Trail running light

Hail oh running gurus

I'm a trail runner, me, and the thing I hate most about winter is being forced to run on the roads when I run in the early morning cos of the dark. My poor dogs (who run with me) don't like the road either cos the big lorries scare them and there aren't any critters to chase (plus they're not let off the leads). So this winter, I'm determined to get myself a decent light so we can run our trails in the dark. Problem is that I'm rather broke so I need something cheapish.

I ran with a little Maglite in my hand this morning, which was OK but could be better. Maglites are a bit heavy and the swinging arm thing meant the beam bounched all around.

What would you fine folks recommend that's bright enough for trails before dawn, but good value for money?


  • have at
    they do a budget led headtorch for around £5 might be just the thing

    <a href=" Target=BLANK> Alpkit </a>
  • okay the forum doesn't do html!

    Alpkit [/url
  • Darned HTML, huh David! Thanks for the link. Looks like a nice little torch. Other threads on the subject have said that the Petzl Tikka Plus is good, but some have said it won't be enough for dark trail running.

    Anyone have any experience with theis Alpkit one?
  • Anything with LED will do?

    I have a keyring that has two blue LEDs. It will lighten up dark path!

    They can be cheap
  • Ok, maybe I exaggrated the broke bit a little! I don't need something totally dirt cheap, just good value for money. This will be my birthday prezzie from Mr Derah so of course he needs to spend a little more than next-to-nothing on me!!
  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    There was a similar thread a few days back. It resulted in me buying a Petzl tikka plus head torch. I'll pick it up tomorrow and if I remember I'll let you know how it performs. Cost £25 off eBay.
  • Thanks Muttley. I guess I've been looking at the same eBay sale... let me know how it goes!
  • How cheap is cheap?

    I used the Petzl Mega Zoom for many years - a halogen bulb with a battery pack that sits in a bumbag or clips to your waistband. This was pre-LED lights and it was reasonably effective.

    I've not tried the new LED headtorches but the Cateye 5-LED bike light is very good - not good enough to cycle on unlit roads, however, so I'm not sure how the LED headlamps would perform off road. The LED lights with their very white beam is much better than the yellowish light of conventional incandescent lamps.

    I invested a lot of money in a Silva orienteering headtorch a couple of years ago - reasoning that the Scandanavians have to cope with a lot of darkness in winter! With a switchable 10W/20W beam it is very powerful, easily illuminating up to 100m away. The headband is very secure with no bounce, one of the problems of the Petzl - particularly when the elastic got older and lost its stretch. Battery life is about 2-3 hours (bumbag battery pack again).

    You can spend serious money on lights that are primarily designed for offroad bike riding but have a headtorch fitting - I've not tried one of them, and seen even less comments on them.

    I think it does make a big difference to your running if you have a decent light source. I suspect the new Petzls are probably better than my old Mega Zoom. The reason I bought the Silva was I was getting fed up stumbling along with only a relatively small circle of light to illuminate my way - with the far better light distribution and intensity of the Silva the whole excercise becomes much more pleasurable.

    A higher powered light has a big advantage if you're running with a dog (or two) - it allows you to keep a better eye on what they're up to! You might also (if you haven't already) get the K-9 Lites reflective/flashing collars - if my dog is in the beam, the reflective bit glows very brightly, if not the red flashing LEDs give away his position. It has survived a few immersions so far!
  • Right then, Derah ... here's the verdict.

    I went for a gentle plod of about an hour. It was clear night, with a half moon.

    In semi-lit conditions (illumination from distant street lamps, nearby flats, ambient light in urban area) the "optimum" mode was fine. In pitch black, going into a copse and back out, I switched to "max mode" and could see clearly where I was going for about 10 paces ahead.

    The light itself gives a kind of monochrome effect, a bit like very bright moonlight. But it's good enough to see where the path ends and the grass begins even if the grass is more grey than green. Even in the woods I was able to spot potential tripping and ankle-turning hazards like large conkers, litter etc.

    I'd say it's great for routes you know well. I'm not sure I'd run at full tilt in pitch black conditions just yet with the headlight, nor would I go exploring unknown trails down by the river (!) But these are quibbles, really, for a piece of kit that cost 25 quid.

    They claim a battery life of 120 hours on optimum and 100 on max output (presumably this is cumulative rather than non-stop). Even at half that, one hour a day five days a week will last months (it uses 3 AAAs).

    It was comfortable on my head and I soon forgot I was wearing it. I did feel a bit of a pillock at first, though.

    If you're more into rough trails you might want to look at a higher-spec model, but for my relatively modes needs in urban (ish) parkland and towpaths the Tikka Plus is ideal.

    I wish I'd bought one of these years ago.

    This has been a public service announcement in glorious Muttleymedia :-)
  • Thanks Muttley and Greyhound. The flashing/reflective thingies for the hounds sounds like a good idea too. I do know the trails I'll be running quite well... not planning any pre-dawn explorations of parts unknown.... so I guess the Petzl should be OK. The only real hazard is tree roots but if you reckon I'll see those, I should be fine.

    I'd rather not have a bumbag battery... my waist is already completely full with a waist band dog leash doohickie (for glorious hands-free dog 'control'), and when the hounds are loose the leashes are wrapped around there too. So no room for bumbags as well.

    Great report Muttley!!
  • Those K9 Lite things look a lot like the armbands that Aldi were selling the other week. But more expensive.
  • I have bought the Petzl Tikka XP.

    I spoke to a person whom has had the previous two generations, including the `plus'. He said, "the XP is in a league of its own". There is three brightness settings and the highest will give light up to 35 meters away. There is also a filter for map reading (so you dont kill you night vision from the glare.

    Anyway, if you can hold out, i'll let you know how i get on.

    I run x-country most of the time and its black as the ace-of-spades at the moment.
  • Went out last night with my spangly new Tikka XP.

    it was quite a bright moon and i found it worked a lot better when there was complete darkness i.e. in wooded areas.

    one thing that is importent to get right, the angle of the light. If you set it to look down right in front of you, and its cold, as it was last night, your breath is caught in the light, momentarly blinding you.

    you have to angle it so that it light edge is about 1 meter in front of you. If its any further away its too diffused.

    i'm just glad i am back out there.
  • Headtorches = essential for winter running sanity.

    For anyone who's interested, I did a further trawl for the brightest light you could fit on your head. I know many orienteers make DIY lights with halogen bulbs and home-made battery packs and there was frequent mention on the forums about people singeing their hair from the bulb. I tried making one out of the carcass of a Petzl headlamp and a Cateye 5-10W bike light and know what they mean!

    However I did find the Speleo Technics Night Raider which claims to be the brightest lamp available. Does cost serious money, however!
  • Boing!

    Getting the hang of this running with headlight lark now.

    Tonight's jaunt was in foggy conditions along the river and it felt like I was running through the set of a Halloween film. The amount of rustling in the undergrowth was unnerving me a bit when I pulled up sharp - right in front of me, holding me in an unblinking staring gaze, were two enormous round greeny-yellow eyes.

    I was beginning to wonder if the Beast of Bodmin moor had migrated up the A38 to Reading and if "nice kitty kitty" would be a suitable form of address ... when I realised it was two reflective discs on someone's bike chained to railings.

    I felt such a prat.
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