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Thread: Best headtorch for running?

  1. #1

    Default Best headtorch for running?

    Looking for something lightweight, with a good mix of throw and flood. ANy good suggestions?

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* AnAppleSnail's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Not to be short, but: search please. That should start you off nicely.
    My biggest light-hog is my camera.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Just received my Zebralight H50b-Q5 from goinggear.com yesterday and took it for a spin. The 80 degree flood beam was *perfect* for jogging over uneven ground and dirt roads for me (but I'm a rather slow runner). So far its, again, perfect... although I do have a PT EOSR-T coming in the mail soon to compare against!

    Addendum: I have seen people advocate high power lights (eg: magicshine at 900lm) for "serious trail running." Well, people use lights like that for mountain biking and I really doubt you're going to approach those speeds on foot (could I be wrong?) If you're a fast runner and actually need the lamp to navigate and not just to avoid obsticles than maybe something like the EOS or even brighter would make sense, but I'm vary curious how the EOS does as I find the flood excellent for picking out not just my path but also each foot placement on rough terrain. But let me restate that I am not an avid runner, I just try to get some time in when I can, which typically ends up being after dark.
    Last edited by Buck91; 02-02-2010 at 07:20 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    I spent the last year trying to find the right lamp. Exerything was too expensive and/or not nearly bright enough for trail running and adventure racing. So, I finally just built my own. For about $60 I put this together using 2 Cree XP-Gs (R5) driven independently by their own 500mA MicroPuck from LuxDrive. Powered by two 1.5V AA batteries, the whole rig is about 4.5oz (127 Grams). I did my first test run last night and it was plenty bright ~400 lumens. After an hour + I saw no drop in intensity. I used one frosted narrow and one elipitical lense so it puts out a nice wide beam with some punch up the middle. For the body I used some "C" channel with plastic caps and a heatsink. The build was quick and simple. I am sure the big companies are working on designs for the XP-G, but you can have the brightest light on the course with just a couple of nights work..







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  5. #5
    Flashaholic ifor powell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Nice light Southern Adventurer. Haveing done my own home made running lights I know where you are comeing from making one.

    The standard smaller headlights have too tight a beam realy for comfortable running but you do need a good bit of throw so the pure flood style lights are not an option. The only good comercial lights are the higher powered very expensive units but you are then talking a lot more light than you need for standard running.

    The one reasanable priced bright light to consider now if you don't want to make your own now is the Magicshine which got a good bit of talk in the last running headlight thread.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    I'm confused... I know a few people who run the MS on their mountain bikes- I myself run a triple P4 on ym bars with a L1Tv2 on the helmet. Can anyone explain to me the need for that much light when you're on foot? I mean, I get the whole brighter is better, but really? I know I'd rather have something lighter than a 900lm monster for running- but I'm not terribly fast nor do I trail run to speak of.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck91 View Post
    I'm confused... I know a few people who run the MS on their mountain bikes- I myself run a triple P4 on ym bars with a L1Tv2 on the helmet. Can anyone explain to me the need for that much light when you're on foot? I mean, I get the whole brighter is better, but really? I know I'd rather have something lighter than a 900lm monster for running- but I'm not terribly fast nor do I trail run to speak of.
    I agree, if you are just out pounding pavement then a 900lm light is a bit much. Particularly to oncoming vehicles. In fact, I even heard grumblings from some of the runners in my running (road) group that it was too bright and they kept thinking a car was coming up from behind them.
    However, I did find it a treat on the trail. I even have one that mounts to the straps of my backpack/camelback for particularly dark trails. I find that two lights eliminate many of the shadows hiding pesky roots and rocks. I find the one above, at about 400 lumens, is a good compromise.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    One of these days I gotta try running some of the mtb trails after dark, cuz I still don't get how you could need that much light on foot. Hard part is going to be not bringing the bike with me!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garnett View Post
    Looking for something lightweight, with a good mix of throw and flood. ANy good suggestions?
    There have been a few discussions covering the various schools of thought regarding different setups for night running. One light, two lights, how bright, where on the body, floody vs pointy beams, usefulness of floody Zebralights for this, etc etc.

    It would help if you mention (1) how long you run in the dark, (2) what type of terrain you run on (concrete, flat trail, technical trail), (3) typical ambient temperature, (4) whether you run in the rain, (5) what time of day you go (early morning or evening), and (6) if you will race with this setup.

    I can briefly mention what I use most of the time, but this setup is optimized for my conditions: Jetbeam Jet I Pro w/IBS V3 OP using Li @ 80% in a Fenix headband with battery holder cut off. For technical trails, I also take a Wolf Eyes Explorer MC-E on 250 lumen setting. I put it on high (580 lumens) for technical parts, but it will fry at that setting when its hot out if left on too long. During the summer (for snakes) I also take a H60 waistbelt pointing down at my feet mostly.

    New stuff is always coming out, and most of us probably revisit our configuration from time to time. I have not found the current floody Zebralights useful enough by themselves for running on the terrain I do, but others like them. Newer reflectored Zebralights will inevitably find their way into many of our running light setups.
    Last edited by gooseman; 02-07-2010 at 09:56 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Well, I'm definately more of a cyclist than a runner but I do try to mix it up a little. What gets me is that I know people who MTB at night (midddle of the woods on a MTB trail is typically very low ambient light) with nothing more than a PT EOS on their helmet. Others run something like the magicshine. I can definately see the usefulness in more light while running, but I gotta think that if anybody needs that much light while on foot either its some seriously hairy crap or they have dim eyes?

    In any case, mountain out of a mole hill so to speak since my only frame of reference for running is flat single track and dirt roads (very dark) with rather dim headlamps, if any. The ZL H50B-q5 that just arrived was absolutely fantastic IMO...

  11. #11

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck91 View Post
    ... What gets me is that I know people who MTB at night (midddle of the woods on a MTB trail is typically very low ambient light) with nothing more than a PT EOS on their helmet.
    It depends on the conditions, how technical the trail is, your skill level, and how familiar you are with the trail. In one case, where I was very familiar with the National trail on South Mountain, I could ride down the whole thing during a full moon without any lights at all. Especially with a big cushy suspension, which gobbles up bumps - you just go with the flow.
    Last edited by gooseman; 02-07-2010 at 10:26 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck91 View Post
    ...but I gotta think that if anybody needs that much light while on foot either its some seriously hairy crap or they have dim eyes?...
    Everyone's eyes differ I guess. As a kid when we were running around in the dark I was always the one who ended up in a gorse bush because I couldn't see where I was going while everyone else seemed to manage ok. But I find 50 odd lumens with a good throw and flood mix (I'm liking my Fenix HL20 for it) is enough for any kind of running terrain unless your a serious Kenny Stuart style fell runner. And 100 does me for the MTB level I ride at... ie not mental downhill stuff.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by gooseman View Post
    It depends on the conditions, how technical the trail is, your skill level, and how familiar you are with the trail. In one case, where I was very familiar with the National trail on South Mountain, I could ride down the whole thing during a full moon without any lights at all. Especially with a big cushy suspension, which gobbles up bumps - you just go with the flow.
    You said it. I'll add aggressiveness to the mix. I like to run really rough trails, big steps, drop offs, large rocks, loose sections, penalty points for falling off the trail. I can't imagine running with just a ZL unless I had the trail dialed. Now for one of the dirt paths in the park, it would work just fine.

    Gordon

  14. #14
    Flashaholic* datiLED's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by gajslk View Post
    You said it. I'll add aggressiveness to the mix. I like to run really rough trails, big steps, drop offs, large rocks, loose sections, penalty points for falling off the trail. I can't imagine running with just a ZL unless I had the trail dialed. Now for one of the dirt paths in the park, it would work just fine.

    Gordon
    You will need to check out the new Zebralight H31. It is the same format as the H30, but with a reflector and more lumens. Unfortunately, it won't be out for close to 2 months.
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  15. #15
    Flashaholic xcandrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buck91 View Post
    Addendum: Ihave seen people advocate high power lights (eg: magicshine at 900lm) for "serious trail running." Well, people use lights like that for mountain biking and I really doubt you're going to approach those speeds on foot (could I be wrong?) If you're a fast runner and actually need the lamp to navigate and not just to avoid obsticles than maybe something like the EOS or even brighter would make sense, but I'm vary curious how the EOS does as I find the flood excellent for picking out not just my path but also each foot placement on rough terrain.
    I'm the one who suggested the Magicshine (though it's really 550-600 lumens). I think what's more important than speed of travel is how much you want or need to see into the darkness beyond what you have to react to in the next couple of seconds. I know there are many night orienteers who read this forum (including me - though my club only hosts one night event a year), and for that you need to see terrain and objects quite a ways out. (A forum member has linked to a 3000 lumen homemade light for night-O.)

    Years ago, I used to do long trail runs at night without any lights at all, but I had to psych myself up to do them. Then I got the Princeton Tec Solo and, a few years later, the Aurora. Those headlamps sometimes enabled me (barely) to see the ground in front of me better, but the overall experience was similar to no light at all. I usually ended up turning them off and was better off for it.

    My P4 modified Eos was substantially better and made running on trails comfortable much of the time if the trails were familiar ones. Frequently though, I find myself in condtions that absorb the light of the modified Eos, to the point that it seemed like it's barely on at all - kind of like going back to the Aurora. I'm sure most of us have experienced darkness like that (imagine wet asphalt, dark colored trees, dark dirt...).

    The Magicshine (or lights in that brightness range that orienteers, the most intensive night runners, use) just makes night running a much more relaxed affair. I can spot moose and bears or other critters from way out instead of almost running into them with the Eos. I can match what I see on my map with what is in front of me if I'm orienteering. It's just a lot less confusing and a lot more comfortable, especially on unfamiliar terrain.

    Even with the Magicshine, I experienced real light absorbing conditions on a ski in December that brought the range down to just enough for slow skiing (not faster than running pace). It was far into twilight, but not quite night and snow was being blown by very high winds (50 mph?). On the plus side, I wasn't getting flashback off the blowing snow because the light is high enough above my eyes. Without the Magicshine on, I couldn't see the features of the wind carved drifts that I was skiing on at all.

    By the way, on many trickier trails, I sometimes get a kick out of keeping up with mountain bikers. If there are decent climbs and no long downhills, I can get pretty big gaps on bikers on the uphills that I can maintain on rolling terrain. (I used to be kind of fast - 6 miles in 29:28.)
    Last edited by xcandrew; 02-09-2010 at 02:18 AM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    I'm kind of a newbie and dummy at this but I often run in the night in the jungles of Malaysia. My personal opinion is that brightest is not necesarily the best ... the yellower (colder?) lights seem to work much better. The really bright, white/blue lights will reflect off lighter color rocks and wreck my night vision.

    I don't know any of the technical jargon but I do know there is a huge difference between:
    1. How bright a light is and
    2. How well a light helps you see
    or another way to put it lighting up the trail the brightest doesn't necesarily help you see the trail the best.

    I'd be curious as well to hear some more knowledgeable people comment on that aspect.

  17. #17
    Flashaholic* psychbeat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    wow that dual XP-G is SICK!
    I wish I had the patience to build one of those..
    maybe I will look into that
    or just wait till the new h31 comes out...
    some people seem to like keeping it mellow on the trail
    and others like to burn up the night- it just depends on the
    person and terrain I guess. I like to be able to see all
    of the beautiful trees n lakes n cliffs or waves or
    stalagtites or whatever even if its
    dark out rather than have tunnel vision.

    I ride mostly downhill MTB and if yer hitting BIG jumps n
    drops etc. you want as much light as possible.
    hitting jumps in the dark is really fun BTW
    the MJ is a little bulky but one on the bars and one
    on the head seems like a nice set up..
    Im might try one of 4sevens maelstroms mounted to
    the bike and am still trying to get the perfect HL..
    as if there is one

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* TooManyGizmos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Well ... I hope you searched and saw this running thread .
    ~ "She" says ...... I have ... TooManyGizmos ~

  19. #19

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by xcandrew View Post
    ... I know there are many night orienteers who read this forum (including me - though my club only hosts one night event a year), and for that you need to see terrain and objects quite a ways out...
    Orienteering is 4 separate things... map reading, route finding, searching for markers and running. If you were just out for a run would you still use the Magicshine? (Just curious).
    Last edited by I Know Nothing; 02-09-2010 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Added words to sound less like an argument.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    On roads I usually don't use any headlamp. On trails I use my 1100 lumen dual P7 (avatar lamp). It weights 100g on my head so why not.

    About year ago I posted link to a bad quality head cam video, part of my typical trail run on a hill just behind my house, except here jogging quite slowly because I had the camera. And trails at part isnt that rough at all, I just didn't bother to go that far from home with camera. But may that gives some idea what night trail running is about. I have done these runs with 200 lumen lamps, you can do it but it's not as fun at all.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Thanks for posting that video Jagge! I've been meaning to reply to the "too much light for running" vibe in this thread, but it's hard to convey the issue to those who have never run unfamiliar woodland trails in the dark.

    I don't have a MagicShine or similar: Just a P4 Eos, and I bring a handheld, either a D10 w/ 14500, or one of several 18650 lights.

    On park trails (wide, smooth), you can get by with almost anything. But on forest trails, it's often hard to even stay on the trail with my above setup--it's too easy to shoot for an opening between the trees carved out by your lights, only to find that it's a dead end. In daylight, this almost never happens on the same, not-so-familiar trails. I think Jagge's video clarifies the issue well.

    A big part is the mental state after you've been running for a while--a blissed out zone which is a big part of the appeal. But while zoned, you've got to still analyze each forthcoming footfall, the next twist/turn on the trail, and that sound over to your left. Another giant issue is that a light strong enough to point way down the trail will harm your night vision substantially if you point it down to your feet to navigate a rocky section.

    So yes, a big wide 600+ lumen flood can, I'm sure, be a real help on the trail. And if I raced at night, I'd probably invest in or make one. For my needs, 200 floody lumens would be about perfect, when combined with a handheld, because I don't want to take away the darkness that adds so much to the quality of the run. I just don't want to take too my wrong turns and spills.

    Jack

  22. #22
    Flashaholic xcandrew's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best headtorch for running?

    Quote Originally Posted by I Know Nothing View Post
    Orienteering is 4 separate things... map reading, route finding, searching for markers and running. If you were just out for a run would you still use the Magicshine? (Just curious).
    Yeah, it's great for just running. I'm on trails all the time.

    Slightly off topic, but I do have one issue with the Magicshine light in particular. The cable quality isn't very good, at least in the cold. The cable broke where it goes into the strain relief to the connecter on the battery pack (replaced under warranty), and then the outer cable cracked on the corresponding location on the extension cable. It might be related to cable performance in the cold, or they might just be cheap. Compared to a bike user there's more jostling of the cables from running bounce, but I don't think I put any substantial bends in the cables at the weak points. I would recommend beefing up the strain relief areas with heavy rubber electrical tape (or heat shrink). It shouldn't be a huge deal to recable the light if the cables fail after the warranty period though.
    Last edited by xcandrew; 02-09-2010 at 05:32 PM.

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