Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Gear Closet: Ledlenser NEO Headlamp for Runners

Fall is here and the long days of summer are completely behind us. Now, when I head out for my evening run I am typically greeted only by darkness. That means I need to use extra caution when running on busy roads and take steps to make myself more visible. Reflective clothing helps in that area, but to truly be seen – and see the path I'm running on – I often wear a headlamp as well. But, living in an area where the temperatures are still a bit on the warm side, a full-sized headlamp can be quite warm and burdensome on longer runs. Thankfully there are lightweight options available that have been designed specifically with runners in mind, such as the NEO from Ledlenser, which may have just become my favorite light for after-dark workout.

Weighing in at just 1.9 ounces (54 grams), the NEO is designed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear. When I took it out of the box, I was immediately struck by how thin the headband was, which helps to eliminate some of the heat generated by wearing it during an intense run. That same headband is still strong enough to hold it firmly in place however, as once I put it on the headlamp didn't move at all while I was exercising. That hasn't always been the case with similar lights that I've used in the past, and it can be frustrating to constantly have to adjust the fit while on the move. Thankfully, that isn't the case at all here however.

Despite its diminutive size, the NEO also manages to crank out plenty of light. On its brightest setting it throws off up to 90 lumens, which is fairly impressive considering how small the headlamp is over all. At that setting, the replaceable AAA batteries can last up to 10 hours, which isn't a bad burn-time either. I usually don't need that level of brightness on anything other than trails, so while running on city streets I set the lamp down to its lowest setting, which is a still-useful 20 lumens of light, which can be produces for up to 40 hours. The headlamp also has a flash mode, which I seldom use, and a red light on the battery pack that makes the wearer more visible with traffic approaching from behind as well.


In addition to its various illuminating modes, the NEO also protects its light at an ultra-wide 150ยบ angle. I've seen some other reviews of the product online that criticized this aspect of the headlamp as they felt that it diffused the light too much, with the reviewer instead preferring to have a more narrower, and thus brighter, beam. Personally though, I like being able to see in a broader area when I'm running so that I can notice things approaching from the side. For instance, on a recent evening run on a very dark trail I was able to see a deer running alongside me about 10 meters ahead. If the angle of the light were a bit less, I probably wouldn't have noticed the animal at all, nor been able to adjust my running path to avoid wandering too close.

As you can probably tell, I'm pretty impressed with this headlamp. In fact, about the only thing I would have liked to have seen different would be replacing the standard AAA battery with a rechargeable power cell instead. Most of the other headlamps that I use today are rechargeable, and it is hard to beat that level of convenience. This is especially true if you run nearly every day, which means you'll go through the batteries on the NEO fairly often. Of course, I also understand that adding a rechargeable battery may have caused this headlamp to be bigger, which is a compromise I'm not sure I'd want to make. As it stands, the NEO is the perfect size for frequent runners to take with them on their evening outings.

When I'm selecting a headlamp to wear when I'm running I'm fairly particular about the features that I'm looking for, but the NEO checks all of the boxes. It is small, lightweight, and comfortable to wear. It is also plenty bright, has good battery life, and includes a red rear light for additional safety. Ledlenser has also imbued the light with a measure of water resistance, making it safe to use while running in the rain too. In short, it is pretty much everything that a runner could want out of a headlamp. And, priced at just $25, it is very affordable too. In fact, considering everything that it brings to the table, I find the NEO to be quite a steal at that price.

With the holidays coming around the corner, this would make a great stocking stuffer for the runner in your life. Find out more at Ledlenserusa.com.


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