Monday, January 3, 2011

My Winter Safety Gear

This is a brief look at some safety gear I use for running outdoors in the winter with the early nights that come this time of year.

After running a 10-mile loop near my home some time ago I found myself at mile 6 in almost total darkness. The majority of my route is on residential roads with streets lights, but about 2-miles of it is on heavily traveled road with no street lights. I found myself being blinded by vehicle headlights.  I was wearing a bright bellow yellow Descente Velom jacket.  With few reflective surfaces it just didn’t fit the bill for night time running.  I also found that, as one would expect, it was difficult to see the road after the sun went down.  Stepping on a pine cone was a constant worry.  One should know that running at night is probably not the smartest thing to do but sometimes ones schedule doesn't allow otherwise.

I purchased a Petzl Tikka XP2 headlamp. The headlamp offers 5 lighting options including high, low, and flashing, as well as, a red LED with continuous on and blinking modes. The modes are a bit difficult to select with only 1 button but it's not a deal killer. It provides 60 lumens of light which is plenty to see the road ahead. A standard 40 watt incandescent bulb produces about 450 lumens. The road won’t be bathed in light with the XP2 but it will be directed where you’ll need it as it's adjustable for several angles.

I tried to take night-time images of the light in use but my abilities fell short.

I also purchased a Nathan LED vest. This vest provides a lot of reflective surface area and 5 red LED’s on the front. The LED’s are powered by a small watch battery and offer 2 modes of operation, constant on and flashing. The vest also has a zippered small pocket.

I've also got a Canari Velo shell jacket in killer yellow.  I've only worn it once and like it so far.  Like the Velom it's just a windbreaker and has no lining.

My shoes are sporting a pair of Yankz reflective laces.  I wasn't wearing these when my shoe lace came untied during the ATC Resolution Run on Saturday.

The images below were taken with a Nikon D50 DSLR camera using only the camera flash. 

The black iron fence is barely visible in the images.

(l-r) Nathan vest, Canari Velo Jacket, Descente Velom Jacket, standard white tech. shirt, and Yankz reflective shoe laces at the bottom.  Image taken at 20-feet.
Image taken at 25-feet.
Images taken at 30-feet.
Backs of the same gear
For my bike I've got a Cateye TL-LD610 tail-light.  This light is described in a previous post.  Just in case you missed it, the TL-LD610 has 5 LED's with 4 modes of operation and up to 60 hours of operation.  Installation comes via the FlexTight tool free universal mounting bracket.  The design of my QR CD0.1 didn't allow for easy installation.  I overcame this obstacle by mounting the tail light to a CO2 cartridge already mounted on my XLAB Carbon Wing.  I found that the CO2 cartridge unscrewed while riding so I used some Teflon tape to better secure the cartridge.  Locktite would have done just as well.

These are just a few of the items that one might use when running or riding at night.  I'd recommend all of these but more importantly, if you're going to run at night be sure to wear something that's highly visible.

A word of caution, some of these items are a bit lacking in the quality construction department.

Descente jacket sleeves unravelling
Nathan vest shoulder seam coming undone 
I haven't bought a bike headlight yet but I'm looking at the Cygolite Expilion 250.