Silva Free Head Torch | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Silva Free Head Torch | Review

An incredibly clever head torch system that might just be the best on the market right now

There’s a heck of a lot of information to digest about this award-winning head torch and, from what we’ve seen, there are a lot of reviews online that try to convey all of the technical details comprehensively without being concise on the simple question of whether it’s actually good or not. 

So we’ll get to the heart of the matter right away. Yes, this is a very good head torch. It’s probably the best one we’ve come across within the running category. And it’s pretty high up as a head torch for hiking too. 

Pros: Very stable, clean and innovative design, good brightness
Cons: Quite heavy, takes up a bit of pocket space

There are loads of impressive aspects here, but generally, we’d just say that it’s a very functional, comfortable and versatile head torch – and kudos to Silva for coming up with some pretty unique touches. 


The Free is not really one head torch per se, but rather a kind of modular head torch system. At the core of the system is a stretchy headband that has wires built into it. You can then attach different Silva bulbs and battery packs to the band. They have bulbs for trail running and general use, then more serious ones for ski touring, cross country skiing and also cycling. There’s even an orienteering one too. These all range in lumen output, going from 350 all the way up to a whopping 10,000. The batteries also then range in their wattage.

OM editor Will using a Free system on a wet and windy night in the Cairngorms. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

We tested out the 1200 and the 2000 headlamps and were impressed. Each one has three different light settings and comes with Silva’s Intelligent Light technology. This is a double light beam that gives you the combination of a long reach spotlight and a close flood-light together. This helps to reduce tunnel vision and creates a faded natural light at the edges.

On the Free 2000 and 3000 models, you also get something called Flow Light. This takes the optimisation even further by providing seamless tuning of the light pattern to suit the activity you’re undertaking. Simply tilting the light downwards makes the beam wider to brighten up slower activities. When tilting the lamp upwards, the light reaches longer to provide perfect vision when you move fast. Clever stuff.

Some Free 1200 Stats
Here are the stats for the Free 1200. Bear in mind there are other bulbs in the family with larger or shorter reaches and different burn times too.

  • Max mode: 1200 lm / 1.5-3 h burn time / 150 m (492 ft) light distance
  • Med Mode: 500 lm 4-8 h burn time / 100 m (328 ft) light distance
  • Min mode: 80 lm / 25 h burn time / 45m (148 ft) light distance

All bulbs and batteries in the Free family are water resistant to IPX5 standard. That’s not the highest rating but we haven’t had any issues running with this in some very heavy rain. It should be able to withstand pretty much all but submersion.

Handily, the bulb can be angled quickly and easily. There’s no locking mechanism to keep it at the angle you want it but, from our experience, it holds reliably.

The battery pack is charged via a USB-C Cable. We found that the medium capacity battery we had took 2 and a half hours to go from empty to fully charged. The batteries come with power indicators, provide you with warnings when the charge is low and will switch to a reserve mode when down to 10%.

We love the fact that all the head torches in the Free family also have a red light at the back of the head. This provides night time safety on roads or when you’re leading the way for other runners or walkers. You can have this fully off, flashing or on continuously.

The elastic head strap is adjustable and all the wiring is neatly and seamlessly embedded within this. In the Trail Runner series of Free head torches, the strap is lined by a grippy silicone strip for added stability. We found the strap created a very comfortable, stable head torch that, in our tests, didn’t slip or bob about, even when we were running downhill at speed.

Extra Details

The Free series comprises modular components, so if you’ve bought, say, the 1200 S, you can then swap in various elements (purchased separately). That means if you want a brighter head torch you can swap the 1200 lumen bulb with a 3000 lumen one.

“We can see why it picked up a much-coveted ISPO award last year.”

You can also purchase extra batteries (with varying capacities available), giving you the potential to have extra supplies for long distance journeys where power sources might be hard to come by.

The batteries can clipped onto the headband or you can keep them in a warm pocket, linking them up with the headband via a neat extension cord (purchased separately), thus ensuring that the charge doesn’t drain away in the cold. This extension cord can also be used to relocate the headlamp, taking it off your head and, say, clipping it to your bike handle bars. Silva sell a specific bar mount for this. They also even sell a mount that lets you clip a GoPro onto the headband.

All in all, this is a great product/series and we can see why it picked up a much-coveted ISPO award last year.

Silva Free 1200

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Winter 23/24
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