Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800 Headtorch Review

The Bright As Day 800 headtorch from Moonlight Mountain Gear is a powerful, versatile torch. Here I take a look at its features and discuss who might use it.

For some types of running you can get away with a head torch that offers moderate levels of brightness and short battery life. However there are times when you need something significantly more powerful and with a battery that can see you through an extended outing. The Bright As Day 800 falls into the second category.

photo of Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800 head torch

Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800

First impressions

As soon as you see the B.A.D. 800 you can tell it is a quality product. From the sleek, black, aluminium design of the torch unit to the simple yet sturdy battery pack with its thick connecting cable, the torch gives the impression that it is built to last. There is no cheap, flimsy plastic that is likely to crack or break after a few uses. It simply looks great!

Obviously the use of aluminium rather than plastic, and a battery with enough juice to last all night is going to come with a weight penalty. When you pick the torch up you can tell that it is heavier than some others, but this feels reassuring rather than a burden. The soft, zippered carrying pouch with its Moonlight Mountain Gear logo rounds off the quality vibes.

Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800 head torch

BAD night out


The Bright As Day 800 is very easy to operate. It has 4 brightness settings activated by a single large button on top of the head unit. One press switches the torch on in its lowest setting of 40 lumens. A second press gives 200 lumens, another press gives 400 lumens and a fourth press switches to the brightest setting of 800 lumens – hence the name of the torch. A double press whilst the torch is on takes you to flashing strobe mode. A long press switches the torch off. The torch unit has dual beams, both of which illuminate together giving a mix of floodlight and spotlight combined.


Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800 head torch on charge

USB-C battery on charge

The battery is a powerful 4700 mAh Li-ion unit with an external USB – C charging port (a charging cable is supplied). This makes recharging really simple so there’s no excuse for setting off with a half charged battery! A red light shows that the battery is charging and this turns to blue when fully charged. The battery affixes easily to the rear of the headband and is secured with a wide velcro type strap. The B.A.D. 800 is versatile in that it comes supplied with a one metre extension cable that allows the battery to be removed from the headband and carried in a pocket or bumbag / backpack. This is worth considering in very cold conditions where protecting the battery from the cold will help preserve battery life. The off-the-head battery option also gives flexibility if wearing a helmet, (what do you mean you don’t wear a helmet for running!) useful for cyclists for example. It is also good to have that option as some people find batteries worn on the rear of their head to be uncomfortable. The torch and battery combined weigh 248g of which 100g is the battery, the actual torch unit only weighs 55g with the head strap and cable accounting for the rest.

A further feature that adds to the multi sport use of the torch is the GoPro compatible mount. A large knurled knob allows the torch unit to be completely removed from the head band and it can be re-mounted onto a GoPro mount on a chest strap, helmet or handlebars.

photo of Moonlight Mountain Gear GoPro mount

GoPro type head unit

On test

I’ve been using the B.A.D. 800 on night runs in the Peak District for the last 6 weeks. One of the first things I consider when using a head torch is ease of operation. Some torches have lots of settings but use two buttons and multiple sequences of presses to scroll through the settings. I find it really frustrating if it’s a complicated process to get to the required setting! The Bright As Day doesn’t suffer from this problem, scrolling through the brightness settings is very intuitive. Another thing to consider is how easy the torch is to operate whilst wearing gloves. If you are running in the dark in winter there’s a high chance that you will be wearing gloves, maybe thick ones or even mittens. I found that the single large button on top of the torch could easily be pressed even when I was wearing mittens.

Battery life is obviously important. Have you ever been out on a run and had your torch die on you? No? Just me then! I’m always quite sceptical about manufacturers’ claims regarding battery life so I tested the torch against Moonlight Mountain Gear’s claims. They claim 4hrs on full power of 800 lumens. I fully charged the torch then left it switched on on maximum setting. It lasted 3 hours 50 minutes before it flashed and went to low power mode. At least it doesn’t go out completely and leave you in the dark! I got another 20 minutes before it switched off completely. I did this test at home in a warm room so you may get slightly less in cold conditions.

picture of Moonlight Mountain Gear BAD 800 battery life

I got slightly less than claimed battery life

I found that I was able to do lots of running and fast paced walking on setting #2 which would probably give over 7 hours of battery life. I upped the power to 400 lumens for some faster paced running and if I wanted to see further ahead. I did use the torch on full power just for the sake of it and it is very impressive! However I found that the highest setting was overkill for running and I’d really just use it occasionally, to pick out a distant trig point or dry stone wall for example.

The torch comes with a head strap that allows you to remove the over-the-head section and just wear a single band around the head. I tried both ways and didn’t find that I needed the over-the-top strap. The head band has a silicone coating on the inside to help with grip. I used it mainly whilst also wearing a hat or buff and found that it always stayed in place. I did find it a bit tricky to adjust the fit of the head band. I’d got it a bit too tight on the first outing and it took a while to slacken it off – I had to take my gloves off to do so. As such it isn’t ideal to swap between users with different sized heads or if you need to adjust it on the go if putting a hat off or on for example.


The Moonlight Mountain Gear Bright As Day 800 isn’t in the category of lightweight head torches and it isn’t cheap. However it is powerful with great battery life and is simple to operate. The GoPro mount and battery extension lead make it a versatile torch for multi sport use. If you want a torch for short runs on easy terrain you don’t need this one. However if you want a robust torch that will give you a long battery life and plenty of power this would be a great choice. I’d happily use the B.A.D. 800 for a Bob Graham Round or similar mountain outing. It has gained a great reputation in Europe and the U.S. where it was worn by winners of the Hardrock 100, Western States 100 mile and UTMB races in 2022.

picture of Moonlight Mountain Gear BAD 800 head torch

it’s a winner!


800 lumens, 4700mAh Li-ion USB-C.

Weight – 248g (head unit 55g)

RRP – £145

Moonlight Mountain Gear also make even brighter torches designed for faster paced activities such as mountain biking and skiing. Check their website for more details:

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Nitecore NU25 / NU25UL Headtorch Review – How does it perform?

Nitecore head torches are becoming increasingly popular with hikers and runners who want a lightweight torch that still offers good performance in terms of brightness and battery life. Here I look at Nitecore’s latest lightweight offerings, the NU25 and the NU25UL.

The Nitecore NU25 and NU25UL are essentially the same torch with a different headband. The UL shaves around 10g off by just using elastic cord rather than a cord and strap combination on the NU25. Take the headbands off and you’ve got identical torches. The torch body is plastic which combined with the headband design gives a very lightweight torch. I tested the torches on numerous outings whilst trail running and camping in the Peak District.

Nitecore NU25 & NU25UL side by side

Nitecore NU25 & NU25UL


The torch unit comprises of dual lenses, giving floodlight and spotlight, which can be used either on their own or in combination. In dual mode there are three brightness settings; low, medium and high. There is also an ultra low setting, strobe mode and red light mode using  two small red LEDs.

photo of Nitecore NU25 head torch

Nitecore NU25

On the top of the torch are two buttons, a rectangular on / off button and a circular mode button. A long press of the on / off button turns the torch on in dual mode (both spot and floodlights illuminated) on its lowest setting of 60 lumens. Another press increases the brightness to 200 lumens and a third press goes to the brightest setting of 400 lumens. Pressing the mode button allows you to choose either floodlight or spotlight if you don’t want to use them combined and you can choose either 60 or 200 lumens on each. The mode button also takes you to red light mode (you can choose either constant or flashing). An ultra low, 6 lumen white light setting is reached by double pressing the on / off button. Strobe / SOS mode is reached by double pressing the mode button and gives a choice of regular flash or dot dot dash flash pattern. Finally, a single press of the mode button whilst the torch is off gives you the battery power indicator; 4 tiny blue LEDs show how much battery is left according to how many light up.

Nitecore NU25 USB C recharge

USB C recharge and battery indicator

The elasticated cord on the headband is reflective and also glows in the dark. Tension can be easily adjusted, even whilst on the move by pulling the cord through a toggle. The lamp unit can be adjusted to tilt downwards and a rubber cover protects the charging port. The IP66 waterproof rating means you don’t need to worry about the torch failing in the wet – so no excuse not to go out if it’s dark and raining!

Nitecore NU25 and NU25UL side by side

same torch different strap


The NU25 is powered by an internal 650mAh li-ion battery which is charged via an external USB – C port.


NU25 58g, NU25UL 47g (on my scales)


NU25 £49, NU25UL £45

My thoughts:

Does all that selection of setting sound a little complicated?! It took me several uses to figure out how to switch between the different modes and sometimes I actually needed to take the torch off my head and look at it to see which lamps were illuminated! Often it was a case of pressing the buttons at random until I settled on a setting that seemed best. It doesn’t help that I have several different torches, each with different operating functions and admittedly if this was your only torch you’d probably soon get used to its operation.

The buttons are very small and lie quite flush with the body of the torch. This makes using the switches whilst wearing gloves quite difficult and with mittens it is almost impossible. Not a problem if you are using the torch without gloves but something to consider if using it in winter. The on / off button does have little pimples which help to locate it if you are gloveless. I tried both torches to get a feel for the different head bands and found the slightly heavier non UL version to be more comfortable. I would probably forgo a little bit of weight saving and choose the slightly heavier head band if I was choosing between the two torches. The reflective cord is useful if you want to be seen from behind or the side, for example whilst running on unlit roads.

Battery life is claimed to be 2 hrs 40 mins on maximum power. I tested the NU25 by fully charging it then leaving it on Dual Beam full power mode (indoors in a warm room) and it lasted for 2 hrs 27 minutes (I’d expect that it maybe a shorter duration if outdoors on a cold night) It then suddenly switched to a very dim reserve mode, this would be quite a shock if you were running, but at least you aren’t cast from high power to complete darkness all at once! Reserve mode lasted another 50 minutes before the torch switched off altogether. The external USB – C port allows you to easily charge the torch, for example whilst driving or even via a power bank whilst you are carrying it. The fact that there is no compartment to open to access the battery means there is no clip or hinges to break. Recharge from completely drained to fully charged (4 blue lights) took just over 2 hours using the supplied USB-C cable.

chart showing Nitecore battery life figures

claimed battery life is less than in reality!

I found that the medium setting of 200 lumens was sufficient for easy trail running and night walking with the odd burst of 400L in more tricky terrain. The ultra low mode was useful for camping when I wanted the inside of my tent to be gently illuminated. The cord allowed me to easily hang the torch inside my tent and the glow-in-the-dark cord means you can find your torch again for several minutes after you have turned it off.

NU25 floodlight mode

NU25 in floodlight mode


Whilst this is not the the torch that I’d use for serious mountain outings or Bob Graham support etc the Nitecore NU25 is a great torch for shorter runs on less technical terrain where battery life and brightness are less important. It is still powerful enough to cope with a very long run on medium power. The settings can take a little getting used to and it can be tricky to change modes whilst wearing gloves. It is my torch of choice for fast-packing and lightweight camping as at around 50g the weight is barely noticeable yet it packs enough of a punch to get you off the hill in the middle of the night if needs be. It would also make a great back up torch if heading into the mountains.

More detailed video review here:

Available here:
Nitecore Website:

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Nitecore UT27 Headtorch Review

The Nitecore UT27 is a lightweight Dual Beam head torch ideally suited to trail and fell running.

Following on from the UT32, Nitecore have produced another lightweight, dual beam head torch; the UT27, available from November 2021


The UT27 is simple in its design with the battery housed in the same unit as the lenses. Having the battery on the front of the head rather than in a separate rear housing can sometimes make head torches feel “top heavy” and unbalanced but not this one. The UT27 weighs in at a remarkably light 75g including battery. This is one of the lightest head torches that I have come across, at least that can realistically be used for fell running. The main body of the torch is plastic and although lightweight it doesn’t feel flimsy. The torch has two separate lenses mounted side by side; floodlight and spotlight and operation is by two buttons (W and T) on the top of the torch which control each of the beams respectively. I don’t know what W and T stand for, F and S would make more sense! The UT27 has an IP66 rating so should be water tight even in really bad weather! The battery compartment glows in the dark after it has been illuminated – theoretically that could make changing the batteries easier but it would still be a tough challenge without a second light source and not something I’d be wanting to try whilst out on the fells in bad weather! The torch comes supplied with battery, recharging cable and a small carry bag that acts as a diffuser which is useful when in a tent.

photo of Nitecore UT27 Dual Beam headtorch

Nitecore UT27 Dual Beam head torch


The UT27 is versatile in that it uses both a rechargeable Li-ion 1300mAh battery pack (supplied) as well as standard AAA batteries. The pack is recharged via the supplied USB-C cable and can either be removed from the torch or left in place with the battery compartment open during recharging. An LED on the battery pack turns from red to green when fully charged.

Claimed battery life ranges between 6 (Spotlight HIGH) and 13 hours (Floodlight LOW) although I haven’t fully tested this claim yet.

Nitecore UT27battery pack

USB-C rechargeable Li-ion battery or 3 x AAA


Each lens has two settings; simply high or low. Floodlight High gives 200 lumens, Low 55 lumens. Spotlight High gives 400 lumens, Low 100 lumens. There is also a Turbo mode where both lenses are illuminated giving 520 lumens. Two single LEDs also give either constant or flashing red light, useful for emergency signalling or when you only need a very low setting. These red LEDs also indicate how much battery power is remaining. Each button controls each beam i.e. one button (marked W) for the floodlight, one (marked T) for spotlight. A long hold switches that particular lens on after which another press toggles between high and low brightness. To switch to the other lens simply press the other button. A quick double press of either button turns on turbo mode which automatically turns off after 30 seconds to preserve battery life if you forget to turn it off manually. The red LEDs are turned on by double clicking either button from when the torch is off. The torch can also be locked off to prevent it being switched on by accident.

close up photo of Nitecore UT27 head torch

a button for each lens

In Use

I found the Nitecore UT27 easy to operate. The twin buttons on top of the torch are reasonably easy to use whilst wearing gloves and the sequence of presses is fairly intuitive. The two beams are noticeably different, the floodlight giving a white light whilst the spotlight is a much warmer yellow light. This yellow beam is unusual compared to most other head torches that I’ve used and does take a bit of getting used to although I  do find it better for map reading as there is less harsh, reflective glare than with the white beam. In spotlight mode on high power the beam gives an impressive throw of light; 128 metres according to Nitecore’s statistics.

photo of Nitecore UT27 on floodlight setting

floodlight setting, high

photo of Nitecore UT27 on spotlight setting

spotlight setting, high

The torch can be angled down through a number of positions as far as 90 degrees (useful if tying your laces or looking in your bumbag) and the ratchet is firm enough that the chosen position stays fixed, even when running on uneven ground. It is comfortable to wear and the light weight would mean that it would remain so for extended periods, you hardly notice the weight.

photo of Nitecore UT27 head torch

head unit angled to 90 degrees

Overall I’m very impressed with the light weight and ease of use of the Nitecore UT27. It’s a great little torch for fell running and takes up very little room in a pack. It would be a good option for camping as well as running.


Very lightweight, easy to operate, versatile battery options.


Not the cheapest, yellow light takes a while to get used to.


Claimed 74g including battery and headband (75g on my scales)



UK Distributor:

US Distributor:

Full technical details: Nitecore website.

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Nitecore UT32 Headtorch Review

The Nitecore UT32 is a dual-light head torch designed for trail running.

The UT32 is an interesting torch with a unique feature in that it has two lenses; a standard white light and a warmer, yellow coloured light which is designed for use in poor visibility such as fog or drizzle. The theory is that the warm white light is better able to penetrate in poor visibility.


The Nitecore UT32 feels well made; the compact aluminium housing is reassuringly rugged without being heavy and two large buttons turn the torch on and control the settings. You need to press both buttons together to turn it on and the torch can be swiveled to prevent this happening accidentally. The torch is designed to be worn horizontally on the forehead and fits easily into the plastic head strap mount. It also comes supplied with a clip which allows it to be removed from the head mount and fixed elsewhere, for example on a rucksack strap or belt. It can also be used a hand held torch. An additional “over the head” elasticated strap is supplied for additional stability although I didn’t feel the need to attach it. The buttons and lenses are at one end of the torch, to switch between the cool white and warm white lenses you simply rotate the body of the torch 180 degrees and press the relevant button. Twisting the body of the torch allows you to adjust the angle of the beam up or down. The torch itself doesn’t have a recharging port, the batteries need to be charged separately. A battery may or may not be included – check before you buy (mine came with the NL1835R). The UT32 has a waterproof rating of IP68 (2 metres) and is shockproof to one metre and comes with a 5 year warranty. A spare O ring seal and button covers are also supplied.

photo of Nitecore UT32 head torch

Nitecore UT32 head torch


The UT32 uses either one Rechargeable Li-ion 18650 or two CR123 batteries. These are easy to fit by unscrewing the end cap of the torch. The torch might not come supplied with a battery, mine came directly from Nitecore and included an 18650 (3500mAh) Be aware that you can’t use any 18650 battery, I tried one with a flat top but it wouldn’t work, it needs to have a “button” top.

photo of Li-ion battery

No – Yes: flat top batteries don’t work!

The torch itself doesn’t have a USB recharging port so you need to charge the battery independently. I got Nitecore’s own NL1835R battery with USB port; you simply plug a standard micro USB charging cable directly into the battery.

photo of Nitecore NL18345R with USB port

Nitecore NL1835R battery with USB port


The settings on the UT32 are straightforward; there are two buttons, one for each lens and a single press scrolls through Low 70 lumens, Medium 200 lumens and High power 410 lumens. A long press gives a maximum brightness Turbo mode 1100 lumens which automatically drops down to the previous setting after 30 seconds. There are also two strobe settings; SOS and steady flash which are activated by three quick presses. Claimed battery life on high power is 3hr 45mins although I haven’t tested this.

In Use

I’ve used the Nitecore UT32 for several months including wild camping and a 5 hour overnight run supporting a Paddy Buckley round. I found it to be comfortable and stable. Despite all the weight being up front (the torch unit itself weighs 85g) it didn’t bounce around and I didn’t bother with the overhead strap.

runner wearing Nitecore UT32 torch

horizontal mount, single head band

The big buttons are easy to locate and operate even whilst wearing gloves. During the Paddy Buckley run we did find ourselves in cloud on some of the summits and thus reduced visibility. This gave me chance to try out the warm yellow light. To be honest I didn’t really notice much difference other than the colour of the beam which is noticeably orange. In conditions like that I simply take the torch off my head and hold it closer to the ground which gives much better visibility as the water droplets aren’t illuminated directly in front of your eyes.

photo of person holding the Nitecore UT32 torch

in bad visibility I hold the torch low to the ground

The shape of the UT32 does make it easy and comfortable to use as a hand held torch so that is how I used it in the “clag”. The design of the lenses means that the warm light mode gives a slightly further illumination distance as can be seen in the photos:

photo showing Nitecore UT32 fill beam

high power cool light

photo showing Nitecore UT32 fill beam

high power warm light

During the Paddy Buckley run I used the torch on the medium power setting and there was plenty of charge still available when I switched it off (if you unscrew the cap as if to remove the battery then screw it up again the torch flashes, the number of flashes indicating how much charge is left). As stated, the warm light setting is noticeably yellow / orange compared to the usual head torch setting and it takes a bit of getting used to. Having said that I find it preferable for use in a tent and around camp where it is much softer than the harsh, white, standard torch setting.


Easy to operate, comfortable, build quality, versatile, long warranty.


Not convinced of the effectiveness of the warm light setting in bad visibility.


Torch & battery 83g (125g worn weight inc. headband)


£74 (battery costs extra)

Available here
Also here (affiliate link)

Full technical details can be found on the Nitecore website.

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Petzl Nao+ 750L Headtorch Review

The Petzl Nao is a great headtorch for serious off road running so is the upgraded Nao+ with 750 lumens even better?

I’ve had the second generation Petzl Nao headtorch (the 575 lumen version) for a couple of years and have had chance to get the most out of it on long overnight runs. I used it on the Charlie Ramsay Round and the High Peak Marathon where long battery life was vital and the reactive lighting setting was really useful when using a map and compass. I’ve been fairly impressed with it so wondered if the updated Nao+ is even better.

photo of Petzl Nao+ headtorch

Petzl Nao+ head torch, distinguishable by its red trim

What’s new?

Looking at the Nao alongside the updated Nao+ the most obvious difference is the colour scheme with the Nao+ having a red, black and white head unit as opposed to the old light grey and white. Also the battery compartment is changed to red and black from the old grey.

photo of Petzl Nao+ battery pack

Red and Black on the Nao+ battery pack

Shape and size are still the same but there is a change to the attachment system with the non elastic black cord being replaced by elasticated red bungee type cord. I feel this gives a slightly better fit and is more comfortable. Other than that the versions appear the same.

photo of Petzl Nao head strap

elasticated bungee replaces static cord on the head strap

Cosmetics aside it’s the performance and operating system where the main differences lie. The Nao+ has the same Reactive Technology which senses the ambient and reflected light and brightens and dims the torch accordingly. Some people don’t like this but if I find that it is very useful if doing a lot of navigating, especially with a plasticated or laminated map as it significantly reduces the glare. Yes the Reactive function is affected by fog and even condensation from your breath on a cold night, but one twist of the large button switches to constant mode. Although still powered by Petzl’s own 3.7 V 2,600 mHa USB rechargeable Li-ion battery, output has increased from 575  to 750 lumens (actually I found the existing power to be perfectly adequate, even in the Mamores in the wee small hours). What is more useful is the increased battery life which now gives a claimed 12 hours in Reactive mode at 305 lumens. Whilst I’m generally sceptical of manufacturer’s claimed performances I can say from experience that it does have great battery life. I used the Nao+ on the Bob Graham Round using the low (305 lumen) Reactive setting and after 6 hours use the LED indicators still showed 2 bars (3 bars being fully charged). My old Nao only just got me through the night during the High Peak Marathon as it dimmed to reserve mode just as dawn was breaking, the Nao+ is able to last all night.

One new feature on the Nao+ is the addition of a rear red LED. This is very useful if leading a group or running along a dark lane with your back to traffic but it’s not a feature I want for racing as I don’t want people following me! So you would think “easy, just turn it off” but therein lies a problem; you need to use Petzl’s Bluetooth app to do so. Yes, if you want to turn the red light on or off mid run you have to fish out your smartphone, turn on Bluetooth, open the MyPetzl Light app and then change the settings. Oh and it’s probably raining and you’re wearing thick gloves. Great technology or a bit of a faff? You decide!

photo of Petzl Nao rear light

new for the Nao+ a rear red LED

The big difference

Which leads to the main difference between the latest version of the Petzl Nao and the previous incarnations. Now, to change any of the preset modes on the torch you need to use the “MyPetzl Light” Bluetooth app. Petzl market this feature saying that this makes it easy to change the settings in remote locations, so for example if you haven’t been able to recharge the battery you can reduce the brightness and thus prolong battery life using your phone. Hmm, not sure if I buy that! To me it’s just another app to bloat my phone and for some people who don’t bother to update their phones the app might not even be compatible!

photo of My Petzl Light app

Petzl’s Bluetooth app – great idea or a gimmick?

On the earlier Nao models you changed and customised the settings by plugging the torch into a computer and using the Petzl OS software, but the software doesn’t work with the Nao+ so you’re forced to use the Bluetooth app or stick with the factory settings (the latter have worked fine for me). Another annoyance is that the battery from my Nao isn’t compatible with the Nao+; so if you did want to do an event where a spare battery was needed you’d have to fork out for a spare (around £50) as the new version doesn’t allow for the use of AAA batteries as an emergency backup either.

Petzl Nao battery chart

Petzl website shows earlier batteries aren’t compatible

Petzl claim that the batteries aren’t interchangeable even though the connections look identical so I had a try at swapping them around.

photo of Petzl Nao battery connections

identical connections?

Oddly the Nao+ battery pack does fit onto the older Nao and the torch works, but annoyingly not the other way round. The connector doesn’t accept the battery and I’m reluctant to force it and damage something.

photo of Petzl Nao battery

the new battery works on the old torch but not vice versa!

I’d hoped that the Nao+ would have a strobe mode – it does but it can only be switched on via a paired smartphone (you can programme a Morse Code signal using the Bluetooth app). Not ideal if you’ve fallen and broken your ankle or become so hypothermic that you needed to signal for help! So whilst almost all cheap head torches can simply be switched to give an emergency signal the one torch that I am most likely to take with me to remote locations and runs where the consequences of injury are serious can’t!

Good Points

Just like the previous version of the torch the Nao+ gives a great spread of light and now has even longer battery life. The big switch is easy to operate even with bulky gloves. Reactive lighting means that you don’t get dazzled when looking at a map and it preserves battery life. If you don’t like the feature then one twist switches it off. The new bungee cord on makes it slightly more comfortable than the previous version.

Things to improve

The Bluetooth app isn’t for everyone! No problem if settings could be customised using Bluetooth as well as the existing OS system, but not instead of. Compatibility with the existing Nao battery packs would be a welcome feature (particularly for anyone upgrading from the Nao 575 lumen torch). The need to use a smartphone app just to turn the rear LED on and off is just too much hassle. An easily accessible emergency / strobe function as available on budget head torches should be a standard feature – imagine lying there with a broken leg and having to fish out your smartphone just to turn the strobe function on!

RRP £140


The new Petzl Nao+ retains the great features of its predecessor and adds even more brightness and battery life. It is certainly my first choice torch for long overnight runs involving navigation. However it is over complicated by reliance on a smartphone to change some of its basic settings. Sometimes simplicity rather than complexity is a selling point.

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Alpkit Viper 2 Head Torch Review

There are a lot of very bright, very expensive, feature laden head torches on the market these days. But not everyone needs a hugely powerful torch with batteries that last all night. What if your night runs take less than a couple of hours and are done at a fairly slow pace on easy ground; are there any head torches that are up to the task that don’t cost a fortune? The new Alpkit Viper might be worth a look.

Alpkit Viper head torch

Alpkit Viper 2 head torch

Alpkit have built up a reputation for cheap, no frills head torches and their Gamma has become very popular. The Gamma along with the original Viper provided a lightweight effective torch for less than £20. However at less than 100 lumens these torches weren’t really bright enough for anything but slow paced running on very even ground. However Alpkit have recently upgraded their torches giving them a bit more power.

Alpkit Viper & Gamma

Alpkit Viper & Gamma (mark 1) – great value torches, but not quite bright enough for trail running


Several things have changed on the 2017 version of the Viper. The new model now offers 160 lumens (compared to the previous 100) which makes it bright enough to cope with slightly faster running on more uneven terrain. The most obvious change though is a cosmetic one; the large button on top of the torch has gone and been replaced by two smaller buttons underneath the housing. This includes the on / off button and also a boost button designed to give a quick, focused beam of 280 lumens. This is ideal for picking out distant objects such as looking for the gate or stile to exit a field.

Alpkit Vipers version 1 and 2

Alpkit Vipers version 1 and 2

Alpkit Viper buttons

the buttons are now underneath the torch

The torch still takes 3x AAA batteries contained in the torch housing and is compatible with rechargeable batteries. The head unit itself can be angled down, pivoting through 5 positions whilst the elasticated strap is easy to adjust and can be removed for washing if it gets grubby from sweaty foreheads!

Alpkit Viper head band

headband is easily removed for washing

The Viper is very easy to operate; a single press gives a sequence of; Medium (51 lumen), High (160 lumen), Low (6 lumen), Red Constant, Red Strobe, Off.  The white light being provided by a single central LED and the red light by two small side LEDs. Mine also came supplied with batteries and in a handy little stuff sack which is useful for protecting it inside a rucksack or bum bag.

Alpkit Viper 2 x red LEDs

2 x red LEDs

What I like:

The Viper is lightweight, reasonably bright and easy to use. The button sequence is intuitive – no double clicking or press and hold just a simple, single press to change lighting modes. The boost button is a great feature when you want a quick burst of extra light. Even with the batteries housed in the unit itself the torch feels balanced and doesn’t bob too much when running. 2 hours battery life on full power is enough for most night runs and using rechargeable batteries makes it affordable. At less than £20 it is a very good value torch.

What could be improved:

Having the buttons underneath the torch housing takes some getting used to and I found that I inadvertently pressed the boost button when trying to adjust the angle of the housing. (It also means that you might instinctively put the torch on upside down!) Also the buttons are quite small and can be difficult to locate whilst wearing gloves. My biggest problem with the Viper is that I found it very difficult to open the battery compartment and I was worried that I was going to snap the little clasp. I found it tricky even indoors with warm hands so swapping the batteries mid run with cold fingers wouldn’t be a an easy task!

Alpkit Viper battery compartment

opening the battery compartment was tricky!

When would I use it:

The Viper is fine for short, steady paced runs on fairly even terrain where brightness and battery life aren’t paramount. I also find it useful on night time club coaching sessions when I use the low power or red mode so that I can talk to runners and see them without dazzling them. It’s an ideal torch to go into my emergency kit for mountain running and it will also go in my bum bag on evening “twilight” runs when I might just need a torch for the last fifteen to twenty minutes of a run.


The new Alpkit Viper is a great value for money head torch for times when you don’t need a huge amount of brightness or long battery life. It gives enough light for trail running at a steady pace on terrain that isn’t too technical. It is great as a back-up torch or to chuck into your bum bag just in case. At less than twenty quid can you afford not to have one?

Technical Information (as measured by me, not manufacturer’s stats)

Weight: 93g including batteries
Battery life (tested with 3 fully charged AAA eneloop batteries): 2 hours on full power before dimming
Price: £18 (as of Feb 2017) direct from Alpkit


head torch collection

What is the best head torch for running?

What is the best head torch for running? I’ve heard the question asked lots of times.

The answer is a bit harder to determine, a bit like asking which is the best car; whilst a Ferrari might be great for some things it’s not what you’d choose for taking the family on a camping holiday.  Go on any forum where the question is asked and you will have people swearing that their torch is the best and that everyone should buy the same model that they’ve got.  Well those people are wrong!!  What they actually mean is that think they have the best head torch for the type of running that they do. Whilst it might suit them it won’t suit the requirements of everyone. The person who says that their 100 lumen torch is perfectly adequate obviously doesn’t try to run down rocky, uneven ground at speed!

head torches for running

is your head torch a Ferrari or a camper van?

There is a huge range of head torches to choose from: cheap, dazzlingly bright Chinese imports, torches that automatically react to the ambient light levels, USB rechargeables, AAs, AAAs, 18650s, batteries in the head unit, batteries worn on the back of the head, batteries carried in an external pocket or waist belt, additional white, red and green LEDs, SOS mode, adjustable zoom, combined flood and spotlight…. the list goes on.

So rather than asking what is the best head torch you need to ask yourself some further questions.

What type of running will you do?

If you only intend to run at an easy pace on fairly even ground then you don’t need a very expensive or very bright torch. However if you’re planning long nights out on remote terrain then a more powerful torch with long battery life is essential.  If you are only going to be running for a couple of hours then again long battery life isn’t vital and so a torch with fewer batteries will suffice.  If you think you might progress to longer or more remote running it might be better to buy a torch that will be suitable for that rather than buying one that suits what you are currently doing and then finding that you need to upgrade.

Alpkit head torches

inexpensive torches for less challenging runs

Is brightness everything?

Some people mistakenly think that a brighter torch with more lumens is best; ever heard someone say “I got a cheap 1000 lumen torch off Ebay!”?  In some situations having a very powerful beam is important, for example when you need to see a long way into the distance, but if you’re night running rather than on a search and rescue exercise then the extra brightness can be overkill. What’s more it can dazzle other runners and dazzle yourself too if you are reading a map! Brighter torches need more powerful batteries which means extra weight, so your mega bright torch might weigh twice as much as your mate’s head torch which does just as good a job. In misty or foggy conditions a bright beam is actually worse than a dimmer one as the reflected light makes it harder to pick out features.

More important than brightness is the beam pattern. A bright, narrow beam is good for looking into the distance but doesn’t give a good spread of light. A wider, flood beam allows you to use your peripheral vision to see things rather than needing to turn your head and so is better for running, especially on technical ground.  A torch that lets you easily switch between spot and flood is a good option.

more expensive torches give a better spread of light

more expensive torches give a better spread of light

What features do you need?

Do you really need 8 different modes and brightness that is fully adjustable from bright to dim?  Is that red night vision mode really useful or is it just another setting that you need to cycle through before you get to the setting you want?  What about a rear light; some torches have a rear facing red LED which is great for leading a group, but not for leading a race!  Some torches can be turned off by infra red, you just wave your hand in front of them to switch them on and off.  That’s a great idea – until you scratch your forehead and accidentally plunge yourself into darkness!  Sometimes a simple on / off, bright / dim is all you need.

Will it be easy to carry?

A compact torch with batteries in the head unit will easily slip into a bumbag or even jacket pocket and can be put on in seconds. This makes it ideal for a twilight run when you don’t need to wear it at first but need it later in the run as it gets dark. That super bright torch with battery pack extension won’t be as comfortable to carry and your mates will have put their torches on and gone whilst you’re still trying to route the cable down the inside of your jacket and into your bum bag!

some torches have the option of carrying the battery off the head

some torches have the option of carrying the battery in a bum bag rather than on the head

Will it be easy to operate?

That might sound a bit daft but some head torches have tiny buttons. They’re easy to operate when you’re in the nice warm shop but what about when you’re out on the cold hillside with your thick gloves on. Will you still be able to feel the button then?  Most of the time you won’t need to change the mode whilst you’re on the run but sometimes you might want to turn the torch off to look at the stars or turn it to zoom to look for a field exit.  It can be really frustrating if you have to go through a sequence of clicks and holds to to do this, and then again to get back to the setting you were on.  Torches with lots of modes are fine, but sometimes less is more and simplicity wins.  Also have a look at the battery pack and imagine trying to change the batteries with gloves on or with cold hands.  Some can be very fiddly – not what you want to discover on a wet and windy night!

Will it fit your head?

Again, it may sound obvious but we’ve got different shaped heads! It might be that the torch your mate loves has a battery pack on the back that just doesn’t suit the shape of your head or that your pony tail gets in the way.

will the torch be comfortable on your head?

will the torch be comfortable on your head?

Do you believe the hype?

If you read the manufacturer’s technical details you might think that your 200 lumen torch has a life of 20 hours on maximum setting. It might last for 20 hours but the chances are that 16 of them will be too dim to allow you to run. Some cheap imports claim to put out a huge amount of lumens, but how do you know that’s accurate?

Dare you trust a cheap import?

It’s true that you can pick up a very bright Cree LED torch for less than £20 on Ebay and many people have bought them and are happy with them.  But there are others who have had them pack up and even catch fire or explode whilst charging!  Are those UltraFire batteries that came with it really the genuine article or are are they fakes?  If it does stop working you’ll be out of pocket as you won’t be able to send it back but that might not be your only concern.  If the lights go out on a country lane close to home it’s not the end of the world, if you’re up a mountain in the middle of the night it’s more serious.  So depending on what you’re using it for you might want to think about paying a bit more for a torch from a reputable company.

Can you justify buying two?

Anyone from a cycling background will know that it’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one bike, even if they cost thousands of pounds each!  Likewise you might justify that you can own more than one head torch; a powerful one with long battery life for serious outings and a lighter one for less challenging runs and as your “back up” torch.

head torch collection

it’s ok to own more than one torch!

Personal Experience

I’ve tried lots of different head torches in different situations, from long night outings such as the High Peak Marathon, the Paddy Buckley round and the Charlie Ramsay Round to short fast training sessions in the dark.  I use a head torch whilst coaching on winter evenings and whilst leading off road night runs.  I’ve also tested different torches for various magazines and the thing I’ve found is that there isn’t a “best torch”.  There are torches that are really good for the type of running that I was doing at the time and torches that weren’t suited to that type of running.  Even the most expensive torches lack some features that could be useful.

night running on technical terrain

night running on technical terrain

The first torch I bought was too bulky, the second had poor battery life and let me down on a night race. Only now on my third purchase have I found what works best for me for the majority of the running that I do – but this won’t suit everybody – and even still I use other torches for other runs.

So there’s no such thing as the best head torch for running, just an ideal torch for the run that you are currently doing, but tomorrow’s run might be different!

fell running guide

Petzl Nao

Petzl Nao 575 Lumen Headtorch

Some types of trail and fell running only require a modestly bright head torch giving a couple of hours battery life.  For more serious ventures you need a torch with a bit more power and one that gives you several hours of battery life on a bright setting.  For example an overnight event such as the High Peak Marathon requires runners to spend upward of 8 hours in the dark during which they must navigate across the notoriously difficult Bleaklow, whilst 24 hour rounds such as the Bob Graham require route finding in the high mountains during the hours of darkness.  In these situations, having a powerful head torch to see the route and not having to stop to change batteries saves both time and hassle.  So is there a head torch that is up to the task?  Step forward the new Petzl Nao 575 lumen.

Petzl Nao 575 lumen head torch

Petzl Nao (2014) 575 lumen head torch

The first version of the Nao got good reviews for its brightness and Reactive Lighting feature but fell short of expectations on battery life.  The 2014 model not only has an upgrade in brightness from 315 to 575 lumens it also gives a much better battery life.  I tested Petzl’s claim of 8 hours on constant lighting at 120 lumens and the battery lasted 7 hrs 50 mins before the torch flashed a warning and dropped to Reserve Mode (a dim light of about 20 lumens which should last for an hour)

Reactive Lighting – is it a gimmick?
When I heard about this my first thoughts were yes.  However I then found myself navigating on a night run and being dazzled by the glare from my laminated map and having to manually adjust my torch’s brightness.  When I tested the Reactive setting on the Nao I didn’t think it was working – the change in brightness was instant as I looked down to open my bum bag and then looked up again to continue running.  I also realised the other benefit of the Reactive Lighting function; improved battery life.  As you look at close objects such as the ground immediately in front of you the torch dims, thus saving battery life.  Only when you point your head to the distance does the torch illuminate on full power.  If you don’t want the feature you can simply twist the switch to turn it on to constant lighting with a choice of two brightness settings (the default settings are 480 lumens or 120 lumens but can be altered using the OS software)

I’ve heard stories that the reactive lighting gets confused in foggy conditions or by your condensing breath in cold, damp conditions.  I haven’t really found this to be a problem although the torch was affected by the glare from the reflective trim on someone’s rucksack when I was following them and it kept flaring from bright to dim.  I don’t feel this is a major problem because if it annoys you then you can simply switch to constant lighting mode.

Programmable Power
A clever feature of the new Nao is that you can customise the brightness using Petzl’s OS software.  You simply plug the torch into a computer with the supplied USB lead and you can change the torch’s settings.  For example if you know that you are going to need the torch for five hours you can tweak the settings to allow this.  The software allows you to set up different profiles for different activities.  To be honest, unless you are going to be in darkness for over 5 hours you probably won’t need this feature.  However for an overnight event such as the High Peak Marathon it is really useful to know how long your battery is going to last! Many people won’t use this software but the techie minded may love it!

customising the torch using Petzl's software

customising the torch using Petzl’s OS software

How easy is it to use?
Some torches can be quite confusing to operate requiring a sequence of press, double press, press and hold etc to select the desired light but not the Nao.  One big button needs a single twist to turn on (from the locked off position which prevents accidental turning on) and another twist to change between brightnesses.  A long twist changes from constant to reactive mode.  One thing I really like is that the big button is easy to find and twist even when wearing bulky gloves.  This is a huge advantage that the Nao has over Petzl’s other Reactive torch the RXP which is terribly fiddly to use.

A feature that is missing is a flashing / strobe. It’s probably the least used function on your torch but considering that the Nao is the type of torch that you are most likely to take on remote runs I’m surprised that it is missing.

The Lithium Ion battery pack is easy to disconnect and recharge, it simply plugs in to a USB charger (so can be recharged via 12v socket in a car).  A full recharge takes around 5 hours and three green LED’s indicate battery level.  These also illuminate briefly when the torch is turned off so you know how much battery is left.  In an emergency the battery can be replaced by two AAA’s but this gives reduced brightness and no Reactive Lighting functionality.

recharging the Nao's battery

recharging the battery (note the green LEDs)

The Nao is comfortable to wear and well balanced.  The whole unit weighs 185g with the head and battery units being connected by a simple elastic and cord system.  An additional over the head strap is supplied but I didn’t feel the need to use it.

Petzl Nao head torch

well balanced and comfortable

I’ve been using the Nao over the winter for both guided running and training.  I was particularly impressed when on a trip to an unfamiliar forest I was able to run on wet, technical, narrow trails at full pace; it was leg speed rather than illumination that was the limiting factor!  As much as the brightness it is the wide pool of light that the Nao gives off that is impressive.  Some torches give a narrow beam but the Nao allows you to use peripheral vision rather than you having to turn your head to see objects at the side.

I chose the Petzl Nao for my Charlie Ramsay Round. I needed a torch with enough power to illuminate the rough steep terrain (especially the descent off Chno Dearg) and yet enough battery power to last through the night with no faffing with battery changes. The reactive function also really came into its own, dimming every time I looked at the map then seamlessly brightening as I looked back at the terrain. I also pre-programmed the torch to give me 5 hours of battery life so I knew that it would last until dawn.

brew stop at Loch Eilde Mor

brew stop on the Ramsay round

The power and spread of the Nao’s light is really noticeable when you compare it with other torches. When running in a group one thing you need to consider is that if you run behind someone with a dimmer torch you will put them in their own shadow!

the Nao outshines lesser torches

the Nao outshines lesser torches

Is it worth it?
Over £100 is a lot to pay for a head torch especially as there are some decent torches around for less than half the price.  But having used the Nao and got used to how comfortable and easy to operate it is and how it literally outshines the opposition I’d say it is definitely worth it. For serious winter fell running or for anyone considering night runs where both brightness and long battery life are important factors, the Petzl Nao is a great choice.

Nao 2014, good choice for serious fell runners

Petzl Nao 575 lumen, a good choice for serious fell runners


Pros: Great battery life, easy to use whilst wearing gloves, simple sequence functions, reactive feature is excellent when map reading.

Cons: Expensive, no strobe function.

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Fell Running Guide

AP ProSeries 100 Lumens Head Torch Review

AP ProSeries 100 Lumens Head Torch Review

Active Products isn’t a name that immediately springs to mind when thinking of head torches.  However this little torch with its interesting features might be worth a look for easy trail running.

Those of you who know the Alpkit Manta will instantly recognise its design and whilst it shares some features it has some differences too, not least a built in motion sensor that lets you switch it on and off with the wave of a hand.

AP Pro Head Torch

AP Pro Head Torch

The key features of the AP Pro include the smooth dimming function: rather than clicking through a series of brightness settings you press and hold the on / off button and the torch cycles through 100 lumens down to 10.  You simply release the button when you have found your desired brightness.  The focus can be manually adjusted from spot to wide beam by moving a lever above the lens.  This is particularly useful when you need to change from illuminating the ground immediately in front of you to looking further ahead – for example looking for the gate or stile where your path exits the field.

As well as the main 100 lumen Cree the torch has 2 smaller red LEDs that work in either constant or flashing SOS modes.

3 AAA batteries supplied

3 AAA batteries supplied and a 3 yr guarantee

The stand out feature of the torch is the second button that switches to motion sensor mode: press this and the torch can be switched on and off by waving your hand in front of the lens.  It’s an interesting feature that might be useful for people wearing big gloves but I haven’t quite worked out where I might use it whilst night running, I certainly wouldn’t want to inadvertently plunge myself into darkness whilst on the hoof!

The 3 AAA batteries (supplied) are housed within the main unit and so all the weight is on the forehead although at 109g this isn’t too much of an issue.  A piece of foam protecting your forehead and the single, adjustable elasticated headband give a comfortable fit and the head unit can be angled down through 8 notches on a seemingly secure ratchet to give varying angles of illumination.  Battery life on full power is claimed to be 8 hours, however this doesn’t mean you will get 100 lumens all the way through an 8 hour night run!  The torch feels sturdy and is designed to last as Active Products give a 3 year guarantee.

All in all, a neat little torch suitable for non technical trail running, just remember though – if you set it to motion sensor don’t go wiping the sweat from your brow as you run, your lights will go out!

See the features of the AP Pro here:

Interested in trying out the AP Pro?  Why come on one of my guided night runs


Alpkit Headtorch Review

What’s the best headtorch for trail running?

Well if you want to light up the whole hillside with hundreds of lumens you could shell out the best part of £150 on a Petzl Nao or the 550 lumen Silva Runner.  Even with these “serious” torches you’re not guaranteed that the batteries will last the overnight section of a 24 hour event, especially in winter.

But what if mega brightness isn’t the be all and end all and you want an affordable headtorch that will do for a few hours night running on easy trails?

Last year I used an Alpkit Gamma (88 lumens) and loaned it to clients for guided night runs on non technical trails.  I also used it as my back up torch when doing more serious overnight running (I even wore it as a waist torch to supplement my headtorch whilst doing the Paddy Buckley Round) and found it perfect for my winter coaching sessions.

Lightweight at 118g including batteries

Lightweight Gamma at 118g including batteries

The Gamma has an overhead strap and rear compartment taking 3 AAA batteries and weighs in at only 118g (including batteries).  As well as the main Cree light it has single white, red and green LEDs which are useful when map reading or when lower brightness is all that is needed (such as when coaching as I can use the single LED without blinding the runners!)

Alpkit Gamma rear LED

rear red LED on the Gamma

Now Alpkit have launched a new torch, the Viper.  Again powered by 3 AAAs but housed in the main unit rather than in a separate compartment the Viper does away with the overhead strap and weighs in at a slightly lighter 97g (including batteries)  It is also slightly brighter with a 100 lumen main beam and two lower powered LEDs giving a wide beam option.

Alpkit Viper head torch

Slightly lighter Viper

Both torches have a tilt mechanism on the main body which move with a sturdy “click” (unlike some more expensive torches) whilst one press of the single button allows you to cycle through different brightness levels and flashing modes. (the Gamma has a second button at the rear for the rear red light with a choice of steady or flashing).

On the run the Gamma was slightly more balanced due to the batteries being at the rear rather than in the head unit.  It was interesting that the Gamma gave a cooler, blueish light compared to the warmer orange of the Viper.  The extra lumens of the Viper gave a slightly greater range of beam.

Alpkit Gamma vs Viper

Gamma left vs Viper right

Battery life for both torches on full power is around 4 hours (constant use) before gradually dimming – not enough for a full night on the hill but fine for a couple of hours. (I prefer to use rechargeable batteries so that I can go out fully charged every run).

Whilst neither torch is bright enough for fast, technical night running they are perfectly adequate for straightforward trails and footpaths and make a great, affordable back up torch.  At only £15 and £12.50 respectively (including 3x AAA Duracell batteries!) the Gamma and the Viper offer fantastic value for money.

So if you’re thinking of spending a lot of money on a headtorch you might want to ask yourself if you need reactive lighting, 250+ lumens, USB rechargeable batteries etc. etc. Unless you’re running very technical trails this winter….

… you could buy an Alpkit headtorch and spend the rest of the money on a decent waterproof jacket!

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