Lighting Systems


Experience From - Don Herres, Mike Erickson#1 , Rick Rochel , Mike Erickson#2 , Martin Hillyer ,

Hand Held Flashlights:
Experience From - Norm Yarger , Roy Morita , Norm Ryder , Mike Schupp , Hollis Baugh , Matt Mahoney ,

Head Lamps:
Experience From - Adrian Crane , Mark Donaldson , Ron Jansen , Doug McKeever#1 , Ron Jansen#2 , Sean Smith , Jon Moore , Doug McKeever#2 ,

Waist Mounted Lights:
Experience From - Unknown , Steve Pero , Sue Norwood , Doug McKeever , Mike Erickson ,

Florescent Lights:
Experience From - Chris Scott , George Parrott , Heidi Schutt , Carl Jess ,

LED Lights:
Experience From - Paul Comet , Paul Comet#2 , Kevin Smith , Tico Gangulee , Joanne Lennox , Roy Morita , Rocke McClung , John Vonhof , Daniel Temianka#1 , Dan Simpson , Will Brown , Aaron Leitner , Phil Vaughn , Ray Zirblis , Kevin Sayers , Dan Temianka#2 , Mike Palmer , Mike Miller , Deb Reno , Ed Schultze , Dave Olney , Blade Norman , Mahoney#2 ,

LED Headlamp:
Experience From - Geoffrey Baker , John Wood ,

How Many Ultrarunners Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?
From - Rich Lacey ,

Refer to Batteries topic for additional information.


Don Herres

Subject: General

For my 2 cents & 2 flashlights worth.

  1. Make sure your flashlight is waterproof. Enough said.
  2. I use two flashlights since the 100 milers I have run start at 4AM.

I take a Mini MagLite with two AA batteries for the morning and keep it in my belt pack for the day. I have run out of light before reaching the stop with my regular light in the evening and this makes a good backup. I have a belt pack that I put the light in so it doesn't add anything. At night I use an Eveready Sport Gear light with two D cell batteries. I have never had a problem with this lasting through the night. Both flashlights have halogen lamps in them. The Sport Gear light has a flat bottom that can be used to set the light down so it doesn't roll away and a tilted head so the light naturally is aimed down when running. I have noticed the problem of tunnel vision and periodically have to aim the light in a different direction just to get my peripheral vision back. For this reason, I wouldn't want to use a headlamp.

A final note: don't change a halogen lamp with your fingers (or wipe it off afterwards). The oil from your fingers will make a hot spot and it will burn out quickly. Wonderful advice, but this may be impossible unless you are at an aid station (use the 2nd flashlight to get you there).

Michael Erickson#1

Subject: General Critique

As the generally recognized owner of The World's Greatest Flashlight Collection (tm), allow me to offer up my $.02. First, AA Maglites and others of this size make a nice compact back up. I will not use them as my primary because they don't have the endurance to make it through the night. The exception to this is for those few hours at the start of a race when I'll use a cheap AA light. It only needs to last for a couple hours and I don't feel bad about leaving it at an aid station and never seeing it again. I figure that leaving it behind for the volunteers is this simpleton's way of thanking them. These are also good for those *early* morning road run when all you need is a light so the cars will be sure to see you (hmmmmm, this may on the other hand be a *bad* thing, your choice)

I've got a three-C MagLight that I like a lot: good endurance, adjustable beam, and durable as anything. Drawbacks? Weight. As you get into the larger size Mags, they start to get pretty heavy. They do make great clubs if you run with a tough crowd.

Head lamps. Love them, the only way to go as far as I'm concerned. I use the big Petzl that has some sort of Unobtainium bulb and a 4.5 volt duracell battery. This thing gives great light, adjustable beam, and lasts a *long time*. The nice thing is that it frees up your hands to wolf down those Spam sandwiches etc as you trot down the trail. I used it for TWO 100's in a row without having to change the battery. It comes with a cartridge allowing you to use AA batteries; a convenient back-up. Advice-buy a spare battery when you buy the headlamp, they're hard to find. REI or Campmor. Also, don't get the small Petzl headlamp, it's a toy. Likewise, the little do-dah you can buy to strap a maglite to your head is good only for reading the maps on your way to the race. Leave it in the car, your crew will have more use for it than you.

Dilemma, I just picked up a new sport light that uses 4 D cells, is waterproof, compact, and lightweight. It has a krypton bulb and a useful-width, very bright beam. I used it for three hours the other night without any apparent diminished strength. In other words, it's a great lamp! Only about $8.00 from my local hardware store. Wins the value award.

Whatever you choose, the most important thing you can do is test it out, ether on training runs, or as I usually do when I first bring them home, just turn it on and see how long it lasts. That way you won't be surprised during a race; you will be amazed at the limited endurance of some otherwise good flashlights.

As always, carry a spare bulb and batteries; know how to change them in the field. And make sure your crew carries additional back-ups and spares.

Rick Rochell

Subject: Funny Flashlight Story

Here's a good one for all of you worried about batteries and bulbs. I've worked teaching mountaineering for the past twelve years. Just before the very first thirty day trip I was to lead in the mountains I was driving across the country. Somewhere in Nebraska it occurred to me that I did not have a spare bulb for my headlamp. Tired of sitting. I stopped at the local hardware store and showed the nice salesman the lithium battery I needed to match. He couldn't find a precise match but let me peruse the bins to find it myself. I found one and was on my way.

On the second night of the course we were camped near tree line, perched on a windy knoll at 10,000 feet in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming. I was helping a group of participants adjust their tarp as a storm was brewing when -- you guessed it -- my bulb burned out. Smugly, I reached inside the headlamp and switched bulbs. The group might have been slightly impressed. The bulb worked fine for about 15 seconds before it went off. Disappointed for only a couple of seconds it came back on! Feeling relieved and thinking about intermittent wiring problems for a couple of seconds, the bulb went off. Tapping the lamp, it came back on. Then it went off. Now resigned, it came back on. Then off. Then ON. Off. ON. Off. ON. Off.

Slow to recognize the pattern, I realized I'd purchased a blinker! I lived with that sucker for three and a half more weeks!

Be prepared...don't just think you are.

Mike Erickson#2

Subject: Bike Lights for 24-Hour Races

From the website, I reprint here (without permission) a good discussion of lighting systems. It's oriented specifically at endurance mountain bicycling, but the tips do bear relevance on our sport. Good advice on preflighting your gear and adequate reparation.


Tom Robbins, TurboCat Lighting Systems

Published in DIRT RAG Issue #57

With today's sophisticated high power lighting systems, riders can go almost as fast at night as they can in the daytime. But for many endurance racers · particularly those on a mortal's budget · these "high end" systems are neither necessary nor desirable.

Although most 24 hour race rules require only a single beam light, serious night riders know it's best to have two independent lighting systems. A helmet light allows you to look into corners, switchbacks and drop-offs, while the more familiar beam from a bar mounted light provides the shadows that are critical for depth perception. It's also really helpful to have a hands-free light source when making repairs. And if one of the lights or batteries dies or gets damaged in a crash, the other will most likely make it through the race.

Obviously, your first choice would be to race with both a dual beam bar-mounted system and a helmet-mounted light. Second choice would be a single on your bars plus a single on your helmet. Third choice would be a dual beam on your bars.

If you have to choose between a single on your bars and a single on your head, be aware that helmet lights don't create any shadows. (Use a flashlight to confirm this phenomenon for yourself.) This creates a flat perspective that can confuse your depth perception as well as cause you to hit things you never saw. Also, because the light is above your eyes, its beam exaggerates dust, fog and rain. These limitations can get old really fast, particularly when you're dead tired.

"More Watts" is not always the better way to go. Although high power systems are killer bright, they tend to use up the battery quickly· especially with large doses of high beam. 6, 10 and 15 watt lights· or combinations of these · have successfully illuminated many a successful night racer. Yeah, your light may look a little wimpy when a pro blows by with the latest "Godzilla Mega Seven." But you'll get over it, particularly when you remember that you paid for your own lights! Your number one priority is run time. Power is a luxury.

Planning battery run-time requirements is an exercise in research and mathematics. Teams who do the math conservatively are the ones who do well. Teams who don't frequently end up with riders cursing the darkness in the middle of a lap. First, find out the average time for a lap. Then plan for the unexpected · like the Canaan mudfest of 1995, or how long it would take you to walk half the course with a broken bike. A good rule of thumb is to start with enough battery power for a "normal" lap, then double it.

Make sure that your lights are in good condition, even if you're an experienced night rider. Check the wires for loose or corroded plugs and cracks in the insulation. Do a runtime test to be sure your battery is okay. Carry a spare bulb along with a small flashlight so you can see to change a blown one. And remember, even new lights can have problems.

Here are some more tips. No matter what you think or what you've been told, follow the manufacturers battery charging instructions exactly. Try to pre-run the course at night, particularly if you're using a solo helmet light. Be totally self sufficient and don't plan on recharging during the race. (Even if recharging facilities are available, you may not have enough time to recharge.) An extra battery for yourself or your team is good insurance. Go to the race fully charged · on all levels!

Finally and most importantly: Don't buy a light on Tuesday for the race on Saturday. Bad, bad idea! Even with great lights, new night riders can be downright dangerous · to themselves and to others. Teams who do well have usually put in lots of hours of night riding for months before the race and they know what to expect from their lights.

So practice, practice, and then practice some more. And be prepared for extremes · in both pleasure and pain.

Martin Hillyer

Subject: Lights

I have been searching for the ideal flashlight (or torch, for my fellow countrymen) for night running ever since I've been trying 100's (since 1983). This year I think I finally found my ideal combo. I found them at a web site which some kind soul posted last year (sorry, but I've forgotten who it was): You can go to this web site and put in your flashlight requirements (Manufacturer, candlepower, type of battery, etc) and it searches through a database to find the ones which satisfy them. There are more flashlights here than I knew existed.

Using this website I found two; I like to have a main light and also a lightweight backup light in case something goes wrong with the main one. The two I used at AC this year were:

Main light: Underwater Kinetics UKSL4, a 4 C cell light which throws a very bright beam (think freight train), and lasted four hours on fresh batteries (the specs say 4-5 hrs). Weight 10 oz. - I found its flat shape easy to carry and I could always see the next ribbon while using it. As an additional bonus, this light is waterproof.

Backup light: Princeton Tec Tec40, a 4 AA cell light. The beam isn't quite as bright as the above, but it is still bright, very small, it fits easily in your fanny pack and lasts about 3-4 hours (I didn't run it all the way down). Weight 5.1 oz. If you're fanatic about weight, I think that two of these would make a pretty good combination.

Prices: UKSL4: $27.95, Tec40: $14.50. I ordered through brightguy and my lights came in good time in good condition.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in

Hand Held Flashlights

Norm Yarger

Subject: Hand Held Flashlights

Scott Rafferty wrote:

"I know that there has been some discussion of batteries and flashlights on the list, but I would be interested in any additional experiences and advice on Petzl lights and other head lamps Jackstrap and other hand bands for regular flashlights, Halogen flashlights and Lithium AA batteries."
Just a quick comment on my limited experience. I prefer a hand held flashlight for trail running. The reason is that if the flashlight is mounted on the head near the eyes, obstructions don't cast shadows visible to the wearer. When the light is down near the waist, obstructions really show up well. My experience is limited to the Glacial Trail 100K with a 5AM start and I only had to carry the light for 2 hours.

Roy Morita

Subject: Flashlight

For some reason, since I was little, I've always liked flashlights. Every time I go to a hardware store, I have to check out the flashlight section.

While I was making my weekly visit to Home Depot last week, I discovered a new flashlight. It's called HubbelLite 3003-C and made by Hubbell Inc. The reason I bought it is because it said, "400% brighter" on the package. I thought I'd try it out.

I don't know about 400% but let me tell you IT IS BRIGHT. It only takes 3 C-Cells but it seems brighter than my 4 D-Cell Maglite. The weight is nothing compared to my 3 D-Cell Maglite I always carry for my night time running.

The light bulb is a pre-focused xenon lamp, whatever that is. Unlike the ordinary flashlights, as the light travels, it does not spread out. It stays very focused. It's also supposed to be water tight to 2,000 feet. (They don't call it water proof.)

Just to see exactly how bright it is, I put it through my own scientifically designed tests.

The first one is the "blind test". I just hold the light in front of my eyes and see how bright it is. This is so bright I could not even look at it. I didn't even get a chance to be blinded by it.

The second test is the "motion detector test". One of the houses I run by has a security light that's attached to a motion detector on the outside wall of the garage . It is probably about 40 to 50 feet from the road. If the flashlight is bright enough, I can shine it on the motion detector and turn the security light on. It passed the test without any problems.

The third test is performed only when I want to get even with a car driver. When I run at night, a lot of drivers turn their high beams on right in my face. One way to keep them from doing that is to shine the flashlight right in their face. Most of them get the message. I knew the flashlight was working great when one driver yelled at me.

There are two drawbacks. One is the price. I paid a little under $20, which is pretty expensive for a flashlight. The instruction sheet that comes with it (yes, it comes with instructions) says the batteries should last about 5 to 6 hours. I think it's about half to the third of a Maglite. But other than that, I'm very pleased with it. Now, I can see where I'm going.

Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with Hubbell in any way. I'm just a happy customer.

Norm Ryder

Subject: Bicycle Lights

I have found that the simple bicycle lights designed to be strapped on to the handle bars works well as a hand held light.

I have often used a small one that uses 2 C batteries and fits easily into my hand, the strap I place around 1 finger and this allows me to have full control over the direction of the light with my hand and I can run with the hand open or closed. The batteries themselves are good for up to about four hours but the change is very quick and simple so it is easy to have spares if more are needed.

Reminds me my last one disappeared and I will have to pick up another one soon.

Mike Schupp

Subject: Book Light

I recently used the Voyager Light by Frome at the Mile High 24 hr run in Denver last weekend. It is a book light so it has a handy clip to go over the waist belt of my water bottle. The high intensity fluorescent light give a nice big area suitable for two people to run by and the four AA batteries last for 10 hours. It was still going strong when the sun came up. My hands were free and there was no bouncing "spot" light to follow.

Hollis Baugh

Subject: Under Water Lights

I use UK (Underwater Kinetics) Q-40 lights in ultras. They have a 2.1 watt Xenon Halogen bulb that burns BRIGHT for 3 1/2 hours using Duracell batteries. They are small, light and will make most of the lights around you look dim in comparison. I carry two with me and just switch to the other when one runs out (if it's taking me more than 3 1/2 hrs between aid stations).

Also, I dug both lights out in preparation for a race this weekend and found that they were only intermittently working. I went to a dive shop to get someone to troubleshoot the problem and after calling UK, the guy at the dive shop pulled two new lights off the rack and traded me for the old ones (which were @ 4 yrs old). The new lights are better and now are rated at 5-6 hrs with the same batteries.

Matt Mahoney

I prefer a hand held light to a headlamp because it is easier to see shadows and depth when the light source is at a different angle than your eyes. I have both a 2AA maglite with a small incandescent bulb and a 4 white LED light with 3 AA batteries that I got at The maglite is a little brighter but the batteries are only good for 4 hours. The LED light was advertised as having a 400 hour (17 day) continuous battery life. So far I have used it at Hardrock, Nolan's 14, Ancient Oaks and Barkley (about 60 nighttime hours total) on the original batteries. The light had the annoying tendency to flicker out sometimes at Barkley, but I just now filed down the battery tips and metal contacts, and the problem seems to be fixed.

I always carry 2 flashlights in case one goes out. It is a good idea to carry lights where you can interchange the batteries. I once had a maglite bulb go out at Superior Trail, but I had a spare light and was able to reuse the batteries from the bad light. At Nolan's 14, we carried FRS radios that took 3 AA batteries that were good for 18 hours (requiring 2 battery changes at remote aid stations hiked in by volunteers). It was good to know I could exchange batteries between the light and radio if I needed to. Also, LED bulbs don't burn out.

At Hardrock in 1999 before I got the LED light I carried 2 maglites and 8 extra AA batteries, since I wanted to see if I could finish without crew or drop bags (I did). I carried extra batteries because they do not put out as much power in cold weather and have to be changed more often. (It is often below freezing at night, even in July). Last year I used the LED light, and carried a maglite as a spare.

A lot of people have criticized LED lights as being too dim, but I would rather have a dimmer light than the extra weight of a lot of C or D batteries. Your eyes will adjust. The LED light is more diffuse, giving you a wider field of view than a regular spot-type light. The maglite can be focused to give you a narrow or wide beam, which can be helpful for finding reflective markers on the Hardrock course, although it turns out I didn't need to use it for that purpose. In 1998 I got lost on Putnam Ridge on the second night when I couldn't find the markers under clear skies and a full moon, and I missed the 48 hour cutoff by 3 hours. Last year there was fog and rain in the same area that limited visibility to less than the distance between markers, but I managed to stay on course by training on it and by assuming that it went straight when I couldn't see a marker. So a bright light isn't always going to help you.

Head Lamps

Adrian Crane

Subject: Petzel Duo Head Lamp

The best light out there is a 'Petzl Duo' headlamp which has two lights in one , a bright and a low beam, runs on 4 AA batteries , lasts for 8 hours on low beam, has a comfortable and secure headlamp and spare bulb built in. I have used one and wonder why I stumbled about in the dark without it .

Mark Donaldson

Subject: Petzel Head Lamp

I run with the smaller "Petzel" head light. It takes a bit of fussing and fiddling to get it to where it's comfortable and doesn't bounce, but if you can get that far, I think it's the way to go. I've also run plenty of night runs holding a small cheap flashlight that has a push-on button. Holding a light in your hand is probably easier, but holding anything in your hands for a long time has it's obvious disadvantages. You might be surprised at how little you need a flashlight at all. Running by the ambient light whenever possible is certainly the best solution.

Ron Jansen

Subject: Eveready Sport Gear Head Lamp

Also, a comment on lighting. I've found a headlamp that works very well for me - it's an Eveready "Sport Gear" headband light. Uses 4 AA batteries and has a krypton bulb - really throws a lot of light, and is completely waterproof (yes I dunked it to see if it was sealed tight). Costs about $13, with batteries. My only negative comment is that it is a bit heavy due to the 4 batteries. A light using 2 AA batteries might work about as well, but I haven't been able to find one in a headlamp. I normally use the headlamp along with a regular flashlight using 2 AA batteries to cut down on the shadows. Ok, one other negative comment is that I need to carry two types of replacement for 2 AA batteries and one for 4 AAs. Hasn't been a problem, though.

Also tried out a Streamlight "TopSpot 2", but ended up taking it back. It's a flashlight that turns into a headlamp. Uses 4 AAs and throws a lot of light, but the bulb is a bear to replace and it's not weather-proof. It is, however, very comfortable since the batteries are "spread out" - hard to explain, but very obvious when you see one.

As you can imagine, my neighbors think I'm crazy when they see me heading for the trails after dark. I'm sure the thought of running at night on rocky trails would horrify most "normal" folks. You might say, though, that I'm in training for my first ultra. I just don't know when or where it will be.

After several years of racing distances up to the marathon, I decided to try a few long training runs. Found out quickly that I'm better suited to a long, sustained effort than a high-intensity road race. Besides, why not spend the whole day doing my favorite activity... running?

Only problem is that we've been trying to start a family and medical experts frown on any type of activity that may harm sperm counts (no, I'm not one to mince words). Anyway, I've been doing my daily runs of 3 to 7 miles (no more long runs), on the trails whenever possible, and anxiously awaiting the time when I don't have to worry about how a 50 miler will affect the family planning situation. Guess I've rambled on long enough, but if anybody out there has gone through a similar predicament, I'd love to hear how it worked out

Doug McKeever#1

Subject: Head Lamps

Mike Proctor wrote:

"I am considering getting a head lamp for trail running (including my first WS100 this year). With respect to the battery location, I've seen some with the battery right behind the reflector, i.e. on the forehead. Others have the battery mounted on the strap at the back of the head. And some have the battery clipped to the belt. Any advise and recommendations? "
I have an opinion about almost every piece of gear, and head lamps are no exception. Disclaimer: I have no direct financial interest in any of these products, although I do work part time in a shop that sells some of the units listed below.

I have used a model of Princeton Tech. with the batteries in front, and I find that it is hard to keep in place when running slides down my forehead.

The Petzl Micro stays in place better, in my opinion, , but the useful battery life is short with only two AA cells. I fitted the rotating reflector part of the unit with a small piece of string and a cordlock to keep it from rotating downward too far when subjected to the shocks of running.

The Petzl Zoom is a dandy unit, and works very well. With the halogen bulb, you get an excellent beam but shorter battery life. The 4.5 v. battery gives longer life than AA cells in an adapter, but the 4.5 v. is expensive.

If you are using the light in cold weather, consider the Petzl Mega Belt. The batteries can be kept in the case in a warmer place than on your head.

In rugged trails such as Hardrock and parts of Wasatch I have used a headlamp in combination with a lightweight hand-held light such as the Pelican Versabrite or others which have halogen or zenon bulbs. The headlamp can be set to shine where one looks, and the hand lamp can be flashed to illuminate a broader area. The combination works very well.

I met a bicyclist recently who was using a headlight which was a veritable floodlight. I thought a silent motorcycle was approaching! I believe he said it was made by Protech (Anyone out there know if this is close?)

Consider the expense of running events all over the makes no sense to have the lighting system be the weak link in the chain.

For races always carry a spare light even if you are only using one. Interchangeable batteries and bulbs are a definite plus.

Ron Jansen #2

Subject: Roosa Easter Seal Head Lamp

To each his or her own, but here's what works for me. On bright nights and a fairly easy trail, I don't use a light. For darker nights, I like a headlamp, the brighter the better, in combination with a hand-held to help see rocks, roots, etc. (I'm blind as a bat at night).

My choice of headlamp is a Roosa Easter Seal light. Takes 4-D cells in a belt pack. Obviously, this is heavier than some other head lamps due to the number and size of batteries, but when I clip it to my fanny pack belt I hardly know it's there. Costs about $20, is very tough and well made. Found mine at a local camping/outdoor store, but you can see a photo on the web (search on roosa & easter seal). Looked into a Petzl Mega Belt (3-C cells) but it cost about 3x what I paid for the Roosa. Also tried a 4-AA lamp with batteries up in the headband, but I'm not comfortable with that much weight on my head.

My choice of hand held light is a 2-C cell bicycle light. Haven't used this one a lot yet, but it's bright and seems to be pretty tough. Illuminates a broad area and was $7 at the local discount store. Only problem here is that I'd like to use the same batteries as the headlamp. I may try a 2-D cell flashlight and see how I feel about the extra weight.

Sean Smith

Subject: Head Lamps

I switched from hand helds to a Petzl years ago, after getting tired of trying to crawl through blow down, in the dark, with one hand tied up... and have never looked back.

But, two words of warning (from experience):

  1. Depending on your support logistics, consider keeping a small penlight in your pack along with your spare batteries/bulbs. (It's awfully hard to change the battery out on the trail by yourself in the dark)

  2. (Male runners only) If you stop to urinate in a semi-populated area at night, be sure either to turn the head lamp off, or not to look at what you're doing.

Jon Moore

Subject: Head lamps

In his report on the AT 100, Josh Miller echoed a complaint made several times previously when he wrote:

My fancy headlamp shined a straight beam of light to my direct front. The fog held the rest of the light hostage.
Just because it's called a headlamp doesn't mean you are forced to wear it on your head. To me, finding ways to best use the minimum amount of equipment I want be carrying is just as much a part of training as putting in the miles. I've found for example that if you clip the lugs of the back (battery pack) part of a Petzl Zoom into the holes at the front, you end up with a reasonably solid if slightly unwieldy hand torch. (Personally I also carry a 2*AA hand lamp as well, particularly if I suspect I'm going to be out all night).

By The Way, could you change the bulb on whatever torch you use if it blew and you're totally in the dark? If you're uncertain, practice doing it and/or carry a 1*AAA cell torch (Mini-maglite or equivalent) on a lanyard round your neck (along with whistle?) as a security blanket.

Doug McKeever#2

Subject: Petzels

Believe it or not, I own and have used extensively every model of light that Petzl makes ( all 9 or 10 of them...I'd have to check my light friends don't call me Mr. Gearhead without reason).

Currently I favor the new Petzl Duo Belt for running because I prefer a really light mount on my head (weak neck muscles, I guess). Both models of the Duo feature both a high beam and a low beam (that is, halogen and standard bulb) and I use the halogen most of the time unless there is a good moon, I am running on snow, or trail is very obvious and the obstacles such as roots and rocks few. I used it recently at the Superior 100 and found that I needed the "high beam" most of the time. The rated battery life (with 4 C cells) is 7.5 hours, and I changed batteries once during the night. The second set of batteries got me thru the long rainy night with ease. If I had used the standard bulb, I could have survived the entire night with no battery change.

The earlier model of the Duo, the model with the battery pack in the head unit, is excellent too. In some ways I like it better because it uses a special Petzl rechargeable battery, or an adapter which can take any 4 AA batteries including rechargeables. The newer Duo Belt model takes only the 4 C cells.

I have also had good luck with the Petzl Arctic for sub freezing and sub zero running ( because the battery pack fits in a pouch hung from the neck which can be placed under one's warm clothing).

In running 100 milers we can do nothing about some factors such as weather but everything about others including how well prepared we are for the unexpected like a dead light. At Superior, for instance, my light at the start died within minutes. No matter, because I ALWAYS have a spare light, not merely spare batteries. One should always carry a second light whenever a light is required, because even the best units can fail. I like the Petzl Saxo as a second light. It uses four AA batteries and works in the hand or as a headlight.

Petzl makes a special light which they advertise specifically for running, but I hate it for races because of the complicated harness which fits all around the torso. Try getting into it in a race, such as I did at the Rushmore 100, and you'll see the frustration.

I don't like the Zoom for running, although it is good for climbing, because of the weight in the headband of the battery.

Many people like tiny little lights, but I like floodlights. The night running is tough enough without a brightly lit trail.

By the way, I'm not on the payroll of Petzl, I just have too much gear and lots of opinions about it.

Belly / Waist Mounted Lights


Subject: Belly / Waist Mounted Lights

The "Belly Lights", as you've called them, were first put together by Ephrain Romesberg of San Jose, California and modified a bit by Jay Jones of Club Lead. The light is a hand held Coleman light with a 5" florescent bulb and using four AA batteries.

The light is actually attached to the buckle of your waist belt by:

The darker the night the better the system works. I've used it at Leadville and wont use another system.

Steve Pero

Subject: Belly / Waist Mounted Lights

At Vermont this Summer, I used a Hubble clip on that I attached to the elastic waist band of my running shorts. This worked great! and lit up the whole trail. It has a swivel head on it so that when I walked up the hills, I'd aim it high so that it wouldn't light up the trail too much and I could enjoy the evening, but when I began running again, I'd swivel the head down onto the trail to see the roots, rocks and dips in the road/trail.

This light has a halogen bulb that seems to create a smaller circle of bright light (large enough to see your footing), surrounded by a much dimmer, but larger circle of light that allows you to see a bit around you as well. The manufacturer claims that it will last 5-6 hours of steady use, but I noticed a bit of dimming after a few hours...but it still had enough light to see. Now maybe with those new "ultra" alkalines, there wouldn't be as much noticeable dimming. I also carried a hand held during the final 10 miles for the trail section near the end, where I used both lights.

The Hubble is about the size of a pager/beeper and costs about $20., I believe. I got it at Home Depot. It is very light, for a light, I never even noticed it on my shorts.

The best part of this light was when walking along the road during the night, all alone on the trail, I would just hold my hand over the light so I could look up at the stars easily. Oh yeah, it's about $15. at The Home Depot.


Sue Norwood

Subject: Belly / Waist Mounted Lights

John Morelock wrote:

"Has anyone seen, or used, some sort of waist mounted lighting system? If yes, would you please tell me about it? Home made? Bought at WalMart? Usual where, when, how, why, weight, endorsement contract availability, etc."
I first learned about this type of lighting system from Marge Hickman, 100-miler extraordinaire, and modified it to use a simple light I found at Home Depot and a couple belts I had already. Including batteries and Velcro, each waist light cost me only about $10. I made two, so I can start off with one and have another in a drop bag about halfway through the night. They've served me well under various weather and trail conditions at several 100-milers (Leadville, The Bear, Vermont, and Arkansas).

The fluorescent lights I use are made by AmerTac and are called "Mini Flourescent lights." They are in a white plastic case about 6 inches long and 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter. They are designed for use in a closet, attic, garage, IV, etc. where there may be no electricity (although they can be used with a iV AC/DC adaptor). This brand uses 4 "AA" batteries. I use alkaline ones that last 4-6 hours, depending on how cold it is. The lights retail for about $7 at Home Depot. I'm sure there are other suitable brands.

Assembly: I adhered Velcro the length of the back of the case and stitched more on a lightweight webbed belt I already had. Running makes the Velcro come loose, so I use sturdy rubber bands at either end of the case to make sure it stays on the belt (I don't think just rubber bands would work). As another lister mentioned, I also had to put a strip of electrical tape over the part of the case that faces up, to avoid being "blinded by the light." Just strap it on and go! Very simple, and I hardly know it's there. It works fine around the waist with either a fanny pack or a water vest.

I always use brand new alkaline batteries for a race, and carry four new spares. AA's are very small and light. Switching batteries isn't too difficult, but when I've got "fumble fingers" at 3AM it's easier for me to change the whole light than it is to change batteries. That's why I keep a second waist light w/ belt in a drop bag to switch out about halfway through the night. Although I have a couple spare fluorescent tubes, I personally would not want to carry one of them with me OR change the tube on the trail; it's not anywhere near as easy as changing a bulb in the head lamp or hand-held flashlights I've used.

Advantages of a fluorescent waist light: inexpensive; very lightweight; hands-free; minimal light bounce; a broad, diffuse light that picks up any type of trail markers I've encountered so far; and no "tunnel vision" like I got when I used a Petzl headlamp. (And no, I don't think the fluorescent system attracts bugs!)

Disadvantages: hard to change the tubes; may have to come off during potty breaks; gives your position away to the competition (something *I* never have to worry about any more!); and it can blind on-coming runners, as on an out-and-back course, or in an aid station. (I try to shield the light if someone is running toward me, and I turn it off in aid stations.) "Tailgaters" seem to like it, though, especially if their own lights have gone out! If you're like Lee, who wants a more intimate experience with the trail, this isn't the light for you.

Because my night vision is terrible, I need more light than most runners probably do. The fluorescent waist light alone is fine for me on fairly smooth trails/roads or if there's adequate ambient light from the moon, but on really rocky/rooty trails I need a more focused, bright supplemental light source aimed right in front of me on the ground. For that, I like my little hand-held Energizer double-barrel lights with a bright halogen xenon bulb. I've gotten several at Walmart for about $9 each.

The only disadvantage for me with the double barrel light is that it uses "AAA" batteries, so I have to carry TWO kinds of spares and remember which size goes in which light. Sounds simple now, but again, at 3AM my brain is as "fumbly" as my fingers! I also have extras of these flashlights and put one or two in my night drop bags so I can just switch lights faster than it would take me to change batteries when they die.

My back-up light (in case one or both of the above fail me for any reason) is a tiny Photon LED light the size of a quarter. Like Jim, I keep one in my pack at all times. It's also handy alone at the beginning of a race if you need a light for an hour or two before daylight and you don't want to bother with a bigger light. I could use it all night if I was just walking.

This system of lights has served me well for three years; it's the LEAST of my problems in 100-milers!

Doug McKeever

Subject: Belly / Waist Mounted Lights

One small but bright light which can be positioned at the waist is the Pelican Versabrite and the even brighter Versabrite II. Either light uses two AA batteries and attaches to one's waist.

Mike Erickson

Subject: Belly / Waist Mounted Lights

A few years ago I came up with a rig that incorporated a large lens (6") 4xD cell lamp. I got mine at Lowes I think, most of the big home improvement centers carry them, I believe they're called the DL-22 (?). In any case the lamp is flat (no more than 2" thick) and square (about 6"; yes, the lens makes up most of the lamp) and nestles nicely against your chest (of course, your individual results may vary!). With the big lens and the four D cells the torch produces a lot of useable light.

I attached this lamp with four clips to an over-the-shoulder-and-around-the-back harness designed to hold 35mm cameras against your chest during vigorous activity (I found the harness at a kayak shop in Monterey).

All in all the system worked OK. Stills needs refinement though. While the system definitely frees up your hands for other things like futzing with your waist pack, water bottles, radio, etc., I really found it to be an in-elegant solution to nighttime illumination. Too many straps, lots of hassles there. Lots of bounce inherent in the system, even tightened down (this may have been a result of too much spring in my step...problem may diminish with prolonged mileage!) As with head lamps, if you want to illuminate some specific item or area, you have to point your body there...can be awkward at times.

Other issues, not sure how waterproof this particular lamp is, so prolonged use in warm weather might create problems. Also, the rotary on/off switch is located on the back, against your chest. While it doesn't protrude or irritate, access to the switch can be a slight problem.

It would be interesting to modify this system to attach to one of the UD vests...if you're going to deal with the vest and all, the addition of the light would be a minimal additional hassle.

More and more I'm believing in the value of simplicity in solving these little problems. While I really should refine this system and bring it to closure, it really misses the mark in the simplicity department.

Fluorescent Lights

Chris Scott

Subject: Fluorescent Lights

Earlier this summer I'd reported on finding a fluorescent book light (Phorm is the label, found in a store called Restoration Hardware) that I'd planned to test at Leadville, Wasatch and AC. I paced at LV and AC, but during all three, both runner and pacer carried the light. And when I say carry, I mean that our hands were free, the light clipped to the front of either pack or shorts. The beam spread widely in front, totally unlike the standard flashlight beam, illuminated well to the sides and well in front; and didn't produce any form of tunnel vision. Perhaps one of its best features is that one set of 4 AA's will last approximately 10 hours. (We used six different ones, and only one's battery pack lasted about five hours -- I think it's a problem with THAT particular light, as the other five worked as advertised.) All factors equal, I'm convinced we moved faster, more smoothly, and less distracted by tunnel light, than other folks we met on the trail. And pretty much everyone we passed commented covetously on our lights compared to their own.

The light weighs probably no more than a few ounces, batteries, of course, contributing the most weight. The beam can be positioned over a 180 degree field, since it WAS designed as book light. The cost is about $25, but well worth the price compared to its cousins that eat up batteries. The Label also says that the bulb itself will last about 10,000 hours, but I don't plan on running that long into the night to test that claim.

So, if you feel compelled to stick with the traditional "tube" light systems, maybe we'll be able to share some comparative thoughts when we meet in the dark sometime (of course, that presumes you're not blitzing well ahead and can find the finish before the 2nd sunrise). If interested, call your local Information for a Restoration Hardware store near you, or any other store which carries the Phorm Book Light. It's a jewel / godsend. Don't run into the night without it!!

George Parrott

Subject: New Light from Radio Shack

Dedicated Trail Runners and 100 milers especially....even casual "night runners..."

I have just been testing a NEW flashlight unit from Radio Shack and it holds IMMENSE PROMISE for trail running IMHO, of course.

This neat new design is a neon tube affair with a U-shaped tube housed in a FLAT case measuring ONLY 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches by less than .70 inches DEEP. It is driven by 2 AA size batteries and has a clip built into the backside for attaching on shorts, belts, etc.

It gives a broad and even light and seems to be ideal for TRAIL RUNNING and for working in dark places, e.g. attics, where you need your hands free and still need some "broadly directed" light.

The unit weighs only a few ounces and costs....$11.99 or so, batteries not included, of course.

Heidi Schutt

Subject: New Light from Radio Shack

My wonderful husband purchased one of these lights for me, since I have been doing some night "walking". I tried the light out on New Year's Eve on our annual trek up and down Lookout Mountain. The light appeared to be great! But was disappointed when it burned out in an hour. The batteries were new - Radio Shack batteries. Will try again with another brand of batteries. Has anyone else tried this light and had better results?

Carl Jess

Subject: New Light from Radio Shack

I also bought one of these lights and tried it twice. Both times the batteries died after about 45 minutes. Both times the batteries were new batteries, fresh out of the package. The only mitigating point is that it was cold, about 10F both times. I was going to try one more time with warmer weather and see if there was any improvement. But I don't have much hope.

LED Lights

Paul Comet

Subject: Night Lighting: The MOST Efficient Lights

Want lights that knock the socks of any other type, including fluorescent?

How about double or triple the light output for the same amount of wattage?

The secret is LED's, those little thingies that bike riders use at night. They are incredibly efficient because there is no heat; all the power goes into lighting. Alternative energy folks who live "off the power grid" have done a lot with them, because they conserve battery power.

A good reference site is:

Paul Comet #2

Subject: LED Flashlights AN LED FLASHLIGHT

Somebody (Ultrarunner magazine?) asked me if I knew of an LED flashlight. I was using a friend's laptop, so I lost the email after reading it. Here is an article on that topic. It's a gizmo which replaces the head on your Maglight with an LED head. Note that the lighting power of this LED flashlight could be increased by a factor of 17, so as you approach the same power consumption as your current flashlight, the light output becomes astronomical. I don't know how much it would cost to build such a device.

Here is the article, somewhat snipped to reduce length. Note that it's 5 years old, which means that the technology has probably evolved even further.

68 Home Power #34 April / May 1993

When it comes to making light from electricity, no device made by man is more efficient than the Light Emitting Diode or LED. The LED is a semiconductor device and does not use the super hot incandescent filament employed in regular flashlight bulbs. While flashlight bulbs have lifetimes in the order of hours, LEDs will burn bright for ten continuous years or more. LEDs make light of a single pure color, in this case either red or yellow.

Delta Light LED Performance The red Delta Light measured an average power consumption of 97 milliWatts and an average current consumption of 35 milliAmperes during our testing. The yellow Delta Light measured an average power consumption of 74 milliWatts and an average current consumption of 27 milliAmperes during our testing. This data was gathered by operating the lamps over the entire voltage range of the batteries (2 to 3 VDC).

LED power consumption is between 13 and 17 times less than the power consumption of the stock incandescent bulb. This means that the batteries in the flashlight last 13 to 17 times longer before replacement or recharging. These LED replacements are not nearly as bright as the incandescents which they replace. Please don't put them in your flashlight and expect it to illuminate distant objects. While I can't see objects twenty feet away, I had no trouble with seeing within a six foot radius. The red LED in particular provides enough light to walk around at night. Since the red LED produces very pure red light, it does not spoil our night vision. The red LED is the best flashlight we have ever used inside a vehicle. It brightly illuminates the vehicle's interior without ruining the driver's night vision.

We hoped to have real battery lifetime data for this article. We started testing these LED flashlight bulbs over 3 months ago. Barry Brown put a red LED bulb into a flashlight with two freshly recharged AA nicads (500 mA.-hrs at 1.2 VDC per cell). After 96 days of regular, normal use, the nicads still have better than 60% of their power left. Barry used to go through a pair of AA nicads in about a week. We figure that it now takes him about six months to discharge the same cells. Cost for the various LED flashlight lamps runs from $8 to $9 each in lots of 10.

The Future

Consider that one of these LED lamp replacements pays for itself in twelve hours of operation (based on battery and bulb life). Consider that you will never have to change the flashlight bulb again (in normal service the LED lamp will live longer than any of us). Consider the billions of disposable batteries that will last about 15 times longer before becoming a waste disposal and environmental problem. Consider not being in the dark, in the snow, on that midnight dash to the outhouse?

Kevin Smith

Subject: LED flashlights

Rich Schick wrote:

I am a competitive trail runner and am interested in the LED flashlights, My question is would a red LED light provide adequate vision to see rocks, roots etc. on the trail at say 15 -20 feet ahead of a person running, and to pick up trail markers, typically painted flashes on trees or ribbons at 30 - 40 feet? I'm interested in the red lights because I detest the tunnel vision that loss of night vision causes. Also, what is the weight of the mesh LED vest, how well does it breathe, and what is the power source( a lot of my training is at night on roads). Lastly how do the 3 and 6 LED lights compare with the output of the better Xenon or other high output conventional 2AA flashlights. I am again interested from the standpoint of a person running at night in the woods. Would like to know an approximation of beam distance an useful flood width. I am linked with about 800 like minded folks via a listserv and this has been a hot topic of late but no solid info. I will pass any info you provide along with your web address to the list.
Below follows an inquiry I made to the commercial source I found with the greatest variety(about 40 models) of LED flashlights. They also have a vest that is studded with LED's for $49.95. Below is they're response followed by my inquiry.

The FlashLED's probably will not serve your purpose. The red LED lights are for reading in darkness, mainly used by pilots until the green LED's became available. The red LED's are currently used in a number of refineries and other facilities. The FlashLED's provide about 1.5 meters of area light. LED's have not advanced enough for your use. The vests are the same vests used by road working crews. These were developed to help stop the accidents that road workers have had with drivers not seeing the old yellow stripes that reflected a light source such as the headlights from a car.

Tico Gangulee

Subject: Lights

This light is something you HAVE to get if you're going to be on trails at night. It's the size of a quarter, puts out more light than a mag-light, comes in different colors, and lasts at least twelve hours. There's no reason not to have one, at least as a back-up. It's saved my skin repeatedly. Anyway, here's the link. I don't have any financial interest in them, but it's a product that i can see saving lives.

Joanne Lennox

Subject: Lights

I second Tico's recommendation, at least for a back up light. I used a yellow Photon II as my light source for a 5 month thru hike of the Pacific Crest TRail. I used it virtually every night and never changed the battery (the yellow bulb gives a battery life of 125 hours!!!!!). The orange bulb is equally efficient but the reddish light flattens things out, there doesn't seem to be as much depth perception. The white and blue bulbs produce a battery life of about 25 hours, but seem to produce a little brighter beam.

I have only run with mine on fairly even surfaces or on trails I already know pretty well. The only time I had a problem with the yellow Photon II on the trail, was with other people who had strong head lamps, and kept trying to help me by flashing their lamps back at me (It saturated my eyes and made seeing with the weaker PhotonII lamp more difficult). I have poor night vision, and for rough and/or unknown terrain and faster running, would probably use a somewhat brighter light.

Roy Morita

Subject: Lightwave 2000

I cannot resist. When people start talking about flashlights, I have to jump in. I love flashlights and have tried a lot of them.

A few months ago, one of the listers (he signs his name Rocke) posted a note about the light called Lightwave 2000. I immediately bought one.

What's very unique about this unit is that it uses four LEDs instead of a light bulb. The LEDs are exposed and not covered with a lens, and are guaranteed to last 11 years. They throw a while instead of yellow light.

The unit uses three AA batteries and is very light. Unlike most flashlights, the light is not focused. It looks more like a glow and somewhat resembles the light from a fluorescent tube. One thing I've found annoying with most flashlights is that oftentimes, there is a very bright spot in the center with a dark ring around it. The light from LW2000 is more even. On the other hand, if you are expecting it to be as bright as a halogen or xenon bulb, you will be disappointed. Although I found it to be bright enough to see where I'm going, it does not do a very good job if you try to spot something or focus on a distant object.

The most amazing thing about this light is how long the batteries last. I've used mine for well over 50 hours and am still using the original set of batteries that came with it. I have not noticed any dimming so far. I think this light is perfect for a long nighttime run since you do not need to worry about carrying spare batteries or bulbs.

Standard disclaimer: No financial interest. Just a happy user.

Rocke McClung

Subject: Sapphire Light

Question 2: A catalog called Absolute Amenities has something called a "Sapphire Light" for $19. From the description: "High efficiency non deteriorating solid state in a league of its own with a 180 degree viewing radius visible for over one mile. A blue Sapphire Crystal (TM) creates a revolutionary .....that the crystal and the 3-volt lithium batteries (included) are guaranteed for life."
This is a small unit, 3" X 1". Question for the flashlight gurus - is this the same technology as the Photon light? The lifetime guaranty sounds suspicious.

The Sapphire Light is essentially the same as the Photon-- a single LED powered by a small lithium battery.

LED lights seem to be in their infancy right now but they are getting better in a hurry. I wouldn't be surprised if they have a but eliminated incandescent flashlights in a couple of years.

If you are interested in LED lights check out the following web site. This fellow is a retailer and has a vested interest (I don't) so keep that in mind as you check out the FAQ's and the various lights that are available.

In the interest of full disclosure I have bought two lights from this guy and found one of them priced $10.00 less at another retailer within a week after receiving it. But that's always my luck anyway.

John Vonhof

Subject: Sapphire Light

... a catalogue has something called a "Sapphire Light" for $19. From the description: "High efficiency non deteriorating solid state light... This is a small unit, 3" X 1". Question for the flashlight gurus - is this the same technology as the Photon light? The Sapphire Light is essentially the same as the Photon-- a single LED powered by a small lithium battery.
The Sapphire light, according to the web site I checked, requires you to keep squeezing! The Photon II light is nice because it has an on/off switch, even though it is only the thickness of two quarters. I like the Photon II and think it has a place in every night runner's bag of tricks. A good emergency light. The turquoise is great for trails.

Dan Temianka#1

Subject: Photon Light

Just trail-tested my new Photon light last night. It's fantastic! Gives an astonishingly bright, soft, even glow, which supplements my Princeton Tec flashlight's uneven beam perfectly, so that depth perception on steep rocky trails is unsurpassed. The Nielsen's key ring fits almost unnoticed on my finger, ready for use by either the pressure switch or tiny stay-on switch. If you love nocturnal trail running you gotta try this! Check out their web page

Dan Simpson

Subject: Photon Light

I agree with your assessment of the Photon light. I carry both a white and a blue. The white for true depth and spot, the blue for flood. These lights are awesome at showing your presence to others at great distance, I tested them on dark country roads by placing them on a mailbox and then running away from them. Unbelievable results. You definitely can run just with these lights. They are so small and maneuverable that you can attach them to your glasses, hat visor, finger, safety vest, or clothing. Awesome lights. And I had a great email experience with technical support also.

Will Brown

Subject: Photon Light

I have a blue Nielsen light, which I tried for the first time a couple weeks ago on a long run that started before dawn. I didn't think it provided sufficient trail detail. However, the time was probably just after the start of morning nautical twilight. Has anyone else noticed that when there is a little light? Are they better in total darkness?

Aaron Leitner

Subject: Photon Light

I used the Photon at Kettle Moraine last year. I had my wife sew little pieces of velcro on to each side of the waist on my shorts, I then velcroed one on each side. As dark descended on us, I turned them on, along with my handheld flashlight.

First off, it was great from a crewing perspective, as my wife knew approx. when I would be coming into each aid-station, and when she saw three lights coming her way, she would walk towards me, and give me my supplements, thus, allowing me to walk through the aid-station. (Yep, no time).

Secondly, While in the deep of the woods, on a moonless night, I thought i would see just how well they worked on there own. I was impressed. No, it wasn't as bright as a flashlight, but, it would certainly get me through, if my handheld went out on me. That's what was nice about having it velcroed, as I could take it off, and shine it where ever I wanted to.

So Personally, any run that I do, where I anticipate some night running, I'll have two of these babies velcroed to my waist. Well, for what it was worth.

Phil Vaughn

Subject: Photon Light

A local Willamette Valley (Oregon) genius named David Allen invented his Photon light several years ago; in fact we gave away about a dozen as prizes at the McKenzie River Trail Run in 1995. I used mine as a key chain light and camping accessory. The newer Photon II, with an 'on' switch, is very versatile .... but I haven't tried running with it yet.

Ray Zirblis

Subject: Photon Light

I'm a fan of the Photon II as well. I tend to carry two of them because I am not yet sure about the battery life, and because they are so darned light that two is absolutely no problem. When I posted on this subject about eight months ago I had thought these were 'one shot' lights, but was corrected--the battery can be replaced.

I used them at the Marathon des Sables after which I gave them to some Moroccan kids. The European runners were gaga over them and I could have sold fifty easily before the race.

The Photon II isn't as bright as some lights out there and the beam doesn't extend as far or as brightly as many larger head lamps. What this means is that it may not be the light for when extensive route finding is needed. Shining the beam a hundred yards up a trail to look for the next marker is not it's best use. It is probably not the best caving or mountaineering light. But for guiding one's steps it is pretty good. If you need to 'turn night into day,' this may not be the one for you or I advise testing it out first.

I don't tend to go with bright lights anyway, and turn them off if I can get by without. Last year I did a few night runs with the blue and red models. I'd heard that these shades were less harmful to one's night vision. That seemed to be the case. I had a lot more perception outside the pool of light as well.

While I wouldn't want to be searching out trail markers hundreds of feet away with it, I was very satisfied with the pool of light cast for desert running with an huge amount of rock to avoid and it wasn't bad for forest trail use back here in Vermont..

This isn't for everyone, but if you are the kind of runner who often keeps their lights OFF, wants to trim some weight, and doesn't care to mess with complicated lights-- well, to me, remembering to get AA versus C batteries at the store is complicated, -- the Photon II may be of use. I ran with it for hours at a time, crossed washouts and (mostly) avoided camel-thorn thickets with it. It does not turn nighttime into day. But in a run or other endeavor where one absolutely must trim weight, these are the way to go, IMO. I'd also suggest that it would be nifty for early start hundreds like Vermont, where if you need a light at the start at all, it's for the first hour..

I love the lurid 'film noir' 'Alien spacecraft landing light' pool cast by the blue one. I'm sure I lost three minutes at the last aid station on the 4th day, night stage, showing it to the volunteers-- who'd been watching this strange blue glow bouncing toward them over the plateau for the previous hour. So, for what it's worth....

Right now, I can't think of a better light for just plain running or fast-packing. Very light, trustworthy, long lasting ( easier to carry a spare then to pack extra batteries for most other units). One thing I haven't thoroughly tested is how it reacts to real cold and wet. Can anyone comment on that?

Kevin Sayers

Subject: Photon Light

I've used the same blue light Photon in (3) 100 milers so far (Angles Crest, Rocky Racoon and Vermont) and have had no problems what so ever. While it doesn't throw a beam down the trail it does a nice job illuminating approx 6-8 feet. I've put it through the wash (wash/dry) and it still works. I always carry two lights but have never had to take out my spare when using the photon. It's size makes it easy to stow away in the small inside pocket of running shorts or clip it onto my water belt or one of the zippers on my Camelbak HAWG... for easy access.

Dan Temianka#2

Subject: Photon Light

You can also get little adjustable velcro wrist straps for these puppies. It would be easy to use 2 Photon lights, one on a strap and one worn like a ring using the provided eying -- has anyone tried this? Or even 3... pushes the ridiculous, but they're so small and light, and I SO MUCH don't like to crash on steep slopes, it's worth considering.

Mike Palmer

Subject: Lightwave 2000

Tim Lofton wrote:

I am considering buying the Lightwave 2000 and I missed some of the discussion some weeks ago regarding this matter. I know there was some discussion concerning the use of white or green light. I would like to solicit response on this issue and relevant background as to why one color would be better over the other.
I think the white LED's last longer than the green. I've been told the green light gives better illumination.

I use the white LED's and I'm happy with it. The light doesn't penetrate the darkness as well as a regular bulb but it illumines the space around you and there's no dead spot. It's like running at night with a bit of sunlight in your hand. I wouldn't use any other light.

If you buy a LED light you should run with it for a long time on trails to see if there is a tendency for the circuit board to lose its contact with the battery. The light will go out and you'll have to re-screw the lens or shake the light to re-establish the connection. That would happen periodically with my light and I think I've corrected it by placing a washer between the lens and the circuit board where the LED's are attached.

Mike Miller

Subject: Lightwave 2000

I've had the Lightwave 2000 about two months. Most of my runs with it have been in the 1 -2 hour range so any conclusions I have are somewhat limited. The 2000 puts out more light than my 4-bulb LED but less than my Bison. It's also the heaviest of the three, mainly because it uses three "C" cells. Construction seems to be fairly durable, the stoutest of the three. It is fairly comfortable to carry once you get used to it. The Bison has a smooth surface and it's easy to adjust your carry. The 2000 has a rougher surface and limits carry options to some extent. I've only had it out in a couple rain storms and I could see OK but not as well as with the Bison. Bottom line -- I prefer the Bison for shorter runs or conditions I need a focused beam (like fog or heavy rain), but would use the 2000 for 100s or other long races where I didn't have a lot of support or want to carry extra batteries.

Deb Reno

Subject: Trek Seven LED Flashlight

Anybody used this one? 7 LED lights in a hand-held, about the size of a normal flashlight. It has three C batteries, which seems like it might be rather heavy... also, it has the option of green light (reportedly 30% brighter, but less color retention) or white light (less bright than green, more diffuse, and better color retention)

Ed Schultze

Subject: Trek Seven LED Flashlight

I got that same light about three months ago. I like it a lot. The light seems much more pleasant, you dont feel like you are running into a tunnel. I guess the term for it is that it is diffuse. The big advantage I think is that the batteries last many times longer than with other lights. I have twice left my led in my car overnight and found out the next morning that it was on all night and it still works perfectly. In other words I have gotten about 30-40 hours from one set of bulbs! The claims made by the manufacturer are good. I also learned that baterries expand in the cold so with lights that are switched on and off by screwing the lens closer to the baterries, that when left in your car in sub freezing weather, they expand to the point of making contact and lighting the led lamps. Just a little lesson I learned.

I also remember the thread about green versus white (on this list) . So I told my wife I would like to try a green one. She got me one for a present and I do not like the green as well as the white. Just my experience and my opinion. I have a friend doing the rocky racoon and will get another opinion on this light when she gets back.

Dave Olney

I've got both the Lightwave 2000 (blue) and Trek Seven (white). The Trek Seven is much brighter, but much heavier. The Lightwave 2000 isn't that bright (at least the blue light isn't as bright as a Minimag), but the light weight and long burn time make it a good choice for a backup light.

At Rocky Racoon I used the Trek Seven for several hours but ended up switching to a non-LED light just for the convenience (lighter, smaller, easier to grip, brighter.)

For my money, the best light around is the Mini-Q 40, a scuba diving light with traditional filament bulb and 4 AA batteries. Just a wee bit heavier than a Minimag or Lightwave 2000, but WAYYYYYY BRIGHTER. The bulb won't last forever, like the LED lights, but you can get through the night with one battery change. (Rather than change batteries, I bought 4 Mini-Q 40s--am I a fanatic or what?)

Whichever flashlight you decide on, never have JUST ONE with you. Take a tip from your Uncle Lar: always carry a backup.

I found to be a good resource on flashlights.

Blade Norman

It is an overstatement of the facts to iterate "LED bulbs don't burn out". It is true that they are much more reliable and have a longer "burn life" than incandecent bulbs, but they are not perfect and can fail for a variety of reasons. All the more reason to carry a backup light, as you suggest.

Matt Mahoney#2

LED bulbs last 11 years if you leave the light on 24 hours every day, and if one does burn out there are 3 more. The chances of a burnt out bulb ever being a problem are a lot less than tripping and dropping your light on the narrow Bear Creek trail at Hardrock and having it tumble straight down into the canyon. You'll be able to tell how far down it is by counting 1000 feet per second (the speed of sound) from the time you see the light go out until you hear the faint "crack" as it hits the rocks below, unseen in total darkness. Now aren't you glad you brought a spare light?

LED Headlamps

Geoffrey Baker

Subject: LED Headlamp

I recently bought a 4 white LED headlamp ( and have come to really like it. Though not bright by conventionaly standards, it's just enough light to run by and it is very light and waterproof. It preserves your night vision. The light is very diffuse, like a moon beam. I've been using it each morning (5:00 a.m.) for an hour for the last 3 weeks and the batteries are still going strong (3xAA).

I would guess that a 7 LED would be quite brighter, but don't expect the light to be the same as a regular flashlight.

John Wood

We did our training run in Brooksville, FL last night and got an opportunity to try out various lights. I had just purchased a Petzel 3 LED headband light and was anxious to try it out. Well I'm sorry to say that it will not be 100 % suitable for me. The light is white in color, but not real intense. I had to supplement with a small hand held flashlight the entire way to spot the tricky rocks and roots. The LED light gives you the feeling of running under a full moon, which we all know is not good enough on trails. It works fine on the roads and when you are walking. The big plus for this light is its size (uses 3 AAA batteries) and burns for 11 hours. Four hours into our run, my incandescent lights had depleted the batteries and I was glad to have the Petzel LED. You need some light to change batteries (on your other flashlights)when it is pitch black. I will definitely be wearing this unit as a back up in my next 100.

Slightly Humorous

Rich Lacey

Subject: How Many Ultrarunners Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

  1. Ultrarunners are too busy training to change light bulbs. (Comment: Misses the point about changing bulbs on a dark trail.)

  2. Real ultrarunners don't need flashlights. They finish before dark. (Comment: Isn't very funny, and there's no spin on it.)

  3. Ultrarunners who've learned the hard way don't change bulbs -- they change flashlights. (Comment: words of wisdom!...but how do we make it funny, too?)

  4. Real ultrarunners don't use flashlights: They use L.E.D's! (Comment: I liked this one because it's so arcane. Only an ultrarunner would think of it.)

  5. Ultrarunners do it in the dark. (Good try! A little trite, tho)

My own answer combines #2 and # 5: None. Ultrarunners get in before it gets dark.

As I recall, the line in the movie "My Favorite Year" went: "Death is easy. Comedy is hard."