Photo credit: Illuminator Night Trail Race, Glen Tanar
As the summer evenings come to a close and the days begin to seem remarkably short, us runners are posed with a dilemma as to when to fit in our runs. There are many benefits of continuing to train through these ‘dark times’ (pun intended) and consistency through winter will make a huge difference to your fitness come next year.
One of the most essential pieces of kit for running in darkness is a good quality head torch. This will allow you to navigate the dark streets and trails with confidence and also be seen by other road users. Running with a head torch is a great experience and heightens your senses on the run, which can make a daily commute that bit more exciting or change your perspective on your local trails. Running with a head torch poses a real opportunity to add some adventure to your training.
The benefits of running with a head torch
There are numerous benefits to training with a head torch. They are comfortable and lightweight to wear; most have an elastic headband that is easily adjusted and stays in place without bounce or a bulky feel. You can just pull it on, power up and go! Most often you barely feel its there and it keeps your hands completely free.
Another plus is the ability to adapt the angle of the beam, without having to adjust your normal head position, to illuminate the path ahead with ease. Finally, head torches are very straightforward to use, so fear not technophobes!
Choosing the right running head torch for you…
More lumens. More light.
The power of head torches is measured in lumens and the greater the lumens the more light you will have at your beck and call. Petzl are the leaders in lighting technology and have a wide range of head torches to suit every runner and every price point. I’ll be giving you the rundown on the Petzl range available here at Run4It.
To help determine what head torch is best for you, consider where you’ll be doing the majority of your running (i.e. on partially-lit roads or remote trails) and also the length of time you need the batteries to last for.
Starting at the entry level model from Petzl we have the Tikkina. For the bargain price of £19.99 you will get 150 lumens of light output and a wide beam with three lighting modes – proximity, movement and distance vision.
A simple, compact model that is ideal when there’s some light already around you. The Tikkina is a HYBRID headlamp – it’s powered by standard AAA batteries, but is also compatible with Petz’s CORE rechargeable battery.
Specs: 150 lumens | 55 metre range | Battery Type – AAA (included) | Price £19.99
Next up is the Tikka. With stronger light output (200 lumens) three different lighting modes – proximity, movement and distance vision and a 60 metre range; this head torch is far better suited to running in complete darkness and will allow a far greater field of view. It also features red lighting which preserves night vision and if you’re running in a group, prevents you from blinding other runners with white light.
Like the Tikkina, it’s a HYBRID headlamp – powered by standard AAA batteries or Petzl’s CORE rechargeable battery. With a burn time of 60 hours you won’t need to worry about fading light!
Specs: 200 lumens | 60 metre range | Battery Type – AAA (included) | Price £29.99
Moving up to the Active range from Petzl will result in torches with far greater versatility of use and a better running experience when using on a regular basis or in more challenging settings.
The rechargeable Actik Core headlamp offers 350 lumens of power which, combined with its mixed beam reaching up to 95 metres, makes it ideal for off road running and varied terrain.
It offers two beam patterns (wide or mixed) and several lighting modes: proximity or distance vision and rapid movement. Plus red lighting. The Actik Core comes with Petzl’s CORE rechargeable battery which is rechargeable via USB port. However it can also be powered by standard AAA batteries. Reflective writing on the headband helps you stay visible and the torch is equipped with an emergency whistle for rescue situations.
Specs: 350 lumens | 95 metre range | Battery Type – Rechargeable USB (included) | £49.99
A new addition to this year’s line up is the Bindi. This ultralight, rechargeable headlamp offers 200 lumens of power and a 36 metre range. The real selling point of this head torch is its packability and featherweight design, tipping the scales at only 35 grams! It’s a highly practical option for everyday use and also serves well as a ‘just in-case’ backup light source. It is powered by a rechargeable USB battery and will be empty to full power in about 4 hours.
Specs: 200 lumens | 36 metre range | Battery Type – Rechargeable USB (included) | £49.99
When moving up to the Petzl Performance series you will notice a leap up in power and the most advanced technologies will be included to enhance your running experience. Both the Reactik+ and NAO+ feature reactive lighting – an intelligent in-built sensor that detects the amount of light around you and automatically adjusts the brightness and beam pattern to preserve battery and prolong burn time; delivering the most amount of light when you really need it.
Both of these head torches are ideal for running on challenging terrain at night and are suitable for the most gruelling events. Geared towards total performance the torches are designed to take care of every situation so you can focus on the run.
Reactik+ and Nao+
The Reactik+ and Nao+ also boasts Bluetooth compatibility. This allows you to sync it with the MyPetzl Light app on your smartphone to monitor your battery life, select the lighting profile that best suits your activity, or control brightness and burn time – all on the fly. Need the head torch to last 8hrs? Need the full 300 or 750 lumens for a training run? No problem! All of this can be customised and preset via the app. You decide when your batteries will die! See the great video below for more information.
These torches are powered by rechargeable batteries and the Reactik+ will deliver the 300 lumens of light output in pitch darkness at long range (110 metres). The Nao+ packs in even more power – a whopping 750 lumens and extends the range of light to 140 metres.
These torches are perfect for off-road training or racing and trail/ultra runners who need to maintain battery life for longer periods of time will find either of these torches ideal.
Reactik+ Specs: 300 lumens | 110 metre range | Battery Type – Rechargeable USB (included) | £89.99
Nao+ Specs: 750 lumens | 140 metre range | Battery Type – Rechargeable USB (included) | £149.99
Watch Petzl’s video: How to customise your Reactik+ and NAO+ headlamp
Once you’ve decided on the best head torch for you, embrace the darkness and practice with it. Through this, you’ll build confidence and start to enjoy a different type of training. Initially, running in the dark can feel quite isolating, as all you have to focus on are your footsteps, but that sensation soon becomes the norm.
My first few head torch runs were in the woods and felt like something out of a horror movie – I hate horror movies! Surrounded by imaginary movements and glinting eyes… or so I thought. Turned out to be nails in the trees and sign posts! However, after the first few times, it was great to be the only person out there and I was soon running with confidence.
Don’t let the long nights spoil all your hard work. Embrace the darkness and run with confidence under your own light!