Category Archives: gear

Olight H2R torch: a warning

Photo: Geoff Crowther

This is not about the Olight H1 torch that I reviewed but about its big brother, the H2R torch. Geoff Crowther was given one to review. While he was positive about the torch overall, he made an unpleasant, potentially dangerous discovery. He briefly placed the torch face down on the floor of the tent and such was the heat and intensity of the light that it burned a hole in the groundsheet of his tent (pictured above). Read about it here.

There are no warnings in the instructions about this, so I feel it’s important to draw the attention of readers to this issue. Now, the highest setting on the H2R torch is an incredible 2,300 lumens. By way of comparison, the maximum on my Zebralight H600W Mk3 is 1,126 lumens and only 500 lumens on the Olight H1.

I’ve run both my torches for a few minutes on a high setting to see how hot they get. The Olight H1 doesn’t appear to get anywhere near hot enough to cause a problem. You can put your finger on the bulb without discomfort. The Zebralight is a fair bit hotter, but still touchable but quite hot. I wouldn’t have any qualms about the H1, but I think I’d exercise a bit of caution on the Zebralight.

I’m guessing that other high output torches are going to start appearing on the market, so the Olight H2R may not be the only one to be careful with. In my view, the Olight H1 Nova is plenty bright enough for backpacking at 500 lumens for the maximum setting. The lower settings are more than adequate. Indeed, second lowest mode is fine for around camp. So, I’m very happy to still recommend the H1 Nova as a backpacking torch/headtorch.

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Olight H1 Nova torch

I hardly ever get offered free samples these days. I’m not that bothered as most stuff on offer doesn’t interest me. However, I was contacted by Olight via a friend to see if I was interested in reviewing one of their extensive range of torches.

My interest was piqued by the Olight H1 Nova, which looks like a mini version of a Zebralight. A few emails later and I received an H1 Nova to review just in time to take to Scotland. While you don’t really need such a powerful headtorch for Scotland in May, it gave me a chance to test it.

The H1 Nova comes in a neat little case with a battery, head band and a clip for attaching to a strap. There’s an instruction manual and a leaflet on other products. It looks and feels very well made. Weight is 39g for the torch and 29g for the headband. It uses widely available CR123A batteries and has a maximum light intensity of 500 lumens. There are five lighting modes plus an SOS feature, which flashes a distress signal (details below).

It’s easy to locate the torch into the headband. It’s held firmly in place by some bands and the angle of tilt can be adjusted. The on/off switch is at the bulb end . The various modes are relatively easy to select and explained in the manual. I found it easier to play about and select the modes on the Olight than my Zebralight. Although not as intense as the Zebralight, the highest setting was almost like a searchlight. I found Mode 4 (15 lumens) and Mode 3 (60 lumens) to be the most useful.It was very comfortable to wear as a headtorch and to use as a stand alone torch.

The body is metal and it has a Cree XM-L2 LED bulb. It’s worth mentioning that it is also waterproof to IPX8, (1-3m sustained immersion), so should be plenty good enough for backpacking. The base is magnetic so you can attach it to a suitable metal surface. One caveat for backpackers is that the magnet is quite strong, so you want to keep it well away from your compass!   I am impressed by the build quality.

I did a quick comparison with my Zebralight H600W Mk3 and Petzl Tikka XP at home. On its highest setting, the Zebralight is over twice as bright at 1,126 Lm, but overkill for most purposes. On its second brightest setting, it’s about the same as the Nova. As you can see from the picture, it’s about twice the size.

It weighs 86g for the torch and the headband is 40g. Used as a headtorch, the Nova feels less bulky and cumbersome (not that the Zebralight is at all bad!). The Zebralight uses 18650 batteries (I’ve got rechargeable ones), which are less widely available than the ones used in the Nova. Selecting the various modes on the Nova is easier than the Zebralight too. I still think the Zebralight is a great torch BTW.

My Petzl Tikka XP is the old version. It weighs slightly more than the Nova at 75g (all weights include batteries). It has a maximum brightness of 60 Lm. It’s a great headtorch but it’s definitely been left behind by the Nova, which is lighter, brighter and has more modes.

I really like the Olight H1 Nova and it worked well in Scotland. It combines much of the functionality and brightness of a Zebralight and is lighter than a Petzl Tikka XP. The build quality is high and there’s nothing to fault. My only caveat is the magnetic base. Don’t put it near a compass! To make it perfect, Olight could include a non-magnetic base cap to prevent any accidents.

If you’re interested in buying one, they are available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M7UWGVK . This is not an affiliate link and I receive no money for this link.

Disclosure: I was given the H1 Nova free of charge on the understanding that I have full editorial control over the review and was under no obligation to Olight. I have no commercial or financial relationship with Olight. I never accept payment for reviews and always retain full editorial discretion.

 

Not The TGO Challenge Gear Feedback

Overall I was pleased with my gear choices for this trip. In particular I was glad that I use my Lightwave Ultrahike as it carried the extra weight well and definitely the right choice. I managed to do without the Inov-8 belt pack for the majority of the time and should’ve left it behind. The Tread Lite shoulder strap camera pouch was excellent and compensated for no hip pockets.

The Tramplite shelter was fine, coping with the strong winds on Saturday night/Sunday morning really well. For choice, it’s a little cramped inside and if weight had not been a major consideration, I would’ve taken my Scarp. However, the Tramplite is half the weight. My sleeping system of As Tucas down quilt and Thermarest X Lite short was perfect. The new Sea to Summit Aeros UL pillow was comfortable, especially if slightly under inflated.

In terms of clothing, I loved the Rab Interval T. The thin material evaporates sweat quickly and didn’t smell even wearing it for four days in a row. Even though it wasn’t that cold, I was glad of the As Tucas Sestrals insulated trousers in the evening. The Berghaus Furnace jacket was about right, but if it had been colder, I would’ve preferred my PHD Minimus jacket. I slept in my Helley Hansen Lifa long sleeve polo shirt. It wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be and I think I’d take a warmer layer for this kind of trip in future. The Paramo 3rd Element jacket worked well and I appreciated the flexibility of being able to use it as a gilet. I really liked my new Outdoor Research Swift cap. The partial mesh kept me cool and largely sweat free, while the solid crown gave me adequate sun protection. The one thing I wish I’d taken was my Montane Featherlite windproof smock. At 88g, it weighs virtually nothing and I should’ve taken it.

I didn’t need my waders, but they are good insurance. I left my umbrella behind, but I didn’t have any occasion where I could’ve used it. I was pleased with my Olight Nova H1 headtorch and I will do a separate review. I had a new Tread Lite USB lantern, which was excellent. I used an Anker Power Core 10000 battery charging pack for my iPhone, which not only carried enough power to charge my iPhone most days with plenty to spare, it was also quick to charge and very light for its capacity at 177g. I should also mention my Bioskin neoprene knee support which was a real life saver when I tweaked a knee ligament on the first day.

If I go on next year’s Challenge, I would probably swap out the Ultrahike for the Tramplite Pack as I wouldn’t be carrying so much food. I’d take a warmer sleeping base layer top, a windproof smock or jacket and probably a warmer down jacket. Beyond that, my gear wouldn’t be much different.

Not The TGO Challenge Food Feedback

It was an interesting exercise taking nearly one week’s food on my recent trip. To recap, I took six breakfasts and six evening meals and enough for seven lunches. The total weight including packaging and packing cells/food bag was 5.4kg. I reckon I could cut around 600g from that total and still be OK.

I finished with quite a lot of nuts left over. I carried 620g of Brazils/macademias/almonds plus a 200g packet of salted peanuts and cashews (which I finished) . I think 350g (50g per day) of Brazils/macademias would have been enough (I’d leave out the almonds too). I had some surplus dried fuit, around 150g. The Biltong was great to mix in with breakfast and some evening meals but I could’ve done without it saving 200g or so. Six packets of Biltong was surprisingly bulky as well. Most of the rest of the food I ate completely.

As a rule of thumb, I think 700-800g is reasonable per day. You could probably get away with a bit less if you were resupplying every 3-4 days and eating in civilization. However, for a wilderness trip of a week, I think the minimum per day you could get away with is about 750g per day. Indeed, if you were going somewhere obscure, you’d probably want to take a bit extra to cater for potential delays.

I really liked having the Summit to Eat Scrambled Eggs with Cheese for breakfast, despite taking a bit longer to prepare and some extra fuel to heat the water. This in combination with a granola bar (and some tea) was quite a satisfying breakfast. For evening meals, I’m happy with a freeze-dried main meal and some dried fruit for dessert (dried dates for four meals and dried mandarins for two).

At lunch time, I didn’t particularly miss sandwich type lunches and a combination of Tracker bars, Tunnock’s caramel wafers, Nakd fruit fars, sesame seed bars, nuts (Brazils, macademias, almonds, cashews, peanuts) and dried fruit (banana chips plus berry mix) kept me going both for lunch and for snacks.

I didn’t tot up calories but I’d be really surprised if my daily intake was enough to compensate for my energy consumption. I had definitely lost weight by the end of the trip, although how much I don’t know as we don’t having any scales at home.

Plus 113g

I forgot to include my Personal Locator Beacon in my gear list, weighing a hefty 113g. I probably don’t need it as the only time I’m a bit off piste I will be with others. Still, I’ve got it so I might as well take it. I see Garmin have launched a smaller version of the InReach which looks very interesting. I’ll let others be early adopters and see how they get on, but it does look attractive, especially if you go solo.

Not the TGO Challenge: Gear

Click to enlarge

Because I’ve got to carry seven days food, I started thinking seriously about my gear selection a couple of weeks ago. After a test packing, it became clear that the volume of food would be at the outer limit for the capacity of my new Tramplite pack. Although it fitted, it was a bit of a squeeze, so I felt it was more sensible to go with my Lightwave Ultrahike pack, which has slightly more volume using the Exped Flash external pocket. Incidentally, the Flash pocket has enhanced the utility of the Ultrahike considerably. The flip side of using the Ultrahike is that it weighs considerably more.

With a reversed belt pack (Inov-8 Race Elite 3), needed because the Ultrahike has no hip belt pockets, it weighs nearly half a kilo more. This meant compensating elsewhere, so I decided to take my lightest shelter (Tramplite) rather than the Scarp 1 which I had pencilled in. Just doing this saved me around 0.7kg, more than compensating for a heavier rucksack. I’ve also been more stringent on clothes, where I’ve saved about 0.8kg from my original list.

I’ve also left out my beloved umbrella as the forecast looks pretty good and I think I can manage without it. I toyed with the idea of leaving out my waders and Sony RX100 camera (using my iPhone instead) but there are going to be at least three river crossings and the iPhone is not as good as the RX100 for photos. If I had done so, my base weight would be well under 8kg. As it is, it’s only marginally over 8kg.

Food is 5.4kg (including packing cells and rolltop bag) and fuel is 535g (one 250 cartridge and a half full 125 cartridge as emergency back up). Miscellaneous bits include anti-chafing creme, sun tan lotion, insect repellent, foot care stuff, tissues and some other odds and ends. Consumables come to 6.5kg to make a grand total of 14.5kg, which is not too bad for a seven-day trip. This is well within the scope of the Ultrahike pack which is one of the most comfortable packs I own regardless of load.

Most of the gear is tried and trusted, but I am carrying some new stuff. While packing a waterproof jacket in addition to wearing Paramo is not strictly necessary, it’s something I often do on longer trips to guard against failure. This time I’m taking the Alpkit Gravitas which is incredibly lightweight and can double up as a wind jacket. I may not have an opportunity to use it but I’d like to see how it performs. If I’d left it out, as I had originally intended, I would’ve been below 8kg base weight but I want to test it and I feel more comfortable having a hardshell as well as Paramo.

I’ve also got a Helley Hansen Lifa long sleeve polo shirt which will double as a sleeping shirt, an extra layer and a smart going home shirt. It will be interesting to how smell resistant (or not) Lifa is now. I’ve also been given an Olight Nova H1 head torch to review. This looks like a really nice unit combining the form and most of the functionality of a Zebralight, but is lighter than a Petzl Tikka XP. I will do an in-depth review when I get back, but I’m very impressed with it.

Food, food, food

For next week’s trip to Scotland, I’m carrying the most food I’ve ever had to carry on a backpacking trip: 6 breakfasts, 6 evening meals and 7 lunch/day time snacks. For three or four days, it’s pretty easy to sling together some food and add in a bit extra just in case. This time I’ve had to be a bit more disciplined. It’s not just the weight that’s an issue, it’s the volume too.

The total weight for food, including packing cells and dry bag is 5.4kg, which I’m reasonably happy with. Here’s a breakdown of items and weights:

Breakfasts: 6 Summit to Eat freeze-dried scrambled eggs meals, Biltong, 6 granola bars

Evening meals: 6 Fuizion Foods/Blå Band/ Food on the Move freeze-dried meals, dried fruit (dates, mandarins)

Lunches/snacks: Tracker bars, Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers, Nakd fruit bars, sesame seed snaps, brazil/macadamia/almond nuts, salted peanuts and cashews, banana chips/berry mix.

Tea bags (green and English breakfast).

Recently at home, I’ve been having porridge followed by poached egg and smoked salmon for breakfast. I’ve found that having a good amount of protein in the morning helps my energy levels, hence I’ve tried to replicate that for backpacking. The StE scrambled eggs are reasonable and adding a bit of Biltong (dried beef) adds a kick.

For lunches, I decided it was easiest to just have snack bars and supplement them with nuts and dried fruit. At home, I’ve cut out biscuits and cake and now snack on nuts or fruit. It seems to work for me.

Evening meals are pretty much what I always do: a freeze-dried meal followed by dried fruit. On this trip I will be using the last of my Fuizion Food freeze dried meals, which is a bit sad. I might add some Biltong to the Blå Band pasta meals as they have minuscule pieces of meat in.

I’ve made sure I have plenty of tea bags as I don’t want to run out and give myself the migraine from hell, like I did a few years ago. I’ve not calculated calories, but I suspect it might be a bit light, but that’s not a huge issue for one week.

In case you are wondering about the missing breakfast and evening meal, I’m taking the sleeper up to Fort William and will have some breakfast on the train and pick up something from a supermarket from the station. At Aviemore, I’ll arrive late afternoon and have dinner before catching the sleeper back home.