.... Probably the best headlamp in the world.
I run and mountain bike in the hours of darkness throughout the winter months and, quite simply, the Silva Alpha Six is one of the best pieces of kit I've ever got my hands on. There are plenty of great headlamps on the market for less money but, if you're serious about your night-time off-roading, the Alpha Six is a must have.
Claimed output is 540 lumens and that seems pretty near to the mark. This might seem a bit low compared to some of the top end bar mounted mtb lights but the "Intelligent Light" system means you get an awful lot out of that light. The three LED combo blasts out a 150m range spot but also a wide all-encompassing flood. This means that, unlike many other headlamps where you have to constantly adjust the tilt or awkwardly hold your neck to switch between far and near vision, the Alpha Six lights up everything from one position.
Running, with all but the most Eddystone Light House-esque orienteering lamps, your pace is slower than during daylight hours but with the Alpha Six the only limiting factor on your speed will be your fitness. For most off-road running the flood only setting is more than adequate but it's nice to be able to flick on the spot if things get technical or if you're trying to locate a distant feature. On the mountain bike, initially I was using it on my helmet in conjunction with a USE Enduro on the bars but, forgetting to charge the USE properly one night, I was left with just the Alpha. Vision wasn't significantly compromised and, since that night, I've tended to shed the weight of the Enduro on my bars and go with the Alpha alone. Charging is simple, easy and, considering the burn-times, pretty speedy. The separate battery pack is a tad bulky at 300g but once stowed in a pack or bum-bag is barely noticeable. The actual light unit is remarkably small and lightweight and, in combination with the fully adjustable head-set, is stable and unobtrusive. Burn times range from 3 hours at full power to 24 hours at the still impressive lowest (flood only) setting. There is a clever power indicator and the light will warn you once power drops below 25%. The headlamp arrives in a really cool "sniper-esque" briefcase complete with cut-out foam rubber for the various bits and bobs. These include a very effective helmet mount for mountain biking and a handlebar mount. I've been using the handlebar mount on my winter road bike and it's definitely improved my confidence and safety on unlit country roads. You could argue that this is simply too much to pay for a headlamp but it really is in a league of its own with regards to both performance and versatility. Considering a decent mountain biking light can set you back £200-£500 and a running headlamp £100 and that the Alpha Six does both brilliantly, suddenly it doesn't seem quite so expensive.
I suppose the real indication of quality is it's one of the few sample products I've had and been willing to fork out for to keep.
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