Torches for searches

High powered and long lasting torches are essential equipment for searches.  We sometimes search during the night  in dense scrub and forest, and we occasionally camp overnight on search tasks, so a powerful and long lasting torch is required.  A spare set of batteries is essential too.

Torches for use on searches should:

  • be durable and waterproof
  • use two or more AA (penlight) batteries
  • have low and high power modes

A high quality head torch is very useful while searching and travelling at night and for cooking and camping out as they leave your hands free.  A low power mode is useful when using the torch in camp or at search base as it conserves the batteries.  A boost mode is useful when more power is needed in the field. 

Head torch example - Petzl MYO® RXP


A hand torch is required when conducting sound/light searches and also provides a backup for your head torch.  Waterproof models are available with 3 or more modes. Some models even include an SOS flashing mode. 

Hand torch example - Fenix LD22 LED


You can also buy a headband with an attachment to convert a hand torch into a head torch.

Headband mount for Fenix LD22


Tactical torches are designed for police, military and specialist search and rescue purposes.  They have very bright long-lasting CREE LEDs and are powered by special lithium batteries (e.g. 2 X 3V CR123A batteries or one 18650 rechargeable battery).  They can "turn night into day".

Note that this type of torch is optional for Bush Search and Rescue volunteers. 

An example is the Nitecore MH20.  It has several modes selectable by a single push button, including 

  • Constant beam: Turbo, high, mid, low, very low
  • Emergency mode: strobe, beacon, SOS
  • USB rechargeable and waterproof to 1m

Nitecore MH20 torch

Nitecore MH20

Fenix TK15

An all in one practical compromise is an Xtreem label headlamp available from Safeway supermarkets at negligible cost.  This torch casts a very intense beam when fully focused.  It also has a low power mode.  Its one apparent limitation is that its low power zoomed out beam is still a little too bright for the user to switch rapidly from map reading to night vision.  It uses 3 x AAA batteries.

xtreem  safeway  headlamp

Xtreem  Headlamp



  • 18650 lithium batteries are high powered. Use batteries that have an inbuilt "protection" circuit, and are a reputable brand (e.g. XTAR 18650 3100mAh Li-ion Protected Rechargeable 3.7v).
  • Use a reputable brand 18650 battery charger (e.g. XTAR WP2 II). Some cheaper chargers and batteries have been reported to catch fire or even explode.
  • Do not look into the light source or shine them in someone's eyes, especially if operating at full power