Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gear View: The Triocular ™ & Headlamps

How many of you train in the wee hours of the morning? As a trail runner whose logged countless miles between the early hours of 3:00am & 8:00 am, I’ve been experimenting with headlamps. In the cloak of darkness, as my training partner and I move along rugged terrain, we’ve taken to using 3 headlamps at once for proper trail illumination. We call our 3-headlamp configuration the “Triocular™”. This is one lamp worn on our forehead and 2 smaller lamps mounted on either side of a pair of glasses. My favorite headlamp to use within this configuration is Petzl’s Tikka Plus.

Petzl Tikka Plus
Petzl’s Tikka Plus is my favorite for a number of reasons. Besides the 4 LED bulbs and dimming switch, it ships with a wide elastic headband. The biggest advantage of a wide headband is that it pads the headlamp so it doesn’t dig into your forehead. The elastic band also easily wraps around your bicep and adjusts to accommodate a climbing helmet, wool hat, or sun visor.

Last year, while paddling on the Colorado River one of my Tikka’s became submerged and filled with water, yet it remained fully functional. The tilt options on the Tikka also let users direct the beam of light downward close to their feet or outward, ahead on the trail.

Petzl Zipka Plus
Petzl’s Zipka Plus has the same illumination power as the Tikka Plus but ships with a thin strand of elastic for its headband. This is completely unsuitable for running as it does not stay in place and ends up sliding down your head or forearm. If you’re just hiking, then this slender elastic strand is likely sufficient.

Black Diamond Vectra IQ
While Black Diamond’s technical climbing gear serves me well, their headlamps are prone to shorting out. For a while I used the Vectra IQ. Its 4 LED and Xenon headlamp with 7 modes of operation provide lighting versitility, but the bulk and weight make it slip all over your head while you're motion.

Prosafety LED Light
Florida-based, Prosafety Gear, sent me a headlamp to test. The illumination, lightweight frame, and tilt positions are suitable for civilian purposes, however, the lack of padding on the back of the headlamp cause it to dig into your forehead.