The best head torches for running in 2024

Hands-free illumination? Now that's a bright idea.

Best head torches for running in 2024

by Ryan Houghton |
Updated on

Perfect for illuminating dark streets and twisting country trails in the cold winter months, the best head torches for running are a must for those looking to tackle their fitness goals this year. Almost as important as having the best running shoes, if you plan on improving cardio, lighting your path whilst camping and more - having your hands completely free and your route well-lit can be a lifesaver.

With hundreds of models and brands, however, choosing the perfect head torch for running isn't a walk in the park. Comfortability, brightness, waterproofing and versatility, there's a staggering range of tech specs to consider in your search for the best head torch for you, and that's where we come in. Below, we highlight the very best head torches available in 2024.

The best head torches for running, at a glance

• Best head torch for running: Black Diamond Equipment Spot 400 - View at Amazon
• Best head torch for urban running: Silva Explore 4 Headlamp - View at Amazon
• Best head torch for versatility: Ledlenser NEO5R - Rechargeable LED Head Torch - View at Amazon

Perfect for tackling slopey countryside, anticipating danger, and keeping oncoming cars aware of you, the best head torches keep you confident that your next step is a sure-footed one.

We've done our research, weighed the pros and cons and compiled a list of our very favourite head torches for running, giving you the absolute best value for money this year for you budding sprinters. From some of the most popular head torch brands such as Silva, Black Diamond, Decathlon and more, you won't find a better selection anywhere else.

SHOP: Our pick of the best head torches

Please note: All prices are correct at the time of writing. Prices, stock and deals are subject to change without notice.

Best head torch for running

BLACK DIAMOND Equipment Spot 400 Lumen LED Headlamp (Bordeauz)Amazon
Price: $49.95
Alternative retailers
Black Diamond Equipment$49.95View offer
DICK'S Sporting Goods$49.99View offer

Possibly the most best head torch for running ever designed, the Black Diamond Spot 400 is made for the serious runner set on venturing out to get their sprint on in even the most miserable of dark weather.

Packed with features, amazing battery-saving technology, and being lightweight and comfortable, the Black Diamond Spot 400 is mighty; there's no denying it. Tough as nails and brilliantly bright with up to 400 lumens of maximum brightness, this is one of the definitive camping gadgets of the year and is ideal for runners.

Pros

  • Phenomenal brightness
  • Amazing battery life
  • Excellent array of features

Cons

  • Difficult to use features whilst running
  • Build quality:
    5.0
  • Performance:
    5.0
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Lumen availability:Up to 400 lumens
Battery life:Up to 200 hours
Water resistance:IPX8
Beam length:100 metres
Other features:Battery life display, Red Night Vision, Proximity mode, PowerTap technology
  • Customer review: "the Spot 400 works great and has become part of my regular tool kit. Simple and easy to use, the Spot 400 is super bright and comfortable."

Best head torch for urban running

Silva Explore 4 Headlamp - AW23Amazon
Price: $43.06

Solid and well-made, the Silva Explore 4 Headlamp is ideal for those looking for a sturdy head torch that'll endure your strict early morning running routine in its stride, and have plenty of power left over for the return journey.

Equipped with a tough elastic band that ensures the Silva Explore 4 stays on your noggin', without becoming remotely uncomfortable, the Silva Explore 4 feels quality, and doesn't disappoint in its lighting capabilities either.

A camping essential that'll help you find your fantastic camping bed quicker, the Silva Explore 4 is true quality at a decent price.

Pros

  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Well-designed and slick
  • Powerful 400 lumens light

Cons

  • Weaker brightness than others for its price
  • Build quality:
    5.0
  • Performance:
    4.5
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Lumen availability:400 lumens
Battery life:45 hours
Water resistance:IPX7
Beam length:85m
Other features:Intelligent Light, Max, Med Min, SOS-Blink // Red, Orange
  • Customer review: "Light, bright and priced just right"

Best headtorch for versatility

Ledlenser NEO5R - Rechargeable LED Head TorchAmazon
Price: $83.30

Beautifully weighted and incredibly powerful, the Ledlenser NEO5R is great for the morning jog thanks to its adjustable design and comfortability.

Ideal for those who'd rather not rely on batteries to light their way, the Ledlenser NEO5R has a magnetic charging design, making charging easy and less likely to become damaged after prolonged use.

If you weren't convinced of its quality already, the Ledlenser NEO5R has a whopping seven-year warranty, so whatever happens when you're running or camping, you won't be without your trusty head torch.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Unbeatable brightness
  • Rechargeable
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Lower battery life than other options
  • Build quality:
    4.5
  • Performance:
    5.0
  • Design:
    5.0
  • Value:
    4.5
Lumen availability:600
Battery life:Up to 35 hours
Water resistance:IP54
Beam length:100m
Other features:Rechargeable, chest belt, lamp head swivel, 360-degree visibility
  • Customer review: "I am happy so far with this head torch, it does exactly what I needed it to do."

Best budget head torch for running

PETZL Tikka HeadlampSports Shoes

Perfect for keeping dark trails and streets well-illuminated, the PETZL Tikka Headlamp is excellent for conquering your running goals with its brilliant luminance, tough build quality, and solid battery life that'll keep your paths well-lit for hours of exercise.

Built for tough falls, harsh weather and low visibility, the PETZL Tikka Headlamp is perhaps one of the best head torches for running this year.

Pros

  • Rugged build for fall protection
  • Excellent battery life
  • Strong beam length

Cons

  • Not ideal for long-distance luminance
  • Build quality:
    5.0
  • Performance:
    4.5
  • Design:
    4.5
  • Value:
    4.0
Lumen availability:350
Battery life:35 hours
Water resistance:IPX6
Beam length:60m
Weight:94g
Other features:Emergency strobe signal, plate tilt, phosphorescent reflector for night-time location
  • Customer review: "Used this for walking through rainforests and up a mountain in the dark, perfectly bright for this and is still on its original batteries after maybe 15 hours of use."

Best feature-rich head torch

Black Diamond Storm 500-R Rechargeable HeadlampBlack Diamond Equipment
Alternative retailers
Black Diamond Equipment$74.95View offer

This headlamp dazzles with a 500-lumen dimmable spotlight, secondary flood LED, and RGB modes for enhanced night vision and map reading. Its standout 'PowerTap' feature lets users swiftly toggle to maximum brightness with a tap, ideal for running in the dark. Despite its array of functionalities, including a lock button and battery indicator, the Storm 500-R remains lightweight and comfortable, thanks to its low-profile, recycled fabric headband.

Plus, it boasts a high-capacity lithium battery with impressive longevity and rechargeable via micro-USB, though its two-button operation and fixed battery design slightly limit its adaptability compared to hybrid models.

Pros

  • Various light modes for map reading and different brightness
  • Great weatherproofing
  • Features a sustainably made elastic headband with Repreve recycled materials

Cons

  • Ergonomics can take some getting used to
  • Build quality:
    5.0
  • Performance:
    5.0
  • Design:
    4.0
  • Value:
    4.0
Lumen availability:500 Lumen max output
Battery life:7 Hours at 500 Lumens
Water resistance:Yes, for 30 minutes at 1m
Beam length:120m
Other features: PowerTap technology, Red, Green, Blue night-vision, Lock mode, Powered with integrated high capacity 2400 mAh Li-ion battery with micro-USB charge port
  • Customer review: The Storm 500-R Rechargeable Headlamp has an average of 4.2/5 stars on Black Diamond Equipment.

Best head torch with 90 degree tiling light unit

Alpkit Qark 580 Lumen USB Rechargeable Head TorchAlpkit
Price: £33.99 (was £39.99)

alpkit.com

The Alpkit Qark head torch shines as a budget-friendly powerhouse, delivering an impressive 580 lumens at a fraction of the cost of its competitors. It’s a model of simplicity, offering easy operation through a single button that cycles through various brightness and mode settings, complemented by a rotating bezel for beam adjustment.

Weighing in at under 100g and equipped with a comfortable, secure three-point strap, it feels almost weightless in use.

Ultimately, for those seeking an effective lighting solution for year-round outdoor adventures, the Qark stands out as a solid choice.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Lightweight
  • Very comfortable

Cons

  • No battery level indicator
  • Build quality:
    3.5
  • Performance:
    4.0
  • Value:
    5.0
  • Design:
    3.5
Lumen availability:580 Lumens
Battery life:18 Hours at 30 Lumens
Water resistance:IPX6 Water resistance rating
Beam length:150m
Other features:Single button control, 90 Degrees titling light unit, Can swap in 3 x AAA batteries when it's out of charge
  • Customer review: "Bought the Alpkit Qark after a few folk at my run club recommended. Nice to be able to widen or narrow the beam. Powerful light. Good secure fit helped by the middle strap, head torch stays in place well even when wearing a woolly hat!"

Best high-end head torch

Petzl Nao RL 1500L Head TorchCotswold Outdoor

With its peak brightness of 1500 lumens in 'Reactive' mode, which intelligently adjusts its intensity, the Petzl NAO RL shines brightly in the world of head torches. Even in standard mode, used predominantly for trail running, it impresses with a robust 900 lumens, offering around two hours of illumination.

Its versatility extends with additional, less intense settings that prolong battery life, a boon for extended outdoor activities. Plus, comfort is a standout feature; it's designed to avoid any bounce or front heaviness, ensuring ease and stability during long runs or hikes, with easy on-the-go adjustments.

Pros

  • Very bright output
  • Easy to use when you're on the go
  • Features Reactive Lighting mode, which allows the light sensor to automatically adjust brightness and beam pattern

Cons

  • Some features might seem slightly excessive for some
  • Build quality:
    4.5
  • Performance:
    5.0
  • Value:
    3.0
  • Design:
    4.0
Lumen availability:1500 Lumens
Battery life:80 Hours at 10 Lumens
Water resistance:Splashproof IPX4
Beam length:200m
Other features: Adjustable headstrap, Battery included, Rechargeable, Red light setting, Water resistant
  • Customer review: "The Petzl Nao has some good points: it's lightweight, very bright and beam responds to changes in distance. I would appreciate greater waterproof rating though, e.g. IP56."

Best no-frills head torch

Princeton Tec Byte LED HeadlampAmazon
Price: $22.99
Alternative retailers
B&H Photo Video$19.99View offer
Backcountry$36.99View offer
Walmart$39.01View offer

The Princeton head torch offers 200 lumens for 3.4 hours at its brightest setting, extending to 140 hours on the lowest red light, all powered by 2x AAA batteries. This traditional power source means you can easily swap in fresh batteries as needed, although it lacks the modern convenience of USB recharging. The design includes a tilt-adjustable lamp and a minimalist, comfortable headband controlled by a single, intuitive button.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Multiple modes to adjust the brightness

Cons

  • AAA battery powered
  • Build quality:
    3.5
  • Performance:
    3.5
  • Value:
    5.0
  • Design:
    3.5
Lumen availability:200 Lumens
Battery life:200 Lumens for 3 hours
Water resistance:Splashproof IPX4
Beam length:39m
Other features:Maxbright LED, Ultrabright LED, Multiple modes, Multiple beams
  • Customer review: "The Princeton Tec Byte works great for night time map-reading and hiking. I recommend for anyone who wants to pack light."

A guide to wearing head torches for running

Should you wear a head torch whilst running?

Suppose you're planning on cracking on with running during darker seasons, or you're just a fan of hitting the road and running in the evenings. In that case, a great head torch is practically essential, especially if you find yourself wandering into unlit areas.

Anticipating your next step safely, being able to spot potential dangers and making yourself seen by potential oncoming vehicles, wearing a head torch is a must if you're planning on getting some running done, so for your own peace of mind, get yourself a head torch.

How many lumens is good for a head torch?

A great head torch needs to be bright, there's no denying it, but just how bright you need your head torch to be depends on where you're planning on taking it.

For suburban and city areas, you're not going to suffer too much if you don't have a head torch, but they're still a must if you want to avoid injury from obstacles that you might not have seen otherwise.

For urban running, you'd ideally have a head torch with at least 250-500 lumens - this isn't overwhelmingly bright, without being too dim either - so you should be set for the challenges your cityscape has for you.

For something a little more extreme however, such as countryside sprinting, mountaineering, or other areas that have little-to-no lighting, you'll need something stronger. We'd recommend having at least 400-800 lumens so you've got the best chance of catching an unsuspecting ditch, slippery patch of mud, or local wildlife that may impede your pace.

Are head torches good for camping?

Head torches are fantastic for camping, there's no denying it. If you're struggling to locate some must-have piece of kit you desperately need, like your trusty camping chair, finding it in the dark is nothing but a nightmare. You need your hands free whilst out in the wilderness, a phone torch won't cut it - do yourself a favour, and get yourself a brilliant head torch.

Ryan Houghton is a commercial content writer for What’s The Best, known best for his expertise in gaming, with a particular soft spot for PC gaming, audio tech, televisions and smartphones.

Diligently writing for What’s The Best for almost two years, there are very few tech products Ryan hasn’t had his hands on to review; televisions, headphones, folding phones and even LEGO, if it’s nerdy, he’ll be there.

His well-versed history as one of the resident techies at What’s The Best has kept him keen to uncover the very best deals, savings and offers for those in need of a cracking deal to upgrade their setup.

In his downtime, Ryan most likely has his nose buried in a fantasy book, or his eyes glued to a screen whilst playing a tough-as-nails Soulslike or leisurely RPG, indulging in most forms of escapism where possible.

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