By Marcus O’Dean
Headtorches are virtually an essential in any outdoorsman’s kit nowadays and there is a bewildering variety out there to choose from, making the task problematic. These tips will help you to make a decision that will serve your needs well. Let’s assume you are after an LED model because now there is no better overall choice.The LED lenser H7 is a hunter’s dream to carry and use. Power-packed, compact, versatile and long-running.
The LED lenser H7 is a hunter’s dream to carry and use. Power-packed, compact, versatile and long-running.
Price. If you are a cash-strapped, occasional recreational user, then this is important. You can pick up cheaper branded headtorches in supermarkets that may be limited in features but fulfil your needs adequately. If you rely on a headtorch for your occupation or safety or if you are a hard-core hunter, a higher price, known brand and the quality that come with them are worth the dollars. Buy once, cry once.
Endurance. Power consumption and the related burn time are definitely a factor for the buyer who needs and uses their torch often. The more efficient LEDs like those in LED Lensers® may not be the absolute strongest out there but boy, do they last at high output, while making a set of Alkaline batteries typically last for over a hundred hours.
Features. Alternative red-coloured LEDs, strobes and SOS signals may be specific applications that you need personally, eg mine workers or hunters not wanting to spook with white light. You’ll pay for these features but they will be worth it to you. Focusable, variable strength beams are very desirable assets on any torch for many reasons.
The new Niteye HA30 is a rugged, economical, no-nonsense headtorch with good power while being innocent of extraneous features.
Disposable Batteries or Rechargeable? If you are unlikely to run out of charge and ensure your rechargeable battery remains on charge, then these are the obvious choice for you. If you want convenience, then disposable alkalines are the economical choice.
Operation. The controls on your headtorch have to be fairly instinctive to use and not fiddly, because when you need one, you are likely to be concentrating on something else in the inky gloom and you will not need to be distracted.
Beam Power. There are some headtorch makers out there who make outrageous claims about the power of their beams in watts or lumens, but how much of that is usable. A 10-watt torch may throw a weaker beam than a 5-watt torch as its wattage (power consumption) does not equate to its light output (lumens) – they just consume more batteries. Also, a powerful flood beam with dark holes in it caused by a cheap, inadequate reflector assembly is undesirable. Can you adjust the strength and breadth of the beam from flood to spot, thereby concentrating pure light where you want it. These factors arguably count for more than pure kick-ass power.
Handiness. If you have a large battery pack on the back of your head to power your grass burner bulb up front, then you may be quite uncomfortable after a few minutes of use. Well-designed, compact headtorches typically use two to four triple-A batteries housed inside the light unit or in a very compact remote battery pack and they supply all the light and endurance you could want. The LED Lenser H7 is a case in point and my preference. I often read in bed alongside a sleeping missus with mine – it’s that nice to use. Then I pack it in my hunting pack as a standard inclusion for any conceivable use.
Hunter’s Needs. A hunter will need to rely on a torch with good endurance (to cape or butcher an animal shot at sunset and safely walk out to camp or vehicle some distance away over rough ground). It will need a control to wind back beam strength to use inside vehicles while spotlighting so you don’t blind the driver. You will need a powerful spot beam to be able to find your camp or vehicle on a night walk, enabling you to sweep wide areas to a good distance to find a vehicle or camp. You will also need absolute reliability that comes with a proven brand and model of headtorch – stay away from cheap knockoffs and buy from reliable sources.