Monday, 6 July 2009

Favorite Things - Headlamps

I thought I'd do my first installment of 'Favorite Things' on one of my most commonly asked questions - what headlamp do you use???

Now understand that headlamps are one of those rapidly changing technologies. Every month it seems that there are smaller, lighter, brighter ones on the market. A musher could go broke trying every one that comes out - and a great number of them are useless for the sport anyway. But if you have the time and the money to try them all - go for it!
Mostly I'm speaking to you if you are using one of those horrid old headlamps with 4 ridiculously heavy D cell batteries in a red battery box. If you are, there are a ton of options out there that will save your neck and back - as well as do a better job!

When I head off on a long training run or a race I am packing 3 headlamps in my sled. One Cold Spot Feeds headlamp (which I don't think they are selling anymore) and 2 Mammut TX - 1 headlamps.
The Cold Spot lamp paired with a Xenon bulb and 2 - lithium D cell batteries (I use the disposable packs from Batteries Plus) is really the brightest thing I've found, but the lithium D cells are expensive (the alkaline ones are ridiculously heavy) and cords to battery packs are a pain on a long distance adventure.
The Mammut lamp is one that I saw alot of mushers using during the '08 season, but as I said, I don't rush out to buy the 'newest and lightest' headlamp each time one comes out! Then I found one lying in the middle of the Iditarod Trail. I played with it a bit before I was able to track down it's owner (Kelley Griffin) and was very impressed. Last season I played with one in training and then I used one of these on well over 85% of my sled runs.
The Mammuts TX - 1s are bright, light and require only AA batteries to run (I use lithium AAs as the battery life is longer and the performance better in the cold), no bulbs to mess with plus no annoying cords or battery packs!

For a 16 dog team on a really dark night I find the TX one to lack a touch of power (it is adequate, but that's it), but it is more then enough for a 12 dog team and the white LED light is GREAT for picking up reflective tape on trail markers.

So there you go - one of my favorite things - the Mammut TX - 1 Headlamp!



Helen Thorgalsen said...

Great post and love all the information you are sharing....when one asks a question you help everyone to understand your reasoning behind what you do which is very helpful and what makes you an excellent teacher!

Nannette Morgan said...

How did you know I was still using the heavy one with the red battery box and 4 D cell batteries?!!

I'll have to check one of these others out! I'm tired of it flopping over one eye like the Pirates of the Caribbean eyepatch!

Thanks for the tips, Karen!


granimar said...

Thanks for the info, Karen. We aren't mushers, but use headlamps alot, especially when camping and always carry several when traveling-- you never know. I'm always looking for better and brighter. Doug is off on his Smoke Jumper Wilderness Trail Crew in the Sawtooths in Idaho---will send him with a new one next year !!

Maggie said...

I bought this headlamp after you recommended it to me last year - I have not been disappointed! Thanks again.

AndiLou said...

I have to buy the cheapest ones. In my line of work they tend to get melted on occasion!!! When I need to buy one for more serious endeavors, like search and rescue operations, I will be sure to read this blog again. Great information Karen! Thanks