The perfect headlamp for running and hiking thanks to its winning combination of light output, light weight and battery life.
Light yet durable
Waterproof to IPX5
Big, easy-to-use on/off button
Long battery life
Slightly uncomfy, one-sided padding on forehead
Quite a high price
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Silva Trail Runner Free H: first impressions
The Silva Trail Runner Free H is one of our favorite running headlamp because, at 113g / 4oz, it’s light enough to sling in your pack just in case things don’t go to plan, yet kicks out enough light (max 400 lumens for max 2.5 hours) to be useful on testing mountain terrain.
The H stands for Hybrid – it has a rechargeable battery interchangeable with three AAAs, making it doubly useful if you want to take or buy spares on a long race or remote trip. The cable to the battery pack is cleverly encased within the headband so there are no wires to catch around the head. Plus, there’s a neat red light or strobe in the back, button-accessed within the battery pack housing, great for staying visible on dark roads.
The Trail Runner Free H also benefits from Silva’s Intelligent Lighting system: a flood light combined with a longer, more diffused spot light in one beam so you can see the terrain under your feet and surrounding features for navigating. The only minor downside is the padding behind the lamp is only on one side, so it’s not quite as comfy as previous incarnations of this head torch. It’s still hard to beat though and definitely one of the best headlamps on test.
• RRP: $120 (US) / £100 (UK)
• Weight (incl battery): 113g / 4oz
• Max light output: 400 lumens
• Average run time: (Low) 12 hours / (High) 2.5 hours
• Max beam distance: 80m / 262ft
• Water resistance: IPX5 (Waterproof)
Silva Trail Runner Free H: on the trails
Although initially we were a little surprised at the one-sided padding behind the lamp in this head torch, its light weight, brightness and battery life do mean that we frequently reach for this over others for a short, nighttime trail running sessions.
It may be slightly less comfy on a bare forehead than previous incarnations of the Trail Runner range but the high-quality 400 lumen brightness, packability and 2.5 hour run time makes it well worth it.
We also found that the Silva light was more golden in hue, more like sunlight, which made the nighttime world seem more colorful and seemed to yield a greater depth of field than head torches with a blue light.
Having used it in anger on a very wet, windy night where we most definitely did not want to get the navigation wrong, we even found the 200 lumen setting to be perfectly good enough to find stiles across windswept, muddy fields and tracks on a new night-run from Belton-in-Rutland, East Midlands.
It’s equally at home scrambling over Peak District gritstone, lighting up hand and footholds as quick as you can move across them. Versatile, light, bright and long-lasting; a winning combination.
The co-founder and former editor of Trail Running magazine, Claire now runs the YouTube channel Wild Ginger Running, creating films packed with trail- and ultra-running content. An award-winning journalist, writing for outdoor and adventure sports magazines and websites, her first book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running 5k to 50k is out in January 2021. Claire also speaks and presents at events and races.
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