Before you choose a headtorch areas you need to make choices from the following.
The obvious soloution is try to get the best deal you can on a headtorch, with the most features you can. If the torch is being used for safety purposes, it’s best not to get a cheap, poorly lit headtorch when you could but a better one for only just a little bit more money.
These are are an important factor and the right choice can keep you in the light for long periods of time. Think about the type of battery, bulb and how they interact to give you a very long or very short burn time. However, burn time and battery length can equal more weight, and bigger isn’t always better, especially if you need a low pack weight, so weight up the strength of teh headtorch, vs the weight.
The easy operation and the quality of fit are also important to a headtorch, it needs to be as easy to use as possible. Ensure that the headtorch doesn't have small buttons that you can’t press when using gloves, or a fit that is too loose for running or biking.
Batteries can be hard to choose between as they each have their own positive and negative points.
Alkaline batteries are the standard battery type, and are the most commonly found batteries on the planet meaning that they are very accessible for everyone. There are however quite heavy compared to lithium batteries.
Most battery cases come very small on newer models and are attached to the back of the head, so they are positioned in the most comfortable position on your head.
Lithium batteries are less common, but are becoming more so with the introduction of mini electronics and mp3 players over the past few years.
They last twice as long as alkaline batteries, but are more expensive. However, lithium batteries have the additional feature of being fully rechargeable, without losing any power. They are also lighter and slimmer than alkaline batteries, making them ideal for long trips.
Rechargeable lithium batteries are probably the most useful, but remember that they require a power source
The burn time is the length of time that the bulb and battery combo work together to produce light.
The manufacturers try to estimate a constant usage from start to finish, but becuase you don't tend to run appliances like your head torch for constant periods such as 9 hours straight, it can be hard to judge.
It’s best to treat the times on the packet or descriptions as an estimate.
Also keep in mind that these times include those times where the bulb is still ‘shining’ but the light being produced is too weak to see things in very dark conditions.
Tungsten bulbs are not that bright and don’t actually last a long time, but on the other hand Halogen bulbs give you the brightest output but also eat battery life like it’s out of fashion. They do, however, make you feel like you’re surrounded by daylight when you are in pitch black conditions - great for night navigation in the hills.
Xenon and Krypton bulbs are commonly found in headtorches these days and are a halogen hybrid with good battery life without compromising the brightness.
The longest burning times comes from LED bulbs that last over 20x longer than the other 3 put together!
These bulbs can never blow, so you won’t need as many replacements and they are also very useful for night time contrasts, outputting balanced light for the situation you’re in. They aren’t as bright as the other types of bulb, but sometimes this is sufficient for camping or summer hiking in poorly lit conditions.
Before you buy your headtorch, you need to consider how easy it is to use. If you’re fiddling around in pitch black conditions, you might want to think twice about why you bought the torch.
Make sure it’s not too heavy or cumbersome to turn on, and that you can do all the functions you need by flicking a switch (or at least something that is that easy!).
Always remember you might be using these torches both in summer and winter so it’s worth thinking about how easy it would be to operate with gloves on or a hat?
Headtorches have straps and other plastic buckles and tightening attachments that can ensure your headtorch has a comfortable fit.
Adjustable straps allow you to make quick adjustments in the Summer/Winter, and can help you fit a headtrorch over a thick woolen hat.
Most headtorches also include a top strap, which ensures the torch is close fitting, making your headtorch supremely stable for running or climbing in the dark.