Desert Kit List: HeadTorches

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Head Torches for races such as the Marathon des Sables

A head torch is always on the compulsory kit list for races such as the Marathon des Sables. Some races, like the Grand to Grand, require you to carry two head torches and may also specify a minimum light output in lumens. Check the requirements for your race to be sure. You will typically need the head torch for activities in camp after dark and early morning, and you will also need it for running. For most people, this means the long stage, but if you are a walker you may need it on several days out on the course. Plan your battery requirements accordingly. The majority of quality head torches will be suitable and the choice is a compromise between weight, output, battery life and price.

We have not included our range of more powerful head torches here. We simply think they are too heavy for what you need. If you have elite ambitions you might get away with a smaller torch as you will be running less at night. Choose a torch that has a red lighting mode option, this is useful in the tent, saves battery, and will be much appreciated by your tent mates as they won’t get blinded as you aff around with your kit at night or get up for a wee…MDS at myRacekit

Comparing different brands of head torches side by side is difficult as the manufacturers present the specification in different ways. We have done our best nevertheless! In our experience, you will need one set of spare batteries for the AAA powered models and spare batteries are compulsory. Don’t be fooled by the max battery life, this is a very low light output that at best will help you in the tent but not so much for running in the dark…

Some Petzl head torches offer different lighting modes depending on what batteries you put in. For example, the Petzl Actik Core comes with a rechargeable lithium battery but also works with AAA batteries. If you use the CORE battery, you will get a constant light output from the torch at the expense of battery life. If you put in AAA batteries, the battery life is much longer but the output is one that is continuously declining for the duration of the battery life.  Always bear in mind the battery life of the head torch at different settings and dim down where full output is not required in orer to save battery life. If you use AAA batteries, we recommend buying Lithium batteries instead of Alkaline. This will give you longer battery life and also save some weight as the lithium batteries are lighter.

Marathon des Sables MDS at myRacekit

Model Weight Max Output (lumens) Battery Life at Max Output Setting* Max Battery Life* Battery Type Race Mid Pack Cross the Line Comments
Black Diamond Spot 86g* 325 65 hrs declining output 300 hrs 3xAAA The new model of the Spot is even more powerful at the same low weight. A best seller and very reliable.
Black Diamond Spot Lite 54g 160 28 hrs 60 hrs 3xAAA This is a good choice as a main headtorch for the racer. Really lightweight and great battery life.
Black Diamond Sprinter 105g 200 4 hrs 42 hrs Rechargeable Rechargable headtorch. Compact although on the heavier side.
Petzl Actik Core 75g 450 8 hrs constant output (longer but declining output with AAA) 130 hrs (longer with AAA) 1 x CORE rechargeable The new model of the Actik is even more powerful at the same low weight. A best seller and very reliable.
Petzl e+Lite 26g incl. batteries 50 9 hrs 12 hrs 2xCR2032 This would only be a choice as a main headtorch for the minimalist who really chases the grams. Otherwise we recommend it as a backup option.

* Weight is with 3 x AAA Alkaline batteries (included). Save approximately 12 grams with Lithium batteries.
** Weight is with 2 x AAA Alkaline batteries (included). Save approximately 9 grams with Lithium batteries.
** Weight is with CORE battery (included – 23g), equivalent weight to 3 x AAA batteries.

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