Tips and advice

Best LED head torches to buy

If you’re a home mechanic or spend time on the roads after dusk, an LED head torch can help you see and be seen

It can be hard to get a good look at areas and parts under the bonnet, in wheel arches and under the body of your car because there’s not enough light to see them. That’s where an LED head torch can come in very handy.

In the past, home mechanics tended to reach for an inspection lamp but more recently head torches have become more popular. These torches are lightweight, allow you to focus the beam more precisely on a particular area and leave your hands free to use your wrench or other tools. There have been huge advances in LED technology over the years, meaning that head torches are more compact, durable and bright than ever before.

Regardless of whether or not you fancy yourself as a budding mechanic, an LED head torch is a useful bit of kit to keep in your car in case of a puncture or other roadside emergencies. Some head torches even come with a strobe function to make you more visible to other road users.

How we tested them

For a good practical context, we carried out some work inside the engine bay and on the brakes of a vehicle, checking the quality and comfort of each product, as well as practicality; testing how easy they were to adjust and focus. We also took measurements of the width of the beam at a distance of one metre away on the widest and narrowest settings.

Bonus points were awarded for handy features like a strobe effect, coloured lights, power saving modes and extra accessories that were included, like a carry bag. For head torches that weren’t rechargeable and required disposable batteries or other additions, we checked the prices for these online.

Verdict

While it may not be the brightest, lightest or cheapest, the Nightsearcher 580R provides the best overall package. For a more modest budget, the Core CLH200 was brilliant value for money. For those looking for massive power and battery capability, the Ledlenser ticked the boxes.

Read on for our list of the top ten LED head torches…

NightSearcher Zoom-580R review

  • Price: Around £45
  • Rating: 5/5

With 580 lumens, the NightSearcher did well in this test. The wide-to-spot zoom was ideal for working on your car or walking around outside. Luckily, you can dial down the brightness so you don’t blind yourself indoors - there’s even a warm-white setting to make reading easier.

The NightSearcher is the most versatile, considering it works with either normal or rechargeable AAA batteries. The Nightsearcher also comes with a five-year-warranty, and is certified against dust and moisture, earning it the top spot.

Buy now from Amazon

Core Lighting CLH200 Rechargeable Sensor LED Head Torch review

  • Price: around £12
  • Rating: 4.5/5

Considering the low price of this option, we had low expectations and were left pleasantly surprised. The CLH200 had a 1.2Ah rechargeable battery and a brightness of 200 lumen but was very light, at just 50g.

The different brightness settings and SOS option were a nice touch and there was no need to toggle through them all to turn it off. There was unfortunately no zoom function but this is to be expected for the price. That said, it did include a sensor control which allowed you to turn the light on and off with a wave - a useful feature should you have your hands full.

On the whole, it was a great option for the low price, especially if you don’t need the same features included on the more expensive products.

Buy now from Torch Direct

Ledlenser H7R Core Rechargeable LED Head Torch review

  • Price: around £65
  • Rating: 4/5

Topping the charts in terms of numbers, the Ledlenser offered a seven-year warranty and a monster 4.8Ah battery, which was the biggest we tested. Unfortunately it was also the second heaviest at 255g.

It had an enormous range outdoors when using the 1,000 lumen setting. The 600 and 15 lumen modes were more suited to indoor use, while the zoom feature was handy for work inside the engine bay.

There was a magnetic charge function, allowing the cable simply to stick to the side of the battery case to charge, and the whole product was subject to high IP67 waterproofing standards, making it durable. We liked the added convenience of the four LEDs to signify remaining battery charge.

Nightsearcher 1100RX Rechargeable Spot-to-Flood Head Torch review

  • Price: around £75
  • Rating: 3.5/5

Nightsearcher’s 1100RX is capable of generating a massive 1100 lumen beam for a claimed 2.5 hours from its 2.85Ah battery located at the back of the unit.

It comes with an IP66 waterproof rating, and IK07 impact resistance rating and was covered by a five-year warranty. We appreciated the side-mounted on/off button and the rotary control for the light.

Comfortable to use, and just as useful at home as outside or in the garage, the Nightsearcher 1100RX was highly specced, albeit expensive.

Buy now from Steel City Lighting

Sealey HT111R 5W COB LED Rechargeable Head Torch with Auto-Sensor review

  • Price: around £33
  • Rating: 3.5/5

The Sealey HT111R looks strange with its eyeball-like lens, which claims to move 40 degrees for added convenience, and we found it cumbersome to use and adjust.

The 2.2Ah battery was mounted to the rear for comfort, and included a red LED for use as a location marker. The simple but effective lever on the battery pack could be used to adjust the light from 20 to 100% - with a maximum output of 450 lumen - and there was a convenient auto sensor function for hands-free use.

Overall, performance for this mid-range option was reasonable.

Buy now from Amazon

Coast Rechargeable Dual Power XPH25R LED Head Torch review

  • Price: around £43
  • Rating: 3/5

A useful feature of the XPH25R was that its Zithion-x battery could be charged inside the device, externally or even swapped for a CR123 battery. The aluminium head weighed 94g, rotated 180 degrees and was removable for use as a hand torch. Its magnetic end made it ideal for working on the car but the light itself was disappointing.

Zoom settings were from spot to wide and the run time of more than nine hours on the medium power setting was an impressive performance from a 0.65Ah battery. The Coast device also came with a five-year warranty and IP54 water resistance certification.

Buy now from Torch Direct

Draper Headband with USB Rechargeable LED Torch 95171

  • Price: around £22
  • Rating: 2.5/5

Draper’s torch is combined with a headband for those home mechanics working in cold weather. 

Four LEDs powered by a 0.25Ah battery in a plastic surround attached to some stretchy, fleece fabric. It was easy to charge but the protective cap could be lost easily if you’re not careful. It was comfortable to wear at a light  20g and provided a good amount of light. 

The lack of adjustability and beam-widening capability meant it was only really fit for close-up work, and its performance outdoors wasn’t so good.

Buy now from Craigmoore

Autkors COB LED Head Torch A8350

  • Price: around £6
  • Rating: 2/5

The low price of the Autkors is likely to grab your attention, as it’s very cheap compared to the competition.

It’s the only option that isn’t rechargeable but it came with two sets of AAA batteries (the torch uses three at a time.) It’s adjustable through 45 degrees but with just three lock settings it is slightly limited.

The simple, non-zoom lens was only really suitable for close-up work and included a high, low and SOS mode. Annoyingly, to turn off the unit, you had to toggle through all modes.

While this option may be cheaper, for a little more money the Core option was much better value

Buy now from Amazon

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