Running with a Head Torch
Head Torches for Those Dark Nighttime Runs
Head Torches have developed a lot in a short space of time. Gone are the large chunky torches with bulbs and heavy battery packs. Instead we have lighter and more powerful torches using modern LED’s to choose from. The price of a decent head torch has also dropped and the choice has gone up. So, here are a few pointers to think about before you make your head torch purchase.
The brightness of bulbs is measured in Lumens. One Lumen is deemed to be equal to the light emitted from a lit candle that is one foot away. As a rough guide, 10 lumens is good enough to read a book or a map. 60 lumen’s would do you if you where just taking the dog out for a walk over the fields. 100 lumens will allow you to run off road safely.
As well as the brightness the other difference is the type of beam. By that I mean does the torch emit a searchlight type beam or is the light spread out more? When you are running you need a bit of both as you need to be able to see the floor as well as what’s in front. It’s also good to be able to alter the beam as on a foggy night or in heavy rain a searchlight type bean will be reflected off the water droplets, blurring your vision. Most head torches have a few different settings or an ajustable diffusion lens that you click over the LED to spread the light and click off for a search light beam. Most head torches allow you to angle the beam by actually adjusting the LED part of the head torch up and down – to get a view of the floor and a view of what’s in front of you.
Batteries – Disposable/Built-In
If you aren’t just going for the odd evening run and instead are training for an Ultra or similar that takes you through the night, then battery life will be a consideration. You will also want to consider battery type depending on usage. If you are training regularly a rechargeable battery is incredibly handy as charge times are quite short and the more modern batteries don’t seam to be effected as much by the cold. If you are running through the night or doing multiple nights where you can’t easily recharge the battery, basic removable batteries are a must. Try buying longer lasting Lithium batteries, as the cheaperAlkaline batteries loose power very quickly in the cold.
Fit and Feel
The fit and feel of the head torch is another factor to consider. Some torches have the battery at the back and the light at the front to spread the weight. Others (more commonly) put the batteries in one unit behind the LED so all the weight is at the front. Roughly speaking the brighter the torch, the bigger the battery it requires. The other consideration is how easy it is to change the setting while running. Check out if the torch has a button to push easily without looking and with your gloves on!
“Check out if the torch has a button to push easily without looking and with your gloves on!”
Not all head torches are waterproof, most are simply ‘showerproof’. Some head torches have an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. This is a rating of 0-9 with 9 being waterproof. A rating of 4 is adequate for most runners out in the rain and snow of a British winter.
A new feature that has come along in recent years is reactive lighting. This system uses a light sensor to automatically adapt the brightness and beam pattern to your needs and is on high end Petzl rechargeable head torches. So, if you are running along and you look look at a map or phone, for example, the light will adjust accordingly and back when you start running again!