Best budget rail running headlamp for 2018?

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J. Gramm
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Best budget rail running headlamp for 2018?

Ok, I give up, after years of lurking on this forum I needed to create an account and post a question.

Here’s the deal – I’ve read the old threads about trail running headlamps and they are either quite obsolete or the trail runner forgot that some people don’t run trails at all so maybe a few words of what is needed are required.

I run pitch black trails with tough terrain by night, it’s just something I seem to do for some reason. All of my mountaineering headlamps are garbage for that use, I’ll explain why soon.

I currently run with BLF A6 and the light output and spill/throw ratio are perfect but bloody hell, it is a handheld flashlight – a suboptimal solution to say the least, especially when trying to get over a fallen tree or balance on rocks while crossing a stream. I also feel like it is damaging my teeth on those occasions so I’d rather spend money on new flashlights than on new teeth.

I tried to run with my mountaineering Black Diamond Storm (2017) and uhm, nope. It is so bloody heavy that it bounces like crazy on my head, makeshift top strap does not fix the issue entirely and the light output is mildly bizarre (separate throw led and separate flood led). My ancient Petzl Tikka XP would kind of work but the lumen output is from the late Victorian era, adequate for walking pace, dangerous when running. (the difference between them is one extra AAA battery and overall size).

So here is what I am looking for and most other trail runners do as well:

- purpose – to illuminate a pitch black forest and navigate rough terrain filled with obstacles and traps like ice patches, branches, holes and rocks. A whole different world than evening pavement runs.

- budget – Yes, you people made so many good flashlights that I even bought two of A6 because they were on sale and I am stockpiling for the apocalypse. Preferably 50usd tops, unless you have a 65$ legendary beast of some sort. Damned if I know, you seem to have spectacular discoveries every two months while prospecting China for flashlights.

- weight – It needs to be light, really light at the front. I can live with a rear battery pack no problem, but here’s the deal – I presume that something like a short version of A6 would do well on the front because of it’s center of gravity. My Black Diamond Storm needs to be at a 45 degrees angle from my forehead to illuminate the path (runners don’t bow the head down unless they meet Courtney Dewalter) and because of that the leverage is strong enough (center of gravity further away out the front) that it bounces like crazy. Those L shaped lights might do the trick but I know nothing about them.

- firepower – well, I’d reckon that about 500 lumens could do the trick but more is always better. I once ran with BLF Q8 – it was glorious but also ridiculous and I was mildly drunk.

- a bit on the floodier side for sure but a nice hotter center is key for navigation. See BLF A6 – it is near damn perfect.

- current source – ah whatever, I have a bucket of rechargeables of all types but preferably no internal custom made batteries.

- run time – AT LEAST an hour and a half over those 500 lumens I mentioned earlier. Yes, it is hilarious to navigate on the way back with a backup Lumintop Tool AAA but most jokes are funny only once.

So far the only lights I’ve learned about that seem to fit the bill were Thrunite TN20 and uh, wait, Skilhunt 03 or something?

I guess that what I am asking is what in your opinion would fit in those parameters? This issue is not a joke, two weeks ago I almost ran into a snare trap hidden in the snow, fortunately it was a scout run so speed was not a priority. Pro grade running lights usually have pro grade prices (check out Silva and Petzl these days, jolly good laugh) and you people have shown me years ago that there is a different (correct) path to go on about these things.

Much obliged

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

MascaratumB
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Hello J.Gramm, and welcome to BLF Wink

I don’t have an exact answer for you regarding headlights but I have a suggestion! Please check this thread to see some information of headlights Wink
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/54672

BTW, Nitecore has some nice headlights, Lumintop has new one, and there are other brands with very good models!

I hope it helps Wink

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marsalla
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it sounds like you will need an 18650 head lamp. I run with my skilhunt h03 and find it light and very useful. I have used it on trail running for the last couple of seasons. It will run at 500 lumens for at least three hours with no issues.  When I do not need as much light for a shorter period of time I use my thrunite TH20.  

 

I also use a zebralight on occasion but always go back to the skilhunt.

 also remember if using the light in extreme cold is an issue, the skilhunt can use cr123 cells.

The_Driver
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I recommend the Armytek Wizard Magnet USB with XP-L LED (NOT the more expensive XHP50 version, it’s too floody). It has an almost perfect beam for running and has all the features and comfort you could ever ask for. If you search around for a good deal you should be able to get it for a fair price ( ~60$ is good).

The beam is so good because of the TIR lens with built-in hexagonal diffusor. In combination with the correctly sized LED it produces a very good beam for running. There is no real hotspot. It’s just brighter in the center. Ther is no “bouncing spot effect”, no tunnel vision. The spill does not have a hard outer edge like some reflector lights have. This also reduces the tunnel vision effect.

It produces 390 lumens for 3.8h on one 18650 (second highest mode). I consider this mode the best one for running. It’s bright enough. There is also a warm-neutral white version which is slightly less bright.

Because of the Buck-Boost-driver it also works better in winter when it is cold compared to other headlamps. It will keep the brightness constant even when the battery has a reduced voltage because of the cold. The integrated over discharge protection also allows you to use unprotected high-drain cells like the Samsung 30Q. These offer much better performance in cold temperatures compared to standard high-capacity cells.

The current Amrytek headlamps have a new plastic holder which is much better compared to the older style silicone holders. They are very comfortable (ergonomic shape) and the light doesn’t wobble at all when running. It also allows you to instantly remove the light for hanging the headband out to dry or when you want to use the light handheld (it’s also a very practical edc flashlight). You can also easily adjust the angle of the light in the holder with one hand.

The included magnet USB charger allows you to charge it on the go with any usb charger you have on hand (it’s pretty slow though).

I know only one headlamp with an even better beam for running: the Olight HS2. At the same ~400 lumens it has an even wider spill and also more throw. But there are lots of tradeoffs. It has less modes, the driver buzzes next to your ear, it doesn’t use 18650s, no 1000 Lumen turbo mode, wobbles a little bit, a bit more expensive, cannot be used as a flashlight etc.

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Love my Nitecore NU30, super lightweight, but its only 400 lumens for 1hr 15min. with its built in battery. That said you can plug any powerbank into it and run it off of that too. So you could decide on a lightweight powerbank attached to the headband or run a longer lasting heavier one out of your pocket/pack for an all-nighter. I know its pretty far off from your requirements but for $30 it might be worth a look for ya. Welcome to BLF!!!

Should my information be incorrect in the slightest please inform me as i am always learning as well and may not recollect everything properly. ALSO, ANYTHING I WRITE PLEASE TAKE WITH A THOUSAND GRAINS OF SALT AND YOUR OWN LIABILITY, AS YOU SHOULD WITH ALL INFORMATION.

tantrik77
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Skilhunt H03 NW. No contest. I use mine for climbing at night and trail running, and they are awesome. I own 4 of them and love them all.

EasyB
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Definitely look at the skilhunt H03. Also look at the wowtac A2S, which is similar to the H03 but with a reflector instead of a TIR. It has about twice the beam intensity as the H03 and should be a closer match to the BLF A6 beam profile.

These lights are pretty light weight and the weight is located pretty close to the head. I just tried my H03 while running around my apartment and it didn’t flop around much as long as the strap was tightened adequately.

Lexel
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angle lamp does not need on your headm you can also clip it to your belt

skinny_tie
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It can’t compete with the Skillhunt H03 on value and it does have a custom battery, but for minimal weight up front have a look at the Olight HS2.

https://olightworld.com/olight-hs2

Dman7777
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Agro
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marsalla wrote:

 also remember if using the light in extreme cold is an issue, the skilhunt can use cr123 cells.


Panasonic NCR18650F are good low-temperature cells. Except for truly extreme weather they should do better than CR123.
niraya
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The_Driver wrote:
I recommend the Armytek Wizard Magnet USB with XP-L LED (NOT the more expensive XHP50 version, it’s too floody). .

I have both Pro XHP50 and non-Pro XP-L version, and find the Pro much preferable – way more useful UI with separate circling through 3 firefly and three main modes, buck-boost fully regulated with constant output , more modes, lower firefly and higher turbo…… To me it is well worth the higher price. Smile Both with TIR, neither does appear more floody to me.

The_Driver
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niraya wrote:
The_Driver wrote:
I recommend the Armytek Wizard Magnet USB with XP-L LED (NOT the more expensive XHP50 version, it’s too floody). .

I have both Pro XHP50 and non-Pro XP-L version, and find the Pro much preferable – way more useful UI with separate circling through 3 firefly and three main modes, buck-boost fully regulated with constant output , more modes, lower firefly and higher turbo…… To me it is well worth the higher price. Smile Both with TIR, neither does appear more floody to me.

If you put both lights in 60min or even 4h mode (running takes too long for 20min mode of the pro), the XP-L version has more throw than the XHP-50 version because the LED is half the size and the lumens are similar. To me it makes a difference for running.

Do you have the current version of both lights? Why is the UI of the XP-L version different?

The XHP-50 has a boost driver, not buck boost (XHP-50 runs with 12V in the light).

The XP-L version has a buck-boost driver (see footnote here).

Jiffy
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Wowtac A2S High(460 lumens/4.5 hrs) and only $30

J. Gramm
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Much, much obliged you guys, awesome data. It seems like the Skilhunt is leading for now with the Armytek in close follow but a bit pricey where I live and can’t seem to find it the Chinese Sources I know of. All it takes now is to snipe a banggood sale for the Skilhunt when it comes around, too bad I smashed all of my points on batteries by the end of the year.

Although I see that Olight locally at the same price as Skilhunt on BG. Has anyone done a teardown of that battery pack? I can always fabricobble together an alternate pack if need be but I’d rather just replace the battery itself.

Ah and thanks for the cold weather 18650 tip, it is priceless – my A6 almost died in -15C when I was escorting a lost soul back to a mountain hut in the middle of the night – every damned headlamp on everyone crapped out (strong wind, alkalines and eneloops decided to hibernate) and that A6 was a lifesaver.

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

Zulumoose
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I run on the road with a club, and something I have noticed is that many of the runners, ladies in particular (I have no idea why) run with a headlamp on their waist. It gives great foot illumination. Not suggesting this is ideal for you (clearly not a good idea as sole illumination on a trail), but it gives an option for extra illumination, and you might get away with a heavier lamp here, depending how mounted.

Actually now that I think about it, maybe women look at each other more when they talk, and wear them low to avoid blinding each other.

If you are used to an A6, you are a bit spoilt, headlamps suffer a bit in comparison to that I think. The H03 is certainly the most recommended headlamp here at BLF, mine is still in the post. For really budget lamps the Boruit RJ02 at $7 or so is an eye opener, love mine, but the strap is heavy and based on smelly rubber, also on a trail run you will lose the USB cover unless you glue it on.

Beam me up!

The_Driver
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A waist mounted light gives you better depth perception because it will actually create shadows. The problem is the wobble. Your waist moves left to right when you’re running (also up and down a lot depending on how good your technique is). Also when you look to your sides you won’t see much.

J. Gramm
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Oh the Boirut, that name rang a bell and I wondered why.

Turns out I ordered it last Friday around 2:30 AM. It is so nice of me to think about me when I am blind drunk! (One might see a pattern here.)

Waist light does indeed sound alright for road running but two lamps and two power sources is a bit heavy even for me, but sometimes I do think about mounting a cheap Xanes bike light with a single 18650 onto my running vest for longer distances as a secondary light but it draws 1.1A and I find it hard to power it properly and provide proper heat dissipation to the module of choice. Anyhow, I never wear that vest below 15k of trail so it is on hold as most of my reasonable tinkering projects.

A6 is indeed an overkill for running 98% of time so I am fine with sacrifices. But dual wielding two of them on the sides of my backpack straps makes me feel like a Wyatt Earp of trollhunters in the mountains, that’s for sure. Necessary? No. Awesome? Ah yes, quite a bit.

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

pavol77
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 Good day,
my personal choice of Imalent HR20W
Pavol

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I usually run with a floody 18650 light in-hand, but had a similar need for a running headlamp (though my requirements are different), and after quite a bit of research I went with the Olight H1. I got it today and already tried it out so I’ll post the whole story together with some impressions.

What I wanted:
- something above 100 lumen for 2 hours. It may seem on the low side, but once the eyes have adjusted I find it enough for most situations even when going downhill fast
- a light with no top strap ( I hate them! ) that would not bounce around when running fast / jumping above creeks or other obstacles
- decent tint, I don’t think this needs any explanation Big Smile
- a floody beam so that there would not be an hotspot bouncing around or blinding me when I tighten my shoelaces
- IPX7 or better so I don’t have to worry about the weather

The main problem was finding a light that didn’t bounce around. I already had a Thrunite TH20 and that was unusable, the main problem is it’s heavy and sits far from the head giving it too much leverage. So I looked for a light that was lightweight and had its center of mass close to the head. I narrowed it down to the Olight and the Nitecore NU20 CRI, but the Nitecore had limited runtime and lacked swappable batteries.


Here you can see how it sits in its holder basically as close to the head as it is possible.

So I got the Olight, here’s what I like and what I don’t:

LIKE:
- lightweight enough not to bounce around at all
- though it is 70cri, the tint is consistent throughout the beam, slightly rosy and overall pretty good
- 16340 batteries are so small I can easily carry a spare in the mini-pocket most running pants have for car keys and not notice it

DISLIKE:
- the button is flat and only activates when pressed in the center, basically unusable when running fast
- depth perception is definitely a problem, I really felt less capable of gauging step distances during fast downhill sections and overall I feel my performance was lower than usual

So overall I think this is almost as good as it gets for my needs, and allows me to keep my hands free if I want to do mixed training.
But I will keep bringing an 18650 handeld like my E2L on more serious runs.

J. Gramm
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That Olight does indeed look awesome. So far I went with Skilhunt and Boirut. Tested the Boirut twice already – well it is a damn spectacular light for it’s price and the light is almost enough – I had two ankle crashes with some branches I didn’t see on the trail, but otherwise it is nearly sufficient. I finally got some snow over here so next test is to see how it performs in sub zero and with nice reflections from the general snowiness. Skilhunt is still on it’s way to me.

And yeah, the top straps are annoying but I can live with them if I have to.
And you are correct with the depth perception, I recently ran along some tractor trails, and once they got frozen solid it was probably the toughest terrain I ever ran on, twisting my ankles randomly on every step. Seems like I will need to carry the A6 on my running belt as a backup after all.

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

J. Gramm
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Alright my dudes, since I have the Skilhunt H03 today I might as well post some very brief first impressions, more testing later on.

Skilhunt:
- light tint is quite warm in the NW version and I really like it
- got it at a significant discount at GB, -40%, well worth
- power – there is MUCH POWER, testing tomorrow, I shot my ankle a bit on a bumpy 9k yesterday
- presumably will be surprisingly good for navigation even though I got the TIR version
- forehead stability – hmm, we’ll see. The rubber front is much softer than on the Boirut, comfortable but seems a tad wobbly
- quality – it is very, very well made.

Boirut:
- blueish tint but nothing as horrible as say, Xanes/Inbike lights
- spectacular value for the price.
- power is nearly enough for tough terrain, sufficient for light trails free from obstacles
- nope for navigation, but might do in a pinch sometimes, depends on how lost you are
- very steady on the forehead if strapped on properly, namely a bit higher above the eyes than normal
- quality – it is, well, made. That comma means that it is indeed made, but that’s about it. No seals around the detector diodes is an understatement, the holes are way bigger than the diodes themselves. Overall buildness is a bit harsh let’s say but nothing too horrific. Some might say that there is no such word as buildness, I say there might be. I am the one who coined the term “tallness of height” which over 30 people know have heard and noticed.
- floodiness (another great word) is weird – the outer ring is quite dim but bright enough to make my nose light up if I don’t pay attention to the mounting. Weirdly distracting but I do have a rather large nose for some reason.

I also ordered a new, larger Salomon running belt because why not run with a navigation light, main light and a backup light. I love it when my hobbies compliment each other. I seem to type shorter sentences like if it was supposed to be a voiceover when it is a brief forum post.

Later this week I will post some pictures that will vaguely tell you something perhaps, but maybe not. Taken with a phone on the run, manually adjusted on the spot so they kind of sort of resemble what I see in real life so I wouldn’t call them beamshots, just locations revisited. I’m not sure what the video policy is here – I don’t have a youtube channel but if I made a review would it be considered a spammy promo for a channel?

Here’s a small preview from a Boirut lit run, yes, this is what I have to deal with:

 

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

pavol77
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Hello
a little exotics from the Czech Republic

 

http://luciferlights.net/index.php?route=common/home

pavol77

J. Gramm
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Oh blody hell, that does look VERY interesting. I can even kind of sort of understand the language as an Eastern European myself. Expensive as hell but damn interesting.

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

pavol77
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Would it want test samples / free from factory /

 

prototyp  

pavol77

J. Gramm
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Pýtate sa, či chcem preskúmať?
Jesus our languages are a bit apart it seems haha

But if so then yes indeed!

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

pavol77
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try to write to the factory

 

 

pavol77

J. Gramm
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I might do that if I’ll figure out a decent way to film it, thanks for the tip mate!

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

rondohatten
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hi:
im discovering tint is pretty important to me when trail running at night.
does the boruit give you good enough depth perception to see ruts and variations
in your footpath?
or is it necessary to spring the extra cash for th skilhunt?

by the way, this running belt is awesome:
https://www.nakedsportsinnovations.com/

thanks.

J. Gramm
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rondohatten wrote:
hi:
im discovering tint is pretty important to me when trail running at night.
does the boruit give you good enough depth perception to see ruts and variations
in your footpath?
or is it necessary to spring the extra cash for th skilhunt?

by the way, this running belt is awesome:
https://www.nakedsportsinnovations.com/

thanks.

Well, the Boirut doesn’t give enough light to be bothered by depth perception – you’re glad that you have a perception of anything. But it is possible that a few of those collisions with branches could be caused by that. No problems with Skilhunt so far, it is so damn powerful that I see no issues spotting anything. And it sure does scare the deer away.

Thanks for the tip about the belt but it’s not my style, I really dislike dump pouch designs, I can only imagine keys rattling against the screen of my phone etc. so I went with this instead

https://itsallaboutthevertical.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/salomon-advanced...

I can even attach trekking poles to it.

I'm fine, I own less than 13 flashlights. I'm fine.

I say "indeed" and "presumably" a lot. I know.

rondohatten
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thanks for the tips. maybe i will hold out and save my pennies for the skilhunt. the vast majority of trails i run
aren’t all that foresty, so i don’t need all that much power, i don’t think. hmmm. more thought needed.

np about the belt; everyone’s particular about their equipment and needs. for what it’s worth, due
to the design and materials of the belt i mentioned, nothing can rattle, and there’s a clip for keys.
and two loops you can attach poles to on the back.

the belt you linked to looks pretty cool. i was very tempted by a salomon running vest

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