Alpkit’s original Gamma quickly became the quintessential budget headtorch – and is still going strong albeit with more power and some subtle changes – but the new Qark is in a different and much brighter league.
Aimed at mountaineers, trekkers and multi-day eventers, it kicks out an impressive-claimed 580 lumens of light, but that’s just the start of it. The 106g light has a bunch of useful added features. For starters, that main beam is zoomable using a simple knurled outer ring that moves the main lens backwards and forwards.
The spot beam is great for picking out more distant features, while the wider flood end of the spectrum works well for running on uneven ground.The obvious push-button cycles through three light levels and then onto a separate red LED for low-level use. Mostly we found the 270-lumen middle setting more than adequate. The head unit tilts 90˚ forward as well for optimum angle of lighting too.
Finally, the light comes with a USB rechargeable lithium cell – just open the compartment and plug-in a micro USB cable, but remove the battery and it will run on three AAA cells instead. That’s ideal for multi-day ultra-racers, mountaineers or anyone else who finds themselves away from a power source. Battery life seems good too. With mixed light output use – high, medium and low – we’ve not exhausted it yet. Alpkit says burn time with the claimed 270-lumen middle setting is approximately 5.5 hours.
Overall at a retail price of £30, it’s an excellent-value, very versatile all-round outdoors headlight that’s bright enough for off-road night runs, but can also do double duty around camp or for general outdoor use. If there’s one thing we’d change, it’s the buckle mechanism on the headstrap, which tends to slip slightly on uneven ground. The top-strap adds welcome stability though.
And no, there is no ‘U’ in Qark.
More information: https://www.alpkit.com/products/qark