Running in the trails at night when the air is still and cool, away from our busy schedules can be pretty therapeutic. However, the unfamiliar creaks of a toad and the shuffling of the leaves can also be quite intimidating especially when we are surrounded by darkness. Now, one of the most important gears you need during a trail run at night is lighting to help guide your way! While a flashlight is great, a headlamp also has its advantages. Namely, it is hands-free and gives you the ability to easily direct light with just a turn of the head!
After some treks and night runs to test the many different headlamps available, we’ve come up with a list on the basics things to consider when buying a headlamp and also narrowed down a couple of our favorite headlamps!
The Basic Considerations:
Pick a headlamp specifically for running because a typical headlamp for camping could provide 20 – 50 lumens. But for trail running, you would need very clear vision to help navigate the path. Hence, you should be looking at a lamp that provides a minimum of 150 lumens. So what is a lumen? A lumen is a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source. Basically, the more lumens, the more the light!
You will be wearing a headlamp for a considerable amount of time depending on how long your workout is. With that in consideration, when picking a headlamp, you want to be looking for one that is comfortable and not too heavy. A heavy headlamp may bounce a lot which can prove to be quite annoying!
Adjustable and focusable beams is a good option as well so you can use it for up close repair work or long distance viewing. Some headlamps even have auto adjustable beams that adjust based on how close objects are to the light!
Some beams have different modes too! Headlamps that have a strobe mode will allow you to signal for help during emergencies while a red light mode is good for reading maps.
Beam distance is also an important consideration. Projecting light far out to the path you want to take is good so that know where you are going. But take note that doing this will also take up a lot of your battery life.
- Battery Life
It is critical to know your battery run time because you don’t want to be running in darkness halfway into an ultramarathon! Check whether the headlamp is rechargeable or uses batteries.
If it is rechargeable, it would be great for the environment and cheaper compared to buying batteries from the store. These are good if you are using a headlamp for a race that starts early in the morning with the Sun coming up later. However, if you are planning on doing a night ultramarathon, single-use batteries may be a better option because they can last slightly longer and you can easily replace old batteries when they die.
Best Value Headlamp: Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp
Warranty: 3 years
Max Light Output: 325 lumens
Average Battery Run Time: 65 hours on high
Weight: 85.0 grams (batteries included)
We like how the Spot 325 is lightweight and has a longer run time! It also has 25 lumens more than the original Black Diamond Spot but in a more compact body. What we really like about the Spot 325 is how it can run for so long under a high brightness mode. On its lowest setting, Black Diamond boasts that it will light up for a whopping 600 hours!
It has a strobe function and red light mode as well which will allow you to not only be visible while you are manoeuvring your way in the trails but also allows you to do closer proximity work like reading a map or finding items in your backpack.
Best Headlamp for Under RM150: Petzl Tikkina Headlamp
Warranty: 3 years
Max Light Output: 150 lumens
Average Battery Run Time: 60 hours on high
Weight: 85.9 grams (batteries included)
This is a very basic but solid headlamp which is suitable for easy running and if you need light occasionally. The average battery run time goes up to 60 hours on high which is pretty impressive for such a compact and lightweight headlamp.
There are three lighting options – low, medium and high. There is no red light option for this headlamp but the low light option also allows you to do close proximity work.
Get the Tikkina: https://www.bigbigplace.com/products/petzl-tikkina-headlamp?aff=45
Best Rechargeable Headlamp: Biolite Headlamp 330
Warranty: 1 Year
Max Light Output: 330 lumens
Average Battery Run Time: 3.5 hours on high
Weight: 69 grams
We are all for saving the Earth and the Biolite Headlamp does just that because it is rechargeable. Plus, it doesn’t use disposable batteries making it really light! Because of this, we feel it is very comfortable and we did not have to worry about bouncing or slippage. In all honesty, wearing this headlamp felt like wearing a sweatband!
It runs for 3.5 hours on a high light mode and up to 40 hours on low which is pretty sufficient for our training runs so far as we haven’t been running over 2 hours. What we like about this headlamp is that the lamp is adjustable, can be angled and it has four functions – a white spotlight, red light, white floodlight and strobe light!
Get comfy with Biolite 330: https://www.bigbigplace.com/products/biolite-330-lumen-rechargeable-led-headlamp?aff=45
Best Light Emitter Headlamp: Ledlenser Neo10R
Warranty: 5 Years (7 years upon online product registration)
Max Light Output: 600 lumens
Average Battery Run Time: 10 hours on high
Weight: 179 grams
This headlamp is easily a favourite mainly because of its output of 600 lumens! And even with that kind of brightness, it still lasts up to 10 hours on a high mode! On a low mode, it can go for about 120 hours! It was so bright that it lighted up the trail so well even though the canopy was so thick that we barely got any moonlight on our night run!
It is also easy to operate with only one button so there was no need to fumble to change the modes! Win!
It is on the heavier side because of the high light output of 600 lumens so it might take some time to get used to it being on your head! But another plus point about this headlamp is that it is also rechargeable which means no need to buy disposable batteries!
Interested in getting a high tech headlamp: https://www.bigbigplace.com/products/ledlenser-neo10r-rechargeable-headlamp?aff=45
BigBigPlace Best Seller: Black Diamond SPOT 325
Warranty: 3 years
Max Light Output: 325 lumens
Average Battery Run Time: 4 hours on high
Weight: 86 grams
Lightweight (It is only 89 grams even with batteries in it), and bright (325 lumens), the Black Diamond SPOT 325 is a favourite among Malaysia runners. With its lightweight feature, the SPOT 325 has minimal bounce and its easy to store in the hydration pack small compartment. Most of the runners will bring it as their secondary headlamp (it's mandatory in certain ultra races), but it is good enough to be used as the primary headlamp.