Zach Miller under the moonlight

The night is a fascinating place to go. It’s full of wonder. Often quiet and peaceful, it’s a place to think, a space that at times feels less cluttered than the day. And yet many humans avoid it. We view it as dark, which it is, and intimidating, which it can be, but so many times we miss what it truly is, which is beautiful.

My relationship with the night has evolved over time. When I was young, I feared it more than I do now. I think that’s pretty normal.  Humans have a habit of being out and about during the day, then retreating inside at night. As a result, the night becomes an unfamiliar space. And you know what tends to happen with unfamiliar things? We fear them. But this fear doesn’t have to be.   

As I grew older I found myself spending more and more time amidst the darkness. In my childhood it was to play night games with my friends. During college I spent many hours running on roads and bike paths, often without a torch. I ran by the light of the moon, the glow of the street lamps, and the ambient light of mankind’s footprint. Later in life, as I ventured off the roads and onto the trails, I discovered the thrill of running by headlamp.

Running on trails at night was different than on roads. There were far too many obstacles to navigate, meaning that unless there was a very bright moon overhead, a headlamp was a must. Running by headlamp was funny in that it actually restricted my vision to what fell within the scope of my light. This created a sort of tunnel vision. It was entrancing. My focus on what lay immediately before me was intense. All I had was the here and now. The night that once felt vast and scary became small and intimate.  

Soon enough, the darkness felt far less scary. In fact, I grew to like it. As I grew older I became more and more familiar with the night. I learned to embrace it, to recognize the wonder in it, and to explore it. I guess you could say that I learned to feel the night.

With a lamp on my head, a whole new world was opened up to me. I wasn’t confined by the cycle of the sun. Running, cycling, and skiing, all could be done at any time. Now, you might think that I’d have a favorite night time activity amongst these three, but it’s hard to say that I do. To be honest, I really enjoy all of them. Run, bike, or ski, I love the sensation of moving through the night, and especially so in mountainous terrain. The tunnel vision, the solitude, and the way in which it feels a bit rebellious, all of these things keep me coming back for more. 

At first, the lights I used were small, but having known little else, I thought they were great. As I ventured deeper into the sport of trail running, I came to learn that the headlamp industry was not lacking in options. There were small lights and big lights, lights that self adjusted their brightness and ones that did so by the wave of a hand. There were colors and blinkers and lamps that flashed messages in morse code. For such a specific space, the headlamp industry had certainly figured out how to do a lot with it.

As fun as some of the bells and whistles were, a lot of it didn’t seem so necessary. At the end of the day, what I really wanted was a headlamp that was bright, reliable, and had a long battery life. Enter Andorra Trail 100 by UTMB.

When I traveled to Andorra to race across its steep and rugged mountains, I thought I had packed a good headlamp. To be fair, I had. But while I was racing through the night, I found myself stride for stride with Norway’s Sebastian Krogvig. As we ran together, I noticed that his headlamp was incredibly bright.  So much so that it seemed to be putting mine to shame. Later in the race, the battery on my seemingly inferior headlamp died, leaving me to fumble for my spare lamp as Sebastian continued on. 

Having to change a headlamp mid race wasn’t ideal. Sure, I stayed relatively calm, but rummaging around for a spare light while the competition ran away was stressful. Fortunately I kept relatively calm, switched lights and was able to catch up, but after the race I made sure to ask Sebastian what kind of headlamp he was using. Turns out it was a light made by a small Norwegian company called Moonlight Mountain Gear.

Fast forward roughly two months and I found myself standing on the start line of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc sporting a shiny new Moonlight Mountain Gear headlamp, the Bright As Day 800. Having only received the light a few days prior, the race would be its first big test. Fortunately, it passed with flying colors. 

In terms of its performance, three things in particular stood out. The first was the amount of light that it cast. All throughout the night I had a strong, consistent beam of light thanks to its “real lumens' technology. This was great, because the nighttime hours at UTMB can be quite challenging. It’s not just a few hours of darkness that we experience, but an entire night. After a while these dark hours can feel a bit lonely and depressing, especially if you find yourself running by yourself. Hence, having a bright, dependable light is a godsend. 

The second thing that stood out was its remarkable battery life. Again, a full night is a long way to go, and as I explained previously, getting caught with a dead battery isn’t much fun. With Moonlight on my head, however, not once did I have to stop and change the battery. This was a big win for me. The inefficiency and stress that I experienced in Andorra was now a thing of the past.

Finally, the third thing was a  total surprise. As I approached the halfway point of the race in Courmayeur, I stopped and dunked my head in a fountain to cool off.  When I did so, I forgot all about my headlamp, and was concerned that I might have damaged it. Fortunately, I passed a few Moonlight employees a short while later and they assured me that the lamp was waterproof. Sure enough, I ran the rest of the night with the light and never once had an issue.

To sum it up, I’m pretty sold on Moonlight headlamps. They are rugged, simple, powerful, and long lasting. They come in a range of sizes, meaning my lighting needs can be met no matter if I’m running, cycling, or skiing. But most importantly, the headlamps are great because they give me access to the night.

When the sun goes down and most retreat indoors, I don’t have to. For me, adventure doesn’t have to stop just because the sun has set. All I have to do is click on my headlamp and I have access to a whole new realm.