Headlamp for night running

hazza

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Now that it’s getting dark early, the better half and I think that we need to start running with headlamps. There have recently been ‘near misses’ with things we couldn’t see, the last one involving a collapsed drain, so we’re keen to do something about it. It seems crazy to be part of this community and not ask for recommendations, so here goes!

What we need from a headlamp:

· Short range ground view, say within 10m minimum
· IPX4 minimum
· Secure fit – doesn’t bounce excessively when running, but ideally doesn’t make you look like you’ve been caving!
· Removable, washable headband

I already own a Petzl Tikka XP2 for hiking/camping. It’s been great, the red light is very useful for camping, but it has a captive headband. One of us could use this, but we still need a second headlamp.

I had considered the Petzl R+ or RXP, as I think that the reactive lighting could be very useful, at least to stop us blinding each other! It would dim the LED in the face of a car headlight, but we could force it to the constant lighting mode in those situations.

What do people suggest?
 

Charles L.

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I have no experience with Petzl headlamps but was intrigued enough by the reactive lighting concept to look into them. A great idea, but reviews of reactive lighting are mixed at best. Not sure if it's any better or worse, but the LEdLenser SEO series has a similar concept. I have one on order, will let you know what it's like when I receive it next week.

I'd also check out the Black Diamond Spot. Really light and comfortable to wear, plenty bright, has red/flood/throw capabilities, easily removable headband, IPX4 water resistance, and you can dim it instantly by touching the side of the lamp. I suspect it would break if you dropped it (haven't dropped mine yet), but then it's inexpensive to begin with. If you run in the rain, the BD Storm is the same light with greater water resistance (but also greater weight).

Good luck!
 
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hazza

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That's helpful, thanks Charles! I'll go and look those up now. If you could report back on the LED Lenser that would be much appreciated.
 

UnderPar

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Zebralight offers a wide variety of headlamp models from 18650 li-ion, CR123 lithium primaries and AA sized source / batteries. You could browse through their website for specs and comparison of models and other brands. Hth
 
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Dr O

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Personally I'd be looking at something like the H52 or H502 from Zebralight without knowing much more detail. While Petzl make great bits of kit eg gri-gri's etc- their lights have only ever been ok. Much improved these days but there are far better on offer. The black diamond storm is reasonable enough-finally some realistic water resistance given how people want to use their headlamps but again there are better options for the same price.

If you wanted to go down the li-ion route then something like the H600 would be an excellent choice.

You're missing run time from your requirements - unless it's not relevant but I often need 2-3hrs run time in the dark during winter as it gets dark at ridiculous hours so worth thinking about.
 

Charles L.

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Love my H600F, but I'd think it would be a bit heavy for running (but admittedly, I am sensitive to headlamp weights). For camping I often use my Spot instead of the H600 -- all depends on how long I'll be wearing it. And the Spot cost less than half the H600 :) I'd take the H600 over the Storm for just about anything (yes, I have a Storm as well!), since the weights are pretty close and the Storm's button is really stiff. Agree that H52 or H502 could be good choices as well. For the Zebralights, one thing to consider is that while the headbands are removable, they are not as easy to remove as the Black Diamonds' headbands.
 
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Stefano

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Zebralight H52Fw (AA - Eneloop)
or Zebralight H600Fw (18650 battery)
 

hazza

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I was pretty sure that I would get replies recommending Zebralight! I know they're good lights, but my main concern with them was whether they would bounce, as they are a bit on the heavy side and the strap doesn't look the best.

As far as runtime and batteries are concerned, I only need a couple of hours realistically, and I'm happy with any battery setup. It's the requirements in post 1 that are the most important to me.
 

The_Driver

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I consider the Armytek Tiara Pro Warm the most useful Headlamp under 100$. It's very practical and compact. The TIR lens creates a more practical beam compared to the Zebralights. The button is a bit harder to press. Most of the other features are similar.

If you want more brightness or longer runtimes and can live with the additional weight, the Armytek Wizard (Pro) might also be nice. I use the high-cri version of this light and it's great for running.
 
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hazza

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That's interesting, I'm not very familiar with any of the Armytek products. Thanks, I'll check those out.
 

markr6

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I was pretty sure that I would get replies recommending Zebralight! I know they're good lights, but my main concern with them was whether they would bounce, as they are a bit on the heavy side and the strap doesn't look the best.

As far as runtime and batteries are concerned, I only need a couple of hours realistically, and I'm happy with any battery setup. It's the requirements in post 1 that are the most important to me.

They do bounce a bit with the stock headstrap while running. I put my H600w in a Nite Ize headband (about $6). No stretch, no bounce, perfect!!
 

hazza

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They do bounce a bit with the stock headstrap while running. I put my H600w in a Nite Ize headband (about $6). No stretch, no bounce, perfect!!

Great call, thanks!

I'll go to some local shops today to try out what they have in, but I suspect it will be fairly limited.
 

Charles L.

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Got my LED Lenser SEO7r in yesterday. Interesting concept, mixed results. I love the adjustable beam idea but the utility is hampered a bit by the plastic bezel, which has openings (for ease of construction? ventilation? I don't know) on the back side that create a ring of light around the main beam as light escapes through the openings. Kind of distracting. I'm going to plug it with a rubber gasket or plumber's tape and see if that helps. Even in flood mode, the beam is considerably tighter than a true flood like my H600F or Armytek Wizard. In spot mode, the beam is really tight and can project a long way -- but that isn't necessary for running.

The SEO7r is only 93g with batteries and strap, same as my Black Diamond Spot (both weighed on same scale at my home), yet the flattish body of the SEO doesn't fit my head as well as the cheaper Spot. Those of you who were born by C section may not have a problem with this :)

As a former runner, if I were to run with one of my headlamps (Wizard, H600F, BD Spot, BD Storm, LED Lenser SEO7r), it would be the Spot. Light weight, best fit, and simplest UI. For me at least, every gram matters when I'm wearing a headlamp for an extended length of time -- I suspect that would be especially important when running, where the lamp will bounce around. But I'd definitely look at some of the lighter Armytek and Zebralight offerings -- overall a superior design and construction than the others.
 

davidt1

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Charles L., Your headlamp collection and first-hand knowledge of how they perform should be of great benefit to those seeking recommendations.

Thanks for your impression of the Lenser SEO7r and the other lights. It's refreshing to see recommendations from people who actually own the products they recommend and most importantly, know what they are talking about.
 
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hazza

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Absolutely, thanks for your help Charles. I managed to see the SEO5 in a shop today alongside various petzl lights. Interesting to hear about the gaps, I hope that doesn't affect water proofing!

I think at the moment I'm most tempted by the Spot, Tikka R+ or one of the Zebralights, probably an AA model. The Armytek looks nice but I'm not certain about the vertical mount (edit: realised that was only the tiara)
 
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Charles L.

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Happy to help. And on that note, I need to clarify one item about the ring surrounding the main beam of the SEO7r. It is not coming from the outer part of the bezel -- a variety of taping efforts proved that it is coming from within the optics. And yet, strangely, the ring is gradually disappearing as I use the light more and more… ? I'll like the light a great deal more without that distracting halo, for whatever reason. Curious though.

Hazza, if you look at the Zebralights (love them, have several), I'd be sure to get the "F" version of whatever one floats your boat. The regular version has a distinct hotspot that may prove distracting when running. Some runners say that a light's hotspot makes for a "bouncing ball" effect that captures the eye -- I could see that being an issue. The Armytek's TIR optics do away with a hotspot, and the Spot's optics are too vague too provide much of a hotspot in any case :) And btw, you can mount the Tiara in a horizontal orientation if you choose.
 

RI Chevy

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Spark with your choice of batteries or a Nitecore HC-50.

I have and use both of these headlamps. The SPARK with 2-AA's, and the NITECORE with a 18650.

Petzl best lights on the market.

That is your opinion. Open your eyes, there are much better options out there.

It's refreshing to see recommendations from people who actually own the products they recommend and most importantly, know what they are talking about.

;)
 

hazza

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I guess this is me closing the thread (for now...). Thank you all for your advice, it's been a massive help. At first I wasn't sure where to start, but now I think I'm down to a couple of options (Spot, H52Fw, H600Fw, RXP - these are partially based on availability) and I just need to make a final decision!

Just in case anyone cares...
Last night's run has really pushed me to get a significant upgrade on the Tikka XP 2. I tried a new route that lead me through lots of undergrowth and woodland in the pitch dark. With the diffuser, I can get a decent view of any immediate trip hazards, but I just don't feel I can see far enough ahead when looking out for turns and trying to navigate. The spot beam lets me see the turns, but there is so little spill down to the path I can't see things on the floor. At one point I heard someone coming towards me so I went to spot beam and looked towards the sound, but in light rain I couldn't make them out until they were really close. I think that part of the problem is that with NiMH AAAs the XP 2 doesn't even put out its rated 60 lumens. I just need more punch!
 
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