For reasons of a hands-free nature, head torches are preferred by hikers over a handheld torch. Flashlights still have their place for campers and hikers, however.
The torch varies more in size and performance more than headtorches do. They can be simple hand-cranked dynamo torches through to bigger models with a brightness of thousands of lumens. Torches are therefore useful hiking accessories that can be used for a range of circumstances, from emergency backup lighting, to campsite lighting, to heavy-duty lighting for search and rescue.
Mini Maglite Pro – Best in Test
Decathlon TL900 – Best Value
NEBO Davinci 2000 – Best for versatility
Ledlenser P2R Core – Best compact torch
Decathlon DYNAMO 100 V2 – Best dynamo torch
We’ve recommended our favourites here. Like the wide scale of different torches, our shortlist also consists of very different models, from a low-cost dynamo torch to more versatile options.
Modern torches designed for personal use need not be bulky at all. We’ve given focus to this broad type of torch here. All the models we’ve recommended use either AA or rechargeable batteries – no big flashlights powered by C or D batteries.
Anyone who knows anything about cars will be aware of the horsepower race that went on for years.
- Simple twist operation
- Tough and water resistant
- Bright without being overkill
- Supplied AAs aren’t rechargeable
- Not the best run time
Having a torch as a spare lighting tool is what most people have in mind. It’s like Marge
- Not the toughest torch
American brand NEBO is a lighting specialist. Its range of work lights, lanterns, and torches is
- Very versatile
- Impressive selection of modes
- Doubles as a power bank
- Overkill for some
Best compact torch
This is a wonderful little pocket torch because it has been carefully designed, not just made to
- Feature-rich for a small torch
- Rechargeable battery included
- Impressive brightness for its size
- Not the greatest run time
The true emergency light is the wind-up dynamo torch. Decathlon’s take is super simple and,
- Very affordable
- No batteries required
- Compact and lightweight
- Not very bright
Best rechargeable batteries
Energizer Recharge Universal batteries not only perform really well but are also very cost
- Up to 1000 cycles
- Uses some recycled material
- Not the absolute cheapest rechargeable batteries (but still good value)
What to look for in a torch
Brightness: Rather than running the risk of getting a torch with subpar brightness, these days it’s more important not to go overkill. Thousands of lumens aren’t the be all and end all of a torch. How often do you need to illuminate a hillside? Consider a torch’s other features alongside its brightness.
Beam: Multiple beam modes go a long way to making a torch versatile. Flood and spot/focused are great for hiking because they are useful for both campsites and trails. A red light is a big bonus too, because it helps preserve your night vision.
IP rating: The prevention of moisture and dust ingress is a huge boost to a torch’s durability. A torch with IPX4 or IP54 is fine for most cases. But if you know your torch is going to be subject to wet conditions, look for IP65 or higher.
Construction: Plastic and aluminium are the two common materials used for torch bodies. Plastic ones help keep weight and cost down compared to aluminium, but not usually as tough. The converse is also true: metal is tougher than plastic but heavier and more expensive.
Battery type: On the whole, we generally recommend torches that take AA or AAA batteries. This is because you can replace them as required and because you can get rechargeable AA and AAA batteries. Built-in rechargeable batteries are convenient, but the battery can become a dictating factor of the life of the torch if they go awry. And if you want more fuel, you need to have a power bank.
Extra features: Consider additional features such belt/pocket clips, and also the size and weight of a torch. For hiking in particular, a weight-performance balance is very important.