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Light in the darkness

Personal Lights

Frequent wheeling trips extend past the daylight hours and present a few challenges.  Technology and LEDs are now easing the task of lighting the way.  For personal use, two products standout - LED headlamp by Petzl and an LED micro-light from Gerber.

The Petzl headlamp provides 40 lumens of light with four selectable power ranges.  Powered by three AAA batteries, the headlamp is rated for 60 to 120 hours of operation, depending on the power range. 

The four ranges are selected by push button switch that cycles through a high, medium and low range followed by a strobe of one second on and one second off.  A momentary  contact switch will select a boost mode that provides a light beam reaching out to 50 meters or slightly over 150 feet.  The light angle can be tilted to provide light coverage close to distant.

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And accessory provided not found with other headlamps is replaceable filters to provide clear, red, green, or blue light.  While the clear or bright light is best for walking or tasks requiring well illuminated area, the colored filters provide options while not reducing your night vision or those of others around.

Red light is desired where ability to see close objects is important while keeping overall background light to a minimum.  For ease of map reading, a green lens is available.  Switching lens color is easy.  One lens is mount to allow easy slide movement over the white light and one other lens resides in a holder on the head band.

Lithium batteries are lighter and give longer burn times at low temperature than traditional Alkaline batteries.  Due to recent advances in the performance characteristics of Lithium batteries (especially their higher output during discharge), they can cause the lamp to overheat and possibly damage the LEDs.  Lithium batteries are not recommend for use in this headlamp.
The second product is the Gerber Mongoose micro-light.  The six lumen LED will provide visibility out to about 40 feet.  While not as bright as the Petzl headlamp, the Mongoose does provide adequate light to read a map or other tasks where a little light is needed.

Like the bigger headlamp, the Mongoose features selectable lens filter to provide just the right amount of light for task.  A rotating dial provides for selection of one of five colors.  An ultra-violet color is available for night fishing or security identification.  Green is available for map reading and red is available for general night vision.  The blue is touted as being good for detecting fluids.  Finally, the general use white light.

The light is operated by momentary on push button or a two position slide switch.  A lens color needs to be selected by the dial to turn on the light.  The two position slide switch will illuminate the selected lens color in that first position.  The second position provides full light.

The Mongoose is a micro-light meaning it is small and compact.  It comes with a strap and magnetic clip and hook and loop fastener.  One downside to the mounting system is the clip attaching the strap to the lamp is not the most secure fastener. 
Overall, the magnetic clip is handy to attach to a roll bar where it is convenient to grab for quick use.

Both products are in the $30 range and available at major sporting goods stores.

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