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Gear Review: Petzl SiGNAL light

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The Gear Junkie: Petzl SiGNAL light

It weighs 8/10ths of an ounce on my scale. But this tiny L.E.D. may well have saved my life.

Now, there’s no way of knowing what might have happened. But the scenario was that I ran out of daylight on a bike ride, pedaling 20 miles one evening around the city to train.

On the route home — a busy road through town — I was left, stupidly, without any illumination to show my presence as a biker amongst cars during that hard-to-see sunset hour.

That was until I remembered the Petzl SiGNAL light, the aforementioned less-than-1-ounce blinker that I had stuffed away in the seat bag on the bike.

Petzl advertises the SiGNAL’s tiny L.E.D. bulbs to be visible from 1 kilometer away.

With the push of the SiGNAL’s button, a pair of blinking red dots and a piercing orange light began to dance on the unit’s face. I strapped it over my helmet, stretching the elastic band back and cinching it tight, the SiGNAL’s blinking beam giving alert to my dark form moving down the road.

New this spring, the SiGNAL is a “multidirectional performance safety light,” according to Petzl (en.petzl.com). While not optimal as a bike blinker, the light is made for cycling and running when you need to be seen. Or, the company touts it as an emergency signal, the tiny L.E.D. bulbs visible from 1 kilometer away.

It runs on lithium CR2032 batteries that last up to 120 hours in blink mode or 40 hours when constantly on. Petzl quotes a temperature range tolerance from minus-22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and it’s rated waterproof to three feet under.

At $14.95, this is one of those products I would feel silly to be without. It weighs nothing in a pack or pocket and takes up little room. The two lighting modes, blinking and constant-on, provide a small amount of illumination to read by or hike with in a pinch or visibility in an emergency.

The SiGNAL comes with an elastic headlamp strap, letting you wear the light facing forward or — as I did on a recent bike ride — facing backwards over a helmet.

The bottle-cap-size light has a plastic clip on back to snap onto a belt or backpack webbing. An elastic strap with plastic cincher lets you wear it around your noggin like a headlamp or pulled tight in bracelet fashion on a wrist.

On my bike ride, the SiGNAL gave enough light for me to be seen, though its small L.E.D.s are not comparable to the look-at-me-here radiance of the larger dedicated bike flashers I normally employ.

But in a pinch, as I discovered last week on my ride, the SiGNAL will be more than adequate.

(Stephen Regenold writes The Gear Junkie column for eleven U.S. newspapers; see www.THEGEARJUNKIE.com for video gear reviews, a daily blog, and an archive of Regenold’s work.)

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