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Alpkit Qark headlamp review: outstanding features and performance for a budget buy

An amazing value head torch, the Alpkit Qark ticks all the right boxes from weight and waterproofness to light levels and battery life

Alpkit Qark
(Image: © Alpkit)

Our Verdict

We can’t believe the price of this fully featured, lightweight headlamp with all the right specs, battery life and brightness for road and trail runners.

For

  • • Lightweight and comfortable
  • • Rechargeable via micro USB
  • • Also takes 3 x AAAs
  • • Battery life indicator inside battery when plugged into charger
  • • Swivel focus for floodlight or spotlight

Against

  • • No red light at rear
  • • Looks bulky and plasticky
  • • Silicone grippers on the headband would be a nice touch

Alpkit Qark Headlamp: first impressions

The best value award for any of the products we tested for out best running headlamps buying guide must go to the Alpkit Qark (no q, we checked). Astoundingly this light (108g / 3.8oz), bright headlamp is packed full with all the features a runner needs, including three white light settings and a red beam as well, all accessible via simple button clicks that you should be able to operate even while wearing running gloves.

The light levels are pitched well for running; 580 lumens of bright, white, oval-shaped light or a spotlight beam for 2.5 hours is great for navigating under cloudy skies while the medium setting of 270 lumens still delivers plenty of light over its 100m-length beam to be useful as your main setting if the ground isn’t too technical and you’re not sprinting like a mad hare. 

That middle light level lasts an impressive five hours and the rechargeable lithium battery makes sure it doesn’t gradually fade out, buts stays bright throughout. Should you need to recharge it you can swap in 3 x AAAs, which is nice and versatile. 

The 30 lumen minimum setting is good for 18 hours in an emergency or reading in your tent. 

There is even a great swivel bezel on the lamp to give you full control of the flood or spotlight beam. The plastic lamp housing and design aren’t as sleek or stylish as some of the others on test, and don’t seem quite as durable, either. But who can argue with £35?

Specifications

• RRP: $46 (US) / £35 (UK)
• Weight (incl. battery): 108g / 3.8oz
• Max light output: 580 lumens
• Average run time: (Low) 18 hours / (High) 2.5 hours
• Max beam distance: 150m / 492ft
• Water resistance: IPX6 (waterproof but not submersible)

Alpkit Qark Headlamp: on the trails

When it comes to running safely at night the Alpkit Qark is a great companion. It was fantastic to see how carefully Alpkit has listened to the feedback from its users in creating this headlamp. It really is hard to fault the Qark, which for a £35 headlamp is really surprising, as you usually get what you pay for. 

We really enjoyed using the super-bright white Qark-light for night running through forests; the 580 lumen max light setting was powerful, and the focus bezel to change from spotlight to floodlight was great for allowing even more control depending on how rocky or difficult it was underfoot. 

At 108g (they say 95g but this is what our scales say) we don’t think the overhead strap is needed – they could have silicone grippers around the headband to keep it from slipping. And the lamp housing did feel a bit plasticky, less stylish and less durable than the more expensive headlamps on test. It would also be good if you could buy a spare Alpkit rechargeable battery as you can with the Silva Trail Runner Free H

The only other thing is that to access the red beam you have to first scroll through all three white light settings which, if you’re trying to use it to save your night vision, rather defeats the object. But for £35 we can turn the other way for that…

The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.