Silva Trail Runner Free Headlamp Review

A headlamp, a good one! is an essential item for any runner, be that for racing or training. Winter, short days and what can feel like constant darkness can stop training and force sessions indoors, however, a good lamp can make all the difference for helping you get out of the door. Recently I looked at headlamps by Norwegian brand, Moonlight, HERE who produce lamps with serious lumens for running, mountain biking, skiing or any sport that takes place in pitch darkness and bright illumination is required.

Read a guide on headlamps HERE

Silva with the Trail Runner Free have taken the head lamp to a superb next level offering a specific product for running with 400 lumen output. Comfortable, lightweight with beams optimized for running this is proving to be my ‘go-to’ lamp. The ability to use AAA batteries or an optional rechargeable battery in a Hybrid battery case make this extremely user friendly, even for long and relentless outings.

Use 3x AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery for ultimate flexibility.

There are countless pluses to this new incarnation from Silva:

The free in the product name refers to the power cord being integrated into the headband. This provides a comfortable headlamp experience without distracting cords or tangled wires. The headband is soft with a silicone on the inside to stay in place. Gladly there is just one strap that goes around the head, there is no strap over the top of the head.

The weight is super-light coming in at 125g with the battery. Every part of the headlamp has been compressed and the unit only weighs 55 grams.

Hybrid battery case which can be used with AAA batteries (provided) and the option to purchase a Trail Runner Hybrid (1.15AH) battery for increased flexibility. The case has grip friendly surfaces and holds an integrated red rear safety light – adding extra visibility. 

There is a small switch with 3 settings: Off, permanent red light or flashing.

Importantly, the battery case can be used on or off the headband. An additional extension cable is provided so that you can store and use the battery in a pocket or a run pack – especially important in cold climates when warmth will allow the battery to last longer.

An extension cable (supplied) facilitates ‘off the head’ use of the Hybrid battery pack.

Customized light distribution via a double light beam with light settings that are perfect for running. A combination of a long reach spotlight and a close floodlight provides an excellent balance of close and long view perspectives which allows one to run with confidence, even at speed.

Spot and flood for ideal visibility.

It has 3 modes of varying brightness, 400, 200 and 50 lumens. In good weather conditions, you can expect 2.5 hours on full power or 12-hours on minimum power.

IPX5 water resistance

Price

77.00 (with AAA) 

The 1.5Ah Hybrid battery is an optional accessory for the Trail Runner Free and is supplied with the ‘H.’

Hybrid Battery is 32.00

The TRAIL RUNNER FREE H is 109.00 and includes Hybrid Battery.

The TRAIL RUNNER FREE ULTRA is 127.00 and includes 4.0 Ah long-distance battery.

OPTIONS

The base version Trail Runner Free is at a great price and is provided with 3x AAA batteries which means you can use it straight out of the packaging. The option to use AAA and a rechargeable is a deal breaker for me, especially if I am out on long adventures or if I was racing. The flexibility to be able to purchase batteries anywhere and use the head lamp is a win! 

Choose Trail Runner Free with the Hybrid battery case and 3 x AAA batteries if you don’t run on a daily basis, but still value long burn time.

3x AAA battery is great for flexibility and a back-up to the 1.5Ah Hybrid battery.

In reality though, the best option is to purchase the Trail Runner Free H that comes with a Hybrid Battery. I also purchased an additional spare battery for increased flexibility. This allows me to charge a battery while using the torch (I carry 3 x AAA in my pack as spares and for a ‘just in case’ scenario). Equally, I can carry a charged Hybrid battery as a spare too.

The Hybrid battery case takes 3x AAA or the 1.5Ah battery.

If you always run long, the Trail Runner Free Ultra has the largest battery and burn time offering 9-hours on full-power in good weather. This can reduce to below 5-hours in sub-zero temperatures.

TOP TIP

Choose Trail Runner Free Ultra if you want to go for really long sessions with the 4.0Ah long-distance battery. With Free Ultra you also get the Hybrid battery case which can be used with either 3 x AAA batteries or by complementing it with a Hybrid battery (1.15Ah).

IN USE

The head lamp, head band and Hybrid battery case is the same irrespective of which option you choose. Please note that with the Ultra, the larger 4.0Ah battery does not fit in the Hybrid case but can still be used on the head band or in a pocket using the included extension cable.

Comfort level is high with the Trail Runner Free and I would go as far to say, it’s arguably one of the most comfortable head lamps I have used, especially with no cables flapping around. However, because the cables are incorporated within the headband, adjusting is a little more laborious than in others I have used, it’s a minor niggle. On the head band the battery is well balanced, secure and comfortable.

Cables are incorporated inside the headband and you connect the battery via a connector.
The pack simply connects via a short cabe is the pack is attached to the head band.

The Hybrid battery pack easily attaches or removes from the head band allowing for great flexibility.

Using the battery off the head and it’s easy to change batteries and turn the red safety light on or off.
Off the head you use an extension cable so the battery can placed in a pocket or pack.

It has an inbuilt red LED for safety.

Rear red safety light can be off, flashing or permanent.

This rear light has its own switch which you turn on by opening the rear battery cover and moving the small toggle switch, flashing or constant is available. There are pluses and minuses to this. The plus is that you do not need the rear light on, which will save some battery, especially if storing the battery and using in a pocket. The downside is twofold: 1. It’s easy to forget to turn the rear light on. 2. Opening the door and flicking the switch is just one extra thing to do and if it’s cold, almost impossible to do with gloves on.

The lamp itself is small, rotates up and down easily (even with gloves on) and the switch on the left-side is easy to press for illumination.

Green shows good power in the battery, red shows recharging or new batteries are required.

You press and hold to turn off, if you see a red light, the battery needs charging or changing. If you see green, all is good. There are two lamps, a spot and wide and they work exceptionally well. 

At 400 lumens, the head lamp sits at a very comfortable balance of illumination v battery life. Lumens and brightness are not always the be all and end all for a head lamp, especially when running. For faster sports, MTB or skiing, illumination is crucial because everything is moving so much faster, with running, especially at night, everything is a little slower and 400 lumen works really well. I also feel that our eyes and perception adjust accordingly but I am aware that for some, this is not the case.

Not all head lamps are the same and the Trail Runner Free has become my ‘go-to’ and most likely the product I would recommend to others as a first option.

The reason being weight, comfort, price but most importantly the Hybrid battery combination and the flexibility it brings.

Using the battery off the head is a real plus of the Trail Runner Free.

I have actually only used the Hybrid case on the head band three times (it was comfortable, no problem.) I have found that the best solution for me is to store the battery pack either in my run vest or in a pocket on my clothing.

The reasons for this are countless:

  • Less weight on the head.
  • Keeping the batteries warm so that they last longer.
  • I can change batteries without having to take the head lamp off.

Another key point is the flexibility to daily use a rechargeable battery (thus saving on costs and the environment) but also having 3x AAA with me should I need to have additional backup power. Of course, you can carry another rechargeable too OR use the larger 4.0Ah battery.

CONCLUSION

The combination of battery options, free technology, comfort, flexibility and 400 lumens all packaged into a running specific lamp make the Trail Runner Free a winner. There are a couple of minor niggles, but they are nothing to worry about and are certainly not real considerations when considering should I or should I not buy this head lamp. When purchasing, consider which model best suits your needs. But have knowledge knowing that you have complete flexibility afterwards to switch between batteries and how the battery is used. Highly recommended. 

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Moonlight Mountain Gear ‘Bright as Day’ Headlamp Reviews

The tagline, ‘Darkness is not an excuse anymore’ most certainly rings true with the head torches from Norwegian brand, Moonlight Mountain Gear.

Based in Burtfjord, Northern Norway, Moonlight have a great opportunity to test and build head torches to survive the cold and relentless darkness of Norwegian winters. It’s with that in mind that the ‘Bright as Day’ (BAD) products were created.

Read a guide on headlamps HERE

Quite simply, the engineers wanted to ski at any time, regardless of conditions. They have products that provide 3200, 6000 and 12.000 lumen.

There is a head torch for everyone and the ability to interchange components for increased flexibility.

BAD 2000

I have recently been testing both the BAD 700 and BAD 2000 lumen products, for mountain, ultra and trail running, these two products work perfectly. The beefier and more powerful BAD 3200 is better suited to skiing, mountain biking and sports that are taken at a faster pace and when visibility and response time is crucial.

BAD 2000

The 2000 is a new product, updated from the previous 1800 lumen version. In addition to 200 extra lumens, electronics have been upgraded and the cooling system allows the torch to deliver a full 2000 for the battery life. Covering 15-30 degrees the torch will last 1.5 hours on full power, 3 hours on 50%, 6 hours on 25% and 20 hours at 5% all provided by a rechargeable Li-ion 2 cell 9600mAh 3.7v battery that has a life go 500 cycles. Charge time is 3.5 hours. 

Lamp on GoPro attachment

One of the unique design USP’s is that the lamp head attachment system is compatible with GoPro QuickClip, therefore, as way of an example, you may have a GoPro attachment on a helmet for action filming, this attachment also takes the head lamp. Equally, head straps and other similar products from the GoPro range are compatible.

With an IP 67 waterproof rating, the head torch will function in heavy rain and humidity.

An LED inside the light housing indicates battery level, blue 80-100%, flashing blue 50-80%, red 30-50% and flashing red is less than 30%. When the torch reaches 10% or lower, the lamp head will flash three times and then drop to the lowest power setting. This is a feature that acts as a warning allowing you to reduce pace (for safety) and make adequate decisions so that you can return home OR change the battery with a spare.

Charging is via USB cable and the battery is USB C.

Interchangeable battery

The Moonlight batteries are interchangeable between all the lamp heads and importantly can be used on or off the head strap. A 1-meter extension cable is provided. This is really important in subzero temperatures.

Extension cable for off-head battery storage

The facility to store the battery inside a jacket and keeping it warm will ensure a longer life. Also, when running, the ability to use a heavier battery without it adding weight to the head area is a key feature. A spare battery in 999 Krone which equates to £80.00

The head torch in not cheap, 2299 Krone if £185.00.

In Use

I am not a fan of the headbands that come over the top of the head and around the head. However, if using the battery on the headband for the 2000, the middle strap is important to help distribute the weight and stop any movement. It’s a problem if you want to use a peaked cap but no issue if wearing a beanie, Buff or headband.

The weight (298g) is at the manageable end of comfort for a torch that provides such brightness. But as a preference, for running, I have preferred to store the battery in my run pack. It is much more comfortable, and it also means that I can adapt the headband and not use the elastic that goes over my head, just the strap that goes around.

Brightness and spread of light are superb. In all honesty, the 2000 lumen setting is not really required for running, it’s almost too bright. The only time I used at this power was on technical sections when I really needed to see what lay ahead, even then, with reduced pace, 50% power or less was more than adequate. You need to ask do you really need 2000 lumen head torch, if not, the BAD 700 is the way to go…

The 2000 is a brilliant light for fast trail runners who really need to see everything and react in a split second, but for me, it’s better suited to mountain bikers and skiers.

BAD 700

BAD 700

Keeping in mind that the BAD 700 is 1199 Krone (£100), a considerable £85.00 cheaper than the BAD 2000, you really need to ask yourself as runner, do I need more lumen than 700?

Personally speaking, I think not.

700 lumens really are very powerful on the trail. When one considers night running pace, 700 lumen power really illuminates the trail to show you everything that you need to see, and it allows you enough light to react and change direction.

All the features of the 2000 or in the 700 including GoPro compatibility, 15-30 degree light scattering, guaranteed light consistency and so on. Weighing in at 180g with battery (head lamp 40g) is 118g lighter than the 2000, that is significant when running!

As with the 2000, an LED inside the light housing indicates battery level, blue 80-100%, flashing blue 50-80%, red 30-50% and flashing red is less than 30%. When the torch reaches 10% or lower, the lamp head will flash three times and then drop to the lowest power setting. This is a feature that acts as a warning allowing you to reduce pace (for safety) and make adequate decisions so that you can return home OR change the battery with a spare.

One of the plus sides of the 700 is that it is compatible with other batteries in the Moonlight range. By way of example, you could purchase the 1800/2000 Im 3.7v battery (which powers the 2000) and use it with the 700 head. This would extend the full power autonomy from 1.5 hours to 4.5 hours and at the lowest setting, you would get a whopping 60 hours!

Like the 2000, the battery can be stored on or off the headband and a 1m extension cable is provided.

The flexibility with GoPro fittings is superb and allows multiple options for attaching and fixing.

Charging is via USB cable and the battery is USB C.

In Use

For running, the 700 is perfect for me and if the battery is mounted on the headband, preferable to the 2000. The weight balance is ideal when running, whereas, the 2000 battery on the head feels a little too heavy.

The beam is perfect and consistent which is extremely important and for most, 50% or 25% would be enough for most runs, this provides 3 to 6 hours of life. If you occasionally go to full beam, then you can estimate 2 to 5 hours.

A spare battery is 799 Krone which equates to £65 and this would be a good purchase so that you can alternate batteries or carry a spare on the trail.

Easy to use, consistent power and great durability make this a ‘go-to’ product that really withstands harsh weather.

Conclusions

The head torch market has a plethora of options out there and it’s extremely competitive. It’s possible to purchase budget products that kind of ‘do the job’ but one always feels a little compromised. There also products out there can adjust power automatically – I have yet to have one work correctly! Some connect to your phone via an app, others state a really long life only for you to find that burn time is a fraction of what is stated.

Moonlight is lacking in frills. They have great design, awesome products that does what the manufacturer says. They burn for the length of time expected and without losing brightness as the battery loses its power. The removable battery, extension cable, interchangeability and the GoPro mount flexibility make them an excellent choice.

The BAD 700 is the way to go for runners, however, some of you out there may well need that 2000 blast, only you will know that!

Although not cheap, you get what you pay for and one thing is for sure, they will last.

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