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Home>> Gear:: Headlamps Reviews for Adventure Racing and Ultras
Headlamp basics review: Headlamps are an important part of your standard packing list for adventure racing, ultra running and backcountry travel...you never know when you might be caught out at night miles from your camp or vehicle.  In addition to your standard kit, headlamps are an excellent method to enable you to maintain your fitness during the winter months.  Speed hikes, fast packing and trail running by headlamp extend your training time as well as add an interesting element to your training...certainly a requirement for 24 hour adventure races and other endurance sporting and athletic events that feature a night travel component.  It is important to become comfortable navigating, and moving by foot or mountain bike during limited visibility. Recommended selection criteria:
  • Weight, especially for trail running
  • Battery life
  • Comfortable fit
  • Climbing helmet fit for alpine starts
  • Multiple lighting modes: different intensities, emergency strobe mode

Headlamp reviews and recommendations: You will probably require a couple headlamps to match your requirements: a light weight model for trail running and larger model for mountaineering with a remote battery case and longer battery life.  Models I have used and like: Petzl Tikka Plus (The updated Tikka Plus adds an additional LED) headlamp for trail running and backcountry travel. Light weight and comfortable with a bright enough light to keep the trail well illuminated while running fast on technical terrain.  I have used the predecessor to the Petzl Duo LED 5 Headlamp to climb Mount Shasta and other mountaineer uses.  The Duo easily fits on the climbing helmet and provides two different ranges and intensities of light.

Petzel Tikka XP2:  For the Leadville Trail 100 I upgraded my Petzel Tikka Plus to the XP. This LED headlamp tosses light out more than 100 feet, and you can get additional brightness anytime by pushing the XP's Boost button, which increases the maximum light output to 164 feet for 20 seconds.

The battery life is tested at between 100 to 120 hours and was awarded the Backpacker Magazine's prestigious 2006 Editor's Choice Awards [still a top contender in 2020]. Powerful, focused light beam with three lighting levels and a blinking mode, to adapt the light to the activity at hand. Boost mode: 50% more light than the maximum level for 20 seconds. Wide-angle lens for flood-beam-like proximity lighting. Battery-life indicator warns when the batteries are approximately 70% drained and 90% drained. Tiltable light body enables light beam to be directed where needed. Comfortable and stable to wear; adjustable and ergonomic elastic headband. Ultralight: just 3.35 ounces with batteries. Operates with 3 AAA batteries (included).

Headlamp use Tips: Night vision, batteries, technical night running

Tip: If you forgot your headlamp and your are traveling at night do not look directly at an object for maximum visibility. The distribution of rods and cones favor night visibility at the periphery.

Tip: Carry an extra set of batteries. Most longer races require an extra set and it is especially important in extremely cold conditions.

Tip: Use a flashlight to provide better depth perception on technical night running sessions or ultra trail running races in conjunction with your headlamp.


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