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If you ever plan to go for a run in low light, dusk, or the dark, you have to arm yourself with the right equipment. You can read about everything we recommend for staying safe here, but chief among everything is a quality headlamp. Here are three options new for 2020, reviewed by our friends at trailrunnermag.com.
Petzl IKO CORE
Weight: 2.8 ounces/79 grams
Available at rei.com
Petzl’s newest innovation is a great addition any trail runner’s gear quiver. Lightweight and versatile, the IKO CORE is one of the lightest and brightest on the market, with a unique design that’s great on the run.
A thin, semi-rigid headband feels more like a hat than a traditional headlamp, but the weight is evenly distributed for a smooth ride thanks to a back-mounted battery pack and adjustable elastic suspension. The lamp itself is low-profile but packs a 500-lumen punch (when operating off the rechargeable battery). The power source itself is also a hybrid, and you can run the IKO CORE off either AAA’s (but it will max out at 300 lumens) or the rechargeable battery for max output. The IKO CORE is great for longer runs in the dark and you won’t be chasing cutoffs with this battery life – it can last for 100 hours on low.
While this may not be the easiest headlamp to shove in your running pack, it’s a great option for runs when you know you’ll be in the dark for a while, and want a bright light and no-fuss headband for singletrack jaunts.
SILVA Trail Runner Free H Headlamp
4 oz including rechargeable battery pack
400-, 200-, 50-lumen settings
Available at silva-usa.com
While not a household name in the North American headlamp market, Silva is a longtime Swedish brand known initially for its high-quality compasses. Recently Trailrunnermag.com reviewed the Silva Trail Speed 4XT Headlamp, a powerhouse that puts out a maximum of 1,200 lumens, and were impressed by the lamp’s quality technology and lighting attributes.
The new Trail Runner Free packs the same features as the 4XT in a svelte 4-ounce package. Unique to the Silva lamps is the integration of the wires into the headband, making for clean, tangle-free operation. The battery pack attaches to the internal wiring via a soft-fabric cord, and a longer fabric cord is provided so that you can store the battery pack in a pocket or hydration pack for longer life in cold weather.
The lighting quality is excellent, due to the dual-beam technology—a wide floodlight beam lights the trail in front and a long beam shines ahead of you. Although we did not test battery life, the lamp burned for a couple of hours at the high 400-lumen setting on autumn outings. The Trail Runner Free offers 400-, 200- and 50-lumen setting options via a button on the light housing, which easily swivels up and down. As advertised, the burn times are—at 68 degrees F—are 2.5, 5 and 12 hours. The wide headband was comfortable and stayed secure over hats or hair with its silicon strip in the middle.
The H in our test model stands for the hybrid battery pack, which is USB rechargeable (the cord plugs directly into the battery pack, not the side of the case as with most other headlamps) and quite slim; in lieu of the pack, you may use 3 AAA batteries, a bonus for extended outings or ultras. The battery pack also features a red rear safety light, which is nice for street running. On the inside of the pack, a small switch allows you to set it at solid, flashing or off. You can purchase the Trail Runner Free without the hybrid battery ($80, uses 3 AAA batteries), or as the Trail Runner Free Ultra ($130), which includes a long-lasting USB rechargeable battery pack.
All in all, this is one of our favorite headlamps for the trails, or general camping usage.
Weight: 3 oz
Available at amazon.com
Though quirky in appearance, the Bilby is a practical headlamp for dark runs.
The Bilby’s standout feature is the single-piece silicone housing that gives this lamp it’s simple, signature design. The lamp element slips out of the silicone for an easy USB recharge so that you can top off your light en-route to the trailhead, and then slides easily back into the silicone band. The silicone is smashable and durable, which makes it easy to shove in a running pack for “just in case” lighting situations.
While the silicone looks a little goofy at first, it fits nicely around the head and is easily adjustable with a quick-cinch in the back. There’s minimal bounce though the silicone did feel a bit sweaty against my forehead after about an hour of use.
Weighing in at just 3 oz, the Bilby is reasonably powerful with a 400-lumen output which is more than sufficient for a trail run. The 5 LEDs on the Bilby are strategically placed for a variety of uses -a high beam to see by, two elliptical beams for mid and wide beam angles, as well as a red light for night light purposes. Another cool feature is that users can employ Knog’s Modemaker App to customize and add their own specific lighting arrangements for an individualized light.
This is another great lamp built to go the distance, with a five-hour runtime on full power, and over 105-hours on the lowest setting. I’d recommend this lamp as a no-nonsense go-to for any trail runner’s lighting quiver.