My local in Cheltenham organised a night run yesterday to try out the new range of headtorches they are stocking, from Silverpoint. (other stores around the country are doing similar events so check your closest one for your chance to have a go)
A surprisingly big turnout filled the store at 6pm and manager Pete got to work distributing headtorches and giving instructions on how to use them. “Push the button to turn it on, push it again to turn it off”.
Once everyone had mastered this tricky technique we stepped outside for a quick pavement based warm up and we were off.
The route was just over 5 miles and managed to string together some of the unlit parts of town including Pittville Park and the famous Cheltenham Racecourse. I’ve always been a fan of the social run, and surrounded by nearly all new faces it was nice to have a chat with new running friends, and the unusual nature of the run gave us something to talk about straight away. We must have looked quite spectacular, a string of bright lights bobbing along the pavements or through the park, and people certainly saw us coming. In fact we bumped in to a lot of runners last night, quite literally, some who were wearing all black in the dark. It made me realise how important wearing something visible is and the headtorches really helped with that, so not only are they useful for seeing but also being seen!
As for the headtorches themselves, they are inexpensive by comparison to the big brands, but that was occasionally evident in the performance. I tried two models, both very easy to use and with the ability to tilt the light to project it on the ground;
The Ranger WL was the top of the range stocked by U&R (£25). At a bright 125 lumens for the main beam it gave a bright spot on the path ahead, but that isn’t always ideal. In a strange configuration you can have the main beam on full, half, or you can have the side lights on separately at only 18 lumens…but not all together! The result is a very focused beam with poor peripheral light, which I found distracting as your eyes naturally focus on the spot in front of you making for tunnel vision! I also noted a flicker in the beam every time I made contact with the ground, whether this was just the torch I had or is present in all of them I found it very distracting and not like the pure light I’ve come to expect from headtorches. Maybe not ideal for trail running but this headtorch will certainly light the path directly in front of your feet and help you be seen in the dark.
The Hunter XL25 is actually the bottom of the range option at only £10, but for pavement running I found it an improvement on the Ranger. The light is not as bright at only 25 lumens, but it is even and illuminates the bits that streetlights miss. The wide spread of the light gives a greater confidence when sidestepping puddles too. I still wouldn’t recommend it for trail running, but for a town centre pavement plodder at a tenner you can’t go wrong.
There is a mid-range torch, the Guide XL60, which unfortunately I wasn’t able to try but looks like it could be the best of both worlds at only £16. I’d definitely recommend looking at one if you are after a head torch.
After the run it was all back to the shop where Pete handed out U&R buffs to everyone, perfect to mop my sweaty brow with! I had another jaffa cake and ran home without a headtorch, wishing I’d thought to bring one with me!