HOW TO CHOOSE LIGHTS AND A HEAD TORCH FOR RUNNING
Whether you’re out running on poorly lit roads or pitch black trails, running lights and a head torch are an essential piece of a running kit, especially during autumn and winter. Not only are they a great hands-free option helping to clearly illuminate the terrain ahead but you’ll also be more easily seen by other road or trail users. With so many to choose from here is everything you need to know to choose the best running lights and torches for you.
TYPES OF HEAD TORCHES
Most, but not all, modern head torches use LED as they're lightweight, non-breaking, and more power efficient compared to other standard bulbs. On average they last over 20 times longer than halogen, xenon, and krypton bulbs put together.
Their brightness is measured in lumens – the higher the lumens the greater the light output. But LEDs aren’t always as bright as standard bulbs and don’t dim when running low on power, instead you lose all light giving rise to more traditional head lamps.
SINGLE BULB HEAD TORCH
These head torches use a halogen bulb or similar and provide good brightness and distance.
They also produce a lot of wasted energy in heat meaning you’ll need to change the batteries and bulbs more frequently, possibly even having to carry spares with you, especially if you want to use them for prolonged periods of time.
MULTI-LED HEAD TORCH
These are often different colours such as red or green. While they do provide more light they usually have less beam distance than a single LED.
SINGLE LED HEAD TORCH
Single LED head torches provide very bright, good quality, white light making them perfect for night use.
They’re often combined with a magnifying lens to increase light output allowing hours of good light, efficiently but it come at a price as the most expensive option out there.
COMBINED LIGHT HEAD TORCH
Using both halogen (or similar) and a number of LEDs these head torches are great for runners; the standard bulb gives good visibility at range while the LED is ideal for close and powerful illumination giving you have a variety of options to help see the path ahead.
POWERING YOUR HEAD TORCH
Many head torches and running lights are battery powered, running on anything from the usual AA size batteries to small watch batteries.
The higher quality your batteries the longer you can keep your light running. Be aware of weather conditions as cold and ice can affect battery performance by about 20%.
RECHARGEABLE HEAD TORCHES
More and more head torches are becoming rechargeable using mains power or USB to attach to your computer. Ideal for recharging at the office or in your car on the go.
WIND UP HEAD TORCHES
Wind up head torches are not ideal for the everyday runner as they’re lower powered, however they’re perfect for emergencies in case your batteries fail you. If you’re an ultra marathon runner for example a wind up head torch is good to have in your kit bag as a backup.
FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR:
Most modern head torches are showerproof so will stay safe on shorter runs. If you’re running in downpour look for waterproof options instead.
Multiple light modes such as strobe and flashing conserve energy and let you customise your light levels to help cut through other light sources in urban areas helping you stand out. Running with your light in a flashing mode can also extend the battery life.
For road running, look for a head torch with a rear red light to increase your visibility to cars.
FIT, COMFORT AND USABILITY
Whatever light or head torch you go for it’s important for it to be easy to operate, comfortable, and secure.
Look for loops or clips that allow you to easily but securely fit your light onto your running shoes or clothing and adjustable straps to allow your head torch to fit over a hat.
Big chunky buttons or touch-free technology are good for hassle-free running.
Ensure your head torch is lightweight to prevent pulling on your head and allow for bounce-free running.
It can be tempting to go for the cheapest option out there but the purpose of your head torch is primarily for safety so it’s better to invest now and ensure a powerful light suited to your needs.
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While most of us would prefer to run during the day with the sun shining, busy schedules and limited daylight hours often mean running in the dark evenings or the low light of the morning.
Although it can seem a little daunting, don't let the dark stop you heading out; stay alert and follow these tips for staying safe while running at night. Remember, it you don't feel comfortable outside, there's always the treadmill instead.