girl with headlamp

QUICK GUIDE TO HEAD TORCHES AND HEADLAMPS

Head torches, also known as headlamps (which can get confused with those lights on a car) are invaluable when you are camping, reading a book in bed at home or trying to fix something in the garage. Most people only think about buying a headlamp when they look at camping gear but the fact is, once you have one, you’ll always be using it. A head torch is like having a torch but you don’t need to use your hands. You just can’t go wrong with one, unless you buy a crappy one.

Here, I’m taking a look at some of the things to look for before you buy in a very overcrowded market. Headlamps and torches range from super-cheap to the extremely high-priced models, which are more for professional use.

There are so many headlamps and head torches to choose from, it is easy to get excited and forget what you wanted in the first place.

So, with that in mind, let’s narrow down what you are looking for, and the price you are ready to hand over for one.

A lot of headlamps are designed for hikers/backpackers and adventurers. That means some of the features are not needed if you want one for everyday style camping (if there is such a thing?).

TYPE OF LIGHT BEAM

Some lamps come with different beams and different settings, but that is not the case with all of them. I recommend a headlamp that offers at least a normal setting, a spotlight setting and a wide beam setting. A wide beam setting is also great for when you want to have some ambient light in your tent. While you can hang one up, I like to have mine with the light against one of the tent walls so that I am not making a silhouette of everything I am doing to the outside world.

A headlamp without any beam options isn’t as useful as you might think. They tend to not have enough focus when you are trying to do something close and not enough direct power when you need them for something like walking in the dark. I recommend getting one with options, especially because headlamps without options tend to be very cheap items that don’t last long.

I also like a headlamp that you can tilt the beam, especially when you are using it for something close, like fixing a watch or reading a book (without your chin in your chest).

BEAM DISTANCE

As I just mentioned, beam distance is pretty important, especially if you are walking around in the dark. The retailer or the item’s casing should state the minimum focus distance and the furthest distance the headlamp provides. Factor this in for what you require. The beam distance will be affected by many things, including the strength of your batteries.

LUMENS EXPLAINED

Lighting is all about lumens. It’s important to know about lumens for any torch or camping light you are going to buy. First, let’s take a look at the definition of lumens:

“A unit of luminous flux in the International System of Units, that is equal to the amount of light given out through a solid angle by a source of one-candela intensity radiating equally in all directions”

Lumens equal brightness. This is different to watts. Watts are a measure of energy used and not a measure of output. For example, a newer LED torch will have a much lower wattage and much higher lumens because it is more efficient than a torch from a decade ago.

Making it simple, an old fashioned 100 watt light globe is equal to about 1600 lumens. This will probably help you understand how much light you are actually getting.

BATTERY LIFE

It’s always a good idea to know how long your headlamp is going to last before you buy it. You want a good 8 hours minimum. The fact is that quality headlamps will last much longer these days, especially if you are using high-quality batteries.

DURABILITY

The only way you will really know if the item is durable or not is by getting a quality brand name. I can’t stress this enough. If you are going to invest some money into buying an electrical device, you might as well spend money that is really an investment and not for the purpose of buying something that is a throw-away device. I recommend looking for a headlamp that offers water resistance, at least. That’s very important if you want to use it outside because it can rain at any time.

Other than the above, each model will offer something a little different. I wouldn’t get obsessed with having all the bells and whistles and paying a fortune. The smart thing to do is go with a brand you can trust because they generally include features that are proven useful over time, rather than being something of a gimmick you end up paying for and really don’t use.

 


Is there anything you would like to add to this article or do you have one you would like to publish? Share your experience and let us know through the comments section below.

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Martin White
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Martin is huge on everything outdoors and is even bigger on driving and technology. He loves boats, new stuff and writing about it.