The glow behind the lodge of the otherwise pitch black sky was incredible, as if a UFO was landing behind the hut in the secluded Monashee Mountains, British Columbia.
Henrik, a German ski tourer, as well as my roommate for the week, had just pulled out a massive looking headlamp from his bag. The round lamp was several inches in diameter. "This headlamp here produces 5,000 lumens," he gloated. "I'm going for a night ski…" The technically savvy BMW employee took off behind the lodge, and within minutes a white glow illuminated the sub-alpine fir forest. Trees were caked in snow as the evening's mist haloed around the light. It was surreal.
Produced by Lupine, a German company at the forefront of LED technology in headlamps, the Betty model Henrik brought along was just a glimpse into the company. With an array of models catering to headlamps for mountain bikes and helmets, I eventually caught wind of their new Piko X. A more user-friendly sized headlamp that produces 1,500 lumens and weighs only 200 grams—fitting onto your hat or helmet like any standard headlamp. Without getting too technical, lumens are the unit used to measure the total amount of visible light. In the case of the Piko X4, it provides a shining beam of 210 meters: think portable night skiing.
I initially used the lamp last year throughout autumn and early winter months, when it would be dark while walking the dog at five o'clock at night. The early evenings coupled with not enough snow on the ground for reflection made my older lamp seem worthless when compared to the Piko. Once December arrived, I quickly realized that 1,500 lumens are plenty to go night skiing and actually ski, not just slide around in the dark.
The Piko's Smart Core battery is waterproof, impact resistant, and charges via an electrical outlet. It also has a display on the battery indicating its current strength. At full throttle, the lamp will last one hour and 45 minutes, which can be prolonged if you dim the LEDs via adjustable and varying levels of brightness. It also can be purchased with a Bluetooth adapter and different mounts for helmets, bikes, etc.
The skiing possibilities with this portable headlight are quite impressive. Over the past year, I've used it for early season night-touring on the groomer for exercise, full-on powder backcountry laps when conditions warranted the extra hours, and even during a night ski-mo race at Brighton, where I passed several skiers each lap simply because I could see while they were chasing shadows.
Upon returning to the same touring lodge where I met Henrik, I followed his lead. It was snowing hard and piling up faster than I've seen storms here in the Wasatch. So after some alluring après snacks, I buckled my boots back up—despite some angry defiance from my feet, and headed into the dark and open swath of tree skiing below. I clicked the headlamp on and the snow globe forest emerged before my eyes. Portable night skiing, something I may quickly take for granted.