Darkness Visible

Night Owl Optics' Tempest, Niterider's Storm H.I.D., and the Photon Microlight 3

Sep 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Do NIGHT OWL OPTICS' TEMPEST night-vision goggles represent the future of night sports? Perhaps not yet. They work well enough: Strap the Russian-made headset to your skull in complete darkness and the world lights up in eerie shades of green. The problem, other than the weight (two pounds), is that the Tempest's twin barrels cut off peripheral vision while simultaneously messing with your depth perception—you're looking at an image of reality projected on a tiny screen. Birders like 'em—as do gizmophiles and Navy SEALs on patrol—but the Tempest isn't about to revolutionize the midnight mountain-bike-racing scene anytime soon. Burn time: 24 hours. ($700; 212-229-0297, www.nightowloptics.com)

Like the bluish low beams on BMWs, the bulb inside NITERIDER'S STORM H.I.D. bike light is a metal-halide lamp, not a halogen. Such so-called high-intensity discharge lights are four times as bright, cool-running, and three times as efficient as their ouch-that's-hot predecessors, making this 34-ounce helmet-mounted beam (a rechargeable nickel-metal battery slips into your CamelBak) the best choice for 24-hour racing. You could also freeze an entire herd of mule deer in its tracks—that is, if you're into that sort of thing. Burn time: four hours (older headlamp units last less than two). ($400; 858-268-9316, www.niterider.com)
If you dare not venture into the woods without a knife, compass, and matches, you'll need toadd the PHOTON MICRO-LIGHT 3 to your survival kit. Weighing just 5.5 grams, this tiny lithium-powered LED flashlight (it's about the size of three stacked quarters) features seven programmable modes, including auto shutoff, strobe, and three brightness levels. Set it on low and it's bright enough to read by; set it on bright strobe and the SAR team will spot you from a mile away. Burn time on high: 20 hours. ($22; 541-925-3741, www.photonlight.com)

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