Headlamps for ultra runners (Read 1320 times)

    The reason I specified ultra runners is because there's a big difference between a pre-dawn run of 6 miles and 80 miles of darkness.


    I've been training for my first 50mi and when I signed up I didn't realize that it started at 6pm (previous years race info was still online and I had been reading that page).


    I run on a trail close to my house and don't mind the light from random streetlights and the moon, but when I get into the parts with heavy trees on either side and above and the only source of light is my cheap headlamp I hate it.  I seem to lose depth perception and strumble every now and then and I cannot stand it being so dark.


    I had settled on a Black Diamond Spot, seeing good reviews, but then found some lamps that have 220 lumens, so much brighter.  I found this yesterday and thought it would be a good supplement to a headlamp:




    On forums I've seen people talk about a $400 headlamp, this 220 lumens thing that the company doesn't promote for running, and the above handheld.


    I'm really wondering whether I personally just am not cut out for the dark, which obviously means I'll never do a 100.  I can't be the only sissy, so wonder what products you use. 

      I'd definetely recommend a handheld to add to your headlight rather than spending a crazy amount of money on a super powerful headlight.


      After hearing the benifits of handhelds I suplemented my BD spot with a Fenix E15 handheld.  It is tiny (about the size of a key) and powerful (140 lumens).


      Helps a lot with depth perception and trying to find the trail.  I still use the headlamp but carry the Fenix and use it in tricky areas.  It's nice to be able to shine the light without turning your head all the time.


      Running on trails, in the dark can be intimidating and takes some getting used to.  Don't give up on it yet.


        Run Wild

          I run snow covered trails in the dark all winter long here in Wisconsin.  It does take some getting used to.  But, it can be the most amazing running experience.  On a cold, clear night with a full moon, it can be so bright and beautiful out that you just want to say out there all night!


          Like anything else headlamps can be broken into three groups, the super expensive that you don't need, the mainstream models, and the cheap ones.  Obviously you want to stay away from the cheapest models.  But you don't need the super expensive ones either.  220 Lumens is actually a bit too much.  It will be distracting (casting too many shadows).  You do want one that is water proof or at least water resistant.  The BD Storm is a good choice.  I even have a cheap one made by Coleman that I got from Target for about $30 that I like even better.


          I run deep in the woods where there aren't any streetlights or any other source of light and I'm usually out there for a couple hours a day.


          That said, you should keep a couple of things in mind.


          Always carry a spare set of batteries with you.  Even batteries that you think are fresh will die on you at the worst possible time.


          Have a secondary source of light so you can see if/when you need to change the batteries. 


          A lot of folks talk about using a handheld and a headlamp at the same time.  I don't really see the point.  Depth perception...  maybe...  ..But fumbling with a waterbottle and a handheld is just too much.  Once you get used to the headlamp you'll be fine.






          Good luck on your 50!

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              unsolicited chatter



                Doesn't matter the type.  I definitely recommend a headlight AND a handheld, with extra batteries for both.  Can turn the handheld off if not technical (say gravel road) but you can run faster and more economical with good lighting.



                  Hi AussieGirl,


                  I just completed a super technical ultra in VA/USA over the weekend. While I've run with headlamps before, this was the first time I used a handheld (cheap one I got at Home Depot) along with my Petzl MYO RXP (NFI both), and I felt if made a huge difference on being able to judge where to place my feet among all the rocks. In fact, a few times I turned the headlamp off just to see if I could make it with the handheld alone, and I could, but with both on I felt safer.


                  I agree with jjameson, take extra batteries. I carried a set with me and also had a set in my drop bag, and was glad I did, I had to change out the headlamp's. Well, a fantastic volunteer did that for me at an aid station Wink


                  Good luck if you've not yet run your race!



                    thanks for your post!


                    I ran a 50k at night, then ran 24 miles at night, so I have some experience that I desperately needed.  No longer am I jumping out of my skin every time I hear something in the bushes, for the most part I don't even look anymore.  I had borrowed a petzl from a guy at work, something like only 24 lumens, and I was surprised with how bright it was.  The only time I had to use my Coleman max (Walmart) was when I couldn't see the race markers.  I'll definitely look for a brighter headlamp, but I'm reassured now that it doesn't have to be the brightest one around.  I've been looking at the Black Diamond Spot, I think it's what I'll end up getting.  As for depth perception, those two night runs were a 5k repeated, so I knew where the potholes were after the first loop.  The 50mi in October is on gravel, so it shouldn't be too bad. 


                    I signed up for a day time 50 miler just because I was so far into training and really thought I'd drop out of my October one, but now I think I'll be fine.  The only worry I have now is the distance.

                      Doesn't matter the type.  I definitely recommend a headlight AND a handheld, with extra batteries for both.  Can turn the handheld off if not technical (say gravel road) but you can run faster and more economical with good lighting.



                      yep, I agree with you, there's no magic brand or model.  In reality I ended up putting my handheld in my pocket to free my hands, it was annoying to hold it unless absolutely necessary.  Took me a while but I finally learned this stuff myself, thanks for confirming!

                      Imminent Catastrophe

                        I just ran a night run and used my BD Spot. There's a point of diminishing returns with Lumens, I dimmed it down quite a bit and it was fine, although it was a flat trail. 220 lumens is really overkill and will probably be either heavy or short on battery life. A handheld plus the Spot is IMO a great combination. 

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