Entry Level Headtorches
God said "Let there be light" and there was light (Genesis), we are not talking about the creation of the earth today, but the all important topic of headtorches.
Unfortunately when humans were created we were not given the gift of being able to see in the dark, so when we are out on the trails at night time or early morning, we need to be able to see where we are going, and this is where a headtorch comes in rather handy.
For those new to the headtorch game, there are rather a lot to choose from and it can be quite confusing if you do not know your lumens from your burn time, let alone the other jargon.
There are a ton of headtorches on the market, and indeed other running lights that you don't even wear on your head, some people prefer their lights to be strapped to their chest, but today I will talk about the headtorches in general and give you a run down of the two that I use when I go running at night.
Before I get started, here are the main things you will be interested in when trawling through the reviews on headtorches or when looking to purchase one on a shopping website.
Lumens: This is a measure of output from the light in terms of brightness. The higher the number, the brighter the light. Just remember though, the brighter the light the more battery it uses, something to be aware of if you need your light to last several hours during an Ultra marathon. For trail running you need a minimum of 100 lumens.
Range: This is the distance ahead at which the light will illuminate.
Burn Time: How long the light will last. Most headtorches have various modes which affect the burn time, your consideration here will be how easy it is to change the batteries in the headtorch when you are on the move in the pitch black darkness.
Weight: The weight of the headtorch, a consideration when you are wearing it for hours.
Waterproofing: How watertight is the headtorch.
Redlight: Not all headtorches have this feature, but it is very useful for preserving battery when all you need is a small low-level light to read that all important map without blinding your friends.
(Side note: Headtorches tend to be terrible in fog, they reflect the light to what becomes a bright haze in front of you. Some headtorch brands have started adding a yellow light feature for foggy running conditions, keep an eye for this feature).
As I mentioned, there are a lot of headtorches on the market and lots of brands too, but there are some standout brands that you might want to consider, these are:
All these brands make a range of headtorches from entry level to advanced, and the prices reflect this, if you are a newby to night running then value for money is important when choosing your headtorch.
The headtorches I am focusing on today are the PETZL TIKKINA and the Everbeam H6 Pro, these are the headtorches I use at the moment, and they are both entry level devices.
The Petzl Tikkina is a good entry level head torch for people who are new to running in the dark or those that only occasionally run in the dark, much like myself.
The Petzl brand are well known for making quality headtorches and whilst the Tikkina is not a high-end product, it is still more than adequate for those that occasionally hit the trails at night.
Brightness: 250 Lumens
Weight: 81 Grams
Beam Pattern: Flood (white light)
Energy: 3 AAA batteries or Petzl Core rechargeable battery
Watertightness: IPX4 (weather-resistant)
Max Burn Time: 120 hours (on lowest setting)
The Petzl Tikkina is a lightweight headtorch, it has 3 lighting levels that are all controlled by a single button, these are Proximity, Movement, and Distance settings. Simply clicking the button cycles through the lighting options.
Lighting performance/burn times based on each setting are:
Max Burn Time - 6 Lumens - 10 meters distance - 120hrs battery life (Res 0hrs)
Standard - 100 Lumens - 40 meters distance - 9hrs battery life (Res 30hrs)
Max Power - 250 Lumens - 60 meters distance - 2hrs battery life (Res 40hrs)
For trail running you need 100 lumens minimum to get good visibility, so the Petzl Tikkina can operate for 9hrs at that power setting, personally I like the 250 lumens setting, which only has a burn time of 2hrs, but that is fine for me as I rarely run in the dark for that long. If you were into 100 mile ultras though then you'd likely opt for a better head torch that could handle long night time stints.
The low-level setting of 6 lumens is good for map reading, so you can cycle to that setting in order to save prescious battery.
On the topic of battery life, the Petzl Tikkina has the option of 3 AAA batteries, which is what I use, or the Petzl battery core, which is a rechargable battery pack that slots in the same space as the AAA batteries. This means you can easily swap the battery packs over without fumbling around in your backpack for spare AAA batteries, perfect when you are plunged in darkness.
The Tikkina has 3 adjustable tilt settings when strapped to your head, this allows you adjust the angle of the light, which I find works well for me.
The headband itself is very comfortable, it is adjustable too, so no worries with fitting. There are alternative options (extra cost) for fitting the headtorch to a bike, bike helmet, clothing etc..
The build quality I would describe as being very solid, everthing seems very well put together and sturdy. The unit has a weatherproof rating of IPX4, meaining it will withstand a good rainfall but don't go swimming with it.
The Petzl Tikkina is not a new headtorch, it has been around for a couple of years now and that means you can pick it up at the bargin price of less than £20, which is fantastic value for anyone looking to purchase their first headtorch.
As I have said before this is an entry level headtorch, but it is a decent one and does a good enough job for the casual night time runner. It is definitely not the best headtorch on the market and it does miss out on some of the more fancy features that you get with other headtorches, such as the flashing strobe light and the red light, but this headtorch is not made for that purpose, it is a good value headtorch and performs reasonably well for the low price point.
Everbeam H6 Pro
Everbeam are not the first name you would think of when buying a headtorch, in truth I was after a backup lightsource for an ultra marathon so I was looking for something cheap that would tick the mandatory kit list box.
I stumbled upon the Everbeam H6 Pro on Amazon, it fitted the requirements so I bought it without a second thought.
What I did, however, is stumble upon a very good value for money headtorch which has some standout features.
Brightness: 650 Lumens
Weight: 72 Grams
Beam Pattern: Flood (white light), Focused RedLight, and Flashing Light
Energy: 1200 MAH Rechargeable battery
Watertightness: IPX4 (weather-resistant)
Max Burn Time: 30 hours (on lowest redlight setting)
The Everbeam H6 Pro hasbeen designed for many uses but for me it has proven a very good trail running headtorch.
It has a maximum output of 650 lumens, which is great for a headtorch that costs under £17. It also has 5 lighting modes, including a redlight mode for low-level lighting when map reading, or when you do not want to disturb the wildlife.
There are two buttons on the top of the device, the right button cycles through the various lighting power outputs, but also by pressing the right button for a few seconds you will activate the red light mode.
The left button activates the motion sensor wave switch, this mode enables you to turn the light on/off with the wave of your hand, a very cool feature.
Lighting performance/burn times based on each setting are:
Red Light - 30hrs battery life
Standard White Light - 10hrs battery life
Max Power - 650 Lumens - 126 meters distance - 2.5hrs battery life
The Everbeam H6 Pro is sturdy in construction, it's weatherproof and shatterproof , boasting a IPX4 rating, which like the Petzl is good for a heavy rain but not for swimming.
What I do like about the H6 Pro is the battery, consdiering this unit outputs upto 650 lumens on max power, it still lasts longer than the Petzel Tikkina, which is a good thing. Dialing that power down to the mid-setting you'll get 10 hours battery life, which is 1 hour more than the Petzl Tikkina, and although not stated, I am pretty sure you get more than the 100 lumens that the Tikkina gives out on it's mid-setting mode, that's a big win in my book for the H6 Pro.
The one downside of the Everbright H6 Pro is that the battery is not interchangable, however with a 10hr battery life on standard mode, this is not going to be a problem for most people. The unit is charged up using a USB cable (underneath the unit), so perfect for multi-day events where needed, just plug in your mobile battery and away you go.
The H6 Pro has 4 adjustable tilt settings when strapped to your head, this allows you adjust the angle of the light.
The headband itself is very comfortable, it is adjustable too, so no worries with fitting, and it weighs in at only 72grams, which is super light.
Lastly the H6 Pro comes with a nice carry case which you can stow away in your race pack.
The Everbright H6 Pro is another entry level headtorch, however it brings with it some of the features you might expect to find on a more expensive model from one of the major competitors in the market.
At under £17 this unit really does out perform it's price tag. I bought this headtorch as a backup lightsource to fulfil a mandatory kit requirement, but in fact it's now become my goto headtorch whenever I am running at night or on an early winters morning. That says a lot for what the Everbright brand is trying to achieve.
You don't have to buy expensive to fulfil a need, you just need to shop around with an open mind and not be sucked into the brand names. Sure the prestige headtorches from the likes of Petzl and Silva are excellent, but how many of us actually need the features and power that those headtorches have to offer?
If you are a casual night time runner or even an ultra runner running up to 100k, the night time running you will do is going to be limited, so an entry level or mid-range head torch is likely to fit your requirements, but if not then there are a lot of options available to you.
Whilst I appreciate this is not an extensive review on lots of headtorches, I hope it gives some insight into the process of buying the right one for your needs.
There are pleanty of reviews on the web for all the headtorches on the market, and too many for me to buy and review, so focusing on what to look out for when purchasing a headtorch was my focus.
I hope this has been useful and informative.
Until next time