Searching for the best head torch for sailing, Fox Morgan gathered together a hot selection of some of the most popular head lamps on the market and reveals which one really is the best.

What makes the best head torch for sailing? Is it the red light facility? How about the ability to dim the white light? Or do you want an ultra bright light for picking out mooring buoys in the dark? Does it really need to be waterproof?


All of the head torches I’ve gathered for this group test have multiple modes of lighting and each has a notable speciality, from focusing spot light, to an array of red or boost power flood lighting. But all have at least one red light function and all have more than one white light setting. All are rechargeable and some offer waterproofing.

There’s a diverse range for all budgets and practical uses. From £20 to £120.

I compare their style of illumination, their longevity and waterproofing, their ease of use and eco credentials in this group test.

At a glance

Best for red light power – Exposure lights Raw Pro – Buy USE Raw Pro from Tweeks

Best head torch for sailing on test Forclaz HL900Buy Forclaz HL900 from Decathlon

Best for spot light –  Ledlenser MH5 – Buy Ledlenser MH5 from Go Outdoors


Petzl Tikka Head Torch

tested

300 Lumens head torch – read the Petzl Tikka review

The Petzl Tikka is a lightweight but pretty powerful head torch. It easily illuminated a small target at 25m and the beam shape is a good flood shape illuminating a general area. The three power settings on white allow for a reading lamp, a medium brightness and a max brightness.
The red is low powered for night vision and can be use in strobe mode too.
The head torch is comfortable on the head and is contoured to remain comfortable for lengthy wear time. There’s no padding, but it uses the strap against the skin to avoid sweating too much and it slipping.

Whilst this isn’t waterproof, in my experience these torches can take quite a lot of rain and weather before you have to stop0 to dry the battery compartment.

In the battery compartment there’s 3 x AAA batteries. These could be swapped out for a Petzl core, which is a USB rechargeable power cell, this doesn’t come as standard with this budget range Tikka, but if you see one for sale with the “core” part in the name, then this means the head torch comes with the powercell.

I liked this head torch very much for its shape, weight and functionality. The glowing housing was a real plus point, making it easier to find in the dark.

Light Modes

Mode One (White): 6 lumens – 10 metres – 120 hours

Mode Two (White): 100 lumens – 40 metres – 9 hours

Mode Three (White): 300 lumens – 65 metres – 2 hours

Mode Four (Red): 2 lumens – 5 metres – 60 hours

Mode Five (Red): strobe – 700 metres – 400 hours

Specifications

  • Weight: 82g
  • Beam Pattern: Flood
  • Energy: Three AAA/LR03 batteries (included)
  • Water Rating: IPX4 (IPX4 – Protects from splashing water, no matter the direction)

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 4/5

Full beam illumination 4/5

Low level light for reading 4/5

Red light 4/5

Water proofing 3/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 5/5

Weight and comfort 5/5

Overall rating

4.5 stars

Reasons to Buy

Lightweight, lamp housing glows in dark, easy to replace head strap

Reasons to avoid

Not fully waterproof, uses disposable batteries as standard.

Buy Petzl Tikka Head Torch from Wiggle


Ledlenser MH5

tested

Best on test for spot light function – best head torch for sailing

Read review of Ledlenser MH5 here

On full beam focused, the Led Lenser was able to easily illuminate a small target at 25m and far beyond it.

400 Lumen head torch

Light Modes:

Mode One (white): 20 lumens (flood) – 35 hours

Mode Two (white): 20 lumens  (spot) – 35 hours

Mode Three (white): 400 lumens (flood)  – 4 hours

Mode Four (white): 400 lumens (spot) 180 meters – 4 hours

Mode Five (red): low level for night vision

Specifications

  • Weight: 94 g (including batteries
  • Batteries Required: 1 x 14500 lithium-ion rechargeable battery (included) / 1 x AA NiMH or 1 x AA alkaline battery
  • Charging Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Water resistant to IP54 standards (IP54 Protected from limited dust ingress. Protected from water spray from any direction)
  • Warranty: 5 years standard or 7 years with product registration (torch), 2 years (battery)

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 4/5

Full beam illumination 5/5

Low level light for reading 2/5

Red light 3/5

Water proofing 3/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 5/5

Weight and comfort 4/5

Overall rating

5 stars

Reasons to Buy

easy magnetic attached charger, detachable lamp with belt clip, bright spot beam

Reasons to Avoid

The beam focus ring is fiddly, not many brightness options (dim light isn’t very dim)

Buy Ledlenser MH5 from Go Outdoors


Exposure Lights Raw Pro Head Torch

tested

Best on test for red light functions : best head torch for sailing

Read the review of Raw Pro Head torch here

Light Modes:

Mode one: Red – 2 lumens, 25 hours

Mode two: Red – 15 lumens, 6 hours

Mode three Red – 50 lumens, 1 hour

Mode four White – 15 lumens, 10 hours

Mode five White – 50 lumens, 3 hours

Mode Six White – 200 lumens, 1 hour

Mode seven -White strobe 200 lumens, 5 hours

Specifications

  •  4 x XQE LEDs
  • Battery 700 mAh Li-Ion
  • Charging Time 3 Hours
  • Runtime 1 – 25 Hours
  • Aluminium casing
  • Weight 76g
  • 2 year warranty
  • Lifetime LED guarantee
  • IP rating IPX8 (IPX8 – Protects when immersed in water over 3 feet)

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 2/5

Full beam illumination 2/5

Low level light for reading 5/5

Red light 5/5

Water proofing 5/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 5/5

Weight and comfort 4/5

Overall rating

5 stars

Reasons to Buy

Red light optimised, USB rechargeable, robust and very waterproof

Reasons to Avoid

Not very powerful white beam, fiddly recharging, easy to lose when unclipped

Buy USE Raw Pro from Tweeks


Nebo Einstein 1500 Flex Rechargeable Head Torch

tested

Read the review of Nebo Einstein Flex 1500 head torch

Light Modes

Mode one: Turbo (1500 lumens): 30 seconds / 64 meters

Mode two: High (750 lumens): 2 hours / 35 meters

Mode three: Medium (250 lumens): 6 hours / 25 meters

Mode four: Low (10 lumens): 18 hours / 8 meters

Mode five: Red COB (5 lumens): 12 hours / 1 meters

*Runtime is reduced by about 20% when using 2 x CR123A batteries

Specifications

  • 750 Lumen head torch (with 1500 turbo)
  • Water resistant IPX4 (Protects from splashing water, no matter the direction)
  • Powered by 1x Li-ion 18650 2200mAh 3.7v or 2xCR123A batteries
  • weight 165g

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 4/5

Full beam illumination 4/5

Low level light for reading 2/5

Red light 3/5

Water proofing 3/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 1/5

Weight and comfort 2/5

Overall rating

3 stars

Reasons to Buy

Powerful boost light, slim profile, rechargeable

Reasons to Avoid

non-user replaceable head strap, fiddly recharging, easy to be blinded by bright white light accidentally between modes

Buy Nebo Einstien 1500 Flex from Cotswold Outdoors


RECHARGEABLE HEAD TORCH – 400 LUMEN – HL900 USB V2

tested

Best on test overall: best head torch for sailing

Read the Forclaz HL900 review here

Light Modes:

Mode One : Red light, 3 lumen , 24hours

Mode Two : White, 30 lumen, 20 hours

Mode Three : White, 80 lumen, 8 hours

Mode Four : White, 200 lumen, 3 hours

Mode Five : white, 400 lumen, 10 minutes

Mode Six : white strobe, 400 lumen, 28 hours

Specifications

  • Weight: 102g
  • Batteries Required: 3x AAA if not using the rechargeable power cell supplied.
  • 3 hours charge time
  • waterproofing IPX7 (IPX7 – Protects in water up to 3 feet (1 meter)

Reasons to Buy

waterproof, good range of beams and power, rechargeable and has ability to use 3 x AAA batteries, excellent value for money

Reasons to Avoid

none

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 5/5

Full beam illumination 5/5

Low level light for reading 4/5

Red light 4/5

Water proofing 5/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 5/5

Weight and comfort 4/5

Overall rating

5 stars

Buy Forclaz HL900 from Decathlon

Buy it now from Decathlon UK


Forclaz HL500 USB

tested

Read the review of Forclaz HL500 head torch here

Light Modes:

Mode One : Red light, 4 lumen , 40 hours

Mode Two : White, 20 lumen, 30 hours

Mode Three : White, 80 lumen, 8 hours

Mode Four : White, 200 lumen, 3 hours

Mode Five : white strobe, 200 lumen, 20 hours

Specifications

  • 200 Lumen head torch
  • Weight 89g
  • waterproofing IPX 5 (IPX5 – Protects from water jets at any direction)
  • USB rechargeable built in battery

Results of testing:

Battery life and recharging time 5/5

Full beam illumination 4/5

Low level light for reading 4/5

Red light 3/5

Water proofing 4/5

Eco (recyclable packaging and ability to replace head strap) 5/5

Weight and comfort 4/5

Overall rating

4.5 stars

Reasons to Buy

Good level of waterproofing, easy USB charging, great value for money

Reasons to Avoid

may lack sophistication of more powerful head torches

Buy Forclaz HL500 from Decathlon