Editor's Note: This article was opened to the public on July 22, 2010. To subscribe and see Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2010 articles as they are published, click here.
Key Features: Internal rechargeable lithium polymer battery, 60 lumen output, three main beam modes, IPX7 (1 meter, 30 minutes) waterproof rating, 3.5 ounces, strobing rear red “taillight.” Price: $80.00.
Designed primarily for nighttime runners, the Sprinter headlamp is rechargeable and has both a headlight and rear-facing red, strobing taillight. Urban runners will surely appreciate that last feature, as might trail runners who’re pursued by a pack of speedy humans. Tip: if pursued by wolves, consider turning the taillight off.
The Sprinter has a single white main, lensed LED with three modes (full, dimmed, and strobe); a bucket-style strap arrangement with top strap; and a remote rear battery compartment with strobing red taillight. The main beam does not appear to be focusable, and it’s unclear from the specifications how many dimming levels the Sprinter offers. The remote battery and top strap will balance and anchor the light - important for keeping the light stable and aimed predictably while pounding pavement or path.
A major attraction of a rechargeable light is that it’s always fully charged and ready to go back home - no partially discharged batteries to fret over (how much life remains; should I carry spares?). Rechargeables are far cheaper than disposable batteries over the long haul, and the Sprinter’s Li-poly cell should outperform equivalent NiMH cells handily. The flip side is the lack of field-rechargeability, meaning the spent light is dead weight until you’re back home and reunited with the charger. However, the BPL readership includes a number of trail runners who might very well benefit from a light just like the sprinter, and day hikers and weekenders are potential beneficiaries as well.
Unanswered (as yet) Questions
The limited preliminary Sprinter specifications leave several key questions unanswered: What is the run time? What is the recharge time? What are the brightness, beam pattern, and color temperature? What is the cold-weather performance? Is the top strap removable? Is the beam angle adjustable and if so, is does the adjustment stay in place regardless of roadshock? Could you recharge it in the field using a PV panel? Are bears attracted to, or repelled by flashing red taillights?
Without runtime specifications, it’s impossible to determine how well the Sprinter might fit backpackers’ needs. As noted, dayhikers and overnighters could likely use it routinely, but past a night or two, would it provide enough run time? Only time and testing can tell.