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Monthly Archives: October 2020

Head Torches, What kind to get and why

Its that time of year again. The nights drawing in, clocks going back, scrambling around to find the head torch you haven’t used since last winter. Only to find it ran out of battery a long time ago. Maybe its time for a new one? Well with a plethora of different models, designs and styles all boasting different lumens and burn times how do you know which is right for you? We have tried to put together a little guide that will hopefully de-mask the confusion of getting a new head torch.

The first question you need to ask yourself is what am I using it for. This for us breaks down into the two categories, being seen or seeing.

Being Seen

  • Commuting
  • Road Running
  • Non-Technical trails

These types of runs don’t always require a huge amount of light. If you just want to be seen when running on the pavement a hi-vis vest might do just the trick. However, if you are road running on unlit areas where you need a touch more light the Petzl Bindi, really comes into its own. Its lightweight and compact design still packs enough punch to light your way. Weighing only 35g and pushing out 200 lumens. It’s great for sticking in a commuting bag as a just in case or for dark evening runs that’s just pushing it a little too much without one.

Seeing

  • Off-Road, Trail and Fell Running
  • Technical Terrain
  • Long Night Time Adventures

Heading off-road? well, this is where it gets a little more confusing, so here come a few more questions.

  • What sort of terrain are you planning on running on?
  • How long are you going to be out for?

Brightness:

Depending on the terrain you are heading for can affect the amount of light you might need. A good guide to follow, the more technical of the terrain the more light you need. This is where Lumens* can be miss leading. As a torch with a white light may seem brighter than that of a yellow-tinted light. However, having a lower lumen count. This is where it can get confusing with different opinions. Personally, I think you can never have too much light. But others are happy with 200-lumen head torches. Here at Accelerate, we have a range from Petzl and Silva that cover a lot of different brightnesses. Starting at the Silva Trail Runner Free H with 400lm but a very white light all the way up to the Petzl Swift RL that has a whopping 900lm, my personal favourite.

Battery Life:

If you are never out for more than a few hours the battery life of your touch won’t be too much of a worry. But if you are into longer nighttime adventures that are hour on hour the life of your torch is much more of a concern. No one wants to be stuck on the side of a dark hillside with no lights. The Petzl Nao+ Head Lamp or the Silva Trail Runner Free Ultra are both great examples of torches that can go all through the night and still have power left over in the morning. Their only downside is the battery pack on the back of your head that increases the weight.

Hopefully, we have managed to spread some light on what head torch you need but if you are still unsure as to what you need either give the store and call or pop in and we are more than happy to chat you through what you might need.

To see our full range of head torches follow the like here >>

*Lumens = Light Output. In simple terms, Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a light source. The higher the lumen rating the “brighter” the torch will appear.

Time to ‘Layer-Up’ & Stay Warm

Say what you like, for me there is nothing much worse than being cold.  Wet and cold is so much worse and if you are out in the hills for a long run-out then this is potentially life threatening.  A slightly different story on the streets of the city, yet the same wet and cold problem can still be relevant.  So what to do?

“Layer up! That’s the key”.

Finding what works for you is key. Not being afraid to invest in some really decent kit can also make all the difference too. Not just to you yet also to the environment as kit will last longer and has the potential to be made with less waste. In addition good quality base and mid layers can be used beyond winter – in the summer too.  Now that has to be a good thing.

A Layering System
Think ‘Angel Cake’ – base, middle and top layers.
The key for me is breath-ability of the clothing I wear, whilst offering insulation. I hate being cold! I also find that if my clothing gets too wet then I get cold. So I actually avoid waterproof jackets because of their less than adequate breath-ability. So where to start…

  1. The Base Layer
    Or sometimes referred to as the ‘Next-to-Skin’ layer – NTS. Yes, I want it all. Insulation, quick drying and breathable. Most of all I want warmth even when a little damp from my own perspiration. So I look for a micro-fiber tee or longsleeve that offers a degree of insulation and breath-ability.  Micro-fibres are better at moving moisture away from the skin. They are also less likely to hang onto any moisture, drying fairly quickly. They are versatile as they can be woven into ‘Grids’ of insulation (pictured below, right). Small squares of tightly knit fibers which are then linked together by more open and breathable channels of fiber. A blend of insulation and breath-ability, coupled with wicking and quick drying.
    Other options include a tighter woven fabric made from microfibres and for some merino wool ticks the box.
    I often find a short sleeve NTS, with a long sleeve version of the same worn over the top can work extremely well.
  2. The Mid Layer
    So the temperature is dropping below 2-3°C and perhaps there is a cooling breeze out on your run. This is the point many will pop a waterproof on.  Noooooo, you’ve just created a sweat-bath for yourself. Add another wicking, warmer layer instead.  Save that jacket for when you really need it. Here a heavier warm layer can work very well. Can help block the cooling breeze and simply provides more insulation, therefore warmth. Larger, thicker ‘Grids’ can work well, as can tops with varying panels of different fabrics that allow for greater breath-ability in high sweat areas and improved insulation in other areas.
  3. Outer Layer.
    This is very much about keeping the weather off you. Windproofs and waterproofs are designed to do this.
    Unless it is raining stick to the windproof. They are more breathable and most definitely dry exceedingly quickly. They also preserve the life of that more expensive waterproof as you will not be wearing it as much. Waterproof jackets (*See note below) are not designed for daily running use. All that movement breaks the membranes down that are designed to protect you – now that is expensive.
    The amount of times I hear of people complaining their waterproof only lasted a couple of years – then they refuse to buy a windproof… My waterproof jacket is seven years old and going strong. My windproof even older and is still like new. Now, that gets hammered!
  4. The Icing on the Cake.
    Yes, there is one, arguable it is a bit of a treat. Yet, if you are a daily runner, especially at higher or more remote locations then the icing can be very tempting.
    So called, Soft Shells. Super nice midlayers that are just marvelous to wear or jackets that blend a windproof panel or two with insulation (pictured in use, left).
    Yes, you will pay a little more for these yet they can be well worth it.
    They tend to last for quite sometime if cared for and can offer that middle ground many seek. Those that have them, swear by them, and generally find they end up with more than one. For high mountain use I personally find they are extremely good, especially when the conditions call for it. Plus,they make for a brilliant spare layer to be carried, for when the need arises. I probably have more of the warmer variety, collected over the years, and just the one windproof combo. That probably says more about me than the jackets!

Clearly in all of this there is going to be a lot of mixing and matching to get the combo right for that days run. On many occasions it will not matter too much if you get it wrong – yet it is always better to be warm than cold – especially on the trails and hills around Sheffield. NTS layers often make for good summer tee’s and they don’t have to be body hugging to be effective – thank goodness.  Planning your running wardrobe carefully can in the long run prove to be more cost effective than just buying random cheap gear.

With all that said, be warned, due to the pandemic quite a lot of the clothing we currently have available, is it. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We have been told there are no restocks available and we are already running out of our winter allocation of clothing.

Oh yes and if you fancy baking your own 3-Layer Angel Cake then follow this link for some direction from Baking with Granny >> 

Some of my favorite winter clothing is as follows:
“For base layers and tee’s I can wear all year I use Patagonia Capilene tops a fair amount.  The same applies to their mid weight range.  I really like Patagonia’s environmental approach to making clothing.  I think that their mid weight tops are also worth exploring as is the Scott Trail Run Long Sleeve top…The ‘Grid’ picture above is from this top.
New kids on the block, Dynafit, also look like they will fit the bill.  One to try when I next need a top.
When it comes to windproofs I am a big fan of the Patagonia Houdini. It packs small and into the pocket of their shorts for a starter.  It just works and I have had mine for around 9 years.
I also have the Patagonia Peak Mission soft shell, It’s excellent although a little pricey. The new Dynafit Alpine Jacket has already received some very favourable comments and is better priced.  For a cosy warm mid layer I am at the moment trying the Dynafit Radical Jacket.  So far so good. This is the most up to date and available warm hoody I have.”

*Please Note: Waterproof Jackets are made from delicate membranes and designed to be worn when it is wet.  The downside to this is that they are fairly delicate and despite everyone’s best efforts are not as hard wearing as we would like. They are light weight and consequently best avoided for everyday use. Hence, the suggestion of a windproof and to preserve the life of your waterproof.

 

Accelerate Lifestyle Limited

Accelerate UK: Sheffield and the Peak's Largest dedicated Running Store Road Running, Fell and Trail, along with Adventure Racing are all covered in store. A wide choice of product is backed up with an unprecedented level of experience and running knowledge. At Accelerate we love our running, we would suggest it shows.