Don’t let darkness keep you indoors. These headtorches for runners mean you can train at any time of the evening.
Petzl Myo £80
Powered by three AA batteries there’s no danger of running out of light with the Myo – just carry spare batteries. The power pack and lamp are on opposite sides of the headband to spread the load, but this is still the heaviest torch on test.
Its beam is white and clear, with three settings of 60, 110 and 280 lumens plus a strobe. In each setting it’s possible to programme 10 different levels of brightnesses so you can calibrate light needs to battery life (there’s a handy charge indicator).
For running on Tarmac, the lower setting is plenty, but you’ll need the mid setting off-road; and a boost option
delivers 370 lumens for 60 seconds, which is handy if you’re navigating at night and want to scan a hillside for a path. Battery life depends on the type of AA – expect longer from premium batteries. While the beam is excellent, the bulk and weight of this torch lean the Myo towards walking or biking, rather than running, where I found its lighter rivals stayed in place more easily.
Verdict: A robust, richly-featured torch, but heavier than its rivals.
Silva Trail Runner 2X £79.99,
The Silva may only be 35gs lighter than the Petzl, but it feels substantially less weighty because of the distribution of its weight.There’s a chunky, USB rechargeable battery pack on the back of the headband, and a featherweight lamp at the front, a combination that seems to apply much less pressure to the forehead and consequently feels more comfortable.
The Silva produces up to 160 lumens in its three settings; maximum, minimum and flash, with a single four-hour USB charge good for seven hours of use in the higher setting and 14 hours in the lower (I found it exceeded these official times).
On a run, the spread of light really impresses, combining a close range floodlight and a long distance spotlight – all of which inspires running confidence and maintaining pace on dark, uneven trails. The anti-slip gripper in the headband also helps it stay in place better than any of the other headlamps.
Verdict: The combination of flood and spot lights works brilliantly. It’s the most comfortable to wear.
Nathan Nebula Fire £85
The Nathan is the second-lightest torch on test, which is impressive given that it has a USBrechargeable battery and smart technology. It’s all bound up in a single unit on the forehead – I prefer the battery and lamp to be split at the front and back, but this is a personal choice.
Designed specifically for running, the pool of light is exactly where you want it, and what’s really innovative is a
sensor that lets you adjust the brightness of the beam without pressing a button – just swipe your hand in front of the lamp when it’s turned on and you can change the setting from low (16 lumens) to medium (80 lumens), to high (160 lumens) or sprint (192 lumens, although limited to three-minute bursts).
There’s also a clever strobe that automatically activates in the face of car headlights to warn oncoming drivers that you’re a runner and not street furniture. A five-hour recharge offers battery life that ranges from 4¼ hours in high to 25 hours in low.
Verdict: Lots of clever features in a running-specific headtorch.
Alpkit Muon £21
Yes, that price is correct – you could buy four of these for one of the Nathan’s and still have change. Moreover, it’s the lightest on test at just 68gs, has a flashing rear red light, and is powered by a single AA battery, so carrying spares is easy.
The run time is also impressive, stretching from nine to 35 hours in focus beam mode (depending on the type of disposable battery).
But compared with its much more expensive rivals, the quality of the light doesn’t match up. The Muon offers a choice of a focused beam with three brightness settings (4, 34 and 134 lumens) plus strobe, or a floodlight with two settings (10 and 31 lumens) and strobe.
While the focus beam is fine on Tarmac and smooth trails, there were times when I wished I could combine it with the floodlight for rooty, uneven tracks. The strap is also narrower than the others, forcing me to wear it tighter to keep it in place.
Verdict: Exceptional value, but committed night runners should consider upgrading.