Running Gear Review: Kogalla RA Adventure Light
In the spirit of full disclosure: I am a bit of a gear nerd in all aspects of my life. I enjoy feeling like I am keeping tabs on the latest and greatest to make my limited recreational time as efficient and enjoyable as possible. I work multiple jobs and try like crazy to be a good dad to my young son, which means that a lot of my runs end up getting squeezed into the corners of my waking hours - and because I live in Minnesota, this often means I am hitting the road/trail in the hopes that the sun will be up soon (or that it won’t set too early into my run). This means that lightweight, long-lasting, and easy to use lighting solutions are near and dear to my heart (skip back to our article here for a good review of the benefits of both seeing and being seen).
Review: Kogalla RA Adventure Light
As I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram yet again, I stumbled across what promised to be an intriguing offering - the RA adventure light system from Kogalla. After a quick chat with the VP of Business Development (per Dick, apparently I do have the Minnesota accent down…), a sample was on the way for us to play with.
While anxiously watching the tracking information refresh for a few short days, I did some more digging around on their website. What had initially impressed me about Kogalla’s product offering was the versatility: the lighting system itself is relatively straightforward (5 LEDs placed behind precision lenses offering 120 degrees of uniform light distribution, using a standard USB connector to mate the light to its power source), the mounting options are very well thought out (included velcro strips, a D ring strap, or even use the included magnet plate to hang it almost anywhere else you can imagine), and the included battery pack options cover a range (allowing you to decide on acceptable weight versus lifespan). There are even red and green lens covers, should you choose to take your RA along on some non-running excursions.
Putting the Kogalla RA Adventure Light through the Paces
The package arrived and it was time to put the light through its paces. First and foremost, one strip of lights is bright! Run on full power, the first thing that jumps out at you is the even light distribution. The lenses offer warm, consistent light from edge to edge, meaning no annoying hotspots (and not the nausea-inducing bounce common with so many singular light sources).
The seemingly limitless mounting options also cater to a diverse crowd - attach them to the straps of your hydration pack or vest, use the embedded magnets with or without the MagBak backing plate to hang the light almost anywhere (a personal favorite for traveling light is to attach the Kogolla light to something like a FlipBelt with the battery pack safely tucked away in the back pocket), or whatever else you can imagine (the light strip itself also has some flexibility, so you are not constrained to truly flat mounting surfaces).
The battery pack options also deserve some discussion. Starting from the ground up, Kogalla decided to use their own proprietary battery pack for a few reasons (stay with me here, this was interesting to learn). Most typical portable battery packs are driven by draw - as your phone or other device reaches a fully charge state, the battery pack itself shuts down. Run your RA on low power or flash mode, and your off the shelf battery pack will assume that charging is done…and shut off. Step up from the BatPak 1 to the BatPak 2 or 3, and additional USB ports are added - with the nice benefit that all ports put out at least a full 2 amps (whereas most common portable battery packs only offer 2 amps on one port, and lower amperage for additional ports). Another reason that we like the external battery pack option - for longer runs in colder climates (think the runs you are preparing to do now), having the flexibility to mount the light outside (where it actually shines somewhere useful) while insulating the battery pack itself somewhat (like stashing it in an internal pocket or other slightly warmer spot) helps extend useful battery life. Stash extra batteries in drop bags (yes, the Kogalla RA has been to the Moab 240, among other high profile ultra distance races), or pair your system with their Solar Storage Bank for extended run times. Incredible versatility in a well thought-out package - notice a theme here?
Fair warning for those of you who either enjoy taking full advantage of the plentiful recreational opportunities that our fair state affords us year round (or who have partners/friends/roommates who do) - this is not just a running light. Hang a couple of RAs from your backpack straps, and go for a hike. Add the red and green lense covers, and go for a midnight fishing expedition by kayak. Use the included velcro strips to mount the light to your bicycle handlebars, and tuck the battery pack in a frame bag. If you are anything like us, you will start to imagine all kinds of creative uses for a lightweight - yet durable! - lighting system with numerous brightness settings, even light distribution, and a multitude of useful accessories.
Kogalla RA Adventure Light Technical Details
If you have made it this far, and are hoping for the technical details, here is a bit more to satisfy your cravings:
- One RA puts out about 800 lumens of warm, natural light (but cycling through the brightness settings will toggle between 800, 400, 200, 100, and 50 - with your last brightness setting remembered the next time that you power it on). Hold the power button on the light itself to toggle through the settings, with three short flashes letting you know that you hit either the brightest or dimmest setting.
- Battery life is relatively straightforward. The BatPak 1 (which we tested) is advertised at lasting from 3.5 to 63 hours (based on brightness setting selected), and then each step up is an obvious increment (a BatPak 2 will power one light for twice as long as a BatPak 1, or power two lights just as long as a BatPak 1 will power one light). Obvious caveats apply here, as battery technology is influenced by climate (e.g., leave the battery exposed in -20F, and don’t expect the advertised run times to apply).
- The lighting unit itself measures a little over 7”, with around 40” of reinforced cable from the light to the USB plug. Depending on which BatPak you choose, the options range from around 4”x2”x1” to 6”x3”x1” (see the website for exact measurements, if needed).
- Ordering options and accessories range from the most basic (one RA light, one BatPak 1, and one basic accessory kit with lense covers, d-ring strap, velcro strip, and magnet backing plate) to a kit for outfitting an entire Ragnar team (yes, you will find Kogalla well-represented at your favorite relay race series as well!).
If there is anything missing from the Kogalla RA adventure light system, it is likely this - remember our previous discussion about seeing vs. being seen? The RA is an amazing option for seeing where you are going, complete with user-customizable brightness levels…but you are only going to be seen as a dark silhouette casting crazy amounts of light in 120 degrees from your chosen mounting point. Reflective outerwear is always recommended, and your neighborhood cyclist (and the rulemakers at Ragnar headquarters) just might be onto something - when running where encounters with people and varying modes of transportation are likely, some rear lighting (like ) goes a long way towards helping you be seen as the miles slide by.
What are you using for low-light running?
Are you looking to see better on technical trails and snow-covered paths? Or just need to be able to pick out the potholes a bit better on your neighborhood streets? Is long battery life important to you, or do you want the astronauts to be able to cheer you along on your morning run? Drop us a comment below, we would love to hear more about your experience - or help you pick out some great options to be safer and better able to enjoy your runs, no matter what time of day you head out!