Written by Bruce R. Copeland on October 12, 2008
The last few times I’ve paced or run a 100-miler, I’ve been using a belly light in addition to a headlamp. This has proved to be a highly effective arrangement for lighting the trail at night. The belly light provides better trail illumination than a headlamp because it is closer to the ground, and the beam makes a less acute angle to the ground. The beam from a belly lamp does have some side-to-side sway when running, although less than you typically get with a hand-held or arm mounted light. The combination of a belly light and a headlamp is especially good because the two light beams move independently when running and have different angles to the ground. In my experience, there is more than sufficient light when both the headlamp and belly light are set on low beam.
What I am currently using as a belly light is simply a headlamp positioned around my midsection at or slightly above belly button level. It is somewhat of a pain to put on because I have to step through the headlamp strap with both feet in order to pull it up into position. I also discovered it is easier to find an appropriate angle for the belly light beam when the lamp is upside down. Outdoor lamp gear manufacturers might want to consider selling a separate strap that could be used to convert a headlamp into a belly lamp. Such a strap would need to be long enough to go around the midsection and should have some kind of buckle. Alternatively there might even be a market for a dedicated belly light with an appropriate strap and a lamp beam angle adjustment reversed from that on a headlamp.
Give it a try; you might like it too!