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Gear review: GoMotion Fusion Sternum Light

The end point of Colfax ave in Strasburg on Headlight Road.
The end point of Colfax ave in Strasburg on Headlight Road.

For years, long distance backpackers who did a lot of nighthiking have been taking their headlamps and wearing them on their sternum straps or waist. The reason? To maximize the amount of light hitting the trail and minimize the chances that your body will create extra shadows between the light source and the trail. Now, GoMotion has come up with an innovative design based on what hikers (and runners) have been doing for years. Backed with a powerful lamp, long battery life, and versatile beams, the GoMotion provides an interesting solution to an old hiker’s problem. Over the past few months, I tested out the GoMotion Fusion, an adjustable sternum strap model that attaches to your thru-hiking pack on backpacking, camping, and multi-day urban hikes, experimenting with the light on hiking trips in several states, climates, and terrains in an attempt to answer whether the model is the new answer to backpacking lights.

The way it works:

The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FNY2204/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00FNY2204&linkCode=as2&tag=lizthoadvhik-20&linkId=DT636G3WIRHWOBZ6 rel=”nofollow”">GoMotion Fusion’s</a> adjustable sternum strap model attaches between two Velcro bands (included in the Fusion kit). It is shown here on my <a href="http://www.avantlink.com/click.php?tt=cl&mi=13246&pw=182290&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgossamergear.com%2Ftype-2-utility-backpack.html rel="no follow"">Gossamer Gear Type 2 Ultralight Daypack.</a>
The GoMotion Fusion’s adjustable sternum strap model attaches between two Velcro bands (included in the Fusion kit). It is shown here on my Gossamer Gear Type 2 Ultralight Daypack.

The GoMotion Fusion operates as a second sternum strap that runs between your backpack’s two arm straps. The way it works is that you attach two Velcro bands (comes with the headlamp) to your backpack—one to each arm strap (the lamp is attached to one of the Velcro bands). From there, you hook the lamp and webbing from one Velcro to the other so it looks like you have a sternum strap on.

The hook allows the sternum light to be easy to attach and remove

Distance: I used the GoMotion Fusion headlamp on three multi-day urban hikes as an extra level of protection from cars. On the Selma to Montgomery hike, much of the distance covered was along a busy highway with cars zooming past me at 60 miles per hour. When I was in town, I ran into many people who said “I saw you on the road because your light was so visible.”

Lumens/brightness: I have never had a headlamp with seemingly car-headlight quality beam that was able to cover not just myself, but 4 other hikers. I started an early morning backpacking trip with several other hikers who had not brought headlamps. Using the floodlamp option on the GoMotion Fusion, we were all able to hike in car-headlight quality beam that was able to cover all of us.

Using the GoMotion Fusion attached to my <a href="http://www.avantlink.com/click.php?tt=cl&mi=13246&pw=182290&url=http%3A%2F%2Fgossamergear.com%2Fkumo-superlight-backpack.html rel="no follow"">Gossamer Gear Kumo backpacking backpack</a> on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Using the GoMotion Fusion attached to my Gossamer Gear Kumo backpacking backpack on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

Battery Life: While many headlamps have a bright life when the batteries are popped in, and then live 80% of their life in a dim gloom, the GoMotion Fusion stayed bright for much longer than I was expecting given that their target customer appears to be ultramarathoners (who, unlike long distance backpackers, have the luxury of replacing their batteries after 24 hours and of aid stations where new batteries can be retrieved). On my test hikes, light seemed steadily bright throughout my battery’s life instead of the dreaded first few hours of brightness followed by 50 hours of dim before the battery finally dies.

The GoMotion light angle adjustment pivots up and down and adjusts beam width
The GoMotion light angle adjustment pivots up and down and adjusts beam width

External battery pack: This headlamp uses three AAs, which certainly leads into this headlamp weighing more than the traditional lamps that hikers use. On my scale, the battery pack itself without batteries came in at 2.5 oz—almost the weight of a traditional backpacking headlamp. However, to avoid having that heavy weight strapped to the head, GoMotion has placed the battery pack externally, which is one reason why the batteries can last so long. As a backpacker, I put the battery pack in the back mesh pocket of my ultralight Gossamer Gear Pack or in the side water bottle pocket. The battery pack even comes with its own small red LED light to increase visibility from behind when you are running at night. However, finding a place for the external battery pocket and not getting the cord caught on other pieces of gear was not my favorite feature.

The parts included in the GoMotion kit (includes 3 AA batteries, the orange reflective Velcro that wraps around the battery pack is not shown)
The parts included in the GoMotion kit (includes 3 AA batteries, the orange reflective Velcro that wraps around the battery pack is not shown)

Weight: Due to its design, battery strength, and battery life, the GoMotion Fusion is heavier than other light options on the market.

Part Weight
Grey Velcro .7 oz
Orange Velcro 0.4 oz
Battery case only 2. oz
Total weight without batteries 7.15 oz
Total weight with 3 AA alkaline batteries 9.6 oz

 

Waterproofness: I’ve spent a lot of time night hiking in the rain—in fact, many of the times I’ve nighthiked have been because it has been raining and I wanted to get to a shelter or better protected area. The GoMotion’s battery pack has a waterproof cover that was even able to keep out sand when I took it backpacking in the sand dunes.

The external battery pack has a waterproof lid.
The external battery pack has a waterproof lid.

Multi-use: When I’m backpacking, I often use my headlamp as a lantern in my tent. For most headlamps, this simply involves hanging it from a hook in my tarp. The GoMotion Fusion lamp, with its external battery pack, was a little unwieldy when hung from a tarp what weighs almost as much as it does. On subsequent backpacking trips, I brought a separate light to hang from my tent instead.

 

Using the Fusion light as a lantern inside my <a href="http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=137">Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid</a> held up by <a href="http://www.avantlink.com/click.php?tt=cl&mi=13246&pw=182290&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gossamergear.com">Gossamer Gear LT4 hiking poles</a>.
Using the Fusion light as a lantern inside my Mountain Laurel Designs Solomid held up by Gossamer Gear LT4 hiking poles.

 

This headlamp is ideal for ultramarathoning, speedhiking, or Fastest Known Time attempts. It provides a lot of light, is hands-free, won’t give you a headache (and you can still wear a hat), and has a battery that lasts a long time. The downsides of the headlamp have mostly to do with camping—managing to avoid getting the wires caught in items like guylines, setting the light up in a tent, taking off your backpack, adding or taking off a layer, etc.—essentially things that speedhikers don’t spend too much time worrying about. If you’re planning on mostly cowboy camping or not sleeping at all and need to a light that won’t fail you, consider the GoMotion to be an incredibly useful tool in your quiver. For more traditional backpacking where you intend to camp before dark and start hiking after sunrise, the map is probably overkill.

The GoMotion Fusion on the Selma to Montgomery Hike
The GoMotion Fusion on the Selma to Montgomery Hike

Unexpectedly, the GoMotion Fusion sternum light was incredibly useful for urban hiking. After hearing from drivers and seeing how well cars can spot me with the Fusion on, I won’t do another long urban hike or long distance hike that requires long roadwalks (the American Discovery Trail, North Country Trail, or Mountains to Sea Trail all come to mind) without that light. The GoMotion Fusion provided a great buffer of safety and I felt like I was walking with my headlights on.

It’s encouraging seeing gear like the Fusion on the market as a solution to a problem hikers have been facing and, until now, have only been able to Macgyver solutions for. I look forward to watching subsequent models of the Fusion become lighter, allow for use with 3 AAA batteries instead of AA’s, and have a lighter weight attachment system. Ultimately, this will depend on backpackers and weight conscious gear users becoming a bigger part of their customer base. Keep your eyes out, as I imagine what we’re seeing with the Fusion is the forefront of what could be a revolution in backpacking lights in the next few years.

Disclosure: Liz Thomas received a Fusion from GoMotion to conduct this review.

Liz "Snorkel" Thomas

Liz Thomas is a well-traveled adventure athlete most known for breaking the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011. She has completed the Triple Crown of Hiking–the Appalachian Trail, the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail, and 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail–and has backpacked over 15,000 miles across the United States. While not on trail, Liz lives in Denver, Colorado.