Every runner should own a headlamp, whether it be for safety purposes or out of necessity. Especially in the winter months where sunlight is tough to come by, headlamps offer a source of protection as vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists can spot you from a distance.
The latest electronic gadget that’s come through the office is the Sprinter Rechargeable Headlamp by Black Diamond. The Sprinter is unique in that it has dual lights, one in the front, understandably, and one in the back, with various modes and levels of brightness. The Sprinter is specifically geared towards and has most features that one would need.
Battery and brightness
Out of the box, the instruction manual is pretty daunting but the visuals are particularly helpful in learning the ins and outs of this headlamp’s features. The Black Diamond product offers 200 lm (a measurement of light) on the highest level of brightness which can last up to four hours, which isn’t amazing for all-day hikes but enough for most runs, and the beam is advertised as extending up to 50m.
On minimum brightness, 4 lm, the battery lasts 42 hours and the distance extends 7m. Really, the lowest setting is only appropriate to be seen by others in a city setting, from a car on a busy street at night for example. The lower settings are not bright enough to adequately light up a large area in front of you. That said, maximum brightness will likely get you angry stares from pedestrians (as it did in one instance in our experience) but is essential for the trails or on unlit roads and pathways.
Afraid to use max brightness? The battery is USB rechargeable. The downside? It takes four to five hours to fully recharge. But, that’s better than needing to buy a new battery altogether. You’ll know when to charge the Sprinter as there is a battery status light on the back light casing indicating green (50 per cent or more), orange (25 to 50 per cent) or red (less than 25 per cent).
The exact lamp brightness can be adjusted by holding the front unit’s primary button, more customization than any presets. A quick ‘power tap’, as Black Diamond calls it, engages full brightness with a – you guessed it – tap of the light bulb button (which can be seen in the above photo). This is useful in transitioning from brighter to pitch-black areas or in a darker vehicle intersection.
Lastly, the USB port is protected by a thin piece of rubber, which, if it comes loose, could be damaged in winter and rainy conditions. The Sprinter Headlamp advertises waterproof to 1m.
Hot and cold
Though we didn’t test the headlamp in such conditions, the Sprinter may not function properly in temperatures above 43 C and below – 17 C, the latter of which is particularly relevant for Canada’s winter months.
Next, an important consideration is weight. The Sprinter – which is a tier below the Black Diamond Icon, the heaviest duty of headlamps with 500 lumens potential – weighs 105 g, the bulk of which is in the back relative to the front because the battery is stored in the back light. The front-facing lamp is about the size of bottle cap. The battery connects to the front lamp through a flexible wire. Don’t worry, the wiring is a non-issue – it won’t rub or flap around and it adjusts with the head strap – when wearing the Sprinter. A pro tip: wear a headband or hat underneath the headlamp to reduce the chance of unwanted forehead marks.
Back and front light features
The two lights can be independent of each other (if you so choose as the default setting works in sync). In other words, the front-facing lamp can be activated with the back light off, to save battery or for any other personal preference. And vice versa. However, there’s no option to ditch the back light entirely (remove it) as that’s where the power source is located. Personally, I’ve only ever used headlamps with a front unit so removing the back was a temptation at first. What you can remove however are the lights and pack for washing purposes. (The strap can get sweaty, and stinky, like anything.) A second back-to-front strap is also option for additional support.
For travellers, the Sprinter has a lock function so no lights will accidentally engage when packed away in luggage. Simply hold the front lamp’s main button for four seconds. To unlock, repeat holding for four seconds.
The Sprinter Headlamp retails for US$79.95, or approximately CAD$105 by Dec. 7 currency conversions.
In short, the Sprinter Headlamp is a great option for a mid-tier headlamp that most notably features a rechargeable, but not a long-lasting, battery. We found the extent of the brightness to be less than 50m at full strength – probably because the light sprays more than it beams narrowly – but the headlamp was tested in light-polluted Toronto, so keep that in mind. The weight is a big asset and the price is reasonable.