So the clocks have changed and our trail and fell running is limited to daytime – we can’t possibly run off road in the dark can we?
Of course we can – fell running in the dark is great! All we need is a decent head torch and a bit of common sense. I’ve got a selection of head torches, the latest being LED Lenser’s new SEO5
So what do I look for in a running head torch? Well: bright, light and comfortable would sum it up. Years ago when I first tried fell running at night it was difficult to get a head torch that was bright enough without it being huge and cumbersome with a battery the size of a malt loaf! With today’s technology bright and light is possible at the same time.
My first impression of the SEO5 was that it was only slightly bigger than my old Petzl Tikka – I just hoped it would be brighter. On the scales it weighed in at 104g (nice to see that’s below the claimed 105g on the packaging)
It is powered by 3x AAA batteries housed in the light unit itself so no separate battery pack on the back of the head. The on / off / mode switch is a small button on the top of the torch. The torch came pre assembled with headband (removable for washing) and batteries plus a spare set of batteries – all Duracell too rather than some cheap rubbish which was a nice touch.
After spending 5 minutes trying to decipher the not very well translated manual I gave up and resorted to pressing the button numerous times for different durations and figured out that you had the choice of:
Bright (180 lumens) Dim (20 lumens) or Flashing. It is also possible to select a brightness anywhere between bright and dim. There is also a separate red Led that gives steady or flashing option. In steady white mode a turn of the housing around the lens allows you to alter the beam from a wide circle to a focussed point.
The headband is easily adjustable to allow for use over a hat and is just one single strap around the head (nothing over the top). This gave a good snug fit and despite vigorous head shaking the torch stayed firmly in place, a reassuring sign as the prospect of it coming off and tumbling down the hill in pitch dark isn’t a good one!
The light can be swivelled down on a ratchet through 8 positions if you need to look at things closer to hand; for example whilst map reading, and the ratchet is quite firm and it seems unlikely that the light will droop whilst on the run – a problem with some torches.
On test whilst night time fell running in the Peak District the torch performed really well giving ample brightness for the type of moorland and woodland terrain I was on. I prefer to run on floodlight mode giving a wider pool of light but sometimes a focussed beam is needed to pick out distant objects such gates or walls. The SEO5 on full power coped with this need, a simple twist allowing me to go from flood to spot and back again.
If I was to be picky and find fault with the SEO5 it would be that the on off switch and focussing beam are tricky to operate with gloved hands (however this is the case with several torches) and it takes a while to remember the sequence of presses and holds required to switch between the modes (again no real difference to other torches and not really an issue once you get used to it)
I haven’t tested the claimed 7 hr battery life on full power (25 hrs on low) but unless the claim is very inaccurate the torch will have enough juice to last all but the longest night run. If I’m unsure how much life there is left in my standard batteries I prefer to use rechargeables and set off all charged up to avoid being caught out.
Tip: If you are taking spare batteries with the intention of changing them “in the field” make sure you take a secondary light such as a key fob light. It will be almost impossible to find your spares, take the back off your torch, remove the old batteries, put the new ones in the right way round… all whilst in the wind and rain, with cold hands in the dark!