A reliable source of useful light is a must for all walkers.
While there are many different forms of illumination, many walkers prefer the simple head torch.
For the past five years I have been very much a gadget boy when it comes to outdoor equipment so you can imagine my joy when I was told that I had won a Alpkit headlamp in the Walk Fife competition.
Alpkit Qark rechargeable head torch
When I received my head torch in the post from the lovely people at Walk Fife, I was part way through a series of winter safety courses in the Highlands of Scotland.
On previous courses I had already learned that my old head torch along with some other equipment wasn’t up to much when faced with the tough wintery conditions of Scotland so winning the Alpkit Qark was perfect timing.
The Qark is a rechargeable LED head torch capable of projecting up to 580 lumens of bright white light for fairly long distance into the gloom and, unlike many rechargeable head torches, the Qark is a lightweight unit weighing only 95g.
The head bands that secure the torch are comfortable and have plenty of adjustment in them allowing you easily slip the torch over a wooly hat, hood or helmet while still retaining the ability to tilt the light through 90˚.
The Qark is water resistant with a IP rating of IPX6 which means it is protected from dust ingress and from high pressure water jets which in real terms means it can survive a heavy downpour.
As well as the aforementioned super beam of 580 lumens, the Qark does have a number of lower powered modes allowing you to use it while walking in groups or in a camp setup without dazzling yourself and others. The modes are selected by cycling through them using the power button.
One slightly annoying feature of the Qark is that it jumps straight into the 580 lumen max power mode as soon as you switch it on and I would have preferred it to start in the low mode before cycling through to maximum.
The main beam can be adjusted from spot to wide via a focus ring which is easy to access and use although can be fiddly when wearing big winter gloves as I recently found out.
There is also a red light feature for preserving night vision which I used a lot when learning to navigate at night. Up until that point I had seen very little point of a red light but now I realise it is a valuable addition for the walker and climber.
The head torch can be powered either by the removable rechargeable battery cell or by inserting three AAA batteries which allows you to carry spares batteries without bulking up your rucksack.
The rechargeable battery cell charges up fully in just over 2 hours via a standard usb type cable. I found that an old mobile phone charger fitted perfectly and did a faster job than it did plugging the battery into my computer’s usb port.
The battery does last a good amount of time when using the torch in the low power modes but, as you would expect, it drains down very quickly when it is cycled through to the maximum of 580 lumens.
Unfortunately Alpkit do not seem to sell the rechargeable battery cell separately so there is no way of using one while the other is on charge which would have made the torch super flexible but I suppose AAA batteries are easy enough to obtain.
Having taken the Qark on my recent mini adventures in chilling snow and driving rain, I found it to be a very capable piece of equipment. When I avoided using the torch on full power, the battery live was sufficient to last in excess of 3 nights camping out on the freezing Cairngorms mountains which is I think is very good.
The Qark has been proven to be tough and this was made evident when it was accidentally stood upon a few times when packing up camp. Despite the few snags I found with the torch, I would happily recommend the Alpkit Qark to my fellow walkers.
Review written by Graham Bell