All photos copyright Glenn Jasechko. Please don't use for commercial purposes without permission. Even this one which isn't very good because I'm holding a reflector and additional light while trying to figure out if I'm in focus. Ah, the joys of self-timer photography. Still. Me. My photos. Hands off. :-)
This will be a short review.
A company called Gemini that nobody has heard of makes the best headlamps in the world.
If you are an ultrarunner who runs in the dark, you should buy one. I recommend the Xera.
There. That was easy...
Oh, alright, if you want me to elaborate further, then I'll do this as bullet points, to keep it short (as short as one of my blog posts can be).
- BRIGHT!!! 950 lumens ain't no joke. Nope, nope it ain't. And this is the least-blindingly-bright light Gemini makes. I've been mistaken for a car by fellow runners wearing this thing, and that was on *only* 760 lumens. Pretty sure there's no other light that can compare. Seriously, other traditionally-bright headlamps don't even show up when this thing is on. It's awesome.
- It lasts! "950 lumens you say? Yeah, but my ------- brand light only lasts for an hour on 250, so it does 950 for what, 15 minutes?" Nope, 2 hours. 760 lumens lasts you 2.4 hours. 100 lumens lasts for something stupid like 18 hours. And that's just on one battery, which leads too...
- Battery swaps! Apart from the lumens, this is the light's real strength. The battery pack is external, and plugs in with a waterproof connection. Hold both batteries, disconnect one, plug it into the other. No fiddly battery covers that might break off when you pry them apart with cold hands, and it takes literally two seconds. Now you have light for hours. Like, amazing.
- Batteries! Buy one, buy three, buy big ones, buy little ones! The 2-cell is what I have, but you can get up to a 6-cell pack. So many options, you'll never be without. Here's a thought - partner with friends and share battery costs, unless you happen to be doing all the same races.
- Programmable! No, it doesn't have Petzl's cool reactive lighting, but you can program each of the three dimmer settings to be any increment of 10% you want, using just the single button and ten seconds. Simple. Works.
- Extension cords! Plug in the cord to the light and battery, then shove the battery in your pack, leaving only a light light on your head. Oh the comfort, it's so nice.
- Simple! One button, push on, hold for off, push to cycle through brightness. Turns orange at 50%, red at 25%, blinks at 10%.
- Waterproof! Umm, it's waterproof.
- Beautiful! It's a nice piece of design (except for the headstrap, which maybe could be a bit more subtle) with just a single LED and button in a black anodized aluminium shell. Very cool. The box it comes in is like an Apple product. Purdy.
- Customer service! Holy crap did these people go out of their way to get me a third battery before Orcas 100. It helps that their office happens to be 5 minutes from my house (Victorian tech industry FTW), but still, very impressed. The first battery I picked up had a slight flaw in it, and they got it replaced immediately. Most impressive.
- Expensive. It's not particularly cheap, although for what you pay, there's nothing remotely comparable in terms of brightness and versatility.
- Battery is heavy. Yeah, it packs a lotta oomph, but wearing even just the 2-cell on your head for hours could be a pain. Use the cord to stick it in your pack. Job done.
- The cord taps a little bit in the headstrap cord holder. Pretty quiet, but it'll drive you nuts over a 14 hour night. Wrap it in a bit of electrical tape and you're good to go.
- Kinda big. Some headlamps are great to carry for half an hour before sunrise, then stick in a pocket for the rest of the run. This isn't one of them. Keep an old spare for those runs, and use this when you mean business with your lumens.
- It's really meant to be a mountain bike headlamp, and the headstrap does dig in a little bit on your forehead if worn directly on skin. Not a big deal, but I need to find at least a couple things to nitpick. Hey, Gemini - you gotta start marketing to ultrarunners; send me a note if you want a runner's comments on your product! Or, better yet, give one to someone better known to wear at races. Just make sure they use it at full-lumens, and people will take note. You might find runners become one of your biggest markets - we're gonna love your lights once we know about them.
Got a hundred miler coming up? Want to outshine all your friend's headlamps and unintentionally ruin the night vision of all aid station workers? Go get one!
Gemini Lights did nothing to encourage this review other than be an awesome company with a great product that happens to come from my hometown and that I believe most ultrarunners will be very satisfied with. So there.
Links because that's how the internet works:
Gemini (you can tell them I sent you, but nobody gets anything out of it, other than confusion on their part):
Writing words here and there on adventures running out in the forests and mountains