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Archive for April, 2013

UltrAspire KINETIC £94.99

by on Apr.28, 2013, under Kit Reviews

lots of useful pockets

I’ve used this pack for a few months now and have gotten used to where everything is. It seemed to take me ages to remember where all the pockets are on a pack after using my old CamelBak® for so long. Anyway the UltrAspire does have some great features but unfortunately some bad design to.

pack without bottles

First of all lets look at the good points. This pack has a pocket for everything, two even have magnets which snap shut after use. These are the small front pocket which UltrAspire suggest is good for electrolytes.

electrolyte pocket with self-closing magnet

 The second one is the large rear pocket which I use for my head torch & my coat. It’s quite easy to get stuff out of this rear pocket even whilst running. It also has a small drain hole at the bottom, it’s not big enough to lose stuff from though.

rear pocket has a self-closing magnet to

The only problem with this rear pocket is the magnetic bits go rusty & can stain light clothes. This may just be me using it in all the rain recently, but is that not what it’s made for?

notice rust on the metal self close parts

I do like all the front pockets though, after years of struggling to reach the side pockets on my old CamelBak® the UltrAspire is better in this respect. I also like the open rear of the pack which is much cooler than my old pack. The UltrAspire does have material where you need it though, around the kidney area which can make you feel cold if it’s not covered.  I do like the packs weight, very light. Which is good for carrying so much stuff. I get my hat, coat, head torch, gloves, food & other bits & bobs to fit in just fine.

This is a good pocket to put a phone in, just remember to put it inside a ziplock bag though. The pocket is not waterproof.

Why don’t manufacturers put a waterproof pocket on these packs? Most people today carry an expensive smart phone so why no waterproof pocket? A phone is a compulsory carry on most races.

mould grows inside the handles

Now the not so good bits, first up the bottles. After just a few runs mould started to grow inside the finger loops on the plastic bottles. I realise you can get tablets to sterilize the bottles but it’s a bit of a faff when you run sometimes twice a day. Other bottles don’t do this so why can’t UltrAspire sort this out?

This isn’t the only problem with these bottles though. On my first run with this pack I squeezed the bottle to make sure it was shut & the lid came flying off! See the video above. Maybe you’re not supposed to check them like this but it’s something I’ve done for years. I wasn’t a happy bunny having lost all my water 5 miles into a 30 mile training run on a hot day. Never trusted them since & have replaced both of them with some excellent CamelBak® Better Bottle Tritan 750ml. They fit into the bottle holders & the handles make them easier to get out. They cost around £14 each but worth every penny.

Camelbak Better Bottle Tritan 750ml Water Bottle

£14 each but worth every penny

UltraAspire pack with CamelBak® Better Bottle Tritan 750ml

A pack costing £94.99 should come with decent bottles, it would be better to add £10-£20 to the price of the pack than supply a sub standard bottle in my view. Why do the bottles have a magnet in the bottom? Spend the money on decent bottles & keep the magnets!

nice buckle, shame about the fit

The nice shiny alloy buckle on the front of the pack which holds the pack close to your body as you run is another annoying part of this pack. Why spend time making a nice anodised alloy buckle and then spoil it by making it the wrong size? As you can see in the picture above the strap across your chest slips right through the hole & constantly needs adjusting. My son Alex also has this pack and we both have trouble with this buckle coming lose. He tied a knot in his & I have a clip holding mine together.

So the UltrAspire KINETIC really is a bit of a mixed bag (pun intended). On the one hand it has some nice features but on the other most of them are poorly implemented. I like the magnetic closing pockets, but not the rust. I like the bottle placement but not the bottles. I like the anodised alloy buckles but not the loose fit of them on the straps. All these faults would be semi acceptable on a cheap pack but at this price, the best part of £100? I don’t think so, maybe the next one will address these problems and make this the pack it should have been in the first place given a little more thought.

As you’ve probably worked out I have no affiliation with UltrAspire and I didn’t get paid to write this review. Some may think it’s a little harsh, but it’s an honest opinion. I think the most annoying thing about the UltrAspire is the fact it could have been the perfect pack, could have been.

The good?

almost a great pack

bottle access

The bad?

very poor, cheap bottles included

badly fitting front buckle

rusty self-closing magnets on the pockets

The ugly?

it could have been perfect

Verdict

2/5

Happy Running 🙂

 

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MyTinySun Head 1000 Pro Head-torch £253.96

by on Apr.27, 2013, under Kit Reviews

MyTinySun HEAD 1000 PRO 1000 lumens!

It’s taken me long time to write this review as I like to give my honest opinion on everything I test and feel this just isn’t possible after just a quick run. I’ve used this light in runs over 100 miles and in all conditions from -10 temperatures, wind, snow, rain & just about everything in between. I’ve charged it loads of times and given it the usual abuse most of my kit gets in hard use. Up to now its stood up to it all very well, this is partly due to the sturdy box it comes in which is handy for drop bags as it stops the light getting battered around in your bag travelling to and from events.

high quality German built with stainless screws and hardened non-reflective glass

what you get in the box

what you get in the box

20130427-205507.jpg

nice strong box for storing the light

If like me you’d never heard of MyTinySun they’re handmade in Germany by a small company with a strong reputation for building very high quality lights. As soon as I opened the box I noticed the way this thing is made, it’s not like most mass-produced head torches on the market. The main components of the light are aircraft quality aluminum. The slight downside to this is that the full light with battery weighs in at 301g which is about double what my old Petzl Myo RXP weighed. This is however not the full story as the actual headlight can be separated from the battery by a wire, this means the battery can be placed in a pocket leaving the headlight which only weighs 197g. This is about the same weight as the Petzl Myo with 3 AA batteries.

Go-Pro mount right side showing thumbwheel adjuster

Go-Pro mount right side showing thumbwheel adjuster

IMG_0017

total weight of head torch with battery 301g

The light comes supplied with a 70cm extension cable, I use this wire to put the battery in the pocket of my UltrAspire KINETIC backpack which it fits perfectly, it’s smaller than the battery pack on the Petzl. The battery can also be fitted to the back of the light in the conventional way. The battery is made by another German company and uses the Open Light Systems battery, 7.2V 2.9Ah. Giving a full power maximum run time of 1hr 53min.  At  220 lumens run time is 13 hr 55 mins. Other sizes are available for the light including a 5.8Ah battery which gives a maximum run time of 3 hrs 47 min at max power of 960 lumens & 27 hrs 50 min at 220 lumens. These really are excellent run times for such a bright light. I recently did a race over 100 miles with a friend using a new Petzl Nao & his light went out after 3-4 hours in the sub-zero temperatures. The MyTinySun lasted all night on low, about 220 lumens which is brighter than most head torches on full.

battery fits in a pocket

Battery type/capacity/power/weight/dimensions: Li-ion 18650 2S / 1P / 2.9Ah / 7.2V

The light has  2 main modes of operation – Simple (very easy to use) this has 3 light levels and Expert, with 6 modes and too many light levels to go into here as it would take up the rest of the review! (for the professional user). Also SOS mode, 2-level emergency light and a 4-level battery indicator, using the illuminated switch on the side of the light. This changes colour to show battery condition, going from green to red depending on battery level. The light can be either used as a simple turn on and go or completely customized to meet the needs for any event & run time. It even comes with a full set of Go-Pro mounts for mounting to a bike helmet etc.

a full set of Go-Pro mounts as used on the headlight are included in the price

The MyTinySun also comes with 3 different lenses which are interchangeable for different beam patterns. These are the one on the light when it comes which is a great general purpose (long throw) lens. Then you have one which is good for narrow trails where you don’t need the long throw and just need a narrow tube of light & a wide dispersed beam which is ideal for walking where you don’t need the throw and just want a broad pool of light. This is also ideal for around camp and general use.

17°, 31° and elliptical lenses included

One thing worth noting is the light doesn’t come with a tool for removing the lenses. These can be bought for around £2 from Halfords. I’ve tried all the lenses and they all work well, most will find the lens which comes fitted as standard will be right for the majority of running. It’s always nice to have the choice though.

This tool made by Rolson is handy for changing the lenses, I picked one up from Halfords for about £2

The headband and the weight can hardly be felt in use. I forgot I had it on once & left a checkpoint wearing it when I should have taken it off! The headband is much wider than on the usual headlights so it spreads the weight better. It also has lots of adjustment, I find most headtorches have to be fully extended to fit my large head. The problem with this is I end up with the battery box sticking in my head. I managed to fit this one no problem with lots of room to spare.

the extra wide & comfortable head strap compared to a Petzl

The head strap also has some rubberised lines embossed onto it which stop it slipping around. Also a good thing if like me you sweat a lot. I sometimes wear a hat at night & it stops the light from moving around. The headband is big enough to wear a hat underneath.

rubber embossed onto the headband to stop it moving around

The light is adjustable via a large thumbwheel on this side which is easy to adjust even wearing thick gloves. If you have a Go-Pro camera this will be familiar to you. It’s well made and locks the light in place securely once tight. It never moved once in place, even when I hit my head on a low tree branch.

large thumbwheel can be used with cold, gloved hands

Another useful feature is the light built into the on/off switch which gives the battery status and you can have it slow flashing. This is useful for finding it in your drop bag at night. This feature can be turned off to conserve battery if need be.

status on/off button showing low battery

The battery on the MyTinySun is smaller than the Petzl & easily slips into a pocket. It’s no big deal to carry two of these if you need to but with the light on 220 lumens (low setting) you should never need to. I found myself using this setting most of the time. The quality of the lens is so good it’s plenty enough to run with. You can always switch to 960 lumens for technical bits where a lot more light is needed. The Open Light Systems battery, 7.2V 2.9Ah contains 2 18650 batteries which are much more powerful than a standard AA battery & give very good run times as a result.

battery box on Petzl Myo compared to MyTinySun HEAD 1000 PRO

All the fittings are really good quality & most are readily available from Maplins if you ever need to repair the light. Something which can’t be said of the majority of things these days. The light does come with a very comprehensive 2 year warranty though and is upgradable if a new LED comes out. The light comes with the latest Cree LED XM-L U2 & the software inside the light is upgradable, so if an update becomes available you can add it to your light. An option is also available to add even more features to the light including automatic activation when it goes dark and SOS if it detects a jolt from a fall!

fitting from 70cm extension cable lead to head torch battery

As you can probably tell I’m impressed with this light, very impressed. So what’s the catch? Well the not inconsiderable cost of £253.96 at first seems like a lot to spend on a headtorch but if like me you’ve tried most of the ones on the market & just want the best light money can buy then look no further. This is your light, it’s the best light currently available bar none. I tried it next to the Petzl Myo RXP & you couldn’t see the Petzl’s beam even with the Head 1000 on low (220 lumens)   The last few events with this light I’ve been asked “where did you get that light from?” It’s that bright it drowns out the other head torches. I’ll try to get some pictures posted of the light from it, as soon as I get some time.

runtimes for the Head 1000 Pro

light modes

 

As for the backup with this light once you’ve splashed the cash? Just give the guys at Magicshine UK a call and Chris & Bonita will be happy to help. They also compete in endurance events so know what we need from the kit we use. This should be the last light you ever buy. I have no affiliation with MyTinySun or Magicshine & I’m not being paid to write this review. Just a customer who appreciates great products and service. Please mention this website if you call 🙂

http://www.magicshineuk.co.uk/

makes my old Petzl look like a toy

 

What’s In The Box?

  • Head 1000 Pro LED lamp using Cree XM-L U2 Cree LED
  • Remote control unit
  • 3 O rings and advanced helmet mount and head bands for all uses
  • Open Light Systems battery, 7.2V 2.9Ah
  • Additional 2 lenses to achieve bespoke beam pattern of your choice
  • Velcro tape to mount the battery
  • Velcro cable ties to fix the cables and connectors
  • Rubber strips to prevent the battery scratching your bike frame
  • MyTinySun Head 1000 Pro UK charger (Euro charger for Euro customers)
  • Advanced helmet mount
  • Advanced head band
  • 70cm extension cable
  • GoPro spare parts grab bag to allow complete versatility of mounting options.
  • GoPro helmet mount
  • 2 year warranty

What’s good?

2 year warranty

build quality

features

after sales service

it’s upgradable via software & hardware

it’s the best light on the market (2013)

What’s bad?

you’ll need a tool to change the lenses (£2 from Halfords)

What’s ugly? 

let me think. . . . . .  . nothing!

Verdict?

5/5 Recommended

If you have any questions or comments about this light please post them below & I’ll do my best to answer them.

Happy Running : )

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