Friday, 29 March 2013

Silva Runner Headtorch

What you get for yer money

The Silva Runner. That’s £160 of headtorch.
What the heck? How can a torch command a price that high?! More to the point, how can something that is used for fellrunning, such a completely down to earth and non-poncified sport, command such a ridiculous amount of cash?
More to the point, is it any good?

I’ve had one of these in my possession for a few months now, when I first got my grubby little mitts on it, I have to say I was quite impressed. The light unit itself is tiny and improbably light. The battery pack is quite heavy, but not ludicrously so, and the band that goes around your head is a decent width, and is siliconised around the inside.
The big green button
The light unit has a mahoosive green button on the side which is very easy to hit even with crazy begloved or
bemittened fingers. There are 3 settings, so no nonsense here.
Ridiculously bright. Crazy bright. Very bright. Off.
Ok, that’s 4 settings but “off” isn’t really a setting.
Siliconised headband
The unit is easy to use and pumps out an astonishing amount of light.
Ok, ok, so at its brightest, you’ll only get about an hour out of it, but if you really need that amount of light, then you should probably be running in the daylight, or have another torch.
I found that for just normal running the second brightest setting is perfectly fine, and for sections where you really want to blast down a rocky trail with no hesitation, pull out all the stops and use all 550lumens.

The lowest setting, a mere 90lumen is still bright enough for generic walking and running at a decent clip, but is still dim enough to not completely blind your fellow runners as you stand around nattering, or dazzle you as you contemplate your next move on the map.
Speaking of mapwork, my other half was out using this on a navigation course the other day and half way round realised that there was a person either side of her using the generic pool of light created by the “intelligent light” system, without really using their torches at all. Apparently she “didn’t realise she was wearing a car headlight on her head”.
The connector from battery to headlamp

On the subject of “intelligent light”, as I mentioned in my review of the Trailrunner plus, the system really is quite intelligent, and works well. Although difficult to explain and show in a shop, once out on the trail it really makes sense.
The idea is that the light isn’t just confined to either a beam or a generic flood, but uses the lighting to the effect that it has both at the same time. Ok, so you don’t get a beam that goes 500metres, but you really don’t need that.
What you do get is excellent light going forward when you are about to be, and very good light down where your feet are landing right now, without moving your head.
That’s pretty intelligent lighting.

There are a couple of minor issues I can forsee with this torch. The first is getting addicted to this amount of light when out on the hill. Especially dangerous when you are out for a long one, leave it on “ridiculous mode” for too long and then, oh… not much light at all. No changing of batteries here. You’ll have to recharge it plugged into a wall, or carry a spare battery. Hmm. Bit of an issue.
Battery velcro wrap thing. 
Simple answer. Carry a small spare torch, or regulate your lighting, or speed up.

The second issue occurred on an exercise at night with some Mountain Rescue Chaps. Occasionally the lighting unit would get knocked and would come off the elastic, so it was only attached on one side… cue a load of faffing and swearing as I attempted to get it back on again. Ok, its not really for use as a Mountain Rescue headtorch, but it’s worth mentioning.

I have to say that I really like the integral Velcro wrap thing on the battery which means that you can attach it around pretty much anything. It comes with an extension cable so that you don’t have to wear the battery pack on your head. It is a *little* heavy on the head, so if you can stick it in a pocket, or around a bumbag strap or something, that’s a weight off your mind – as it were.

Lightweight. And sticks to your head.  
Is it worth £160? Well. Silva clearly think it is. I’m very happy with it, and as a specific bit of kit for walking and running, its brilliant. Top of the tree. Considering that lights for bikes go up into the many hundreds of pounds, yes, it probably is. Also, the fact that it can be bought for somewhere around the £120-£130 price bracket means that it is going head to head with the Petzl Nao.

If you’re going out and bumbling around in the dark, it may be above your needs, and indeed your price bracket, but if you want something that is light, kicks out a crazy amount of light and don’t really care about the price, this is your light.
If you’re looking for a hyper bright light for running that isn’t too complex in it’s functions and lasts long
enough for an hour or 2, This is your light.
If you want a light that lasts all night, this will also do that, but it might be an idea to get a new battery as well.
Don’t just stand there, if you have the cash in your pocket and a burning desire to head out fast on the hill, go out and buy it. 

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Shut up and do it

Recently I've been in the interesting position of watching other people. Watching them and making sure that I do not become like them.

I've been observing the excuse makers. Those who are, as a particular friend says "all fur coat and nay trews".

You know the kind. Those with the grand ideas, or even the little ideas, who somehow lack the conviction to do anything about it. Those that talk the big talk, the ones who are going to go out, change the world, get up early, climb a new route, have a long day on the hill, quit their job, or just lift a weight above their heads.

If I say I'm going to do something, I do it. The run gets done. The Gym gets a visit. The alarm gets set, and doesn't get snoozed. At the moment, it just seems like I'm getting more and more annoyed about others that just don't have the conviction to follow through on stuff that they apparently WANT to do.
So annoyed that I think I'm just going to have to ignore them.

Its like this. You go on a trip with a load of "like minded people", you'd imagine there might be a large proportion of them ready for a long walk, a run, an adventure or something along those lines.... yet, somehow, many people make excuses as to why they won't be able to do it. Any excuse, any reason, anything to explain why they are too lazy and dilletante to get off their bums and go out to do things.
And these are people who call themselves motivated outdoors people.

You are lazy self serving slackers with a penchant for expensive gear as a way to justify to yourself that you will use it to the full, where as in fact it will be used for bumbling around a town, or sitting down in the park, basking the glory of a logo that adorns the garments of people you aspire to be like. Unfortunately, that is as close as you are going to get.

Those people who actually USE this gear have something you lack.
Yes, ability. But more than that, Conviction and motivation.
No matter the weather, no matter their state of mind - they have the strength of will and of mind to not sit at the bottom of a hill, drinking cappuccinos and eating vast amounts of crap, but to follow up on what they say they are going to do.
They don't sit around and wait for someone to suggest going for a cream tea as an alternative to an epic adventure, they get out there, and they damn well do it.

Alpine starts aren't just for alpinists, they are for the committed, they are for those who like to make the best of the day, they are for people that don't want to waste away precious days that could be had in the hills, the mountains, and with friends.

Stop talking about doing things. It accomplishes nothing.
Get out there. Plan it. Do it.

The only things stopping you are the barriers that you place in front of yourself.
Stop making excuses.