Night running is something that most trail runners are likely to do at some point, whether it be due to very early morning runs that start before the sun is up, time pressure from your work life that only allows you to get out after hours, or participating in some of these ultra distance events which require running through the night. In times like these, a trailrunner’s biggest ally is a good headlamp.
Local Stellenbosch company, Extreme Lights, have been offering products into this market for some time now and have aligned themselves to some of the country’s top flight trail runners. We got our hands on their Ascent LED Rechargeable Headlamp to give it a few test runs.
The product comes neatly packaged in a compact box, containing the headlamp and a USB cable for recharging. First impressions are good with the headlamp being quite light while not feeling flimsy. The full weight of the device including batteries is 164g.
The head light unit contains two separate bulbs alongside each other. The primary one being a White CREE XP-E LED and the secondary one being a Red ø 5.0mm Ultra-red LED. The battery pack sits at the back of the headlamp adjustable straps and contains a 3.7V 2000mAh Li-polymer battery, rechargeable via micro USB. On the back of the battery pack is a reflective strip and a red light which can also be toggled between on, flashing, and off, via a separate switch.
The headlamp switch is on the head unit and toggles the white light through three different degrees of brightness or a flashing mode. Holding the switch in for three seconds activates the red light which can be toggled also between on or flashing. The beam can be securely adjusted on a ratchet type of mechanism from pointing straight forward to aiming at an angle of 45 degrees downward. In our test we found that at times it would have been useful to have it able to adjust even further downward than that but for the most part, and thanks to the flood beam option, the 45 degrees is sufficient.
On full brightness the beam outputs 220 lumens and reaches up to 150 metres, 120 lumens on the medium setting illuminates up to 107 metres, and the low setting generates 22 lumes, lighting up to 48 metres. The flash function is at full brightness. Advertised battery runtimes vary from 8 hours on full brightness to 50 hours on the low setting, however on the unit that we tested, we achieved 4 hours on full brightness and ran it for 15 hours on the low setting without it dying.
A quite nifty feature of this headlamp is the impossibly simple but clever mechanism to switch between the spotlight beam and the flood beam. A small perspex-like window slides across the front of the headlamp and can either be positioned off to the side of the bulb where it then allows the spotlight to shine far and focused without interference, or it can be positioned in front of the bulb where it then diffuses the light to spread the illumination evenly over a larger area around you, but with a shorter reach. This is particularly useful for the more technical sections of the trail.
In terms of waterproofing, the headlamp, though not formally certified, has the equivalent tolerance as an IP65 rating, meaning it will easily withstand rain but should not be submerged.
In addition to all the features of the headlamp itself, the support behind any Extreme Lights product is also important to acknowledge. In our experience, this Stellenbosch team are very responsive and helpful if any issues do present themselves.
With all of that in mind, our view is that this headlamp is a quality unit at a decent price and should certainly be a suitable companion for anyone looking to illuminate their night runs.
The product specifications, according to the Extreme Lights website are summarised below:
Features & Benefits
220 Lumen output
8 – 100 h Runtime
Slide diffuser for flood or spot beam
Beam Angle 45° adjustable
Red light and reflective tape on rear for safety and visibility
Battery: 3.7V 2000mAh Li-polymer
White LED: CREE XP-E white light
Red LED: ø 5.0mm Ultra-red light
Weight: 164g (with batteries)
White Red High Med Low Flash High Flash Output 220 Lumen 120 Lumen 22 Lumen 220 Lumen 2.2 Lumen 2.2 Lumen Distance 153m 107m 48m N/A 7m N/A Runtime 8 Hours 28 Hours 50 Hours 20 Hours 75 Hours 100 Hours Drop test 1.5m Water/Rain Test Yes