Whether you’re out running on poorly lit roads or pitch-black trails, a running light or head torch is an essential piece of a running kit, especially during autumn and winter. Not only are they a great hands-free option helping to illuminate the terrain ahead, but with running light, you’ll also be more easily seen by other road or trail users and vehicles. With so many options, our experts have compiled a top guide with everything you need to know to choose the best running light or head torch for you and your run.


Most but not all modern head torches use LED bulbs as they are more lightweight, non-breaking, and power efficient compared to other standard bulbs. On average, LED head torches last over 20 times longer than halogen, xenon, and krypton bulbs put together. Their brightness is measured by lumens – the higher the lumens, the greater the light output. But LEDs aren’t always as bright as standard bulbs and don’t dim when running low on power. Instead, you lose all light, giving rise to more traditional headlamps.

  • Single-Bulb Head Torch - Using a halogen bulb to provide good brightness and distance single-bulb head torches are a good low-budget option to stay safe but do produce a lot of wasted energy in heat, meaning you’ll need to change the batteries and bulbs more frequently.

  • Single-LED Head Torch - Single-LED head torches provide bright, good-quality white light and are ideal for night use. These head torches are often combined with a magnifying lens to increase light output efficiently but tend to sit at a higher price point.

  • Multi-LED Head Torch - Often coming in different colours, such as red and green to catch road users' attention, these multi-LED lights provide more light but with less beam distance than a single LED.

  • Combined Light Head Torch - Using halogen (or similar) and several LED lights - these head torches are an ideal choice for runners. The standard bulb gives good visibility at range, while the LED offers close and powerful illumination. This gives you various options when running in different conditions.


Battery Powered

Most head torches and running lights are battery-powered, utilising AA size or small watch batteries. The higher the quality batteries, the longer you can keep your light running. Be aware of weather conditions, as cold and ice can affect battery performance by up to 20%.


Rechargeable head torches may be slightly more expensive but can save you a lot of money in the long run. Helping reduce the cost of buying expensive batteries and a kinder choice for the environment - rechargeable running lights charge using mains power or a USB port. Ideal for recharging at the office on commute runs or in your car on the go.


Not ideal for everyday runs but great in an emergency, wind-up head torches are the perfect addition to your running bag for ultra marathons, trail runs, and events to get you out of a pinch.


  • Waterproof - Most modern head torches and running lights are showerproof for short runs, but with the turbulent British weather, if you’re planning to still head out in downpours - check out waterproof options instead.

  • Light Modes - Helping to conserve energy, strobe or flashing light options are great for cutting through light sources in urban areas and letting you customise your light level to the situation. When road running, some head torches also come with a rear red light to increase visibility to cars roadside.

  • Fit - Whatever head torch or running light you’re thinking about picking, it needs to be easy to operate, comfortable, and secure. Look for loops or clips on running lights to give a secure and easy fit to your running shoes or clothing or adjustable straps on running lights to fit over a headband or hat in colder weather. Some head torches also come with touch-free technology – great for hassle-free running!

  • Weight - Ensure you select a headtorch with a lightweight, balanced fit to prevent hair pulling and head discomfort.

  • Price - Although it’s always tempting to go for a cheaper option, the purpose of a head torch is safety. It’s better to invest now and ensure you get a powerful headlight that will last. A rechargeable, multi-light head torch also uses fewer batteries and can go for longer – keeping you safe and avoiding the need for unnecessary replacements down the line.

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