Jetbeam        
Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Help me choose a running headlamp

  1. #1
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    4,894

    Default Help me choose a running headlamp

    Recently I've started night running and will try to go out on at least a couple night runs a week as long as weather permitting but my headlight is a bit lacking for running.. My current headlamp is Fenix HL26R. It puts out 130 lumens on high and 450 or something like that on turbo but only for a short duration. My main drawbacks to this headlamp for running purposes, as maybe being front heavy, it tends to bob and slip down on the head and also 130 lumens is a bit lacking at time. So I would like something still rechargeable, a more balanced and stable feel on the head and a high, non-turbo setting something above 130 lumens and hopefully can run this high setting for a few hours so I don't have to charge the flashlight after each run. I anticipate most evenings not being out for much more than an hour to hour and a half at a time.

    Seems like the Fenix HM61R gets a lot of love on this forum but is the beam floody enough for running? I'm interesting in seeing the first 20 or 30 feet in front of me with good side illumination vs seeing 150 feet down the road. I like lights where the spill off is very smooth from the center, like the orange peel reflector look. Fenix sure makes a lot of headlights and choices just among this brand can be difficult. Open to all brand suggestions.
    I live in a van down by the river

  2. #2
    Flashaholic xcandrew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Earth
    Posts
    126

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp

    This is more my opinion on what to look for, rather than a specific recommendation. The only reason I've been on this forum for the past 17 years is to find or modify headlamps for the purpose of trail running or similar activities. I live far enough north that I run in the dark for months every year.

    I agree you on the importance of having good flood for side illumination so you aren't running in a tunnel, but just as importantly to light up the ground at your feet so you don't trip over roots and rocks. I also like good throw to see where I'm going (more important on trails that are unmarked, or off trail in the woods) and to pick up animals like bears and moose with a safe margin to react. A completely smooth light experience is also important, without shadows or noticeable transitions, or any place where you are burning a hole in the ground, which would be wasteful and make the rest of the beam look not bright enough. I want a smooth, wide carpet of light from my feet to the range of the light.

    I'd sacrifice range before flood, but to get that smooth carpet of light out to the range that I want, I need around 300 lumens minimum for something like a backup/emergency light. I prefer a sustainable 500-600 lumens as a medium level and 1000+ lumens on high. To get that much light for the 2 hours I generally need, that means 18650 lights. I know kreisl's opinion, "imho "no 18650 headlamp is really recommendable for jogging" (©2020 kreisl)", but as a trail runner light geek, I have settled into a 2x18650. 1x18650 is enough for a backup kind of light, and 1x21700 contains enough energy for what I need, but I'm using an inexpensive system that uses the typical 2x18650 bike light battery pack, and that's good enough for me. Plus, headlamp season is cold season for me, so 2x18650 provides a good margin to counter diminished capacity in sub-freezing temperatures.

    Balance is a lot more important than weight in a headlamp for running. My headlamp is 232 gram total weight, including the 2x18650 battery pack. It's more comfortable and has less bounce than my 3xAAA Princton Tec Eos that weighed around 100 g complete, but was front heavy. Weight on the head is more important for cycling than running because of the forward lean meaning your neck is holding your head cantilevered out there, yet night mountain bikers typically wear not only a helmet, but a headlamp and maybe 2x18650 battery pack on that helmet. You hear of long distance cyclists with neck issues, but not ultrarunners - so weight by itself is just not an issue for running. My headlamp is comfortable enough that I put it on at home even if I'm starting a run an hour before sunset, and I don't necessarily take it off after the run if I'm running errands. I don't really notice it's there - it's just comfortable. And no, I don't really care if it's pocketable. It's not a EDC device the way I use headlamps. I put it on as a tool to use for night running illumination.

    Here's my current light. It's an old Yinding with neutral white XM-L2s (light head weight 59 g on the front) that was popular with the mtbr lights and night riding forum. This light has been measured at around 1200 lumens OTF on high by mtbr forum people, which is a sustainable output when running in the cold. I typically use it on medium (roughly 600 lumens) to ensure sufficient runtime, and that's sustainable at any temperature that I run in during headlamp season. I switched out one of the ~15 degree (half width) spot TIRs with a 45 degree (not sure half or full width) floody TIR. The headstrap is trimmed down to the minimum, including not using the rear bracket because the battery pack has strap loops, the top strap removed, a no-stretch strap added to support that battery and keep the main strap off my ears, the front bracket flipped to provide a better bracing angle against the head and padded with extra strap material, the battery pack not quite centered to keep it off the center bump on the back of my head:


    Others do the mixed TIR thing with dual emitters, like the the LEDX Kaa 2000, Lucifer Lights M6 and S2X, etc. I haven't tried those lights, but I know that gives the kind of beam profile that I like.

    Here's me running with the predecessor of my Yinding, a Gemini Duo (replaced by much cheaper Yinding after driver failed after 3 years). Note that I wear the headlamp as high as possible on my head, which I find best for stability and better separation of the light from my eyes for more shadow definition. I dropped a 4:46 downhill mile down a dark trail in middle of a 50 mile race immediately after this photo was taken. I've also topped other downhill trail Strava segments at faster than 4:50 per mile pace for 2+ miles in the dark with the Yinding or Gemini headlamps on high at 1200 lumens.



    I'm not quite satisfied with this headlamp. I am kind of a CRI and warm emitter snob, since I think those improve vision out in the woods. There are no good high CRI warm emitters in the XM-size to modify my Yinding, so I've been looking into other things.

    For instance, a quad flashlight with Nichia E21A emitters (I'd go for the 2700K) and the frosted Carclo optics look like they have a great beam profile in the following reddit post. I'd be willing to try strapping a flashlight to my head with a similar setup to the reddit post, but I can't say how well it works for running until I actually try it. Also, the single 18650 battery is only good for not quite 1.5 hours at around 400 lumens, so more like a short run or backup solution for me (runtime estimated from this review: https://zeroair.org/2020/10/30/emisa...hlight-review/ ) :

    https://www.reddit.com/r/flashlight/...i_98_headlamp/
    Last edited by xcandrew; 11-03-2020 at 05:05 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp

    Take a look at the Petzl Actik headlamp. It is very light and bright. It is also bit costly.

    This model uses either 3AAA's (called the Petzl Actik model for $50) or the Petzl Actik Core which is the Petzl Actik that includes Petzl's Li-on rechargeable battery version for around $70.

    The headlamps are identical, however, if you use 3AAA's the max brightness is 350 lumens. If you use Petzl's Li-On "Core" rechargeable battery you get 450 lumens max brightness.

    I've just recently been using this Petzl Actik Core headlamp that came with the Core rechargeable battery (450 lumen version). The "Core" rechargeable Li-on battery is included with the headlamp for a better price than buying both items separately.

    I works great. You get three levels of white light. I"ll call them low, medium and High. 3 lumens, 100 lumens and 450 lumens. Here is info from Petzl's website:

    Lighting color Lighting levels Brightness Distance Burn time Reserve
    white MAX BURN TIME 6 lm 8 m 130 h -
    STANDARD 100 lm 45 m 8 h 2 h
    MAX POWER 450 lm 90 m 2 h 3 h
    red proximity 2 lm 5 m 60 h

    I have been using high for around an hour. The rechargeable battery states it provides the higher level of output for around 2 hours. You can also use 3 AAA's if the battery dies or you forget to recharge it for a max of 350 lumens but the rechargeable Li-on provides a much more stable/regulated output over time.

    I like it. it is very light (75 grams). It doesn't bob around on your head. Although I have not had it for long, the Core rechargeable version stands to provide many days and hours of running at a high brightness economically.

    Just some food for thought.
    Last edited by NotRegulated; 11-03-2020 at 05:03 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp

    I'm not sure if you saw my post in the Fenix HM61R, but one Fenix headlamp you could look into would be the HM51R.
    Here's some more info about it in this thread.
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/...o-autostepdown

    You can buy it here.
    https://www.blackcomb-shop.eu/en-US/...w_wcB#one-size

    Here's the US version of the HM51R, the HM50R.
    https://www.fenix-store.com/fenix-hm...-led-headlamp/

    Otherwise I'd think that any decent brand that offers a light that takes a 16340/RCR123 would be a good option.
    http://flashlights.parametrek.com/in...attery=1x16340

    Hopefully you find a headlamp that'll work for your needs.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp

    You're going to have to make some choices. Do you want a plastic headlight that will be lighter, but will bounce more due to a plastic tilt mechanism or do you want a metal headlight that will have a silicon bracket that won't move or bounce? I think you might be best going with a 18650 light with a silicon bracket and a top strap. Plastic lights will be limited for high levels due to lack of heat sinking. You want a higher high with sustained brightness. I'd suggest a Nitecore HC60 in warm white or Nitecore UT32. If those are too heavy for you, step down to a 14500 light/1AA or 16340/123A light. I'm not a fan of Fenix's newer plastic headlights with built in batteries for running due to the stepdown in all but low at two hours. I like a light to maintain it's full brightness as long as it can on a setting, especially for running.

  6. #6
    Flashaholic Sadsack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Arlington Wa
    Posts
    122

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp


  7. #7
    Flashaholic*
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    4,894

    Default Re: Help me choose a running headlamp

    I wanted to offer thanks for the suggestions. Still haven't made a decision. Just know I don't want another front end headlamp. I'm thinking ones with the battery pack in the rear are going to offer a more balanced choice, especially those that use the 18650 or similar batteries.
    I live in a van down by the river

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •