The more ultras I do the more mandatory kit requirements there are to meet. One of which is often the need for a rear light. It sounds unnecessary but you soon become more aware and acknowledging of the safety needs. After all, a rear light at night makes you visible.
Now I have a few rear lights, but I wasn’t fully satisfied. I have some cheapy £1 jobbies from ebay and and also a tiny little one off an Altura Nightvision cycling jacket. These use CR032 batteries which are great for carrying spares. However the brightness, durability and lifetime are pretty unspectacular. They’d pass mandatory kit checks for sure, but I think they’ll hardly provide any real safety value.
I was OK with my options but I was open to finding something more useful and after some research was quite frankly disappointed with the choices – there isn’t much out there. Many head torches come with a rear red light built in but my Petzl of choice (the Reactik+) doesn’t.
I went to the National Running Show recently and there was a stand by Unilite. I’d not heard of these before (and they hadn’t popped up in any of my ‘running light’ searches). We soon got chatting with the CEO who gave some great insight to the company – they are an industrial lighting expert and not a sports specific brand, but in true diversification, they are branching out. Among their products on display I came across this Micro Clip on light – the PS-CL1 LED.
Let’s take a quick look at the spec of the PS-CL1 LED…
- It has a white LED with a max output of 50 lumens and a range of about 15m.
- It comes with an integrated rechargeable lithium-polymer battery (Micro USB type with charging cable included).
- As well as the main white light the PS-CL1 also offers a secondary red light output via the two red LEDs located on the body of the torch (behind the switch).
- From a full charge the PS-CL1 can provide a run-time of about an hour on the highest setting (50 lumens white light) or >40 hours on the flashing red light!
- The back of the light features a plastic crocodile clip which is useful for running as you can clip it to an item of clothing or your kit. It also has an elasticated band type attachment.
- The light is easy to operate with quick presses of the micro switch cycling through the white LED settings of high, low, strobe and off.
- Holding down the power button switches between the white LED and the red LEDs. Once the red LEDs are selected, they will also then cycle through high, strobe, signal flash and off at the press of the button.
- Measures about 6 cm by 2 cm and, at 13 grams, the light is very lightweight
- It is water resistant to IPX4 Standard.
That’s a pretty decent spec for a small product which I picked up for just a tenna at the Running Show!
So, putting it to the test. I’ve used it on a number of runs since including an overnight run through the dark trails of the South East. I’m impressed. The primary function I use it for is the flashing red strobe feature, attaching it to my running pack using the rear clip (and lanyard for extra security). I’m confident I am lit up clearly from behind but also have the added ease of mind of having a spare white light if my head torches were to fail me (unlikely though!). The LEDs are powerful for its function as a spare/rear light.
As it is so lightweight it is not noticeable when attached. You forget it is there as it is so un-intrusive. The lanyard loop can also be used to attach it directly onto a key ring loop, or carried on your body (e.g. around your wrist) or looped through onto a bag etc. It can also be stretched around a pole or bike frame as it has a clever hook/fastening on the front of the light where the white LED is situated. Genius! It is also built like a brickshit house. For something so small and compact, it is very durable. I feel I could run over this without any concerns (I won’t test that!).
When operating it is very clever and easy to use. One press turns on the white light and further presses cycle through the strobe and signal modes. Holding the power button switches between the front white light and the rear red lights. Intuitively The PS-CL1 will remember the last used mode (white or red) and will turn back on in that mode until you hold the button down again to change modes.
What do I like?
- It is very compact and lightweight
- It is multi-function with white and red LEDs with various modes
- The LEDs are powerful (50 Lumens white torch is a great backup option to have on dark trails!)
- It is rechargeable, always appreciated
- The long 40+ hour battery life on flashing rear light mode is perfect for my needs of consecutive night running
- It is robust with multiple attachment options – clip and flexible lanyard cord
And the not-so-likes?
- It is an industrial looking torch. There isn’t anything “sexy” about it. Its function is paramount though and what emergency torches are meant to be sexy?
- The crocodile clip doesn’t feel particularly “grippy” but it is large and secure none the less!
In summary… it’s a very lightweight dual purpose light – features red and white LEDs in different arrangements and multiple modes (on-Max power, on-low power, strobe etc.) On sale for a tenna at the running show I was tempted and I’m glad I was. For me I was sold on the addition of it being a rechargeable battery with a 40+ hour life on the rear flashing mode.
It looks and feels absolutely solid and I like that it doubles up as an emergency torch also. A few runs later I now feel confident in my lighting kit for races like the Trans Gran Canaria and MIUT and that I will be lit up safely at night (possibly to the annoyance of anyone right behind me!). I would certainly suggest checking out Unilite. They have a range of different head torches suitable for runners. I’m impressed by the quality and spec of their equipment and the cost comparison to “running specific” brands and competitors is very favourable!