Head Torch for night Ultras

What head torches are people using for long night events?  The new Petzl Nao (575 lumen) has much better battery life than the earlier version.  I've been impressed with it so far.  Review here:



  • Sounds good...but over 100 would put it out of my budget...I get on breast with one of the cheap 13 pound ones...as long as the batteries are rechargeable then I'm happy

  • I think a lot depends on the sort of terrain you're on and the time of year.  I wouldn't want to be doing something like the Spine with just a cheap torch.  (then again I wouldn't want to be doing the Spine full stop!)

  • GeeeMGeeeM ✭✭✭

    I had one of the old Nao's and wasn't impressed with the battery life - it let me down badly in the middle of the night (twice). I may have just had a duff one, and it was well below freezing both times which may have contributed - but it ended up on eBay last year.

    I've now got a Silva Trailrunner II which I love and has a nice diffused beam, it also takes normal AAA batteries. I like the idea of rechargeable headtorches for shorter events, but if you want one that's going to last through 12+ hours and/or multiple nights then I'm always going to go for replaceable batteries AND a backup, (e-Lite or similar)


  • Hi GeeeM
    The new Nao is much better on battery life than the old model.  I got almost 8 hours on constant lighting out of it.  Petzl claim you'd get between 6.5 and 12.5 hrs on Reactive mode depending on the brightness.
    I don't know how much the cold affects the battery life.

    I've got the Trailrunner II - it's a nice little torch but hasn't got the penetrating beam for picking out distant objects.  The Nao is exceptional for that!

  • I'm on my second Alpkit Gamma (https://www.alpkit.com/products/gamma) and think that it's fab- I reckon I get around 10 hours at full blast on a set of batteries.

    I've also just picked up one of these http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/blue-mountain-headtorch-1w-ac210104?id_colour=124, a bit too wobbly when running but cheap as chips and can be unhooked from the headband so could be gaffer-taped to a set of handlebars.  Claimed battery life if pretty miserable and it needs a coin or a screwdriver to open it up.

  • GeeeMGeeeM ✭✭✭

    12.5 hours is still a bit low for an all-nighter in the winter, I'd definitely want a backup battery!

    As an aside - I've recently been using on old Alpkit Gamma as a handtorch by wrapping the headband around my wrist and placing the lamp unit over my knuckles. I really like being able to direct the beam without having to look that way, I also find it you get less "focussed" in your own little bubble of light. 

    Worth a tryimage

  • FF
    I've got an Alpkit Gamma, good cheap little torch but I can guarantee that it doesn't last 10 hours on full!  The lamp may stay on but it dims considerably.

    You could take a second Nao battery pack (although it would cost another 40 quid!)  Like the "knuckle light" idea, I've used the Gamma around my waist as a second torch to light up the ground just in front of me and give me more peripheral vision.  However the Nao gives such a good pool of light that I don't need to do that any more.

    This pic gives a comparison of the Gamma vs Nao 



  • I get on quite well with the LedLenser H7.2. It's comfy and once on, easy to forget about. However, you can easily rip through the battery life as you adjust the intensity with a rotary dial that's free, i.e. has no clicks.

    If you do a technical section and ramp up the beam, then forget to trim it back, you can find yourself without light very fast. OK if you know about it, but full power kills the beam inside two hours! This is also expensive in batteries unless using rechargeables!


    However, I have run sub eight minute miles, offroad (muddy, rocky) downhill and it's lit the way perfectly, cutting through the dark. For sub two hour training in winter, I think it's really very good. One addition I'd really like to see is a small blinking red LED on the rear, which would be a great safety feature.

  • i have3 been using my cheap one off road during this winter..i do always take a back up battery pack. and there is saftery that there are two of us so if one went then there is still spare.....

    but i have to admit My cheap one has lasted me through the night in the cold welsh mountains.....I would love to think i could afford this one...but like all bits of kit..... you have to weigh up what you really want and need...

     when i do the headtorch run with running club even on half beam I am lighting up the way for the runners infront of me as mine is so much brighter than theirs.. 


     I do worry about the batttery life on full beam but I can go all night with two sets of batteries in winter


  • I have the older petzel myo rxp2 love it, and cost £40odd very happy with that, and I hate the idea of having to change the batteries overnight, and this has upto 210 but has a high standard light that is one hundred something, and can last through a winter night, which the nao cannot do (unless your turn it right down). So you need to carry another battery, which is of course another added expense.

  • Fell Running Guide wrote (see)

    I've got an Alpkit Gamma, good cheap little torch but I can guarantee that it doesn't last 10 hours on full!  The lamp may stay on but it dims considerably.

    FRG- fair point on the Gamma, it's not a regulated output so it does dim over time, but the absence of the electronics to do this means it is a low price.  I replace the batteries before they are completely spent.  

  • thatys what i hate about the non rechargeable batteries......

    its not like full beam until the batteries die.....it is full beam with new batteries and then starts to fade..and so i was replacing batteries all the time to have the full light... and i was having to throw out half used batteries  image

  • If you get a "regulated" torch it stays on full brightness until the batteries die (ideally after flashing a warning!)  So no half used batteries!

    I've been using a torch with rechargeables on winter nights and if it's particularly cold the batteries give up very quickly, even after being fully charged.  When I get home and the torch warms up it works again!  It doesn't do that with standard (non rechargeable) batteries.  So there are points for and against rechargeables.

  • Hi all, so im in for the Oner (yikes) in a few weeks time and I currently have a led lenser h7 which I used at last years endure24 mudfest. I wasn't overly impressed with the battery life, probably got about 3 hours out of it.

    I estimate Id need a light for about 9 hours give or take and don't really want to carry more than one set of spares.

    Any past competitors about to offer up an opinion. I was tempted by the led lenser refresh (the 7.2).

    Cheers in advance,


  • The BusThe Bus ✭✭✭

    I've got a NAO 2. It's a great torch in many ways - very bright, very clever and comfortable to run with - but battery life on Reactive is nowhere near as high as claimed. I mainly use it for a run home after work through woods that takes about 50 mins. Even using the lower power settings when the highest is not needed, and making sure I keep it tilted down as per instructions, I barely get 3 runs out of it before it switches to emergency power, which is another bugbear of mine! It does this with almost 20% battery life left and there is no way to override it other than switch it on, have it flash at you and then two minutes later flash again, then dim to emergency mode! Very annoying, when you know you could get another 20 mins of full beam before the battery gets badly low if it would let you!

    It also suffers from having a non-standard battery pack. The battery is actually just a 18065, but packaged in a way so as to make a Petzl version the only (very expensive) option for a spare, and not as high capacity as some either. There are websites that tell you how to adapt a standard 18065 if you are handy with a soldering iron! 

    I've never used them, but understand Black Diamond do some headtorches with very long battery life, designed for long nights cragging rather than running. The Black Diamond Icon has a claimed 80 hours on its 200 lumen high output!

  • Good points Bus
    I think the battery loses power whilst being stored, so fully charged it might give the claimed life on Reactive mode but when partially discharged then stored it seems to drain.  I now charge it before running rather than after running if you see what I mean.

    Agree with you about the battery!  Even if you do manage to adapt a standard 18065 (or even get a Petzl replacement) it will be very fiddly to replace in the field with gloves and / or cold fingers!

  • The BusThe Bus ✭✭✭


    I'd be interested to run mine from fully charged to exhaustion in one go - but I know I would almost certainly run out of steam first image

  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    Instead of looking for a head torch, you should try to see the 'light' and realise that night ultras are...... Place your own disparaging words here.
  • Lol, indeed, night ultras!!

    Good shout on the Black Diamond. I se they do a polar version where you can stow the battery pack! That might be the one. Im not too bothered about carrying an extra 4 batteries so that would see me through!!



  • Hi guys - I recently wrote a headtorch review and did some comparative stats (as I hadn't seen many) for popular brands... I hope it's useful! http://mountaingoattrails.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/kit-review-suprabeam-v3-pro-rechargeable.html

  • @ Run the Wild
    I like the build quality of the Suprabeam but couldn't get on with the on / off switch.  I kept accidentally switching it with my thumb when trying to tilt the light.  Plus it is a bit tricky to operate with thick gloves.
    Other than that it looks a good torch.

  • Hi @ Fell Running Guide! Thank you for your comments, I had that problem too but they updated it so it had to be held down for 1.2 seconds to stay on now so much better than before image

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    For all my night ultras I've just used the Petzl Tikka, or it might be the Tikka+, I'm not sure, and I'm very pleased with it.  3x alkaline AAA batteries which last about 30 hours. I try to use the lowest of the 3 light settings to conserve battery life.

    The secret is to try to avoid using too much light to preserve your night vision.  In most places there is enough ambient light from distant towns reflecting off clouds, or when there is a decent moon you scarcely need a torch.  In a dark sky area or in the middle of a forest it is different, of course.

    I've also got the Tikka XP but find it a little too heavy on the forehead.  Batteries, also 3x AAA, only last about 10-12 hours with only 2 light settings, the highest being very bright. It does have the added feature of a whistle in the headband which saves packing one of those and a few g!

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    paul b - I've done The Oner - good luck with that!  If you want some advice do try to recce the Portland section in the daylight.  Just about everybody gets lost round there in the night.  There are also some very dangerous cliffs just a few feet away in places, so perhaps a decent torch is needed after all!!  I managed OK though.

  • Hi T-rex! lol, thanks, im expecting it to be tough image I recced the section from durdle door to swanage (about 24 miles) last weekend and it was ok, think that was about 4500 foot! ive heard Portland changes but not going to have a chance of getting there before the day, I will be glued to the gps on that section lol!

    As for head torches I went for a blackdiamond polar in the end, didn't fancy the batteries on my head!


  • I've just bought the Suprabeam V3 as a replacement for my old Petzl MyoXP...the Suprabeam is no doubt a better light, easy to adjust wide / spot and VERY bright - but as noted above it is easy to accidentally turn off when trying to tilt it. No doubt in a long race you could tilt it to the angle required and never have to touch it again (will be using it on the GUCR next month) but when getting it set up just right it takes a fair bit of experimental tilting and zooming - and subsequent accidental turn-offing.

  • Hi @ Lake Runner glad you like the Suprabeam although worrying it turns off easily, I normally hold onto the grip around the light lens to adjust tilt and zoom which means I haven't accidentally turned it off yet, maybe that helps. Best of luck with the GUCR!!

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