We’re getting to the time of year when the days become shorter and the nights draw in, signifying the start of the head torch running season. I love running at night in the winter as the landscape takes on a whole new character when illuminated by the moon or the beam of a torch and this can make the most familiar route feel like an entirely different environment.
A bright and reliable head torch is really important tool to make night running fun and safe. As there has been quite a lot written about top-end head torches by companies like Hope and Petzl , I was keen to find out what was on offer at the other end of the market for beginners or those who are on a tight budget.
The AP Pro Series 100 Lumen head torch offers an awful lot of features and I was really surprised to see what they have managed to cram into it considering the £25.00 RRP. This review is obviously written primarily from a running perspective but I have also incorporated some thoughts on how the unit performs for more general use.
Generally speaking, all of the functions of the head torch are effective and easy to use, especially considering the budget price tag. I was particularly impressed by the variable focus beam which is a really neat feature and by the power of the torch, which rivals many higher-priced units. The red LED setting gives you the option of having a little bit of light without messing-up your night vision which can be really handy if you are enjoying a bit of star gazing but find that you need to use a torch for something.
One thing that I was slightly less keen on is the on / off motion sensor which is operated by waving your hand in front of the device. This is the torches party piece and it works OK but has a tendency to be activated by any else that comes into range as well as your hand. This doesn’t really cause an issue whilst running but can be annoying if you are fumbling around trying to find something in your tent etc and the torch switches itself off .The feature can be deactivated so it’s no big deal but I can’t really think why I’d need to use it? The buttons could also be a little bit more distinctive to touch as they can be quite tricky to feel when you have gloves on (maybe that’s the reason for the sensor!!?). This is a common flaw that I’ve found with a lot of head torches and it could be improved upon.
The torch is comfortable to wear with a generously sized, soft head strap and a cushion between the torch and your forehead. The 100 Lumen beam is perfectly bright enough for the majority of off-road running exploits and is most impressive for the price tag.
The torch can be tilted forward via a ratcheting mechanism which allows you to point the beam at your preferred angle in front of you (see picture below). This works but it also creates a bit of a problem for running because it takes the centre of gravity of the unit away from your head meaning that it has a tendency to bounce around a bit. The unit does not have a strap that goes over the top of your head so the bouncing can also cause it to slip a little after a while and this can be a bit annoying. This could be remedied by having a separate battery pack on the back of the head strap to reduce the weight of the lamp unit.
I found that I almost always had the variable focus beam set to ‘flood’ whilst running but the ‘spot’ setting is also useful for route finding on indistinct footpaths. The flood setting creates quite a distinctly circular beam, which is great for general use but the bouncing issue described above causes the beam to noticeably bob up and down whilst running and this can be quite distracting. This could be improved if the torch incorporated a flip-down diffuser like the Petzl MYO RXP as this would remove the edges from the beam and the bobbing would be less noticeable.
The battery life of the unit is pretty impressive and whilst I haven’t timed it to verify if the manufacturers claims of 8-80 hrs are correct, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that this is dramatically over-estimated. Inevitably, the beam will dim as the batteries dwindle but you can expect to see this with most units.
I expected that the build quality would be sacrificed due to the number of features and low price but I was pleasantly surprised. The materials are a little less rugged than some higher-priced units it is perfectly solid and well put together.
If you are looking for a good quality head torch for leisure activities, walking, camping or DIY then I would certainly recommend the AP Pro Series 100 Lumen Head Torch as it offers excellent value for money and a lot of features. I suspect it will be of particular interest to those who are into gadgets and are looking for something that does a little more than your standard, run-of-the-mill lamp.
I’m afraid the torch didn’t work that well for me from a running perspective due to the bouncing / slipping issue. The lamp itself is very good and it’d be interesting to see AP produce an additional model of the torch using the same lighting unit without the motion sensor but adding a separate battery pack, a diffuser and another strap to go over the top of your head for increased security of fit. If they could bring this in at under £30, I think they would have a very competitive budget unit for more dynamic activities.
This product was provided as a test sample by the manufacturer. See my gear review and advertising policy for more information
The AP Pro Series 100 Lumen Head Torch can be purchased at Amazon via the link below
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Got any thoughts or questions about this head torch or about night running in general? Please leave your thoughts below!