Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Alpkit Gamma headtorch review

Long runs take up a lot of time.  With a young family it can be difficult to fit them in without some early starts.  During the winter that means getting out before the sun comes up.  This makes a headtorch essential.  I use the Alpkit Gamma.  At £15 it is one of the cheapest offerings available and, for a number of reasons, I think it makes a very good choice for a runner.

I’ve known about Alpkit for a while, I have one of their bouldering mats and a few other bits of kit.  I suspect for many though that Alpkit may well have slipped under the radar.  Their product range consists of camping, climbing and biking kit and is designed and produced by people with a love of the mountains and a desire to produce no nonsense gear that will stand up to the rigours of anything from an extreme expedition to a summer camping trip with the kids.  What really stands out though is that, for all its great quality, the cost is usually well below what you would expect elsewhere.  This appears to be achieved by a largely internet based sales and distribution model and short production runs which can sometimes mean a wait for some products to come into stock. Those in the know get on the mailing list and order early to avoid disappointment!

So on to the torch.  The Gamma has a single large LED and three smaller ones at the front, plus a red LED strip mounted to the rear on the battery pack.  The main LED is 1W and its output is stated as 88 Lumens.  This is more than adequate for lighting up the road or trail ahead.   In addition the front light can be angled which is useful for a variety of terrain.  I tend to point the light well ahead on the road and just in front of my feet when running off road.

The three small LEDs are white, red and green, respectively.  The white one is perfect for reading your book outside the tent.  The red is intended to allow night vision to be retained while giving some illumination and the green apparently aids map reading (green shows up the red contours whereas red makes them disappear).

A single button on the front controls all the functions for these lights; pressing and holding the button switches between the large and small LEDs, pressing repeatedly switches function.  For the large LED you get a choice of full power, low power and flashing; with the small LEDs you can select each colour in turn, plus there is a red flashing option.  The same button switches the torch off. 

At the back of the torch is the battery compartment, which takes two AAA batteries.  This leads me to my only real gripe with the Gamma.  Alpkit do not advise using anything other than Alkaline batteries.  This is apparently due to lithium batteries operating at a higher temperature which can damage the circuitry.

The torch is rated as water resistant and I’ve been out in some pretty awful weather and never had a problem with it on that count.
Finally, on the battery compartment is a red LED, which is operated by a button in the same way as the front unit; one click for a steady light, another for a flashing one. I tend to set this to flashing if I’m on the road just to let people know I’m there.  

That's it really.  A good bit of kit at an excellent price and equally at home camping, walking the dog or running trails in the early hours.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. Just got one of these and agree that it's a great value piece of kit.