Last updated: 14-Jan-20
By Dan Stinton
“Will you stop looking at me when you talk!” says Imogen as we’re plodding into the murky darkness of the Peak District. Even though I’d dazzled her several times, she’s lucky as I’m only brandishing the 500 lumen Exposure headtorch whereas she’s trying out the 1000 lumen version.
I quickly look back to the trail and our combined torchlight impressively illuminates the way ahead. This doesn’t stop us getting quite lost in the hills but, given that I’m writing this review, both torches and humans clearly made it back safely to civilisation.
On test are three products from Exposure Lights; the HT1000 (1000 lumens), the HT500 (465 lumens) and the Verso Mk2 (250 lumens).
All three models arrived well presented in a semi-rigid case measuring around 15cm x 15cm x 8cm which was really nice, but would be too big to keep it cased up in your bag when actively using it, so is more of a presentation/home storage case.
- 1000 Lumens
- 1.5 hr at full power
- RRP £150 at Exposure Lights
The head strap (as with all of the torches) is a simple stretch fabric that you wrap around your head and attach with velcro. There is a silicone strip around the centre of the headband to help grip to your head.
I found the strap comfortable to wear whilst running and it didn’t slip at all. I like the simplicity of the strap design as you don’t need any separate adjustment, and it can quickly be used by different people.
The torch unit itself is small and compact and feels light on the front of your head. It’s hinged for easy adjustment and has a “ribbed” design along the body of the unit. The battery pack feels comfortable and the balance of weight between front and back seems just right.
There is a little rubber seal covering the charging port and the unit is IPX5 water resistant. Everything is operated by a single button which is really all you need for a torch surely?
It’s worth having a sit down with the manual for a while to understand the modes of operation – no one just goes off running without fully reading the manual first, do they!? As well as the various brightness settings, there are also flash and SOS modes, along with an option to use the battery pack to charge something else via USB.
The battery level indicator is a rather cool LED on the power pack that lights up red, amber or green to let you know how much battery is remaining. There are four available programmes which adjust the brightness according to how quickly the battery will be used up, from 1.5 hours at full power to 48 hours at the very lowest.
You change the programme by holding down the single button, and letting go after a set number of flashes.
Stating the obvious for a 1000 lumen torch – this is bright. Out on the trail a nice wide coverage lights the way ahead and gives great visibility of the terrain which I really couldn’t fault. If you need to see something further afield, then the hinged LED unit allows you to tilt the lamp up easily and the beam extends into the distance (Exposure claim 125m).
I think this is where the high lumen output is worthwhile as 1000 lumens probably isn’t necessary for general trail running. However, for tricky situations, navigation or potential emergencies having a torch so powerful is certainly an advantage, along with the ability to add an additional support cell if you’re out for a long time.
The design of the HT500 clearly follows a lot of the principles of its bigger brother. However, the single operational button is on the LED unit itself rather than the battery pack and you also charge directly via the LED unit, with the charging socket located under a rubber seal to maintain water resistance (also IPX5 rated).
Unlike the HT1000, you have to turn the torch off to see how much battery is remaining as the colour battery indicator is in the lens itself and lights up for 5 seconds after the torch has been switched off.
The battery unit is different in design to the HT1000, and a little smaller, but boasts 3 hours at full power. It doesn’t quite look as robust as the HT1000 battery pack, and during use the battery cap popped out exposing the wires underneath which was a little concerning.
Whilst obviously not as bright as the HT1000, the HT500 performed admirably with a good light spread and a claimed visibility of 91m. Unfortunately, you can’t add a support cell if you’re likely to be away from a charging point for a while.
This needs to be considered when weighing up if the HT1000 is worth the additional cost. I did experience a few issues, mainly the robustness of the battery pack and some flickering during the battery test (see section below).
EXPOSURE VERSO Mk2
The Verso Mk2 is a different torch altogether, with the battery and LED in a single unit. However, this is very light at 73g and sits comfortably on the front of your head. Available in black, gun metal or red, the version on test is gun metal and it looks fantastic.
There is a single rubber operation button on the side of the unit that lights up green/amber/red to display remaining battery and, as per the other headtorches, you can set various programmes to balance the brightness/battery usage with 1 hr at full brightness and 18 at the lowest setting.
Also, as it is IPX5 rated you don’t need to worry about the weather and whilst it’s not hinged as such, you can easily rotate the unit via the clip that it sits into.
Obviously, it isn’t as bright as the other models, but for general trail running it is perfectly adequate for lighting the trail ahead. With only an hour of burn time at full power you wouldn’t want to rely on this for long distances, but there is the useful option of a support cell to extend the battery life.
The support cell itself is a trimmed down version of the battery with the HT500 and simply plugs into the charging point on the Verso Mk II. A great little unit that would be invaluable at times.
Battery Test for all Models
After a full charge, I switched them all on full power and let them run. Here’s the results:
|Model||Claimed Life (full power)||Tested Life (full power)|
A respectable performance with all torches lasting longer than claimed, although obviously this is on relatively new batteries. The Verso Mk2 gradually dimmed a lot more than the other models and even though it lasted 1hr 40mins, its performance was depleting from around 1hr 20mins (still more than the claimed battery life).
The HT1000 got very warm at full power. I didn’t notice this out running as obviously it would be naturally air cooled, but 1000 lumens generated quite a lot of heat when left in the house. At around 2hrs at full power, it was a good performance.
The HT500 lasted over the stated time but at around 1hr 40mins the LED started flickering. This wasn’t the handy flash warning you get to tell you the battery is running out, but a more random flicker for around 20mins and then it became stable again.
It happened again around 2hr 40mins for a while too. I didn’t notice this whilst out running, but if this wasn’t a review model then I’d probably contact the manufacturer to see if there was an issue.
Below is an image of all three headtorches at the same location. It’s not very scientific I know, but it was very low light area with limited light pollution. It’s easy to see how far the beam of the HT1000 extends into the distance.
It’s been great to review all three models and clearly these are high-quality torches. There’s a £50 RRP difference between the HT1000 and the HT500, but looking at the build quality of the battery, the extra lumen output, the ability to charge other items and add a support cell I think it may be worth the extra expense. Unfortunately, the HT500 has lost a few points here due to the couple of issues I experienced during the tests.
The Verso Mk2 is a great little torch that looks fantastic and packing 250 lumens is easily enough for most trail running and you also get a lightweight unit that doesn’t need a separate battery pack. Taking into account the prices, a Verso Mk2 packaged with a support cell will set you back £145 RRP, so unless you really need something small and light then I think for an extra £5, the HT1000 is the best buy here.
|HT1000||HT500||Verso Mk II|
About the writer: Dan is a Peak District based runner who has spent the last couple of months dazzling people with headtorches. He likes nothing more than running into the Dark Peak with the Glossopdale Harriers and then writing about how difficult it was at www.allhailthetrail.co.uk
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All images by Dan Stinton.