Written by Simon James - http://mountaingoattrails.blogspot.fr
Never heard of Suprabeam? Always used a Petzl? That’s basically where my reality was so I thought I ‘d try out the latest bit of kit from Suprabeam, a technical head lamp made in Denmark.
A head torch is an essential bit of kit for all outdoor activities. As a mountaineer and ultrarunner my kit definitely gets put to the test. My head torch’s performance is of paramount importance whether it be running rough mountain trails at night or climbing through an icefall, in can be the difference between making it and not. Weight, durability, brightness, ease of use, cost, comfort and stability are all key factors when deciding which head torch to buy. Fortunately, head torches have come a long way since I bought my first one back in the 1990s for my Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award! No more spare bulbs alongside the copious amounts of batteries. I hope my review puts some light (cheesy pun intended) on this product.
First impressions, great packaging, bit like the same you get when you are opening up an Apple product which is definitely both pleasing and a great way to add to the feel of a quality product. The next thing to notice is that nothing is made of plastic, the aluminium definitely enhances the quality feel and makes you think you’re handling a bit of kit more at home on a scientific expedition or in special ops. It’s super light at just 140g and has a few adjustable elements such as the overhead loop that make it fit comfortably. Another handy bit is the additional element to charge batteries in situ.
Having recently embarked on my Mountain Leader Award I decided to take it along to one of the training week’s in Snowdonia in May. Micro night navigation is a key element and I thought I’d take the risk and see what this torch could do. It was 10.30pm, pitch black, raining and in low cloud, visibility was about as bad as it gets. The terrain was boggy and everyone was pretty tired and not wanting to get lost.
The technical data:
Brightness: 250 lumens
Battery: Up to 30hrs usage time
Batteries: 3xAAA (rechargeable if you prefer)
Materials: Hi-Tech Compound, High Strength Aluminium
Switch: Metal button below head
Light control: Boost, Dimmer with Memory and SOS
Beam: Hyperfocus™ by head sliding
Effectiveness in the dark: (5/5)
Wow! Out of a group of 14 people mine definitely out shone the rest, by a long shot. So much so that I was generally followed by the whole team in the end as the other torches were no match. The conditions were awful, but the cone of light that this tiny bit of kit produced was truly stunning. It was so bright I used the dimmer memory function every time to read my map so I didn’t get blinded. The dimmer provides a scale of 15-150 lumens by depressing the button until you get the right level. The memory was very useful for quick changes between the settings. The flashing light is preset to international emergency, which is also useful but fortunately not required on my outing! The 85 degree adjustable beam direction was also very easy to use and held itself in position well. The spot vs flood light is easy to use by pulling at the lens end of the torch, the spot is intense! By the end of the few hours of night nav, everyone wanted to buy one for themselves!
Very comfortable, light-weight bit of kit. You can add the additional overhead strap for extra stability and comfort. The battery pack at the back balances out the torch at the front nicely. There are some torches lighter but not for this brightness.
It’s a work of art really, the aluminium feel and neatness of the torch is great. Even the little carry pouch is very cool.
No problems so far and it appears very robustly built. The battery pack is nicely sealed and was put through it’s paces when I tested it. Only downside is that the on/off button can be easily switched on if you are not careful when you store it in your bag or pocket, hence not a higher score although you can detach the cable from the LED unit when storing.
Running suitability: (4/5)
An excellent bit of kit, light-weight, comfortable, stable and super bright with good battery life.
Conclusion: Definitely one of the brightest head torches out there and great value for money at just under £40 - it has to be the best in its class. It also comes with a 5 year warranty compared to Petzl's 3 years. The only downside was was the on/off button being easily activated inadvertently, but it’s outstanding in every other area. You will be the envy of your friends, they will want one, just like mine did!