DYNAFIT DAYMAKER HELMET+LIGHTING SYSTEM

a few months ago, after playing with this at a tradeshow, the thought was WOW! now, after using on expedition, the thought is %&$#@+ WOW!

its a gear off!! two impressive helmets in an impressive place. the Dynafit Daymaker at 5320m on Gangga VII

perhaps because of the serious price tag Dynafit’s Daymaker ‘head system’ has seen little exposure. this review aims to change that. closer to something the PJ’s would wear, the Daymaker system is a big step all round; for helmets, for lighting and for wearable integrated climbing gear.

whats striking about this set is the spec of the elements both standalone and combine. they havent churned out the basest version of whats possible, they have nailed the current upper end. its not like Dynafit have combined superfluous gimmicky bits of junk with this – both a helmet and a headlight are fundamental climbing gear. both elements have also seen a lot of recent innovation and both showcase new technology that has a broad base of users – which makes you wonder why more companies arent putting out integrated systems.

minimal and comfortable

the helmet: alone its one of the lightest helmets out there – and its no minimalist foam dome. full spec, its shelled foam with a full plastic cradle, headlight lugs, a webbing harness (with a funky little magnetic clasp) and the rear battery housing. its fully CE and UIAA rated for mountaineering

thats a serious lighting set up

the headlight: ‘headlight’ is the correct term here. produced by BMW the lighting functions and operates in every way like the lights of a car. the beams are set, with left and right beams set at 2 angles (ie 4 individual lights, a narrower power spread and a wider ambient spread), each set ramps up and down like close, regular and high beam, and its simple one-touch operating. just like a car, with very little in common with every other light out there. build-wise its stunning – BMW havent let the side down at all. attachment is with soft silicone arms onto the helmet lugs with small locator holes in the helmet to fix it fully. the cable threads thru a vent opening then runs along the inside behind the cradle (and via a charger connection) to the battery pack.

the silicone arms & cable

the power is impressive at 1000 lumens, but its not exactly as it seems. the focal power beam feels like its about 300, with the remaining 700 going into the ambient spread. rather than a beam that could be seen on the moon you get a spread that illuminates a basketball court right back into your peripheral vision. it has to be remembered that this is a system designed foremost for backcountry skiing, where the eye demands as wide a spread of illumination as it does a powerful direct beam. the extra lumens dont feel like 1000 at first, until you compare with the ambient spread on a regular headtorch and you realize its not for reading in a tent its for illuminating mountain sides

the battery pack alone is an impressive bit of design

the battery pack (USB rechargable & insulated) has a life of about 4hrs on full juice, which is impressive. at less than that it scales down to about 12hrs on what could be called ‘normal output’.

combined: together it weighs less than most helmets! also its so finely balanced and jiggle/vibration free it feels seamless with nothing that could work loose. its specifically glove friendly (WOO-HOO!! finally a headlight that is!) with a single large rubberized button that glows red (reflects onto your hand so you can see where it is)

in reality: its as good as youd hoped. for normal stuff it functions like a regular light minus the problems associated with strap on use, then you have a serious degree of upscaling that is impressive. when needed you can light up a large area to allow a whole group to utilize the light, useful for things like belay stances, setting up tents and organizing gear at 4:00am.

4:00am, 4600m, -10c, normal headlight on full beam spread

4:01am, 4600m, -10c, Dynafit Daymaker on full beam spread…

issues: the light doesnt articulate so its slightly less good for map reading. theres no red beam – a serious failing. the light isnt really useable as a standalone so in tents you need to mess about. whilst the rear battery is elegantly integrated it seems they could do a bit more with the front cable, making it hidden from rock impacts. a spare battery is no doubt a pain in the ass/expensive to procure, meaning you need access to a charger which ok but not great on long trips.

in a way this is star trek stuff – a big leap in so many ways that a few minor elements need to catch up. plus being a ski helmet its a bit unfair to place the demands of exped climbing on it, but then again Dynafit is now owned by Salewa so perhaps time to listen up.