this thing's incredible

If, Like Me, You Hate Reading by Lamplight, May I Suggest This Head Torch?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

My boyfriend and I fight all the time about the Big Light. His argument: Big Light bathes everything in the same artificial brightness. My argument: Who wants to sit in the gloom? His argument: Lamp lighting is so much cosier. My argument: Why go around switching on lamps when you can just flick on the Big Light? Because he is more forceful in his denunciation of Big Light, I usually end up giving way. Ambient lighting it is. But this in itself generates a secondary sub-argument: I like to read in the evenings, but I’m reluctant to strain my eyes in the murk of myriad lamps.

After many weeks of bickering, a solution came to me: a head torch! I’d brought one with me on various backpacking trips in my 20s and always liked the way it made me feel: practical, prepared, definitely not the sort of person to attempt to climb a mountain in flip-flops. It had illuminated my way home after drunken nights out and prevented me from standing in dog poo while picking my way to a campsite toilet. Perhaps it could solve this domestic problem, too. That head torch had long ago stopped working, so I purchased an Energizer Vision LED headlamp from Amazon for £7.99. My reasoning was not particularly considered: It was the cheapest one on offer, and I liked the fetching blue strap.

Four months on, the head torch is as much part of my nighttime routine as brushing my teeth and taking out my contact lenses. It lives on my bedside locker, on top of whichever book I’m currently reading (at the moment, it’s On the Beach, by Nevil Shute). It’s bright enough to illuminate a book in dim lighting, but not so bright that it wakes up my boyfriend if he’s sleeping. Best of all — and I’m really a huge fan of this particular design feature — it’s adjustable, so the light can be directed up and down manually, depending on where you need it to go (meaning you can read lying down, angling the light upwards). Other head torches I’ve used in the past were bulkier things with unnecessary settings that leave the mark of Cain on your forehead and that flash lights like you’re at a roller disco. This, by comparison, is lightweight and not overly bulky. The strap is wide enough so it doesn’t leave a dent in my hair, and it’s adjustable, which is helpful, as I have an unusually large head and most eye masks and hats make me feel like my head is in a vice. It does leave a slight mark when you take it off, but nothing that won’t fade in half an hour (and as I primarily use it before bed, I’m not too concerned). I’ve even been known to pop it on while reading on the sofa for an extra burst of illumination. In fact, as I write this, it’s currently packed in my hand luggage for a holiday to Mexico. When I wear it, I feel efficient, utilitarian, and, most important of all, well lit.

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If You Read Late Into the Night, May I Suggest a Head Torch?