It wasn’t a long time ago that anyone looking to engage in overnight camping was only left with mediocre options for night time illumination. These range from propane lanterns and flashlights that had to use 3 or 4 large ‘D’ batteries. These devices were obviously not the best head torches for wild camping as they usually emitted an uneven, glare-soaked and pathetic beam of light that usually had a funny little bright spot in the middle. They were also renowned for dying out early.
Thankfully, those times are now in the past. Ever since the very first camping head torches hit the markets and over the years following that, they have all seen continual refinement and improvement. These days, there are LED headlamps and lights that can last for years while giving out generous and proper swaths of clear, clean and even illumination.
More often than not, they can be powered by rechargeable batteries that can be plugged in the car or a portable power pack or to your phone so that you don’t have to worry about staying in the dark. I’m not sure there’s any other camping gear more emblematic than the head torch in determining the gulf in development between camping now and during the 80’s.
Let’s not take an in-depth look at some of the best head torches for wild camping currently available on the market.
Black Diamond Storm (375 Lumens Headlamp)
The Black Diamond Storm torch is is a headlight with 375 lumens – a considerable improvement to the 2016 and 2015 versions with 250 and 160 lumens respectively. This headlight has three coloured night vision modes which are blue, red and green. The necessity of this can be argued, but this feature is there regardless if it is needed or not.
The headlight has two different beam settings; proximity for close range activities and the spot for distance. The new model comes with a redesigned lighting profile that offers a better peripheral lighting for close range activities. It also features Brightness Memory which means that you can turn the light on and off with a particular brightness in mind – so you can return to the setting previously used without having to revert back to full power.
The headlight’s PowerTap Technology allows the user to transition between full and dimmed power. This is because you’ll have a separate button on the side for this particular purpose. An integrated dimmer is also present which allows for fine-tuning. In emergency situations or when the headlight is used when riding a bike, the strobe function will come in very handy.
Another useful feature is the locking function that allows users to stop the light from accidentally coming on when stored in the pocket or in the pack. The headlight also comes with four triple-A alkaline batteries. And together with these batteries, it still weighs only 3.9 ounces. The headband is elastic and it adjusts to improve comfort. It also comes in different colours that can correspond with the housing colour. The power indicator of the battery has three levels, ensuring that you can always have an idea of the status of the batteries. This will be very useful when you’re planning to conserve power.
What We Like
- It is a water resistant head torch.
- It’s burn time allows it last long enough to complete a hiking trip.
- Great, lasting power of up to 10 hours at medium strength.
- Dustproof housing.
What We Don’t Like
- Not rechargeable, relies on AAA batteries.
Foxelli Rechargeable Headlamp MX 500
This headlight offers a very good fit as a result of its headband and top strap that is easily adjustable. The weight balance also improves the fit. This is because the battery is on the backside, which then acts as a counterweight to the lamp situated on the forehead. The battery – with the help of a flexible cable – is connected to the lamp which is attached to the headband using plastic loops.
The headlight also offers 5 modes – minimum, average, ultra bright, maximum and SOS (visual distress signal). You will be able to switch between these modes and also turn the light on and off with the help of a single push button that is located on the left part of the headlamp. When you press the button once, you will enter the average mode; twice will take you to maximum mode; three times is the minimum mode, while four times takes you to the ultra bright mode.
To reduce the battery consumption, the ultra bright mode will automatically switch to average mode after 3 minutes. So as not to accidentally send out a distress signal, it will take a bit more time to enter the SOS mode – you’ll need to push the button for close to 1.5 seconds.
The Foxelli MX 500 also comes with a 1800 mAh polymer battery that is rechargeable. The battery can be recharged using a USB cable. It has a micro USB plug with the cable also included with the product. In minimum mode, the maximum battery life of this headlight is 100 hours. But while in average mode, the battery will last approximately 14 hours. In maximum mode, the battery will last for 8 hours, which is more than fair when you consider the fact that the headlamp produces 200 lumens of brightness when in this mode.
Although it is great that you can easily charge the battery, it is still a disadvantage that the headlight cannot also run on standard batteries. What this means is that you’d have to look for a source of electricity when the battery is down – instead of just inserting AAA batteries till you can charge the battery again.
What We Like
- It has a decent level of brightness, which is great.
- Battery life is good.
- 4 different modes – with the ultra light mode spanning up to 120 m. Equivalent to the length of a train.
What We Don’t Like
- Unable to use standard batteries with it, in the event of its rechargeable battery running out.
- MOICO 7-LED Rechargeable Headlamp
This headlight has a total of seven LEDs with several lighting modes to pick from. Also, it has a safety light that is built into the back to keep its user safe from rear-advancing people and/or vehicle.
It comes equipped with a USB line and a couple of rechargeable batteries. There are as much as eight lighting modes on offer – including red light, SOS modes, strobe settings and the ability to use only a handful of the LEDs instead of all of them.
It is a multi-plane adjustment system that ensures that the light affixed to your head is kept in place without any problems. This headlight was designed for all sorts of activities which include camping, hiking, running, cycling and many more. With this headlight, you’ll surely see whatever is in front of you. It is waterproof as well as impact-resistant, which means you don’t need to worry about it getting a little wet.
Additionally, MOICO provides a two-year limited warranty that will give its users extra peace of mind.
What We Like
- Can be used in either rain or snow.
- Comes with a high-quality storage box.
- High-quality elastic band and head sponge pad meant for adjustment and comfort.
- Has the ability to increase the light to up to 90 degrees – making it perfect for almost any kind of application.
What We Don’t Like
- We didn’t find any.
- Explortek Nite-Blazer LED Headlamp
The Explortek Nite-Blazer headlight is an easy to use headlight that delivers at least 168 powerful lumens that will cast an impressive beam. The strength that the light projects is around 11 meters and it also comes with six different lighting modes. It is very simple to use and it can be operated with separate buttons. Make use of the white and red light for rapid brightness and adjustments.
The smart controls ensure that the lights can be turned off all at once. You won’t need to go through the whole cycle to turn out the lights. This headlight is very light and versatile to utilise. You can make use of it for any kind of activity that you fancy – be it running, hiking, skiing, jogging, cycling or even when you go out for strolls with your kids or your dog.
No matter where you use this, it’ll prove its worth. The head torch is also waterproof, meaning you don’t need to worry about moisture ruining it.
Another great feature of this headlamp is that CREE XP-E LED technology was used in its creation. This particular feature gives the best output even when it is using the least amount of power. Its battery life is up to 120 hours and when a change of batteries is needed, it can be done in just a matter of seconds.
What We Like
- It delivers 168 lumens that will cast an impressive beam.
- It can be operated with separate buttons.
- It has smart controls.
- It is lightweight and versatile.
- It is waterproof.
- It was created with CREE XP-E LED technology.
What We Don’t Like
- It makes use of batteries which could be detrimental if you don’t have enough on your trip.
- The Cobiz Work LED Headlamp
This head torch is packed with power and can blast out a staggering 6,000 lumens of light through three LED bulbs. To regulate the brightness of this headlight, you actually have three different options: low, medium and high. When it is in low, only the middle light will be lit. In medium, two of the outside lights work. While on high, all three lights will work. In addition to this, you have a strobe function that will help in case you find yourself in an emergency.
As for its fit, the headlight is created to adjust to any head size. This is because it has adjustment straps on the vertical plane and horizontal plane, ensuring that it doesn’t move or fall off no matter the kind of activity that you’re engaging in. The lights are also adjustable up to 90 degrees, which makes it perfect under a hat or work visor. At the back, there’s an additional safety light that glows in orange which lets people notice you even from behind.
A few other peculiar features of this headlight include IPX4 water resistance, which means you can make use of it even though it is raining. The batteries – while making use of an easily accessible charging port – can be recharged even without removing them.
Finally, the light can be zoomed in or out to create a beam that can be perfect for any situation. Another good thing about this particular product is that its manufacturers – Cobiz – have provided its buyers with a three-year warranty.
What We Like
- Fits well.
- It is water resistant.
- It is bright enough to provide good illumination.
- It has an adjustable headband.
What We Don’t Like
How to Choose a Head Torches for Wild Camping
Brightness (also called luminous flux) is the total quantity of light that is emitted from a source of light. The higher a lamp’s maximum lumen value, the more light it will emit (e.g. 800 lumens is brighter than 400 lumens).
The lumen value that is given by manufacturers is normally the maximum power output of that particular lamp – irrespective of the length of time it can actually produce this figure.
This is the amount of time that your headlight will produce usable light. For a lot of years, manufacturers were free to decide how burn times were recorded and measured – as there was no international standard. However, several years ago, Petzl defined where they had a feeling light output stopped being usable, mainly due to the fact that there were some outrageous burn times doing the rounds at that time.
Burn time and brightness are two linked parameters of all headlamps. For a given amount of energy, increasing the brightness will automatically decrease the burn time – and vice versa. Now, a lot of quality manufacturers indicate the lumen output and the associated burn time for that particular output.
Beam pattern, distance and quality
The distance that the beam will reach all depends on the brightness of the torch as well as its beam pattern. Headlamps feature several beam patterns that will suit a wide range of users’ needs. These range from a focused beam that will help users see a distance to a flood beam meant for camping and proximity vision. Beam distances are normally listed on the packaging and they can range from a few metres to a few hundred metres.
A battery in a headlamp plays a large role in its performance. Batteries with higher output will be able to maintain higher lumens for longer stretches of time.