Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Hope Adventure One

It’s Not All About Lumens!

Head torch technology has moved on rapidly over the past few years and there are a plethora of new models with some pushing out a huge amount of ‘Lumens’. Battery technology has also come on in leaps and bounds and so it’s good to have a bit of a think about what you really need and where you are coming from in terms of expectation. The marketers would like us to believe that the bigger the Lumen output the better the torch, with Lumen being the industry measurement for light output, although there doesn’t seem to be a consistency of testing.

Any review, or new purchase use requires a baseline from which to base opinion, and move forward. My standard ‘headtorch of choice’ for a huge range of activities over the past five or six years has been the Petzl Myo XP or RXP, which is probably the market leader for very good reasons.

Headtorches come in a variety of different formats; rechargeable batteries, remote (long lead) battery boxes, etc.  However, I’ve recently bought a Hope Adventure One as a future replacement for my trusty Myo, if only because I wanted to see what was new in the same sort of format, ie, a headtorch with self contained battery box, that takes standard AA cells.

Hope Adventure One
Anyone who is familiar with Hope bike parts will be aware of the high quality reputation that Hope quite rightly deserves.  Right from opening the box, the Hope oozes quality with everything neatly packaged in a foam box. The Hope ‘A1’ is actually a modular system, so it does come with a long extension lead for sac / belt / pocket mounting as well as bike helmet mounts and handlebar mounts.  I wasn’t really expecting these additional features but these are an added bonus and will become doubly useful over the next few winter months.  My primary reason for buying this particular Hope was the simple fact that it takes standard AA cells which for multi-day use away from charging facilities is essential.  Furthermore, the ability to whack in a new set of batteries when the current set fail is a basic safety feature for me.

Do We Need Remote Battery Packs?
I have more powerful lights which I use for Biking, both on and off road, but the bigger and heavier battery units require the use of the extension lead.  Having the battery inside a pocket or rucsac is always a bit of a faff and can be prone to lead snagging and damage. Historically ‘belt-packs’ were needed because of two reasons; batteries were too heavy to wear on your head or helmet, or needed keeping warm in cold weather in order to get a decent amount of light output and duration from a set of batteries.  Whilst some of this remains relevant, even the standard AA battery has increased in ‘umph’ over recent years and if you use Lithium batteries for winter then the need for a remote battery pack is largely irrelevant.

Back to the Hope Adventure One
It simply oozes quality!  With a chunky aluminium headset, quality elasticated head band, battery box, extension lead and rubber connectors the overall look and feeling is superb.  As mentioned you also get mounts for a bike helmet and handlebar for I’ll leave those for now, suffice to say the quality of those is excellent.
The Hope A1 takes 4x AA batteries, which is one more than the Petzl XP/RXP, and so offers more ‘capacity’ for output and duration.  The A1 gives three simple outputs from Low, Medium and High, plus a flashing strobe for the maverick biker or safety function. The ‘numbers game’ reads nicely with High setting offering 215 Lumens for around three hours, Medium giving seven hours and the Low setting offering twenty-four hours.  These figures are very reasonable and a step or two above that of my baseline Petzl Myo.  Light quality is good with crisp clear light and a nice beam pattern on all three levels which makes walking, running or biking a pleasure. 
Don’t forget that this model takes standard AA batteries so simply carrying and inserting fresh batteries extends the duration indefinitely and, of course, you can use rechargeable AA batteries if you wish.

Just one last little thing, well two really, about the Hope’s functionality.  You switch it on via a reassuringly chunky rubber button, and it comes on in Low setting.  This is better than starting with High and clicking through to Low as it preserves your night vision and that of your mates.  A further click moves up to Medium and a third click takes you to High.  A fourth click gives you flashing strobe, but a two second hold turns the Hope off at any time.  Simple.  Most the time I stick with one click and Low, or perhaps up to Medium ... with only curiosity or a technical descent or control search needing High output.

Having used the Hope A1 for a few weeks I have appreciated its simplicity as well as its quality. Little things matter so, as illustrated by the head band, all three elastics (two sides and one over the top) have an adjuster so that adjustment is quick and easy and the headset and battery box remain central.  The elastic itself is firm and feels secure. The front and rear plastic moulded brackets are nicely shaped and comfortable.  All leads and connectors are quality rubber and feel relatively ‘bombproof’. 

I’m a multi-sport athlete with a reputation for endurance events for my purposes this set up offers the ultimate in functionality.  I’ve previously completed multi-day Expedition Adventure Races with Petzl Myo XP and so with the Maximum output of The Hope A1 being increased from the Myo’ 140 Lumens max, this is sizeable step up.

The Future is Bright
I ordered this model without actually seeing it, so when it arrived with the modular format I was nicely surprised.  I’m looking forward to using it on a cycle helmet for some multi day adventures and will try the handlebar mount as well.

So, What did I learn?
After using The Hope for a few weeks I’ve become very accustomed to it and appreciate its simplicity, output and quality.  I’ve also realized how good a torch the Petzl Myo XP/RXP is and how familiar it was too me.  The Myo is also that little bit lighter and more compact than the Hope A1, so if it’s a matter of carrying weight in your sac the Myo wins on that front.  Ok, the RXP is ‘programmable’ and you can customise the output, (if you can manage it) and is made by lovely French ladies in France where as the Hope is made in Lancashire, or is it Yorkshire?
Both companies offer good customer service and warranty, with one being quicker than the other, maybe?

Decision Time
Ok, so I like the Hope Adventure One, and highly recommend it, but what else is new?  Well, the techno geeks out there are already raving about Petzl’s new ‘Nao’ which is a development of the Myo and offers ‘Reactive’ lighting – lighting which measures how much light you need and varies accordingly. Interestingly, Petzl’s marketing blurb highlights how this preserves battery life by powering down when not needed, (looking at a map, or running a well light trail, for instance) rather than just quoting the maximum output.  The reactive function can also be over ridden and you can blast away with up to 350 Lumens output but it runs off a specialist rechargeable battery that is not readily available as a spare, and puts it outside of the parameters of this test.   But, I’m looking forward to trying The Petzl Nao at some point in the future ...

For Reference:  Typical MRP's Hope £100, Myo RXP, £75, Nao £135....    Headtorch bought via Pete Bland Sports as a special order.

1 comment:

  1. Joe, Nice review! Re: The Nao; those clever boffins at Petzl made it so you can put in two AAA batteries when your rechargeable one die. You simply remove the rechargeable and two contact points spring out for the AAAs.

    The Nao is great, but it has its problems; e.g., when running with others it powers down and you are left without light, but you can always override the adjusting function if you wish and it's simple to operate. I find the reactive light great for solo runs though. For the real geek you can also re-program the light settings by plugging it into your PC (I haven't done that yet).

    Another contender seems to be the Silva Runner which looks very good. My reservation about the Hope is 4 AAs on my head... I know you're a knarly mountain man Joe so it wouldn't bother you, but that sounds like a lot of weight - how much does it weigh fully loaded?