/ What head torch should I buy?
What should I buy, I want it to be suitable for everything outdoors including Scottish winter please.
Don't know what your old head torch was, or why Scottish winter makes a difference, but I like the Myo RXP which can be found for under £50.
Good spot and diffused beams, the diffused beam is exceptionally good for walking.
I don't know if Scottish winter makes a difference either. I've not given it any thought before now. My old one was a Cybalite ring. which it seems you can get online. it was cheap and there maybe a good reason to get a different one. The thing I liked about the one that broke was that the head band was not just a horizontal head band so it felt secure.
I like the top headband also, another reason I went for the Myo. It was recommended on here when I was looking, and I haven't been disappointed. Battery life is good, and I've used it for SAR, caving, hillwalking, night nav exercises, and general house/garage duties.
Changing the settings with mitts on isn't easy, but to be honest once it's turned on I don't usually mess about with the power level.
Myo xp. Great all rounder.
The 1600 lumen Cree head torches on ebay only cost about £15 and are exceedingly bright.
Thank you I'll check it out.
Thank you i'll look.
For Scottish winters look for something that's easy to use with gloved hands. May also want to consider a remote battery pack that you can keep inside ur jacket to maximise battery performance when using.
Personally use bd spot and icon. Icon is nice an bright but im not sure of the cable length on the latest model.
The Alpkit Manta is a work of art - especially at £15; laughs in the face of loads of pricier torches.
Thanks for the heads up.
Don't buy petzl. They have a strong track record of early failure. Black Diamond are way more reliable.
Right, what head torches are actually reliable then? If you do some searching, Alpkit seems to get slated for its reliability, the Cree head torches have some bad reviews on amazon on the grounds of reliability and they seem to come from people not even using them for climbing, BD torches have had numerous bad experiences posted on here as has the petzl.
Are any head torches actually reliable? This is a serious question as I'm looking for a new one at the moment and it's a nightmare. Every half decent torch you see, the Internet is full of reviews from people with broken ones.
I'm at the stage now where I think it's best just to but whatever one looks best, and take your chances on its reliability, as they are all equally bad.
Maybe we should get two each and a spare of the cheap ones? :-) oh yeah and only less than a couple of months to go!
Head torches have come so far recently, IMO you're better off getting a reactive lighting head torch (ie. the light level changes dependent on the distance of the object you are looking at) as these are perfect for night nav when you need to see the landscape and the map without being blinded, and also climbing.
The petal nao has reactive lighting and 330 lumens. Or the petzl tikka r+ or the tikka rxp are 170 and 215 respectively and both come with a red light which the nao omits.
More money but totally worth it!
Haha or just 8 cheap ones! I know, winter better come back by then.
What are they like for climbing through spindrift or white out when there's stuff everywhere for it to focus on?
That's partly because people are much more likely to make the effort to go online and mump about it when things go wrong, than they are to post a "does what it's supposed to" review. (You could call it "the TripAdvisor effect": that site does seems to acquire the most coruscating negative reviews of places that otherwise get perfectly decent reviews from other customers.) It's akin to the old marketing rule of thumb, that if a customer has a bad experience they will tell an average of ten people about it, whereas if they have a good experience they will only tell one person. It's why companies like Amazon prompt customers to provide feedback for items they've bought: if they didn't, the bad reviews would probably vastly outweigh the good ones.
Any mass-produced product will have instances of individual items failing. Unless you expect head torch manufacturers to adopt a six sigma testing approach like DMM, it's pretty much inevitable (and even DMM have very occasional instances of individual items not being up to the intended quality). Without ruling out possible design faults, one reason why certain manufacturers seem to have a lot of reports of problems could be simply that they sell a lot of certain products, so more faulty items get out into the wild - even though the proportion of faulty ones may be the same as another manufacturers, or very possibly actually smaller.
Petzl (via Lyon Equipment) does at least have a record of supporting their customers if a product does develop a problem, even after a fair bit of use. Admittedly that's not much consolation if the product fails out on the hill, which is why for a potentially safety-critical item like a headtorch I would (and do) always carry a backup. My "if the sh1t hits the fan" ziplock bag which always goes at the bottom of my rucksack has a Peztl Tikka (with regularly checked and refreshed Duracells) in it. It's not the best head torch in the world but it would be a whole lot better than nothing if my main torch bit the dust.
Alpkit Gamma or Manta will be great for Scottish winter. Good bright main beam and the lower brightness LEDs are fine for walking in/out with. Manta has less bulk around the back of the helmet but loses the rear red LED of the Gamma (great for cycling or for seeing where the kids have got to).
Petzl Myo RXP is a good torch. You can buy 3.5 Alpkit torches for the same price.
The Nao looks really good but I've seen it dim right down in snow because of all the reflections. You can bypass the intelligent mode and set a constant illumination. The self adjusting-ness is really very clever and quite intuitive, you wonder how you manage without. However for plodding along in typical winter conditions they are probably overkill. You can by 7 alpkit torches for the price of a Nao.
The Cree based "many many lumens" headtorches available on eBay or Amazon are amazingly bright and great for moving fast. They might come with a separate battery pack for sticking down yer pants to keep the batteries warm and eking out that last bit of charge - you may need it as these torches tend to be quite thirsty!
On the recommendation of a previous what headtorch thread on UKC, I purchased a Princeton Tec Apex which I've owned and used extensively for 3 years. Comes in at about 7 Aplkits. I like it.
* 4 x AA batteries for a long burn time and easy replacement (no unreplaceable internal rechargeables here)
* 2 level super bright main beam (good for fell running)
* 2 level wide angle side LEDs (perfect for walking/map reading/DIY/etc)
* Head top strap for stability (needs it as it is a little on the heavy side)
* Very comfortable to wear for long periods
* Waterproof (good for occasional caving expeditions)
* Big buttons are easy to use even with thick gloves on
* If you are inclined there are several "mods" you can do to add a better LED / reflector to boost the output of the main beam
* Haven't had need of the customer services but I understand that is OK but not stellar.
edit: also, to echo Martin's post above, a backup torch is invaluable. I've got a Petzl E-Lite which weighs nothing but has enough juice to get you off the hill.
edit edit: some of the sentences ended up mixed up :)
Thanks you for your considered post.
I guess that, given there's a chance they could all be unreliable, you'd be best spending your money on one from a proper shop, with a three year warranty. Something like Petzl or Black Diamond.
And, as said above, always carry a spare.
I find it strange that the "buy cheap, buy twice" mantra that is regularly touted on this forum doesn't extend to a critical piece of equipment such as a head torch!
I use a gamma a lot, but I would say it's not durable enough for Scotland, (I wouldn't be sure it would come out of a sac that had been up a Scottish chimney unscathed,) and on occasion you need something brighter.
(This based on experience of a lot of winter climbing and having had two gammas fail - alpkit are great at sorting spares, but I wouldn't want this to happen when I really needed a torch.)
I've got a tikka xp for what its worth, which is just enough for all eventualities in my opinion. When I need to buy again though I would look at something a little beefier - which is indeed why I'm reading this thread!
I'm on my second Gamma - the first did fail but only after I lent it to my 8 year old for scouts (to be fair we think that it might have been something funny with the batteries and not really his fault). But it failed after about 4 or 5 years of regular use, including a couple of years mounted on my bike helmet for bike commuting. I'm not sure if bike commuting in Helsinki is much less tough than Scottish winter; it involves rain, sleet, snow and temperatures from about +5 to -15, and I was very lazy and never really did anything to look after it, it would just dry on the helmet when I got home etc.
Anyway, Alpkit just replaced it for me when the first did break, so it really was one of the best 14 quid I ever spent.
I love my Silva Head Torch they do a really neat range including the Trail range which give you a multi-bubble light centre is strongest & furthest reaching then two on the outside to give you a clearer view outside the main beam.
Look for something IPX7/IPX67 rated, at least then you're not in the shit if it sits in a puddle for a while. I use the BD Storm, it's middle of the range but waterproof and good for the price. Some of the Silva range is similarly rated.
Once upon a time it was easy - everyone had a Petzl zoom pretty much 'cos that's all there was. My first one lasted 15 years before dying the death. These days there is so much choice there is too much choice. I have about half-a-dozen LED headtorches of various kinds but none is ideal for everything. Durability has suffered since the days of the ubiquitous zoom - I've had a Princeton Tec Quad fail after only a few months, and two failed Silva Ninox's, which is a great torch when working but useless when not (I'm now on my third replacement from Silva - be VERY careful with the battery cover when changing batteries).
If looking for something for Scottish winter go for something which accepts lithium batteries (work far better in the cold) and with a high level of water resistance (IPX4 or above). My most bombproof option is a Petzl Pixa 3 - three settings from 15M beam up to 55M+, takes lithium AA'a (same as my camera and GPS), fully waterproof to IPX7, and a switch easily operated by gloved or even mittened hands. A bit heavy by modern standards, but designed for industrial use so very robust and still reasonably comfortable to wear; much favoured by cavers these days.
Best value: Cybalite Egg - 3AAA's, 60M beam on high, good battery life on low, along with red and flashing SOS modes, water resistant to IPX4. Spec very similar to Petxl Tikka XP but half the price (can be had for £20). It was recommended to me by a retained fireman who prefers it to his official issue torch.
Oh, and for Scottish winter - whatever you go for, carry a backup.
I find the button on my BD spot harder to use than on a Tikka - dont think would get another for this reason.
BD Storm is on my Christmas List and Mum says she has sorted it. Please don't anyone tell me it's no good. I chose for waterproofing, Lithium compatibility and mid-range performance at a mid price.
Has anyone mentioned LED Lenser? I have the H7 and it's fantastic
+1 for Led Lenser H7
It's a good choice!
Tika xp2 with petzl battery. Program low and bright. Low for walk in bright for end of day. Big button and no power cable to break. Carry 3 aaa spares in the fingers of a rubber glove. Nice and light plenty of power when needed. Get a car usb charger and charge battery when driving to climbing, for best results.
Thank you all for theadvice so far. i will digest it when not at work.
Another +1 for the LED Lenser H7.
I have the rechargeable version - very happy with it.
the reliability question is really important and difficult to assess, as you say people will often only post bad experiences online. would be interesting to see some industry stats on returns and accepted faults (rather than just user error etc). chap in cotswold reckoned that petzls are returned far less than black diamonds (the 2 main brands they had at the time) which i guess is more indicative than internet user reviews only.
no idea if any of the big brands publish returns/reliability reports, are there any outdoor shop workers out there that have up to date feedback on reliability across brands? the next time UKC do a head torch gear review comparing models they should try and approach the manufacturers for reliability stats
I've got the H5 and its pretty decent but cost about three times the Alpkit one for similar performance.
And another vote for LED Lenser H7...
I'm interested in the Lenser H7 - for those who have used it how does it rate against various petzl torches?
Let me throw up the Fenix HL30. About £30, very bright, decent battery life, runs on two AAs and bombproof, its my back up caving torch.
The New Lenser Seo Range is worth looking at
Especially the 5 or 7 improved build quality with 180
Lumens very impressed and I've never been a Lenser Fan.
B/d Icon is Excellent however heavy and chunky, B/D Spot
Is Excellent but hang fire for the Again yearly update new one has 130 Lumens for £40, Petzl Myo Rxp 205 Version is hard to beat I've had a few older ones never had any bother with them
Well made robust take a soaking and good on Batts poor button switch with gloved hand isnt the best but hardly a problem
I'd rather hear what your first choice caving torch is!
The petzl website says the pixa is only 50 lumens though?
I'd suggest that it you're going to go for something with a super-bright LED (e.g. the 1200 or 1600 lumen jobs), then look for something with variable power output, not just one or two modes. For two reasons: improved battery life and so you don't blind yourself... This might be manual control, or it might be a reactive control. I'm a bit suspicious of the reactive systems, as I suspect they might try to illuminate brightly if you simply look up idly... A trade-off between convenience and battery life.
I guess the other feature that might be useful for Scottish winter is a dual-beam mode, with a flood-type beam for local illumination (seeing what's immediately in front of you), and a distance illumination beam for route finding. This might be provided either by two LEDs, or by some form of optical zoom lens.
Petzl head torches are the way to go if you ask me. They may have a "high" rate or failure but they sell a lot more than the main competitors so it's relative to the number of them.
I've used a Tikka xp 2 for three years (inc two Scottish winters) the last two years I've been using it with the core rechargeable lithium battery pack. The pack saves 900 battery according to petzl and if it runs out of juice on the hill you can pop it out and get standard ones in.
Easy to use with big gloves, doesn't weigh much, has a few different light settings, easy flip between spot and flood, doesn't cost a bomb and it's bright enough for everything I've done.
I've used many Petzl Lamps over 12 years I've never had a failure and I've used them Mtn biking winter climbing, I've certainly no experience of any failure Rate. Tikka Xp2 is a great wee lamp Good for money but there's many Brighter for same cash and its handy to have a little brighter if you can.
I'd Recommend the Led Lenser Seo 5 for £40 170 Lumens
Good build quality and a lovely Zoom
Got a silva which I would say was a quality piece of kit .
Not enough lumens for the bike ,but great for everything else.
Wouldn't recommend the Cree lights.
Powerful? ,yes. But not for long.not good being 20 miles from home and the lights just die.
I've had a Silva Runner 550 for about a year now, used it for night skiing, running and mountain biking. I've had it out in fairly torrential rain and its not suffered. Would definitely recommend it, only issue is it uses a rechargeable battery, so is fine for one night (had it on for a constant 10hour overnight mountain walk) but certainly wouldn't last two...
The new Tikka RXP looks the dogs danglies.
I have one on my Christmas list, if I get it I'll let you know how I get on with it.
Petzl Myo RXP. Best compromise of everything out there IMO
True, but I've found that in practice the lumen count isn't the be-all and end-all; I suppose it depends on how well designed the lens/reflector is and how efficiently the power is used. The Pixa 3 claims 50M range at full power but it seems to me more like 70M in practice, albeit with a fairly tightly focused beam. It does eat batteries fairly quickly if left on full power, but on the middle setting (approx. 30-35M beam comparable to the old zoom) it will do about 8 hours on decent AA alkalines, but there are only 2 of them so it's easy to carry spares. Lithiums or NiMh rechargeables can significantly improve on this, particularly in cold weather. The really good thing about it IMHO is that, being regulated, it maintains consistent light output for the full life of the batteries. At 160g and all on the front of the head it could be too heavy for some though.
To be honest I'm unimpressed with the Pixa 3. Seems ok for a worklight but that's about it (and in fairness that is what it's aimed at). Otherwise it is quite front heavy and bulky and not that useful on the hill. We've been given them for free, but everyone still seems to use their own Petzl/Lenser headtorches.
Silva's "Intelligent Light System" (!?) is pretty good at combining flood and spot beams. In fact, my Silva Ninox has the best beam pattern of any torch I've ever had. Unfortunately the battery case cover is difficult to replace accurately and tends to break after just a few change. As mentioned above I'm now on my third one because of this, though fair play to Silva for replacing them without quibbling. I think they have recognized that this is a design flaw.
Some reviews of beams here http://www.outdoorsmagic.com/gear-features/ultimate-headtorch-beam-shoot-out/11902.html
+1 vote for the Led Lenser H7
Got a scurion :P
After much searching and currency converting; I can safely say I won't be getting one of those! Looks like something NASA built but...even more expensive.
I'd Agree One Torch to rule them all
Myo Rxp (Newer 205 version)
I have the ebay Chinese identical 'led lenser'- about £7 IIRC and I'm sure it's from the same factory. It seems identical in every respect
The basic model is the one I've got, can buy it from www.starlessriver.com
Good alternatives are a rude nora, or a duo with an insert from rude nora.
Any chance of a link to it?
looks like you have plenty of advice to be getting on with!
I have a petzl tikka II. I like it. Lasts ages on 3 aaa batteries. Full beam/half/flash and red light and flash.
I also have an led lenser p7 hand torch which is excellent and they do a rechargeable head torch for sub 20 quid.
let us know what you get!
I have 2, a Black Diamond Storm that I use with rechargeable batteries (i use this for everything: winter days, running) and a Petzl e-lite that I carry in my first aid kit as a spare/for emergencies. Both are excellent.
I tend to only carry the first when I either know or think I am likely to need it (early starts/late finishes/long unpredictable days, etc.)
I retired my old Petzl halogen Duo and bought an LED Lenser H14. Big brother to the H7.
It only claims 210 lumens but it's way brighter than many torches I have seen that have claimed much higher outputs. I'd say it is a genuine 200m beam, but the wider flood is more useful when moving quickly. I bought it for night descents when ski touring. I found my Petzl to be totally useless at this.
You instantly change focus via a push / pull mech, you can extend the battery pack for keeping inside your clothing, comes with a handlebar mounting kit, has a dimmer setting plus modes such as continuous SOS signal flash.
I bought it because that is the one my mates who carry out bat research in caves use. You can pick one up for under £50 which is very good value for money. For a genuine very high output you are looking at mountain bike type headlights with retail at £200 - £300, I've seen this when night skiing and they are exceedingly bright.
I have an Alkit Gamma and a Petzl Tikka XP2. The XP2 is the better of the two, but not 3 times better (which is the price differential). Main issue is beam gradually weakens - so opting to replace with a regulated torch (which fixes output at about the same level). The Tikka RXP is therefore on my Christmas list.
Not sure if people look at other sites, but Outdoors Magic has just done a test comparing beam strength of various torches.
Here's the link to the photo review at outdoorsmagic
Appears to be a running based commentary.
Here's a more generic overview of head torches features and effects ...
The colour thing was something I hadn't considered but it does remind me of the Abyss where someone is defusing a bomb and can't tell what colour the wires are!
I started on the Petzl Zoom and have moved onto the Tikka 2, but on the bike I found my new H7 does great especially on the dark Hyde Park/Park Lane section.
I have the BD Polar Icon and it is fantastic. Not the brightest out there but a ridiculously long battery life (up to 200 hours and up to 80 on 'bright') and the remote battery pack is great if you are in really cold conditions and want to keep battery life. You simply pop the battery pack in your jacket pocket! We all know how cold it can get in Scotland at height...
I find with Eneloop batteries they work so well in the cold that for UK use there is no need for a separate battery compartment. (I'm sure the same could be said when using lithiums)
BTW the coldest temperatures in Scotland are consistently in the bottom of the Glens (down to -27 odd), its very rare to get below -10 (and then it doesn't get much below that) at munro level.
Have purchased a Fenix HP 11 after much homework on headtorches . Cost £ 55 .
Works on 4AA Batterries and goes to 277 Lumens if needed.
Difference between petzl xp2 is night and day so to speak. Very high quality build also. Highly recommended.
Looks awfully bulky and quite heavy that headtorch, it may well be brighter than the Petzal XP2, however what are you needing the extra lumens for? I have a tikka XP1 and have used it extensively in the UK and also for euro ice and summer alpine, its a great compact, durable head torch which is bright enough and lasts long enough on eneloop nimh batteries for walking and climbing.
I've one of the Fenix HP11 torches, and to be honest much prefer my Myo RXP. Less lumens, but the Fenix has a really tight beam compared to the Myo and similar torches friends use. This is fine if you need long distance vis, but makes it comparatively poor at lighting up the area immediately in front of you. Its really not all about the lumens. Others differ, but most of us that have access to the Fenix + AN OTher high spec torch prefer the other. The Fenix is about 3 x the bulk and considerably heavier too.
I've never yet found myself cursing the lack of lumens on any walks or climbs, plus boost mode on the RXP = 215lumens so grand short bursts trying to spot tracks or features. Discharge profile on the Myo is better too in my experience.
It's all horses for courses though - my mountian biking light gives awesome illumination, but dies after a couple of hours so great on the trail, but crap for a weekend on the hill.
Conversely friends who Kayak love the Fenix, but that's a slightly different scenario.
Good point about the batteries! I've been using high capacity eneloops for a couple of years and they are considerably better than other rechargeables. Seem to beat most disposable ones too, as long as you've a decent charger that doesn't fry the batteries. Not compared them to lithium batteries though.
I'm a great fan of the Myo RXP btw. Good all round torch, and I like the regulation on it. Top button is fiddly with gloves on, but not too bad, plus folded up it doesn't get knocked on in rucksack by accident. Had one of the original Myo's and now the RXP so covered a lot of hours over the past 5-6 years using those and never had problems with wire terminations etc that a lot of people reported.
Plus being AA batteries, it allows me to double up spares with other devices for longer trips away.
I use it for walking/climbing/camping etc year round plus as a helmet light to compliment the main beast of a light on the bars of my mountain bike.
Yeah the Eneloops are MUCH better than the hybrios (which are better than standard NimH), not only do the eneloops work better in the cold but the discharge rate is also noticeably slower when left in the draw.
Thank you to everyone for responding. I will let you kow what i go with and why. Will digest alll this when i buy.
Aye, being something of a technophobe I was supprised by the difference, and by how little charge my spares lost sitting in my rucksack for months!
I have had -20 during overnight stays (planned!) on summit plateaus and high cols.
For Scottish winter it depends on the time of year [amount of darkness and likelihood of needing good light for long period]
So, Dec, Jan, Feb I carry a heavy but superb Hope mountain bike light [4 LEd Vision, but considering switching to smaller, lighter 1 LED] I can complete routes and go all night on this if needed be.
March / April I drop to a Petzl tikka Plus.
Thank you all, I've gone with one each of the Alpikit head torches. haven't tried them in the wild yet and I'll share my thoughts once I have.
Out the box; Although I want to have one with the strap over the head I prefer the Manta, it feels sturdy and sturdy on my head. I also like the features of the different colour leds.
I'll drop the thread a line when I've tried them.
Elsewhere on the site
Save £20 when you buy a Petzl Elios Helmet!! The Petzl Elios helmet (2013 Version) is tough & durable,... Read more
Urban climber James Kingston will be on stage at all UK screenings to answer questions about his remarkable film... Read more
Last year, Finn McCann wrote an article about climbing El Capitan with his terminally ill father Seamus, who had been... Read more
The usual suspects and dark horses have been in play across Scotland over the rock season of 2014. One of the main... Read more
The B.D.V. — short for Black Diamond Vertical — jacket and pants are Black Diamond’s most versatile climbing... Read more