When planning a safari, selecting the right equipment is essential; the things you pack along with you will be your lifeline while out in the wild.
One of the most important items to think about is light sources, and yes, you’ll likely have a generator and some regular lights for your camp and handheld torches, but the unsung hero of your safari just might be the head torch.
The best head torches for a safari should include multiple lighting options and red light to protect night vision. However, there are many features to think about when deciding on the right head torch, including lighting functions, how it’s powered, and how much it costs.
In this article, we’ll examine which head torch features are most important and useful for a safari. We’ll also examine some of the best head torches currently on the market, including why these particular options would be great for your next trip.
Table of Contents
Why You Need a Head Torch
If you think you’ll manage okay on your trip with just handheld torches and generator-powered lights, think again. Normal generators always have the potential to go out unexpectedly, especially out in the wild, and even if your camp has wired electricity, there’s always the possibility of the energy being cut unexpectedly.
The unvarnished truth is that it’s extremely dark at night once you’re outside the bounds of normal civilization, and a personal light source is an absolute necessity. You need to be able to see clearly to find your way around, to watch for animals that may have unexpectedly wandered into your camp, and to keep an eye out for insects and snakes.
You’ll also appreciate having a head torch for hanging out in your sleeping bag or tent and reading at night, or for nighttime bathroom trips.
Having a head torch, as opposed to a normal handheld torch, keeps your hands free to carry other things. For safari, having both types of torches is a must.
Features to Consider
What are the most important things to think about when selecting your ideal head torch?
The most vital thing is functionality and all features encompassed therein: how bright the light is, whether it can be adjusted to suit specific circumstances, how long you can go between needing new batteries or a recharge, and how comfortable it is to wear for long periods of time.
Also important is whether the price fits into your budget.
The strength of the light itself is obviously a key feature. Many safari-goers opt for LED bulbs these days, as they’re long-lasting and more efficient. The brightness of the light is measured in lumens.
Ideally, you want a head torch where you can adjust both the size of the emitted light (to either light up a broad area, usually referred to as a floodlight or for a more targeted spotlight) and the brightness (so you can look at other people without blinding them).
Most head torches feature at least two or three different brightness settings; it’s essential to be able to adjust the brightness of the light to suit the circumstances. In camp, you may want brighter, bolder light to find your way around. When out looking for animals in the dark, a dimmer light will be a better option.
You’ll also probably want your head torch to include a red light option for better night-vision. In the dark, red light is much easier on the eyes; bright white light may not only scare off animals, but it’ll temporarily leave you night-blind when you turn it off.
What type of batteries does the head torch use? If you’re using disposable alkaline batteries, you’ll have to make sure you’ve got space in your luggage–and in whatever gear you’re carrying when away from camp–for extra batteries.
If you opt for rechargeable, you need to make sure you’ll have time and energy to recharge, as well as (ideally) a backup option in case you ever can’t plug in.
Some head torches are capable of using either alkaline batteries or a rechargeable battery pack. These kinds are perhaps the most versatile, ensuring that no matter what, you will (hopefully) never find yourself without adequate light.
Comfort & Weight
Another important consideration is how the head torch actually feels when wearing it. You want one with a strap that is stretchy and soft, and that can be adjusted to properly stay in place on your head. Some straps are made of fabric that can be washed, while others are not removable, but still include padding for comfort.
Consider the overall weight of the head torch, too; will it be comfortable to wear on your head for long periods of time, or is it potentially too heavy? How might the batteries affect that? Some head torches have separate battery packs that go in a backpack or rest on your back, which can make it more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
Waterproof or Water Resistance
Most outdoor head torches are at least water-resistant, meaning they can withstand some rain or other adverse weather. Many head torches are actually fully waterproof, although usually not for more than a half-hour or so, and they’re not designed to go deep underwater.
This may be a less important feature for some, but it’s still reassuring to know that bad weather or a mishap with a river or pond won’t result in irreparable damage.
Lastly, how much does the head torch cost? They’re incredibly useful tools, and you don’t want to skimp on quality, but it’s important to stick within your budget too. Decent quality head torches can be found at a wide range of prices; the ones on our list have a manufacturer’s retail price of anywhere from approximately $15 to $200.
There are lots of different options for head torches out there, but we’ve done the research for you. We’ve looked at all the most important features from some of the best companies and picked out ones that are well-suited for a safari. Here are some of the best ones on the market right now.
If you’re looking for good quality at the most reasonable price, this sturdy little head torch from Foxelli fits the bill. It’s lightweight, comfortable to wear, easy to use, and offers decent light, up to 165 lumens. With water resistance, it can withstand the rain, and impact resistance means it shouldn’t break if it gets treated a little rough on the trip.
The TACTIKKA headlamp from Petzl is a great headlamp for the price. With max lighting of 300 lumens, it has three brightness settings and a wide beam, which can also be set to red light. It’s water-resistant for bad weather and lightweight with an adjustable headband, so it’s quite comfortable to wear. It even comes with a bonus emergency whistle on the back.
This Nitecore head torch gets the job done with both white and red lights, multiple brightness modes, and a built-in rechargeable battery. The adjustable band means it’s easy to find the perfect fit, while the easily accessible switches make it simple to adjust the brightness and settings to your current situation. This head torch has all the essentials at a reasonable price.
Black Diamond Storm 400
Black Diamond’s mid-priced head torch offering includes solid features such as multiple brightness settings, strobe, colored night vision options, and a lock to prevent it from accidentally getting turned on in your bag.
As with the company’s other head torches, this one includes a memory feature, which means the light “remembers” which setting you had it on last time it was used. Waterproof and dustproof, this light will stand up to any weather you might encounter on your trip.
BioLite HeadLamp 330
The slim profile of this torch from BioLite makes it ultra-comfortable to wear, while the moisture-wicking properties of the head strap ensure that sweat won’t slow you down.
Lighting options include floodlight, spotlight, and strobe light, plus red for nighttime. The memory feature means the light will remember the last settings you used. The HeadLamp 330 is also water-resistant.
Coast Crew FL85R
The Coast Crew FL85R headlamp is an ultra-versatile tool for your trip. With adjustable lighting that can be either broad-sweeping or finely focused, this torch will provide the perfect amount of light for any situation.
It’s got a red light setting to preserve night vision, essential for any nighttime safari, and can be powered either by standard batteries or a rechargeable battery pack; recharge when you can, but know that even if your generator dies you still have options.
This torch is water-resistant and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Petzl Actik Core
This well-rounded head torch from Petzl has a wide variety of features and lighting options, making it fantastic for any outdoor activity, and especially useful for a safari. It comes with a rechargeable battery that can be plugged into any USB port, but the torch can also be powered with standard alkaline batteries.
Quick charging, comfortable to wear, and weather-resistant, this light won’t let you down.
One of Ledlenser’s most versatile outdoor head torches is the MH10, which offers a lot of lumens in a lightweight device. The light itself is white, but it includes several color filters, so red light is still an option.
With a battery pack that can either stay on the band or be moved elsewhere and an adjustable strap, this light can comfortably be worn for long periods of time.
This higher-powered Nitecore head torch has brightness up to 1000 lumens, which will make it really easy to find your way around or set up camp in the dark.
It has several brightness settings, a red light, and additional options like strobe and beacon. With a built-in rechargeable battery, impact resistance, and waterproof rating, this light is perfect for any outdoor activity, including a safari.
Black Diamond Icon 700
If you’re looking for an impressively bright, multi-purpose outdoor head torch, this higher-powered model from Black Diamond may suit you.
Multiple brightness settings mean you’ll always have the amount of light you need, while other red, blue, and green light settings will be useful in various dark settings. The rechargeable battery pack can be removed and stowed in your pocket for extra comfort.
Ledlenser’s flagship head torch is the MH11, a super-functional rechargeable light that is comfortable to wear and includes features that you’ll soon come to depend on for your safari.
The MH11 has a ton of different light settings, multi-color front lights, and is even Bluetooth enabled, so you can more easily change the settings to your specifications.