Spider’s eyes. That’s how you tell a good beam from a half-arsed one. Forget lumens, just count the number of eyes that stare back at you like lost diamonds in the dust when you’re running on a trail through the dark with your headtorch on, and check out how far away you can see them from.
If you subscribe to my theory (at least try it – those mystery moving gems really are eight-legged beasts you know), and have even a hint of arachnophobia, then these Ay Ups are not for you. They are the ultimate incy wincy spotters and you’ll never leave the house again once you realise how many walk among us.
For those who like to pretend they understand the more technical talk, each one of these double-barrel lightsets outputs over 400 Lumen (7500-8000 lux at 1 metre) when on full-blaze mode. They utilise CREE X Lamp high-powered LEDs, set in cool white tint, and offer narrow, intermediate and medium beam angles.
All I know is that when I first started using them, cars started flashing me on remote roads, thinking I was a vehicle in the distance high-beaming them.
The advantage of the double barrel set up is that each light can move independently of the other, like a chameleon’s eyes, which really betters the Cyclops-like design of virtually every other headtorch on the market. It means you can have one angled towards your feet and the other pointing mid-distance at the upcoming trail.
Anyone that’s done any night mountain biking will tell you how much of an advantage having two sets of lights gives you when in motion on technical terrain. On a bike you go the twin helmet-and-handlebars approach in order to reveal undulations that are flattened by a single beam, and this is the nearest equivalent for runners.
The pay-off for the extra power is that a separate battery unit is unavoidable. I initially thought that the battery unit would bounce around all over the place when running, annoying the bejaysus out of me, but the supplied headstrap in this kit keeps things a lot more static than you’d think. (Although the instructions and amount of stuff that comes with it all seems a bit unnecessarily complicated).
Available in two sizes (mega and half-mega) the stats quoted here relate to the smaller battery unit – because only a damn fool would entertain running with the big bugger.
The rechargeable lithium batteries can be re-juiced 500 times or more. They are encased in a watertight, tough plastic container, measuring 68mm x 38mm x 20mm, and weigh in at 80 grams. Fully sealed and waterproof to a depth of five metres, you can run through rivers in this rig, if that’s your bag. The lights themselves are practically indestructible (Ay Up say: ‘You break it…we want it back’). You can recharge them in your car on the way to the trails (via a 12v adapter that’s provided) or at home with 110-240v adapter. They will be fully recharged within 3 hours. Burn time on high beam is 3 hours, on low it’s 6 hours, and, like a dodgy bloke in a dirty mac washing Viagra down with Red Bull, they can pretty much flash all night (at least 12 hours).
Once warning: once you’ve got a set of these bad boys, there’s no longer any excuse to fit a run in, no matter what time of day it is. Dark is the night no more.