Alpkit Factory Visit & Head Torch Product Testing
A month or so back I popped into the Alpkit offices and warehouse which is based just outside of Nottingham. Despite having a good working relationship with the guys who run Alpkit - they started up at around the same time as Heason Events - I'd never actually visited their premises before. What a great working environment! The main showroom is a large open space full of wooden pallets, shiny display items, open plan desks and a massive roaring wood burning stove. Behind the scenes is the factory space where raw materials and component pieces made overseas are pieced together. It's impressive. If you are in the area you should make the time to pop in. They are a friendly bunch.
It turned out to be a fruitful trip. We discussed the various events that Heason Events has lined up this year and how Alpkit might get involved in them. For starters they are sponsoring the night run on the Friday night of RunYHA, a new event based at Castleton Youth Hostel on the weekend of May 8-10. For £10 you can sign up to do a night run on arrival on the Friday night, and for that you not only get a guided tour of the local hills, but a 'free' Alpkit Gamma headtorch worth £17 to run with on the night, and to keep afterwards!
They are also attending Cliffhanger on July 11 and 12 in Sheffield. They'll have their usual retail presence there, and will also be bringing along their mobile climbing wall in partnership with Thornbridge Otdoors, and their lovely Tepee which will once again be used as a story telling tent.
They are also very interested in Cycle To The Cinema. watch this space on that one...
Just as we were leaving I mentioned that later that week I was due to run the High Peak Marathon and was in need of a torch for the event, which starts at 11pm and takes in the region of 12 hours. Nick rustled around in a drawer and presented a prototype and asked that I might test it out for them during the race. I gladly obliged. In actual fact it was worn by one of my teammates (coincidentally Ed richardson, founder of vot.io - which will mean something if you read my last Blog). Anyway, the torch performed admirably well. In fact here's Ed's feedback:
I found it good, but I guess that would partly depend on the price bracket it's going to be pitched at.
It was light and comfortable to wear. I wore it both directly on my head and over a hat.
Running the regular lamp (without instructions I didn't discover how to turn the other lamp on until I got back if I'm honest) it lasted for 4 hrs at about 3-4 degrees temp. I then found the battery pack idea very easy to use (in the first instance it kept the batteries together in my pack simply) and got the new batteries in and the headlamp up and running again quickly.
The only issue I really encountered (which I've encountered at some point with pretty much every headlamp I've ever owned) was the head straps became tangled at one point and with there being two cords rather than the usual single side strap this seemed more complicated than usual to resolve. However you have to take into consideration I was untangling them at about 4am, in 30mph wind and driving rain, having run for about 20-25 miles at that point, so I was in no fit state for a Mensa test. (we've since had a note from Alpkit to say that they will be doing away with the cords and using the more traditional straps).
The beam was good for running, as the power died it lost a lot of it's focus and was eventually what drove me to change the batteries. But this is what I'd expect to happen. but with good power it was ideal for running and comfortable.
Also fine in torrential driving rain.
I was happy/pleased with the lamp and it was a strong test for any lamp to be tested on.
Spec-wise it's a 3-Watt white LED and high-power white LED throwing out 195 lumens in a 20° floodlight and with a watertightness level of IPX7. It takes two AA batteries which live in their own plastic cartridge. Ed carried a spare cartridge with him which meant he could swap cartridges in a matter of seconds.Nice party trick. It weight 125g without batteries.
Below are the burn times. All in all this is likely to be a very good and sensibly priced headtorch that runners can use at night.