GONE RUNNING GEAR REVIEW - Head torches
Posted on July 02 2015
With so many different headlights available on the market, Gone Running decided the only possible way to sort them all out was to test them. So one hot baking Hong Kong evening, John and Steve took nine lights onto the Peak and the Lung Fu Shan trail to put them through their paces.
John - Runs better than the 220 lumens would suggest. Good light up close, with a strong long-range spot for distance, but a little weaker in between. It’s a little heavy for the brightness but a decent 12 hours from the rechargeable battery on half power, which might not be bright enough for more speedy runners. No top strap so better to run with a buff or cap to avoid chafing on your forehead.
Steve - Like the HL20 this has a good spread of light and a nice spot in the distance. If I was a more casual runner and did short night runs this would be perfect. For me, I would call this a back up to the more expensive lights (AYUP, Ferei HL20/40). Was impressed!
John - A seriously good value light with 600 lumens of power and rechargeable for only HK$990. Like the HL08, will give you a good light at your feet and also a strong centre spot, and also under 200g. Additionally, allows you to preset a secondary light setting (brightness) and comes with a top strap for better head comfort. Decent battery at 1.5-43 hours depending on strength and, like all the Fereis, comes with a cool blue light to help you stay awake.
Steve - I’ll own up now and say this is the light that I own. A great light. It has a nice spray and with the spot of the light shining further down the trail, you can see a great range. This got me through the HK100 on the half power mode and lasted the night. This isn’t too heavy and feels comfortable. Definitely worth wearing a buff on your head and then this over as the plastic that holds the light could rub.
John - Similar to the HL20 as also 600 adjustable lumens and 1.5-43hr rechargeable battery for HK$990, but a little lighter at 181g. The lens setup is different, however, with a zoom, allowing you a stronger narrow light or a less intense wider light, while a light diffuser means less light “bounce” while running. Picking between the HL20 and HL40 will be personal preference.
Steve - So this light has a zoomable function; so you can have a wide spray or pinpoint up front. The spray when in close range was good and there isn’t a noticeable spot. I don’t see the point in the far zoom. Makes little sense to me. Not sure who would use that. This is pretty much an identical set up to the HL20.
John - A seriously ferocious light, packing 1,800 lumens of cool blue light which lights up the trail near and far. Potentially overkill for most runners, especially it hits the scales at 277g, however, it comes with an optional 80cm extension cord so you can put the battery in your backpack. Has the ability to preset a secondary brightness setting and should get your through a whole night on a lower setting (20% is still 360 lumens!), or 2 hours on full power from the rechargeable battery.
Steve - Steve said, “Let there be light; he willed it, and at once there was light.” If you are after something that will light up the darkest trails, or if the sun runs out of hydrogen and we are plunged into a lifetime of darkness, this is the light for you. Seriously bright. By far the brightest light I have ever used. Would I need something this bright? Probably not. This is your light for seriously long and dark runs, or those runs where there is only you. In fact, this is the perfect light to burn the cataracts out of your gran’s eyes.
John - Fair warning, this is my headlight of choice. On face value, HK$1,390 for 700 lumens doesn’t seem like a great deal but it’s all about the quality of light and it’s clever but simple design. The key is the adjustable light “cannons” which you can set to create a “path” of light in front of you, exactly where you need it. The Ay Up comes with rechargable battery, super comfortable head strap and better than average water resistance (to 1m), plus the light is adjustable to 100% (2-2.5 hours), 50% (4 hours) and 25% (8 hours).
Steve - Before I had tried the AyUp, everyone was raving about them. I was impressed. It gives a good light and a nice stream of light from your feet to around 10 metres ahead. I had two issues; the price, and the heat that comes off the lamps. It is very expensive when you compare with the Ferei HL20 which does a very comparable job. When we tested the Ferei we noticed the heat coming off the lights, but the AyUp is the perfect light for the Hong Kong winter - it was very very hot. Great light, but for me, the price point is too high!
John - This used to be my head torch before the Ay Up. Although not the brightest head torch at 300 lumens, the design is typical German class and comes with a 5-year warranty. The light is fully adjustable, both in terms of the zoom and also the brightness with a rear scroll wheel, which also doubles as a red safety light. On a decent light setting, the battery should last you 7-8 hours, not quite enough to get your through a whole night, but the rechargeable battery pack can be replaced with AAAs. Even at a lighter 165g, my only complaint is the lack of top strap so really needs to be worn over a buff.
Steve - I really like the light that comes from this. It was a good quality dispersion of light and was clear. I only had one issue with this; it felt cheap. The moment I picked it up I mentioned that it felt more like a toy than a HK$830 light. Was surprisingly light and the fact that the light is incredibly adjustable, has a dimmer style light and zoomable, was a bonus. If I didn’t own the Ferei, I would consider this light.
John - On paper, this should be a better headlight than the H7R.2, with slightly lower power (220 lumens), also a decent fully adjustable rechargeable light, but a very lightweight 93g and IPX6 water resistance. The main issue is the narrow torch base which means it tends to wobble a little bit on your forehead and definitely needs a buff or cap underneath. It’s something you’ll get used to, but not ideal.
Steve - The biggest issue with this light was the weight distribution. It is all on the front of the headband. I found that it bounced a little when I was running, which meant that then the light spread bounced also. It may be the shape of my forehead. Anyway, probably best suited for either a slower runner (if there is such a thing) or hiking. Decent light spread and I didn’t feel unsafe when running.
John - A fairly basic light as you would expect for HK$399. The brightness is fully adjustable but just doesn’t have enough light to really feel confident when moving at speed on technical trails. One for hikers.
Steve - I did not feel comfortable running with this light. Was not very bright and didn’t go far enough along the trail to see where I was going. Instead of looking ahead, I was looking down. This is a very entry point light for those running in maybe semi dark or open trails. Would I run all night with this? No.
John - Unfortunately, this is really just a play light. It did actually emit light (90 lumens) but, as you can see, it’s just not enough for any serious trail runner, let alone, fast hikers. Unfortunately, hard to think of many situations where you could recommend this, even at just HK$240.
Steve - Hahahahahahahaha. “Light.”