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Thread: offroad driving lights recommendations?

  1. #1

    Default offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Hello CPFers,

    I'm searching for auxiliary offroad driving lights to add to my pathetically weak stock halogens. The primary use will be for driving forestry roads, up to 30mph. I think what would work best is a spot type beam. I'm trying to narrow it down and having a bit of a difficult time. I initially tried ARB knock off lights (amazon) but at 9lb each they are quite heavy for my mounting location.

    So far I looked at the top end (at least price wise):


    • JW Speaker
    • Rigid
    • Baja Designs


    mid/low end:


    • Auxbeam
    • Chinese knockoff


    There's too much choice! I'm having trouble comparing all of the different units as well. For example here's the rigid r-46 spot, at $300/piece it's half? the brightness of the above ARB knockoff. Here's a baja designs one, and it's $400 for the same apparent lumen value.

    Alternatively, there's also this cheap HID option. and this 7" auxbeam LED that is a little lighter.


    To summarize my list of requirements:


    • medium quality lights. Approx. budget $200
    • driving spots for off road driving only
    • no more than 2lb a piece
    • 7" or so?


    Thank you in advance!
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 07-06-2018 at 11:51 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    What headlamps (what year-make-model of truck) is this? Where will the lamps be mounted? And what are your maximum height/width/depth dimensions?


    Usually a spot type beam is not what's used for low-speed driving on off-road trails; usually what's wanted is more of a wide flood beam because these kinds of trails tend to be curvy and have hazards (holes, boulders, trees, critters) you need across a wide range of angles on and just off the trail. What specific kind of beam to get depends on whether you'll be driving these trails in good weather, bad weather, or both. Either way, lumen ratings are definitely not the right thing to be looking at.

  3. #3
    Flashaholic* Echo63's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    As Virgil has said, a Spot beam won't be much use for offroad trails, even at 30mph.

    Spot beams are useful to see a long way ahead at high speed or in open terrain (think Aussie Outback at 60+ mph) but will reduce your ability to see hazards.
    A wider beam would work best.
    flashlight collector by day
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    Flashaholic* id30209's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    I presume your interest is in car lights so i cannot confirm 100% but on the bmw r100gs paris-dakar i use offroad bulb instead of lamp assy. Bulb is Osram 100W offroad and creates a huge wall of light, and far reaching too. Give it a look.

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by id30209 View Post
    I presume your interest is in car lights so i cannot confirm 100% but on the bmw r100gs paris-dakar i use offroad bulb instead of lamp assy. Bulb is Osram 100W offroad and creates a huge wall of light, and far reaching too. Give it a look.
    Using a 100W bulb in your motorcycle headlamp is ill-advised. The oversize filament means a less well-focused beam. The OP is asking after separate lamps, not bulbs to put into the factory lamps.

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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    I'm searching for auxiliary offroad driving lights to add to my pathetically weak stock halogens.
    Fixing your factory lamps may be a better priority, since you presumably use this vehicle on the road.

    The primary use will be for driving forestry roads, up to 30mph. I think what would work best is a spot type beam.
    You really want a flood beam unless by some happenstance these roads are perfectly straight, with mild changes in elevation, and without trees at the road edges hiding potential animals.

    I initially tried ARB knock off lights but at 9lb each they are quite heavy for my mounting location.
    And being 'knockoffs' aren't going to have the target quality.

    At those low speeds, auxiliary low beams may be better, as you may face excessive backscatter from the trees depending on how sharp some of the turns are (although the roads are designed for use for forestry purposes and should be able to accommodate large vehicles with poor turning radiuses so shouldn't have too many very sharp turns); I'd get JW Speaker headlamps that offer both high and low beams so you can tailor the lighting to your needs. Yes, it's going to run into some real money, but so does running into something.

    The 8910 Evolution 2 has heated lenses, and is fairly lightweight at 2.80 lbs / 1.27 kgs. Yes, that's 40% more than your target weight, but your target weight isn't extremely realistic. By necessity, good lamps may end up weighing more due to be stronger and to have better heatsinking and protection for electronics.

    You could also do one high beam and one low beam lamp, the smaller 4"x6" 8800 Evolution 2 has a *shipping weight* of 2.3lbs, the product within will weigh less. I'd potentially put both on the driver's side, with the center of the high beam directly forward of the center of the steering wheel, and the low beam outboard of the high beam (this may be harder to do than I might guess depending on what you drive-- what do you drive?) taking care the lamp doesn't obscure turn signals or other lighting functions. You don't want added lights, whether turned on or not, to interfere with the required lighting functions.

    The 8820 is a 4"x6" high/low headlamp without heated lenses, but offers light weight and dual beams.

  7. #7

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by id30209 View Post
    I presume your interest is in car lights so i cannot confirm 100% but on the bmw r100gs paris-dakar i use offroad bulb instead of lamp assy. Bulb is Osram 100W offroad and creates a huge wall of light, and far reaching too.
    That is bad advice for several reasons (wiring and headlamps won't safely support the heat of a high-power bulb, plus unsafe and illegal levels of glare) and it's also wrong advice (you won't actually see better in a helpful way). See here.

  8. #8

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    I'm convinced by your feedback that flood is the way to go so I'm looking at that now.

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    What headlamps (what year-make-model of truck) is this? Where will the lamps be mounted? And what are your maximum height/width/depth dimensions?
    It's a Nissan XTerra. The stock headlights use 9007 bulbs. Modifying the stock headlights is not currently in the cards. The lamps will be mounted on a bracket that was built for me, that it bolted to the internal bumper support. It's quite stout and can support 10 pounds easily, but probably not 20lb. I was quite conservative in my 2lb/light requirement.


    Here's the bracket:
    Here's a single knockoff ARB mounted:
    Here are the dimensions for the light:



    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Fixing your factory lamps may be a better priority, since you presumably use this vehicle on the road.
    I'm thinking about this as well. There's aftermarket support for this vehicle and you can get halogens replaced with projectors that produce significantly more light. But at significant cost.



    You really want a flood beam unless by some happenstance these roads are perfectly straight, with mild changes in elevation, and without trees at the road edges hiding potential animals.


    And being 'knockoffs' aren't going to have the target quality.

    At those low speeds, auxiliary low beams may be better, as you may face excessive backscatter from the trees depending on how sharp some of the turns are (although the roads are designed for use for forestry purposes and should be able to accommodate large vehicles with poor turning radiuses so shouldn't have too many very sharp turns); I'd get JW Speaker headlamps that offer both high and low beams so you can tailor the lighting to your needs. Yes, it's going to run into some real money, but so does running into something.

    The 8910 Evolution 2 has heated lenses, and is fairly lightweight at 2.80 lbs / 1.27 kgs. Yes, that's 40% more than your target weight, but your target weight isn't extremely realistic. By necessity, good lamps may end up weighing more due to be stronger and to have better heatsinking and protection for electronics.

    You could also do one high beam and one low beam lamp, the smaller 4"x6" 8800 Evolution 2 has a *shipping weight* of 2.3lbs, the product within will weigh less. I'd potentially put both on the driver's side, with the center of the high beam directly forward of the center of the steering wheel, and the low beam outboard of the high beam (this may be harder to do than I might guess depending on what you drive-- what do you drive?) taking care the lamp doesn't obscure turn signals or other lighting functions. You don't want added lights, whether turned on or not, to interfere with the required lighting functions.

    The 8820 is a 4"x6" high/low headlamp without heated lenses, but offers light weight and dual beams.

    I'm happy to pay for quality.. but I'm not a racer, and I don't do this for work so I have to work within my budget. My problem with the ARB knockoffs is that they are simply too heavy. They are not going to work without additional internal reinforcement to the bumper structure and then I'm back to the cost issue. Forgive me if I'm being dense, but the JW lights you refer to appear to require a housing?

  9. #9
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    I'm thinking about [correcting issues with the factory lamps] as well. There's aftermarket support for this vehicle and you can get halogens replaced with projectors that produce significantly more light. But at significant cost.
    Aftermarket projectors are pretty much an absolute no-go, unless you mean to remove the headlamps and install Hella's 90mm projector lamps instead. (Might look a little goofy that way.) If you're shopping "The Retrofit Source" or similar, they're going to try to pawn off a "Morimoto"-branded product on you. That's not a legitimate product.

    I'm happy to pay for quality.. but I'm not a racer, and I don't do this for work so I have to work within my budget. My problem with the ARB knockoffs is that they are simply too heavy.
    They're still knockoffs. That should be the biggest concern. Do you want a genuine Seiko watch, or to wear a knockoff? You get what you pay for and you don't get what you don't pay for-- and nobody should ever have room for underperforming safety equipment. (I'm sure we've all seen the Far Side comic "Don's Discount Shark Cages".)

    Forgive me if I'm being dense, but the JW lights you refer to appear to require a housing?
    Those will fit standard 4x6 or 5x7 headlamp buckets. They also have selections of pedestal-mounted lamps. Yes, the buckets will add some weight overall, but even 5lbs/lamp shouldn't be too much. I recently built a "bracket" for an RX300 out of square tube and it basically just provides support for a single auxiliary high beam. The lamp is pretty heavy since it's almost all glass (and in a metal bucket) and while I do get a bit of visible vibration at times it's not too bad. I may just eventually drill in to the inner bumper and have a long tall bolt pass all the way through, but as an expedient method it works well.

    This is what I did for the Previa-- it's quite similar for the RX300:






    I don't have as many pics for the build on the RX300 as I'd like, I was too busy working to take many pictures, but here's the very-nearly done pic:

    The hardest part was finding a good spot to the left side that would not block view of the left turn signal and that would not interfere with raising the hood-- the grille is part of the hood and so having the lamp too far back would mean being unable to raise the hood!

  10. #10

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Appreciate all the insight:


    Quote Originally Posted by Alaric Darconville View Post
    Aftermarket projectors are pretty much an absolute no-go, unless you mean to remove the headlamps and install Hella's 90mm projector lamps instead. (Might look a little goofy that way.) If you're shopping "The Retrofit Source" or similar, they're going to try to pawn off a "Morimoto"-branded product on you. That's not a legitimate product.
    I just read through the sticky at the top of this forum. Most forum car people are aware that HID and LED bulbs are not ok due to the light pattern spread. Unfortunately the common wisdom is that morimoto retrofits are fine. This option was at the back of my mind, but obviously no longer. It's interesting that there's an online business offering retrofits. Nowhere do they mention the legality of it though. Anyway, not an option.



    They're still knockoffs. That should be the biggest concern. Do you want a genuine Seiko watch, or to wear a knockoff? You get what you pay for and you don't get what you don't pay for-- and nobody should ever have room for underperforming safety equipment. (I'm sure we've all seen the Far Side comic "Don's Discount Shark Cages".)
    I'm actually partial to Casio F91 myself. What's the equivalent in aux lighting?



    I recently built a "bracket" for an RX300 out of square tube and it basically just provides support for a single auxiliary high beam. The lamp is pretty heavy since it's almost all glass (and in a metal bucket) and while I do get a bit of visible vibration at times it's not too bad. I may just eventually drill in to the inner bumper and have a long tall bolt pass all the way through, but as an expedient method it works well.

    What light did you actually use "in the bucket"?

  11. #11

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    I'm convinced by your feedback that flood is the way to go so I'm looking at that now.
    Good...now aside from wanting an effective flood beam, do you have any other "musts" in your agenda? Do you require an LED or HID lamp, or are you fine with an effective halogen lamp? The reason why this matters is that for any given dollar amount you will generally get a better quality halogen lamp than LED lamp. Practically this means you can spend (say) $150 and get a very well made halogen lamp, or you can spend the same $150 and get an LED trinket/toy. Occasionally there are exceptions, but this is generally how it works.

    It's a Nissan XTerra. The stock headlights use 9007 bulbs. Modifying the stock headlights is not currently in the cards
    There's no modification you could make to the headlamps that would do anything but ruin them, but you can optimize them easily and inexpensively by putting in the best possible bulbs (that's these) and spending the money to have a proper aim adjustment done, with your normal load weight and distribution in the vehicle, as described here.

    There's aftermarket support for this vehicle and you can get halogens replaced with projectors that produce significantly more light
    No, they do not. Aftermarket headlamps, whether they're copies of the originals or are redesigned with projectors (or whatever) are in virtually every case severely inferior to the original lamps. Don't be fooled!

    Back to the project at hand (aux lamps): sounds like you've got a sturdy mount arrangement, that's good.

    I'm happy to pay for quality.. but I'm not a racer, and I don't do this for work so I have to work within my budget.
    You might want to pursue this kind of a setup. Given your beam pattern needs, instead of the Cibies I would recommend hitting up Dan Stern for a set of the Koito JIS-type units he has. Put 100w bulbs in them and a good-quality relay-and-switch harness, correctly hooked up so these lights can be used only with the high beam headlamps on. That's the way to prevent yourself from accidentally running them on the road in traffic, where they would be dangerous (and for that reason, that's how aux driving lamps legally have to be wired up).

    Also read through this thread. Similar idea, with different housings and lamp units.

  12. #12

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Good...now aside from wanting an effective flood beam, do you have any other "musts" in your agenda? Do you require an LED or HID lamp, or are you fine with an effective halogen lamp? The reason why this matters is that for any given dollar amount you will generally get a better quality halogen lamp than LED lamp. Practically this means you can spend (say) $150 and get a very well made halogen lamp, or you can spend the same $150 and get an LED trinket/toy. Occasionally there are exceptions, but this is generally how it works.
    Insert picture of my mind being blown. I may have to rethink my assumptions -- after years as a flashlight nerd, I assumed any and all lighting is moving towards LEDs and that LEDs are always better. The street light on the corner is LED now! So, what is the difference between a well made halogen lamp vs a toy LED?



    There's no modification you could make to the headlamps that would do anything but ruin them, but you can optimize them easily and inexpensively by putting in the best possible bulbs (that's these) and spending the money to have a proper aim adjustment done, with your normal load weight and distribution in the vehicle, as described here.
    That's in the mail. I"m just curious though, this new bulb may be using an extra 5 watts or so. Does it actually translate into real world benefit?




    You might want to pursue this kind of a setup. Given your beam pattern needs, instead of the Cibies I would recommend hitting up Dan Stern for a set of the Koito JIS-type units he has. Put 100w bulbs in them and a good-quality relay-and-switch harness, correctly hooked up so these lights can be used only with the high beam headlamps on. That's the way to prevent yourself from accidentally running them on the road in traffic, where they would be dangerous (and for that reason, that's how aux driving lamps legally have to be wired up).

    Also read through this thread. Similar idea, with different housings and lamp units.

    Thanks for the links. It looks like 100w hallogens then is a good option? That still seems to alien, like getting a D-cell original maglite, vs an Emisar D4. One thing you reminded me of -- here in BC we are required to have all aux lights above bumper level to be covered. So covers is an additional consideration. Thanks for the info.

  13. #13

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Don't know how I missed this thread for so long. I have a problem in wooded areas at night with losing depth perception or out running the headlights. What causes this and is there anything I can do to improve my off road safety at night? Don't say slow down because I can't I run heavy sweep for a NASA rally held here every year and half the stages are after the sun sets.

  14. #14
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    Appreciate all the insight:
    Glad you're finding us helpful, and more to the point, that you're receptive to what we're saying. We get quite a few people who seem to be asking for advice and turn it into their platform of how we're "wrong" and don't "keep up with advancements".

    I just read through the sticky at the top of this forum.
    People read those? Glad you did, and glad you found it useful.

    It's interesting that there's an online business offering retrofits. Nowhere do they mention the legality of it though. Anyway, not an option.
    Or they'll lie and say outright that they are legal and/or "DOT approved" (which isn't a thing, even).

    I'm actually partial to Casio F91 myself. What's the equivalent in aux lighting?
    A thing that does what it does well, and at a low cost, is a good thing. Unfortunately, in lighting it doesn't work quite that way because this is a very sleek, ultralight watch and to get sleek and ultralight in auxiliary lighting at low cost is pretty impossible at this time. Eventually, it'll get that way!

    What light did you actually use "in the bucket"?
    That's a Bosch auxiliary high beam in selective yellow. Other than the selective yellow part, they comply with SAE J581 and are marked SAE Y (the Y meaning "auxiliary high beam", not "yellow").

    It's a rather large lamp (Hella's version is the aptly-named Jumbo 220), with a 7" interior width (at the widest point) and fairly deep-- large enough that the usual proscriptions against using an overwattage bulb don't apply. Not only is the lamp large enough to get a good focus on the oversize filament (so long as the filament placement isn't sloppy, meaning you must buy a Philips bulb instead of a Hella bulb), it is solid glass with just a few metal bits for the bulb mounting. The wiring to it is very short (about 8" of wire from the positive battery post to the relay feed, 18" from the relay output to the lamp, and maybe about 17" of ground wire going back to the negative battery terminal) but also 12 gauge). I could have mounted both high beams instead and gone with the normal 55W H3, but there's only so much grill area I wanted to block, and those take a lot of space, and now there's a spare (which I might take for my LS430, once I get over my concern about drilling holes in its bumper). My buddy loves his RX, but it's ultimately an SUV, not an ultraluxury sedan like the LS430. ("His" next project (he does the paying for but I do the working on it, so they're kindof my projects (especially because I suggest them to him first anyway)) is a rear fog lamp and an auxiliary reversing lamp.) (Eventually I'll put some writeups about them here.)
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 06-12-2018 at 08:38 AM.

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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Do you require an LED or HID lamp, or are you fine with an effective halogen lamp? The reason why this matters is that for any given dollar amount you will generally get a better quality halogen lamp than LED lamp. Practically this means you can spend (say) $150 and get a very well made halogen lamp, or you can spend the same $150 and get an LED trinket/toy. Occasionally there are exceptions, but this is generally how it works.
    In a rare opportunity, I scored those very excellent Bosch lamps for super cheap (two of them for about $35 together including shipping), and then just went and bought wire and a switch and relay. Definitely cheaper than any of the legitimate LED products out there!
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 06-12-2018 at 11:03 AM.

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    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Travler View Post
    I have a problem in wooded areas at night with... out running the headlights. What causes this and is there anything I can do to improve my off road safety at night?
    What causes this? Driving too fast. How can you improve your off-road safety at night? Slow down.

    You could add additional lighting, of course, but there's only so much additional lighting can do to gain you speed. This thread already has some ideas for you otherwise.

  17. #17

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    Insert picture of my mind being blown. I may have to rethink my assumptions -- after years as a flashlight nerd, I assumed any and all lighting is moving towards LEDs
    So far, right on.

    and that LEDs are always better.
    Ah, this is where it breaks down. No, LEDs are not always better or necessarily better. With LEDs you get higher efficacy (lumens per watt) and -- assuming reasonable quality of parts, engineering, and construction -- you get longer lifespan and greater vibration resistance. However, it's no good having those things if the beam pattern and/or the light quality are poor, and there are a lot of LED car lamps on the market that put out poor-quality light in distribution patterns that are useless at best.

    For an example of the light quality issue: marketers love to crow about big kelvin numbers (5500K! 6000K! 7000K!) and babble about "closer to natural daylight" or "whiter light" among other buzzphrases that range from "not true" to "not meaningful". Higher CCT (kelvin number) means higher blue content, which is the color of light our human eyes have the hardest time dealing with. This effect is magnified greatly in bad weather -- your rain, your fog, your snow, your blowing dust, all make a bluer light much less useful to you as a driver. Furthermore, the color rendering of most LEDs is not good; it's generally 80 or so on the CRI/Color Rendering Index scale. A properly-powered halogen puts out light with CRI of 99+ (100 is perfect). This matters more off the road than when driving on roads. On the road you don't really need to be able to discern more than just the basic colors used in the system: black or grey roadway, white or yellow lines, signs that might be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or brown. Off the road, you need to be able to discern subtle shades of grey, brown, beige, green, etc so you can tell what's trail and what's sinkhole, what's trail and what's boulder, what's trail and what's tree across the trail, what's trail and what's animal, etc; the highest possible color rendering is very valuable to your ability to see and drive safely.

    There's no getting around the advantage LEDs have in efficacy (lumens per watt, amount of light output per amount of electricity input) but (1) it's a mistake to compare lights by how many lumens they put out, because a lamp that puts a smaller amount of light in the places where you need it is more useful than a lamp that puts a larger amount of light in places where you don't need it and/or it works against you. And (2) we're not talking about flashlights here, so runtime isn't an issue. You've got plenty of power on that truck to run a pair of 100w lamps all day long. Bulb lifespan? Yeah, shorter than LEDs, so toss a couple spare bulbs in the glove compartment -- good quality ones don't cost much.

    what is the difference between a well made halogen lamp vs a toy LED?
    Build and materials quality
    Beam pattern usefulness
    Light quality



    I"m just curious though, this new bulb may be using an extra 5 watts or so. Does it actually translate into real world benefit?
    Wattage is at least nominally the same. The rest of it: Yes! See here.

  18. #18

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    So far, right on.



    Ah, this is where it breaks down. No, LEDs are not always better or necessarily better. With LEDs you get higher efficacy (lumens per watt) and -- assuming reasonable quality of parts, engineering, and construction -- you get longer lifespan and greater vibration resistance. However, it's no good having those things if the beam pattern and/or the light quality are poor, and there are a lot of LED car lamps on the market that put out poor-quality light in distribution patterns that are useless at best.
    Thanks for the explanation. I had to google efficacy vs efficiency.




    For an example of the light quality issue: marketers love to crow about big kelvin numbers (5500K! 6000K! 7000K!) and babble about "closer to natural daylight" or "whiter light" among other buzzphrases that range from "not true" to "not meaningful". Higher CCT (kelvin number) means higher blue content, which is the color of light our human eyes have the hardest time dealing with. This effect is magnified greatly in bad weather -- your rain, your fog, your snow, your blowing dust, all make a bluer light much less useful to you as a driver. Furthermore, the color rendering of most LEDs is not good; it's generally 80 or so on the CRI/Color Rendering Index scale. A properly-powered halogen puts out light with CRI of 99+ (100 is perfect). This matters more off the road than when driving on roads. On the road you don't really need to be able to discern more than just the basic colors used in the system: black or grey roadway, white or yellow lines, signs that might be red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or brown. Off the road, you need to be able to discern subtle shades of grey, brown, beige, green, etc so you can tell what's trail and what's sinkhole, what's trail and what's boulder, what's trail and what's tree across the trail, what's trail and what's animal, etc; the highest possible color rendering is very valuable to your ability to see and drive safely.

    There's no getting around the advantage LEDs have in efficacy (lumens per watt, amount of light output per amount of electricity input) but (1) it's a mistake to compare lights by how many lumens they put out, because a lamp that puts a smaller amount of light in the places where you need it is more useful than a lamp that puts a larger amount of light in places where you don't need it and/or it works against you. And (2) we're not talking about flashlights here, so runtime isn't an issue. You've got plenty of power on that truck to run a pair of 100w lamps all day long. Bulb lifespan? Yeah, shorter than LEDs, so toss a couple spare bulbs in the glove compartment -- good quality ones don't cost much.
    I think I got it now, more or less. It's not just about lumens (or watts), lens and reflector design play a huge role (just like they do in flash lights). That said, any suggestions for non-LED lights then? I see your suggestion for Koito JIS, but I can't find any references online for what that is.

    If I was made out of money, I'd just get a small Baja designs pod.. but at $300/pop or so, I can be buying cheap chinese lights every season for the next 10 years.

    Thanks again for all the info.

  19. #19

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    I see your suggestion for Koito JIS, but I can't find any references online for what that is.
    Dan Stern has them, talk to him about them. Koito is the maker (one of the world's top-drawer makers of vehicle lights) and JIS is, in this case, a wide driving beam pattern with good vertical and horizontal spread (so you don't lose your light when you're pointing uphill or downhill).

  20. #20

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quick update.

    I reached out to Dan Stern (thanks @-Virgil-). Dan has bene extremely helpful. My conversation with him has been very educational.

    The gist of the conversation boils down to the fact that most manufacturers don't provide technical specifications for their lights. This not only includes lumen values, but also peak intensity (in Cd) and intensity at a certain range. High end manufacturers (like JW Speaker and Baja Lights) also produce beam graphs that show beam distributions..

    With that in mind, it appears that offroad lights worthy of consideration start around north of $400 USD/pair.

    I'm not opposed to spending this kind of money. However considering that I spend maybe 30 days out of the year driving offroad, and only a handful of these days will include night driving, the use per cost is quite high.

    Unfortunately it doesn't look like there any aftermarket support for stock xterra headlights. Upgrading those for even a $1000 would make more sense.

    It looks like I'm back to square 1. Using a cheap $100/pair chinese knockoff would provide at least some improvement over stock hallogens.
    Last edited by Alaric Darconville; 07-06-2018 at 08:12 AM. Reason: fixed stray color tagging

  21. #21
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    Unfortunately it doesn't look like there any aftermarket support for stock xterra headlights. Upgrading those for even a $1000 would make more sense.
    No, because aftermarket OEM-style (or even "Altezza-style" or "sport-style") or whatever-style are all junk, and you'll have a worse time seeing. If you're going to replace your factory headlamps, get new factory headlamps, not aftermarket.

    Using a cheap $100/pair chinese knockoff would provide at least some improvement over stock hallogens.
    Cheap lighting, even for offroad, can make seeing worse in some cases. If your goal is just slow rock crawls and fording streams and whatnot, I suppose there's no real harm, but at higher speeds those lights can work against you.

  22. #22

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    it appears that offroad lights worthy of consideration start around north of $400 USD/pair.
    I can't imagine how you reached that conclusion. I doubt if Stern would've said something like that (my doubt comes from having bought at least two pairs of what you are calling "offroad lights" from him over the years for well "south" of $400 USD). You can spend way less than that and wind up with good lights. Like these or these or these or these or (moving up in technology but down in quality/durability) these and/or these which are cheap enough you could throw a pair of each on and if one eventually fails or gets smashed, throw a replacement on and still have money left over to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day today.

    It's not clear what kind of "cheap $100/pair Chinese knockoff" you have in mind as being "improvement over stock halogens", but that's not a smart or cost-efficient way to go.

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* John_Galt's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    I can't imagine how you reached that conclusion. I doubt if Stern would've said something like that (my doubt comes from having bought at least two pairs of what you are calling "offroad lights" from him over the years for well "south" of $400 USD). You can spend way less than that and wind up with good lights. Like these or these or these or these or (moving up in technology but down in quality/durability) these and/or these which are cheap enough you could throw a pair of each on and if one eventually fails or gets smashed, throw a replacement on and still have money left over to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day today.

    It's not clear what kind of "cheap $100/pair Chinese knockoff" you have in mind as being "improvement over stock halogens", but that's not a smart or cost-efficient way to go.

    Wow, surprused to see those two last options.

    Theres a brand called "RunD" that offers some decent looking/realistic performing LED lamps on Amazon. They offer their cube lamps in a 10* spot or 30* flood, heatsink looks pretty appropriately sized, and they also offer a smaller but more expensive model that used 4x cree xpl's. For a $100/150 price range (for a set of 2), I honestly dont think they can be beat for LED lighting.
    I love my HDS/Ra Clicky... My only wish would be a 5th(accessible thru a 2click press) mode, and a 2AA tube.

  24. #24

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Galt View Post
    Theres a brand called "RunD" that offers some decent looking/realistic performing LED lamps on Amazon.
    How did you determine their performance by looking at them on Amazon, and what do you mean by "realistic"?

    they also offer a smaller but more expensive model that used 4x cree xpl's
    Or more likely, the people marketing this non-brand claim to be using Cree LEDs.

    I honestly dont think they can be beat for LED lighting.
    Based on...?

  25. #25
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by John_Galt View Post
    Theres a brand called "RunD" that offers some decent looking/realistic performing LED lamps on Amazon.
    It's pretty hard to really see engineering quality from photographs-- and to see a lamp's performance you need to see real photometric tests.

    heatsink looks pretty appropriately sized
    "Looks", but is it attached to the heat source properly so that it can do its job? If it's got a 1/4" air gap from the heat source it's not going to sink it very well.

    a smaller but more expensive model that used 4x cree xpl's.
    That's the *claim* anyway. They could be Cree seconds, a different model, or not be Cree at all.

    For a $100/150 price range (for a set of 2), I honestly dont think they can be beat for LED lighting.
    The key word being "think". You haven't examined the lamps in person, you haven't run any legitimate tests-- you looked at the pictures and ad copy and thought they "can't be beat".

    Not to beat up on you here, but when one or two people give an undeserved thumbs up to a product, and they go unquestioned, the rest of the Internet sees the glowing review and think they've got a legitimate option in that product.

  26. #26

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    I can't imagine how you reached that conclusion. I doubt if Stern would've said something like that (my doubt comes from having bought at least two pairs of what you are calling "offroad lights" from him over the years for well "south" of $400 USD).
    I suppose I may have introduced some bias by asking Dan about Koito JIS. Between housings, reflectors and bulbs the cost is nearly $400 USD.

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    You can spend way less than that and wind up with good lights. Like these or these or these or these or (moving up in technology but down in quality/durability) these and/or these which are cheap enough you could throw a pair of each on and if one eventually fails or gets smashed, throw a replacement on and still have money left over to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day today.

    It's not clear what kind of "cheap $100/pair Chinese knockoff" you have in mind as being "improvement over stock halogens", but that's not a smart or cost-efficient way to go.
    I explored the links, you seem to like Hellas a lot. Can you elaborate as to why that is? The halogen options seem comparable to stock headlights, at 55 watts. The 100 watt units sound like they would put out more light. And that's another things -- apart from the valuefit hellas, there are no specs provided, much like the chinese knock offs. Compare it with this jwspeaker model.

    So the only units I can compare based on specs, are lights from the likes of Baja and JW Speaker, and they start around $150/light. I can't draw any conclusions about the lights you link to, because I havent found any specs online. Hope that explains how I arrived at the 400 dollar figure.

  27. #27

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by eart View Post
    I suppose I may have introduced some bias by asking Dan about Koito JIS. Between housings, reflectors and bulbs the cost is nearly $400 USD.
    Really? Yikes, that's way more than I paid not too long ago. What are they getting for the housings these days?

    I explored the links, you seem to like Hellas a lot. Can you elaborate as to why that is?
    Of the dozen-or-so well established OE lighting suppliers in the world, Hella's is by far the biggest aftermarket product line. They do have some inexpensive offerings intended mainly to be just a little bit better and take away some sales from the off-brand cheap junk. But most of the Hella auxiliary lighting line is of very good design, build, and quality compared to a large proportion of what's out there overall. The reason is sort of obvious: Hella's enormous OE supply activity means they have, in-house, everything -- at top-of-class level -- needed to design, engineer, test, tool, build, quality-control, and distribute pretty much whatever lamp they dream up...with any technology...at very low cost compared to companies that have to outsource and contract for any (or all) of those steps. And they tend to run a "tight ship" with regard to standing behind their stuff and actually providing what they list in their catalogs (this is where Valeo/Cibie fell down pretty much constantly over the years in North America). That's not to say that any-every Hella lamp is a sure bet; there are some clunkers and lacklusters in the line.

    The halogen options seem comparable to stock headlights, at 55 watts.
    The watt is not a measure of light output, number one. Number two, on the list of automotive road-illumination bulb types there are about twenty different 12-volt, 55-watt halogen types producing from about 900 to 1820 lumens. These are different, almost all non-interchangeable types, the point is that there is no such thing as "the" output of a 55w bulb.

    What's more, it doesn't actually matter whether you have an 1820-lumen 55-watt bulb or a 900-lumen 55-watt bulb. That's not what you see as a driver. You see how much light the lamp puts out, and in what kind of a distribution pattern. It is perfectly possible for a lamp with the 900-lumen bulb to be more efficient and better engineered so it puts more light in more usable places for you than a lamp with the 1820-lumen bulb.

  28. #28

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    Of the dozen-or-so well established OE lighting suppliers in the world, Hella's is by far the biggest aftermarket product line. They do have some inexpensive offerings intended mainly to be just a little bit better and take away some sales from the off-brand cheap junk. But most of the Hella auxiliary lighting line is of very good design, build, and quality compared to a large proportion of what's out there overall. The reason is sort of obvious: Hella's enormous OE supply activity means they have, in-house, everything -- at top-of-class level -- needed to design, engineer, test, tool, build, quality-control, and distribute pretty much whatever lamp they dream up...with any technology...at very low cost compared to companies that have to outsource and contract for any (or all) of those steps. And they tend to run a "tight ship" with regard to standing behind their stuff and actually providing what they list in their catalogs (this is where Valeo/Cibie fell down pretty much constantly over the years in North America). That's not to say that any-every Hella lamp is a sure bet; there are some clunkers and lacklusters in the line.
    With the market flooded with crap offshore offroad lighting, would you mind listing some of your preferred brands? I am willing to make a sizable investment in good quality off road lightning but I only want to do it once. One of the better investments I have already made was upgrading to JW Speaker Headlights. I do prefer LED over Halogen because of the rough service use.

    Someone I know recently purchased some Cibie and I believe it was KC Hilites E code headlamp housings. From the outside they appeared identical in design except the lens fluting was deeper and more defined with the KC lens. The reflector of the KC reflector was different as it appear cheaper and crudder made. No DOT or SAE marking on the housings. He did no scientific testing so I will not comment on that.
    https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...-clone.195262/

    I know you recommended I slowed down due to my loss of depth perception at night, but when I run heavy sweep in the rally stages I can not waste time in assuring that all rally drivers are safely off the course. The next stage can not be started until we have swept the previous stage and arrived at the start of the next stage. I try to at least run the stage at 75 to 80% race speed. I do try to notice what the professionals use for night time driving lamps, but some low budget teams do use the cheaper off brand lamps.

  29. #29

    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Travler View Post
    With the market flooded with crap offshore offroad lighting, would you mind listing some of your preferred brands?
    Hella, JW Speaker, Valeo (Cibie, Marchal), AL (Bosch, Carello), ZKW, Koito, Stanley, Ichikoh, Truck-Lite, Peterson. That's not an exhaustive list and it's not in any particular order.

    Someone I know recently purchased some Cibie and I believe it was KC Hilites E code headlamp housings.
    Aside from the shocking (not) conclusion that the knockoffs are inferior to the real ones (duh...), that whole storyline is fishy. Those copycat lamps have a KC brand logo on them, but don't seem to exist anywhere on KC's website. KC does have its own line of H4 headlamps -- not very good, but not the worst junk out there; they look nothing like Cibies. And no, the KC lamps they got were not "E code" or any other code, either. No ECE type approval, no DOT certification, not even a relatively meaningless SAE marking. No markings at all...otherwise known as a "headlight-shaped toy".

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* Echo63's Avatar
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    Default Re: offroad driving lights recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by Travler View Post

    I know you recommended I slowed down due to my loss of depth perception at night, but when I run heavy sweep in the rally stages I can not waste time in assuring that all rally drivers are safely off the course. The next stage can not be started until we have swept the previous stage and arrived at the start of the next stage. I try to at least run the stage at 75 to 80% race speed. I do try to notice what the professionals use for night time driving lamps, but some low budget teams do use the cheaper off brand lamps.
    Interesting your rallies are run that way - here sweep comes through after the last car, but the first car may be two stages further on, and 000 will be the next stage again. (typically 2-3 stages run at a time, depending on the field size, and length of the stages)
    0 typically does 80% race speed to open the stage.
    actually now I think about, sweep does maybe 80% of the speed of the slow cars at the back of the field....

    Our local sweep vehicle (FJ40 land cruiser) has more stage kms than any other vehicle, and likely more stage kms than the top 10 cars in the field
    flashlight collector by day
    flashlight user by night

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