For Safe Walking at Night

Smartacus

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I walk at least 21 miles a week, but I've had three falls in less than a year, and the last one meant a visit to the emergency room.

So I'm afraid to walk at night unless I have some kind of good lighting.

From what I've seen, I want LED, rechargeable, and as bright as I can get. It needs to last at least an hour and a half. My price range is up to $150, though I don't want to go that high if I don't have to.

What I keep going round and round about is whether to get hand-held, headlamp, chest light, or waist/belt light. Hands-free would be nice, but chest or waist seems constricting and hard to deal with, especially over winter clothes.

I'd love to hear any thoughts you experts have! Thanks in advance.
 

3oni

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I'm sorry to hear about your falls, that's no fun at all. :(

If I can only have one light for nighttime walking, it's a headlamp. Most will fit over a winter hat. I like the ability to angle the light down in front of me, and with it being almost all flood that's perfect for walking.

But I also like having a compact handheld light, generally something with a low and a moderate mode (although both are subjective). 25-75 lumens can be a lot at night, especially in the middle of nowhere. With more ambient light (occasional streetlamps, etc.) I need a bit more. My default pocket carry has two modes, ~20 and ~450, which I find ideal.
 

Hooked on Fenix

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As bright as you can get is a lousy thing to look for in a light. Generally, no matter how bright of a light you get, it will dim down to 300-500 lumens in minutes if not seconds. What you should look for is a headlight with an even beam that will light up the area in front of you well without giving you tunnel vision. If the beam isn't even, it will screw up your depth perception and you can more easily trip. The sweet spot for a wide even beam is actually in the 200-300 lumen range, maybe double that for running. I suggest a Nitecore HC60 v.2. It's the best trail running headlight I've owned so far. Also, get a set of trekking poles, Leki, Black Diamond, or Komperdell/REI.
 

kerneldrop

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Reliability and durability should be your top priorities.
If you want a hand-held then a Malkoff will be hard to beat. It's below your max $ with the first time customer 20% coupon.
Has a very nice usable low and a high.
Turn on with a switch in tailcap, twist head for low and high, turn off.
Will last a lifetime and has a slim chance of failing. You will hand this light down to someone.
Takes CR123 batteries or 18650 rechargeables. (you want the Battery Station CR123 batteries)
You can order Battery Station CR123, KeepPower 18650, and charger from the Malkoff site.
Made in 'Merica

 
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KITROBASKIN

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A headlamp with a wide, evenly lit beam is suggested. You always have the ability to hold it in your hand when appropriate. Good color rendering will lessen confusion by being able to better identify objects. Your terrain should be less rugged than during the day. Night excursions can be more dangerous for those with balance considerations, for sure. One of the biggest issues, along with small stumps and partially buried rocks, are branches (including the twigs) that bonk us on the head, sometimes near the eyes.
 

kerneldrop

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Unless I'm in some kind of adventure race in Alaska I'm just not sure I want to exercise wearing a headlamp.

With that said, I do wear a stop watch on my forearm when lifting so I can keep my rests between sets to a specific duration…so I'm weird.
 

CHNeal

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Hello fellow walker. I walk 25-60 miles a week in the dark this time of year and 15-30 in the summer. After going thru a large cross section of lights to be my dedicated walking light I have settled on the Malkoff Wildcat running on a MD3 body with tricap running two 2300 mah cells. If you can't see what's in front of you with the wildcat lighting isn't your problem.
The MD3 body is the perfect size to hold on to and the tricap is perfect with gloves on. With 30 degrees of floody 1000 lumen 5700k light it is awesome. It will run on high 1000 lumen for over an hour in this setup and the low is actually all you really need to be safe walking so an added bonus.
We have two in our home. My wife uses one and I use one with Malkoffs 1 degree diffuser subbed in for the standard 20 degree as it adds the throw to the floods i wanted.
 
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Hooked on Fenix

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I still think a wide angle headlight with an even beam is your best option, but if you want to go with a chest or backpack mounted light, your best option is a Nitecore CU10. It is a wide beam, high c.r.i. 220 lumen light that stays at a set angle no matter how much you move around. Runs on usb so pick what size USB battery pack you want to carry. Costs $25.
 

dc38

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It is my opinion that if you are walking in the dark, both hands should be free to interact with whatever your environment may present. That said, having two headlamps is probably the way to go, i find a floody headlamp with a warmer tint like the Armytek Wizard to be quite useful in the middle presets group. You can even strap the light to a hiking vest, or on a front pocket somewhere for glare free lighting.

I would typically stay away from belt mounted lights because outerwear tends to crumple or fold over it. In short, you want one headlamp on your head for direct observation lighting, and a second light on your chest facing forward for more peripheral vision when you aren't looking straight ahead.
 

Dave_H

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Thinking generically without reference to brands or models, I would pick a headlamp with wide/even beam as minimum. Some lights have wide and narrow selectable. Obviously it needs to be comfortable and not too heavy. Rechargeable is nice as long as you don't run out of charge (say perhaps getting slowed down and spending more time in the dark than expected). In that case, replaceable cells (primary or rechargeable) are better.

Many cheap headlamps use 3AAA, you might get away with one of these. 3AA could be better but larger and weighs more. Some have separate battery packs with connecting cable. I'd skip anything running CR2032's or button cell alkalines, usually at the low end anyway.

I would also carry a flashlight if only for backup; or say just to light up something at a distance which you are not facing i.e. off to one side; many choices. Some of these cheap "zoomie" lights with adjustable focus might work though they tend to be a bit on the heavy side.

Dave
 

Hooked on Fenix

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3AAA lights are mostly horrible for hiking as they dim down too quickly. They often advertise high brightness and long runtime but cheat on the ANSI specs to get your money. Expect dimming to start after 30 seconds for any of these lights advertising over 300 lumens. They dim down to just over 10% of full brightness and run at that level as long as possible. (ANSI specs end runtime test once light drops below 10%) If you're okay with a light that can't maintain over 50 lumens after a couple minutes after screwing up your night vision first, go ahead and buy one. There are some okay lights in the Petzl and Black Diamond lines, and one Nitecore, but you're better off going with something with a better power source. The best battery size for a headlight is 1 18650. It gives good runtime at decent brightness, and is the most power dense cell there is. A 21700 is a bit heavy for a front mounted light, and a rear mounted battery pack makes it harder to keep the light waterproof.

A good setup would be a Nitecore HC60 v.2 (warm white l.e.d.) for the headlight, a Nitecore CU10 mounted to a chest strap, and a flashlight with good throw and brightness for routefinding. There are many good choices for that light.
 

Lynx_Arc

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I use a Sofirn 32A V2.0 and find it ideal for walking as I can adjust the beam and move it right to left or the opposite so as to not blind oncoming vehicles. I find that headlamps you can't adjust the beam on the fly but in your hand it is easy to ramp up the light for dark spots and turn it down when not needed. You also don't have to worry about the light bouncing up and down on your head either and when you go into a store you can easily slip it into a pocket.
 

bykfixer

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To me the elephant in the room is why is op falling?
Trickey terrain? What kind? Darkness with rogue roots and rocks toe snaggers or a shadowey light pollution hiding sidewalk cracks?
In total darkness not a lot of light is needed so 50 lumens can be very effective where in light pollution shadows 300 is a good start.

What are the conditions like? Humid or dry? In humid conditions a flooder lights up all of the millions of tiny water droplets that can cause a sense of looking through wax paper.

To me a light with a punchy beam is best suited for night walks with the option of raising or lowering output based on the amount of available light and what affects said available light has on surroundings. One that punches forward well while providing some spill for navigating nearby tripping hazards without ruining the dark adapted peripherals.

Like in an automobile, I prefer the light starts out on a lower output and if it needs more there's an option for more output. When in a city scape a light with a 60-100 lumen low is often a good start with at least a 500-600 lumen high. In the countryside 20 or so lumens is a good start with max of 300 or so being plenty.

Others prefer a floody beam at those times. Nothing wrong with that. So it really comes down to preference. Does it really matter if the toe snagging root looks brown or gray or it is best to simply know it's a toe snagger? Again that is up to the user. Me? I really don't care if it's dark green or brown. I just need to know it's there lickety split so my brain has more time to react, since as I age my reaction time aint what it used to be.

But whatever is chosen always, always, always carry a back up light.
 

KITROBASKIN

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Part of seeing obstacles is also seeing the difference in color between a root, stump or rock as compared to the surrounding soil. Moreover, going outside is ideally a matter of enjoyment as well. Seeing colors as seen during the day (or twilight) is so much more pleasant than dingy, lifeless drab.

Regarding flood versus spot: Yes a personal preference but seems like spatial awareness gives more perspective than a tunnel of light. For years I used both an area light and a fairly tight beam when in the forest. Not only for distance identification but seeing past close branch clusters. Our terrain now where we live really does not need something that can reach 100 meters, and seeing through thick lower branches of trees is not needed.

Regarding the use of a body attached light; no experience here but interesting to learn from other members.

It would be helpful to hear more details of what is going on with this thread originator. Smartacus was on yesterday.
 

Hooked on Fenix

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A good setup would be a Nitecore HC60 v.2 (warm white l.e.d.) for the headlight, a Nitecore CU10 mounted to a chest strap, and a flashlight with good throw and brightness for routefinding. There are many good choices for that light.
Here is what that setup looks like. Skip to after 6 minutes for beamshots.
 

Hooked on Fenix

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That video demonstrates the two lights on a helmet, but I'd mount the lower one on a shoulder strap to be practical. Most people don't hike wearing a helmet. The video does show the light combo I suggested, but I'd go with the warm white version of the HC60 v.2. The video shows the cool white version. Having the one light above the eye line and one below does help see loose rocks and tripping hazards. It gives the light more of a 3D effect. Both lights give an even flood which helps the eyes see ahead better for choosing the best places to step next. Having a 220 lumen light and a 250 lumen light (HC60 v.2 on medium) gives a higher continuous amount of light for long durations without short step downs in brightness you get from one light on high.
 
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