09 January 2013

Interbike: Torch Apparel

One of my favorite things at shows like Interbike and Outdoor Retailer is talking to the people who are there trying to get their new product off the ground. They may not have a functioning prototype yet, but they are out there trying like everything to get some recognition and interest in their product. Their enthusiasm and attitude is infectious.

One such booth I visited at Interbike was for Torch Apparel. Their premise of providing integrated lighting in helmets and backpacks for commuting immediately hooked me as a good portion of my cycling commute is during less than optimal lighting conditions.

Their premier launch consisted of a backpack and helmet, both with integrated LED panels. The FLUX backpack has a flexible red fiber-optic LED panel on the back of the bag that can be set for either steady or flashing, with an average run time of 4 hours. The LED element can be removed from the bag and used independently as a seatpost light as well.

The T1 helmet has integrated LED lights on the front and rear of the helmet - white front and red rear - offering 360-degree visibility. The lights can be activated separately, and feature steady or flashing options. The lights on the helmet are protected by a durable polycarbonate lens that is available in clear or smoke tint.  Both the backpack and T1 helmet can be recharged through a standard USB 2.0 port. MSRP for the backpack and standard helmet is $120. the Midnight edition of the helmet is $130.

The great thing about the helmet and pack is that when they aren't lit up, they don't look like safety gear. Some people will not use safety gear because of the way it looks, not wanting to appear "lame", or whatever. The red panel on the black backpack looks like a splash of color the black bag, and on the red bag it blends in with the rest of the bag.

The helmet is styled like a standard urban commuter helmet. The LED panels don't stand out or draw attention until you turn on the lights.

The Midnight edition comes with smoke-tinted lenses front and rear.

Like I have mentioned before, my normal commute frequently starts and occasionally ends when it is dark. The lights from the helmet and pack are not bright enough to be your primary or sole source of illumination, but as a supplemental light source - the helmet looks like it will throw off enough light to help you read your watch, map, or bike computer. The helmet and pack will be available starting Spring of 2013. I can't wait to get my hands on one for a thorough review.

More information can be found at www.torchapparel.com

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