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What to Look For in a Head Torch for Your Winter Adventures

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What to Look For in a Head Torch for Your Winter Adventures

Whether you’re hiking, biking, camping or running, we all know that a head torch is an essential piece of equipment for winter adventures. However, knowing which model to choose isn’t always easy. Read on for our in-depth guide that aims to help you know what to look for in order to choose the right head torch for you.

From simple and ultralight ‘just-in-case’ options to more fully-featured models for winter mountaineering, anyone choosing a head torch needs to consider five things: lumens (brightness), weight, features, battery life and weather resistance.


A torch’s brightness is measured in lumens. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the torch will be. In general, head torches with a higher lumen output will require more power to function, so it’s important to pick the right level of brightness for your needs.

If you’re navigating the campsite after dark or walking / running in an area you know fairly well, a model with a light output of 60-150 lumens will be adequate. For night-time navigation, you should look for a head torch with 150 lumens and upwards. The more remote or challenging the terrain, the more lumens you will need. For mountainous routes or skiing in the dark, a powerful head torch with 500+ lumens is the optimum choice.


All our head torches are developed to be as light as possible, but it is still a good idea to consider how important weight is as a criteria when choosing yours.

Trail-runners or fast-hikers not planning to be out after dark, or those staying in fairly urban areas, may choose to prioritise saving weight and opt for a lighter weight model like our Intensity 155 Head Torch. However, hikers or mountaineers planning to wild camp overnight or descend in the dark, should prioritise brightness over weight and choose a more high-powered model.

Whatever the activity, if you are planning to wear your head torch for extended periods, you may want to also consider the head-strap and whether it’s better to opt for a slightly heavier model with a more substantial and comfortable head-strap (for example the Lifesystems Intensity 500 LED Head Torch), rather than an ultralight option.


One feature to consider when choosing a head torch is how many modes it has and if these work for your needs. The option to turn the brightness up and down is an ultra-handy benefit for outdoor enthusiasts. It means you don’t need to have more brightness than needed, helping to preserve battery power when you’re away from the beaten track.

For those planning on camping or reading a map after dark, a red light mode is a must-have. This helps to preserve your natural night vision once you’ve acclimatised to the dark. Many head torches also have a flashing SOS function – again a helpful feature for anyone heading into the mountains who may need to be located by emergency services.

Other features you may want to look out for in your chosen model include: motion-sensors for hands-free operation (saves taking off your gloves), a battery indicator to ensure you aren’t caught unawares without power, and an adjustable beam so you can direct the head torch’s light where it’s most needed.

Battery life

Most head torches run on either traditional batteries, or from a rechargeable lithium battery that can be charged using a USB lead. A rechargeable battery has lots of benefits: it’s cheaper to charge, it is more sustainable and they often tend to be a bit smaller too. However, you’ll often need to bring a power bank in order to charge them on the move whereas it’s easy to carry a replacement battery for torches that run on standard AA or AAA batteries.

Choose which works for you and your needs. If you’re embarking on a more extensive expedition, we’d recommend taking a backup head torch or choosing a model that can run on both battery types (such as our Intensity 500 LED Head Torch) to ensure you don’t get caught short.

Weather resistance

Weather is unpredictable, and whatever you’re doing, you need your head torch to stand up to the worst wet and wintery conditions. When choosing your model you will be able to see how waterproof or water-resistant it is by checking its IPX rating. IPX stands for ‘ingress protection’ and this rating shows the level of protection that the product has against water/dust etc.

All our head torches are rated IPX6. This means they are rated as extremely waterproof and can withstand very heavy rain, being underneath waterfalls and even an accidental soaking. Products rated IPX6 are just one level below IPX7 which is reserved for gear specifically designed to be submerged under water for set amounts of time. So you can be sure they’ll continue performing, however wet and wild the weather gets.

Discover some of our favourite head torch models:

Intensity 500 LED Head Torch

Light yet powerful, this fully-featured head torch has a super-bright 500 lumen output that will light up the hillside, plus stacks of smart features. Ideal for night hikes, expeditions and adventures in the mountains.

Intensity 155 LED Head Torch

A great all-rounder for easy hikes, urban running, DofE or camping. This compact head torch packs a punch for its size and weight. Powered by a single AA battery, it has 7 light modes and an adjustable beam making it a perfect ‘just in case’ option to include in your pack.

Intensity 280 LED Head Torch

With an incredible battery life plus 6 lighting modes including SOS and night vision, this rechargeable head torch is an excellent all-rounder for hiking, camping and more ambitious DofE expeditions. Its beam is adjustable and it has a bright 280 lumen output that makes navigating in the dark easy.

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