Best head torches 2022

A head torch lights up under your bonnet and leaves your hands free to work.

A head torch is always the motorist’s friend, whether it’s for garage-based DIY, a night-time breakdown or a camping holiday. Unlike a conventional torch, the light pretty much always shines at the point you’re looking at, and it leaves both hands free. 

If you want one, the temptation is to go for the brightest, but these cost more and require more power, either cutting runtime or requiring a heftier battery. The battery needs consideration as rechargeable units tend to be more expensive to purchase, but can turn out cheaper in the long run. So which is the best choice?

How we tested them

We used each of the head torches under the bonnet and wheel arches of a test vehicle as well as the workshop and outdoors looking for a clear, bright spread of light. We also assessed performance over distance plus ease of use. 

We looked for versatility checking vertical adjustment, zoom function, power-saving modes and start and shut down. We also looked for resistance to moisture and dust ratings, and took into account price.

Verdict

The Nightsearcher 580R isn’t the brightest, lightest or cheapest, but it provides the best balance here.

  1. Nightsearcher ZOOM 580R Rechargeable Spot-to-Flood Head Torch

Reviews

Nightsearcher ZOOM 580R Rechargeable Spot-to-Flood Head Torch

Our current champion offers five modes – a max of 580 lumens, a mid-range 270, 30 for close work, a 10-lumen warm white for reading, and an emergency flashing white. It was certainly efficient, managing a claimed 2.5 hours at the max setting and 5.3 in the 270-lumen mode. And, if the rechargeable unit does go flat, it’ll take conventional AAA batteries. 

The wide-to-spot zoom and 90 degree tilt beam adjustment are excellent features, which we could combine with the power modes to get exactly what was required. Despite this, it weighs just 107g and was always comfortable. It’s a jack-of-all-trades that masters them all and tops it off with IP64 moisture/dust certification and a five-year warranty. 

Buy now from Amazon

Core Lighting CLH200 Rechargeable Sensor LED Head Torch

At this price we didn’t expect much and so were pleasantly surprised.  Although it weighs just 50g, the CLH200 has a 1.2Ah rechargeable battery and an output of 200 lumen. 

We liked the high, mid, low and SOS options and that there was no need to toggle through them all to turn it off. It would be too much to expect a zoom function, but it was impressive to discover that there was sensor control – waving a hand in front of the lens turned it on and off, which is really convenient when working with oily hands. 

Overall, it offers great value if you don’t need all the goodies offered by some of the others. 

Buy now from Torch Direct

Ring MAGflex Headtorch 250 RIL6400

The chunky Ring features modes of 140 and 250 lumen, with both suitably bright, white and very wide. They were perfect indoors, but less so outside, where the beam was all out at around 10m. We liked the large on/off button and the hands-free operation, which works from 10cm to avoid accidental triggers. It can be used with both light levels. Impact protection and moisture resistance are good, with IK07 and IP54 ratings. 

The very useful six-hour run time is in part due to the lower output plus the larger battery. With a USB-C cable it took only 3.5 hours to charge. We’d have liked a zoom and, for outdoor use, a more powerful beam, but it did very well against a star performer.

Buy now from UK Camping and Leisure

Ledlenser H7R Core Rechargeable LED Head Torch

The Ledlenser certainly had a massive specification, with its seven-year warranty and the biggest battery we tried, a monster 4.8Ah. However, it was also one of the heaviest at 255g.

This powered up a light with a maximum 1,000 lumen, which gave a huge range outdoors. The 600- and 15-lumen modes were better for indoor use, with the zoom function good for engine-bay work.

Everything was sealed to the high IP67 rating and we really liked the magnetic charge function, where the cable plug simply sticks to the battery casing to recharge. The four LEDs that showed battery state also offered a touch of extra convenience. 

Buy now from Torch Direct

Nightsearcher 1100RX Rechargeable Spot-to-Flood Head Torch

Nightsearcher’s latest offering upped the ante with a hefty 1,100 lumen light output from its 2.85Ah, rear-mounted battery, which gave a claimed 2.5 hours on full beam. 

Certified sealed to IP66 and IK07 for anti-shock, it was covered by a five-year warranty. On and off was by a side-mounted button and we liked the way the light could be controlled by the rotary control.

It was comfortable, with its weighty battery at the rear, and it was equally at home in the garage or out in the open. High spec explains the high price. 

Buy now from Steel City Lighting

Sealey LED/Bulb Head Torch with Auto Sensor HT104R

Sealey’s new torch is a hybrid, combining a 5W COB LED front strip light with a 3W LED side torch. It wasn’t IP certified, but it felt like it would cope with typical misuse. We liked the rechargeable battery and its packaging within the side torch. 

The on/off switch toggles through 100 and 30 per cent modes, producing 350/105 and 120/36 lumens respectively. The auto sensor worked well, but was easy to turn off accidentally, while the strip gave an impressively wide beam and it reached about eight metres. We were less taken with the side lamp, which caused glare in the right eye, especially if glasses were worn.

Buy now from DW Tool Shop

Coast Rechargeable Dual Power XPH25R LED Head Torch

The XPH25R had a neat trick, because its Zithion-x rechargeable battery could be revived on the device or separately, or swapped for a CR123 battery. The 94g aluminium head could be moved through 180 degrees or removed altogether to use as a hand torch. With a magnetic end, it was ideal for car work, although we expected more from the light. 

The zoom went from spot to wide and on mid-power, a run time of more than nine hours was good, especially from just 0.65Ah. IP54 certification and Coast’s five-year warranty completed the package.

Buy now from Torch Direct

Autkors COB LED Head Torch A8350

At a fraction of the price of the most expensive rival here, the Autkors grabs the attention. 

It was the only one not to be rechargeable, although it did come with two sets (six) of AAA batteries. It was adjustable through around 45 degrees, albeit limited to just three detents. 

The non-zoom lens was rated at a max of 10 metres, which made it more suitable for close-up use, with high, low and SOS modes available. 

Irritatingly, going to “off” always required a full toggle through the modes. 

Buy now from Amazon

Now read our list of the best inspection lamps...

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