The Silva Trail Runner

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When searching for their first trail running specific headlamp, most trail runners end up with either a low quality light or one with way more bells and whistles than they need. Designed specifically for trail runners looking for their first headlamp, the Silva Trail Runner is well designed and built as one would expect from a Swedish brand, containing all the necessary features while remaining easy for first time night trail runners to use.

The Silva Trail Runner did take a bit of time to get adjusted initially to fit my head, but after that it was relatively stable while trail running. This is thanks to the silicone strips on the soft and stretchy head strap together with the flexible rubber where the light contacts the forehead. The Silva Trail Runner’s 135g weight is also well distributed between the light at the front and the battery pack at the back, although a top strap would have improved the weigh distribution and stability even more without having to over tighten the headband, as only the Plus model has the option of removing the battery pack from the headband to mount it on a belt or store it in a pocket or hydration pack.

The battery pack itself is easy to open and close to replace batteries, even while wearing gloves, as it’s covered by a rubber flap that’s easy to flip open and closed while still staying shut and keeping out the elements when needed. It takes two AA (LR6) size batteries, whether they be Alkaline or NiMH rechargeables. Batteries do fit snugly so one needs to perhaps carry something with you that can pop out the batteries if you need to change them out during a trail run, but this does mean there are no battery rattles while trail running.

My test found the lamp to provide around 3 hours of light on its max setting with two AA Powerex 2700 mAh NiMH rechargeable batteries. I suggest that you use rechargeable batteries with a high Milliamp Hour (mAh) rating, as it will power the light at the maximum setting for much longer and be cheaper to use than disposable alkaline batteries while also being kinder to the environment. The bonus of the Silva Trail Runner using normal AA batteries means that one can always carry spare batteries and in a pinch buy a replacement Alkaline set almost anywhere. Try doing that with a fancy rechargeable battery! The use of Lithium batteries are not recommended.

The Silva Trail Runner performed well while running to and from the trails on dirt roads and then on graded trails, but as soon as I hit some really technical single track trails it became apparent that the headlamp’s 80 Lumen output is not meant to light your way when moving at speed over that kind of terrain. That being said, the Silva Trail Runner is aimed towards the trail runner that is only starting to run at night and is thus not covering such hectic terrain and will provide excellent results in such circumstances, providing more light than most other entry-level headlamps, coupled with better quality and beam pattern. It can also later be paired with a handheld flashlight for better depth perception and more light coupled with a longer reaching beam once a person becomes a regular night time trail runner, thus providing continuity to the Silva Trail Runner.

In use the Silva Trail Runner is really simple to operate, turning on in maximum mode with a press of the rubber “On” button located on the side of lamp itself, which is big and tacky enough to operate easily with gloves and cold fingers. Consecutive presses cycle through the Silva Trail Runner’s three different brightness settings of medium, minimum and then back to maximum. Switching off the Silva Trail Runner simply requires a long press of the same button for about 3 seconds, after which the light will respond with a green, orange or red light to show its current battery condition before switching off, showing that the batteries are in good, medium or poor condition respectively. To enter flashing mode simply press the “On” button for 3 seconds while the Silva Trail Runner is switched off and then again for 3 seconds to switch it off.

The lamp itself on the Silva Trail Runner is once again easy to operate and adjustment takes place with just a turn of the lamp either up or down. It features vertical stepless adjustment (which equates to a finer degree of adjustment as you don’t have to adjust it in steps or clicks) lighting close to directly up or down, so it can go from lighting the trail in the distance to looking into your hydration pack in an instant.

The Silva Trail Runner features Silva’s Intelligent Lighting technology, which is a combination of a spot and flood beam pattern, providing even illumination of the trail ahead and around you without creating any significant hot spots in the beam pattern. This is a lot easier on the eyes than other lights with a major spot beam and then only a slight bit of flood lighting and helps to lessen the “tunnel vision” effect one gets while trail running with the light from a headlamp as your only light source. As with most LED light sources the light produced is quite “white” which lessens depth perception to an extent.

I did unfortunately find that the lamp’s design shines light onto my eyebrows which was slightly distracting at times. This also meant one cannot run with a clear sunglasses or glasses while wearing the Silva Trail Runner, as it shines light into the inside of the glasses, causing reflections on the lenses. The Silva Trail Runner is rated as IPX6 waterproof, so it will ward off any stray splashes of water or sweat, but won’t withstand hours of running in a downpour.

The Silva Trail Runner retails for R899 and is available at specialist outdoor retailers.

The Silva Trail Runner headlamp used in this review was provided by Silva South Africa

Review by Luan van Schalkwyk
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