The new Unilite Neon Sport-H1 Head Torch (RRP £27.50) has just landed on my doormat, so let’s see what it can do!
Firstly the spec… This new model comes in a choice of 4 colours so depending what takes your fancy you can opt for Neon Green, Yellow, Pink or Blue. I’m a simple kinda guy so I went for the more understated Blue option. #TeamNeonBlue
The Neon Sport-H1 offers a maximum 175 lumens light output and is powered by 1 AA battery which is ideal as I appear to have a vast surplus of AA rechargeable batteries in my ‘man drawer’!
Documented battery life varies depending on which mode is being used and there are 3 main beam strengths on offer. The full strength 175 lumens setting should give a 70m beam and a run time of 5.5 hours. The medium 65 lumens setting cuts the beam distance in half to 35m but extends battery life to 9.5 hours. The most economical setting cuts light strength down to 20 lumens and 15m visibility but lasts up to 11 hours.
As well as the main light settings, the Neon Sport-H1 also offers 20 hours of SOS light signals, 38 hours from the 2 front facing red LEDs at 20 lumens (1m reach) and 75 hours when using the ‘red strobe’ 2Hz LED option.
The various modes are selected via a soft touch button at the top of the torch unit. Modes are cycled through in order on each press of the button as long as the next press is within 3 seconds. When left in a particular mode for longer than 3 seconds, the next press will turn the unit off.
Unilite by name, Unilite by nature! This thing is small and light, weighing only 73g with the battery installed!
Other features of note include an easy to use 45 degree tilt-able head with 5 incremental steps and an IPX6 rating for Water Resistance, which is excellent for the money compared to other torches in this category. The battery compartment does contain a thin rubber seal but how this protects the internal components would require some real life testing to judge properly. A silicone coated, adjustable headband is also present to provide the best possible grip.
Time to put this headlight though its paces! The Neon Sport is very much in the entry level price bracket and would be up against the likes of the Petzl Tikka 200L which offers a slightly higher maximum 200 Lumens, 80m reach, 3 similar light output options and 3x AAA battery power, but the Petzl offers a lesser IPX4 grade water resistance for around £29.99.
First impressions of the Sport-H1 were pretty good really. Easy to cycle through light functions on the move once you’ve remembered the order of the various options! The adjustable silicone headband also does a good job of keeping the torch in place even during vigorous running.
I quickly came to realise however that for solo night running in the pitch darkness, the full strength 175 Lumen option is the one you’ll be wanting to use. Plenty enough light to see the ground at your feet and a few metres in front. Mode 2 and 3 (65 lumen/20 lumen) might be useful if you need to save battery life on a group run where several head torches are working together to provide light, but I’d mainly use them when running on a street lit route to make yourself stand out to traffic etc. It should be noted that the lumen output is better than that of the 3 settings offered by another popular entry level head torch, the Alpkit Viper 2 (160L/51L/6L).
As discussed briefly above, the head torch tilts from horizontal in 5 stages down to 45 degrees. In terms of running I found the horizontal setting was of no real use at all as the beam is quite narrow and does not light up anywhere near where you will be placing your feet. I found the optimal setting is probably No.3, the middle setting. This lights up just in front of foot placement and the beam provides a good overview of the forthcoming ground as well as surroundings to the left and right. The last setting of 45 degrees would be better when walking, but when running at speed it doesn’t give you enough time to react to the ground ahead.
Needing a head torch for Kielder Night Skies 14 next March, I’d be more than happy that the Neon Sport would get me around safely in terms of performance and battery life, my worry would be how it would perform under heavy rain? The IPX6 rating should be more than enough to stand up to any heavy downpour and provides 2 levels higher protection than the similarly priced Petzl Tikka.
I was comfortable running in complete darkness with this torch and the settings available will suit a number of different scenarios, including non-running situations like home use, night-time or early morning dog walks etc.
It’s a great entry level head torch for the price and is recommended for those new to night running. More advanced night trail runners will undoubtedly want to spend more money on something with more output, but that isn’t the target market here.
#UKRunChat followers on Twitter are also eligible for discount if you contact @UniliteUK direct!
Look out for my Kielder Night Skies 14 Report next March to see how it gets on in competitive action!