall head torch

The Petzl Iko Core is our favourite of all the head torches in our list offering an innovative design that we absolutely love.

Petzl Iko Core
  • Truly innovative “imperceptible” design
  • 500 lumens and a huge 100 hour burn time
  • Rechargeable with additional AAA battery option 
  • Lightweight and great looking

7. Ledlenser MH11

The final head torch to make our list of the best head torches for battling darker nights is the Ledlenser MH11. 

The Ledlenser MH11 would look more at home on the head of a soldier than it would a walker with a heavily over-engineered light source attached to the band. It’s an incredibly impressive bit of kit, but we just think it’s a little too much for enjoying the UK countryside.  

The spec sheet melts the brain, and your pal’s eyes, with a maximum power of 1000 lumens in boost mode or 750 lumens for 4 hours and a maximum burn time of 100 hours at 10 lumens. The maximum beam distance is impressive too with a huge 320m available in boost mode or 300m at the regular 750-lumen brightness. 

All of this power does, however, come at a cost and the weight of the head torch comes in at just a smidge under 180g – more than double the average pack in our list. Additionally, the price is pretty hard to notice and at 3 figures, it’s more than most will want to splash out.

Ledlenser MH11
  • Hugely powerful headtorch
  • Boost mode good for a huge 1000 lumens
  • Rechargeable via USB 
  • Smartphone connectivity for ultimate control

FAQ: The best head torch for UK adventures

If you have a question about any of the best head torches in our list – or head torches in general – don’t be afraid to check out our FAQ below to (hopefully) find the answers that you’re looking for.

If you’re still struggling to find the answers, don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of the Adventure Pending team and we’ll get back to you ASAP!

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