If we were to draw up an ideal world ticklist for an ideal headtorch it would probably include – in no particular order – adjustable light levels from very low to very bright, decent burn time with rechargeable batteries, good weather-proofing, a choice between flood and spot lighting, a remote battery pack option for cold condition use, light weight and, in an ideal world, a flashing red LED on the rear of the battery case for running down unlit country lanes.
And on paper, the Danish Suprabeam V3r seems to tick pretty much every one of those boxes. It’s a high-powered LED headtorch that comes complete with two lithium-ion polymer (LiPo) rechargeable batteries and mains, USB and car cigarette lighter chargers.
Claimed power output is a substantial 300 lumens on the highest ‘boost’ setting giving a claimed range of 230m – in reality it’s somewhat less but still impressive – and because you don’t always need that level of power, the ‘high’ setting gives you a Dimmer mode that allows stepless reduction from 170 lumens down to just 25 lumens. Battery life is a claimed 10-60 hrs basded on the two batteries supplied, depending on settings.
The battery is housed in a sealed battery box complete with flashing, non-switchable red LED for rearwards safety. You get a choice of simply mounting it convenionally on the rear of a stretchy headband or, for colder conditions or running use, remotely using a longer cable which is also supplied. Nice touch.
The torch is decently light at 181 grammes including battery, the spare is 55g and the handy carrying pouch supplied another 40 grammes. It all feels solid and well put together as well with an easy to use, reassuringly positive closure to the battery box and milled aluminium light housing hardware. It’s comfortable and stable enough too with the top strap providing added support and the light unit pivots forward for optional positioning.
And it’s bright, very bright. First click of the switch, positioned on the underside of the lighthead, gives the 170 lumen high beam. Keep pressing the switch though and it dims down steplessly to just 25 lumens, which is ideal for campsite use. And a memory feature means that the torch recalls your previous setting next time you switch it on.
A second click gives you ‘boost’, a whopping great 300 lumens of light that’s non dimmable and, claims Suprabeam, gives a beam out to 230 metres. It doesn’t stop there though: by sliding the light bezel back and forth, a bit like a zoom lens on a camera, you can vary the beam shape from a tightly focussed 5-degree spot right through to a whopping great wide 60-degree flood beam.
It’s a bit like an old Petzl Zoom on steroids and speed… The spot is a seriously focussed, bright thing, ideal for picking out distant objects in the dark. Meanwhile the flood is a huge diffuse pool of light that we found brilliant for running off road when you need a wider perspective to keep your balance on uneven ground in particular.
Used at either extreme, the beam pattern is pretty clean, though with intermediate settings, you get a bit of an odd halo effect during the transition from spot to flood. It’s something you notice when messing about, but in practice, we found it wasn’t really an issue and you can always zoom our or in to max spot or flood.
Our other minor gripe is with the switch. It’s a small momentary button housed unusually on the underside of the light housing and though you get more savvy with use, it’s very easy to accidentally switch the light on or off when simply trying to adjust the angle of dangle of the light. It’s also a tad fiddly when wearing gloves – you simply can’t feel the switch action, though again you get used to it.
Finally, we’d suggest unplugging the power lead to the battery – easily done – when carrying the torch in your pack. It would be all too easy to switch it on accidentally.
Mostly we’re really impressed with the Suprabeam. We love the fact that not only is it seriously bright, but you can also knock the power right down and do your cooking with it and, as bonus, you get that handy ability to swap between a tightly-focussed spot and a huge, diffuse flood-beam pool of light that works well for peripheral vision when running in particular.
We like the red flashing light on the rear of the battery box too, a real bonus if you find yourself walking or running on unlit roads. Burn times are substantial and we’re big fans of rechargeable batteries – no more shelling out on AAs and it’s great having a spare included in the price. And while it’s still early days, both build quality and weather-proofing seem impressive. There’s a five-year warranty as well.
The one weak spot is that switch. It’s not a deal-breaker as you do get used to it with time, but it did make us appreciate the placement, action and lockability of the blocky switch on the Petzl Nao. An upgraded switch would make a really impressive head torch even better.
At £100 including postage either through Amazon or direct from www.suprabeam-outdoor.com it’s not a cheap buy, but it’s impressively bright at full whack, but also extremely versatile thanks to the zoom/flood function and dimmer. You can use it for anything from running through to mountaineering – the remote battery will help here – but it’ll still do duty around camp or for more general use. A bit like shacking up with Daniel Craig in full Bond mode then discovering that he still does the washing up…
Watch out for a full group headtorch test coming soon.