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Best running head torches: Bright lights to boost visibility

Need a head torch for low-light, early morning runs? Here are nine of the best

Images by Getty images and The Secret Studio

Despite being a relatively small piece of kit, the humble head torch can make a huge difference to your after-dark training sessions, especially in the winter. Not only do they help you see where you’re going and avoid tripping over obstacles, but they also keep you safe on the road. 

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We’ve rounded up the best running head torches on the market to help you find the right one for you. But first, here’s a quick list of the factors you might want to consider when choosing your favourite product: 

  • Brightness: Around 200-400 lumens of power will offer a good amount of light for running.
  • Distance: Some head torches can illuminate a distance of up to 100m in front of you; it’s worth considering whether ‘flood lighting’ is important to you.
  • Light settings: Many torches have a range of modes, including flashing and energy-saving programmes.
  • Weatherproofing: If you want a head torch you can wear in all weathers, it’s a good idea to go for a waterproof one. Some even function when submerged in water, so you can take them on brief swim sessions too. 
  • Weight: Most running head torches are under 150g in weight, and some are under 50g, so consider how light you’d like yours to be.
  • Rear light: Having a rear light as well as a front torch will keep you safe when running on roads. Some products have an actual light, while others use a reflective strip to keep you safe. 
  • Light colours: Many runners like having the option to use a red light, which helps you maintain night vision. 
  • Battery life: It’s always worth checking how long you’ll be able to use your head torch on its highest energy setting – you don’t want to be caught out during a long run.
  • Recharge system: You may prefer to invest in a head torch you can recharge with a USB cable, as opposed to one with batteries you have to change.

The best running head torches to buy

Petzl Actik

A versatile piece of kit, the Petzl Actik comes with 350 lumens and offers several different light functions, as you can tailor the distance and width of the beam to suit your needs. Choose between a ‘wide’ or ‘focussed’ pool of light, and select your depth, from 10m up to 90m. 

The head torch also has a red light reaching up to 5m ahead to stop you blinding your run buddies! And there’s even a strobe option which, alongside the reflective headband, will make sure you’re seen on dark roads.

The Petzl Actik takes three AAA batteries and should work for up to 60 hours on the go. It’ll also take reusable batteries.

Lifesystems Intensity 230

If you’re looking for a head torch for added visibility on low-light runs but aren’t planning to go full-on Bear Grylls, this is a great choice. With 280 lumens, USB charging and seven different modes, this neat and lightweight little light is superb value.

Exposure lights HT1000

With a dazzling 1,000 lumens housed in an aluminium casing, this bad boy is designed for trail running where you absolutely have to see where you’re putting your feet. Visibility is up to 125m on full and the rechargeable battery is rear-mounted for comfort.

Petzl Bindi

The Petzl Bindi is the lightest head torch on our list, weighing just 35g, yet it kicks out 200 lumens of power and has a micro USB port for easy charging. As an added benefit, it’s completely weatherproof, so you don’t need to worry about wearing it in the rain.

LEDLENSER Neo6R

The LEDLENSER Neo6R comes with a 240 Lumen torch with a wide angle, so it’s perfect for dark runs. Its maximum depth is 30m, but you can adjust the beam to cover just 10m in front of you. 

Ideal for group runs, this head torch from LEDLENSER also has a chest strap, so you can wear it lower down on the body. Meanwhile, another handy feature is its red rear light, which offers vital visibility. 

The head torch has a lithium ion battery charged via a micro USB connection, and you’ll get up to 40 hours of continuous use. When power is running low, there’s a helpful early warning signal.

BioLite HeadLamp 330

Integrated into a thin, moisture-wicking headband, this torch has a streamlined design and sits comfortably on your forehead. Turn it on and you’ll get 330 lumens of power, which you can recharge from a micro-USB cable. The beam reaches up to 100m ahead of you, but there’s also a ‘spot’ setting if you want a smaller patch of light.

ONNIGHT 250

This head torch should stay in position, as it comes with a secondary strap to keep it secure while you’re running. It’s also waterproof and it has a standard and an eco mode, as well as a flash setting.

In the dimmer eco-friendly programme, the torch has up to 22 hours of battery life, and it’s simple to charge, thanks to the included micro-USB cable.

Black Diamond Spot 350

This option from Black Diamond is a great all-purpose head torch. It has a range of different modes, including strobe lighting and red for night-vision. Plus, it gives out 350 lumens, so it’s a bright little light. 

What’s more, it’ll work well up to 1.1m underwater for half an hour, and it’ll remember your previous light setting when you turn it on, saving you precious time. 

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