Mark D Stephens: Adventurer, writer, photographer, ambassador of the sonoran desert
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Equipment Review and Evaluation:
Lightforce 170 Striker Driving Lights (adjustable)

Nissan Frontier Navaa d40 with lightforce lights 170 striker

U.S. Dealer: Sierra Expeditions
www.sierraexpeditions.com

Benefits of auxiliary off-highway lighting
Off road driving at night

As dull as it sounds, safety is a significant benefit for auxiliary off-road lighting. The safety factor is connected to your confidence as well: say it's after the sun sets and you're pecking down a trail towards a place you've never been, such as - oh, Punta San Andrés in Baja - the flip of a switch brightens the road and ushers in a certain level of newfound confidence.

It's quite amazing, really, how disenchanted a team of drivers and passengers will become when it's dark, they're hungry, and camp is who-knows-where.

Additionally, 350,000 candlepower output gives you a leg up should you need a rescue.

Expedition D40 nissan navara with lightforce lightsFrom Lightforce regarding their product's benefits:

  • LIGHTWEIGHT for less user fatigue/vibration and performance. Greater user comfort and confidence
  • STRENGTH & DURABILITY via design and ‘state of the art’ materials make these virtually indestructible
  • LIGHT OUTPUT via mirror like parabolic reflectors and in conjuction with specially selected bulbs to optimise performance, safety, and efficiency
  • UNIQUE MODULAR SYSTEM of accessories to cater for a diverse range of situations

One more thing . . . off-road lights look really cool.

First impression

Well, if you're not versed in plastics and the durability of certain types, you'd be mistaken to believe that units as lightweight as these are not very tough. In an industry where anything worth taking on a trail is made of steel, lights are the exception.

Metal corrodes. And since lights don't need to accept the weight of the vehicle for recovery purposes, the polymer alloys used in the lights prove to be the ultimate composite.

The lexan lens is the same material as used in NASCAR windshields, fighter jet canopies, and the ever-famously unbreakable NALGENE bottle.

So, yes they are lightweight yet still exceptionally tough.

I found the "mechanism" for adjusting the beam from spot to spread rather rudimentary. Thus, I wondered about the longevity (after a few years of service) of its ability to hold a pattern without spinning while driving a corrugated track.

Not included with a pair of lights is the wiring harness. Lightforce does supply one, though, for about $45 retail (U.S.). Harness includes a relay, switch, and adequate wire length to extend from the front bumper through the engine compartment and into the cab. Connections have heat shrink, and the entire bundle is wrapped in wire loom. For $45, it's worth it in labor alone.

It might be the acme of foolishness to outright trust products that come from Australia, but on the island that has a significant overlanding market segment that demands the most durable goods . . . I have reason to trust. We'll see if that's ungrounded or not.

Installation
off road lighting lightforce nissan frontierWith the wiring harness, installation is a breeze even if you know nothing about wiring a relay into the mix. If you do your own wiring, that will be the difficult part and not really associated with the lights - as far as ease of installation is concerned.

The light bodies feature a nut-n-bolt joint in the neck to allow up and down aiming adjustment. A simple bolt holds the base to any surface; such as a bumper, light bar, etc.

About the size: Being 170mm in diameter (hence the name) these lights are 6.8" in diameter. Click here to see a diagram of each dimension on the lights.

Mounting onto the Shrockworks bumper needed to be done before we bolted the bumper to the Frontier / Navara. Accessing the mounting blt for the light on the inside of the bumper would be extremely difficult - if not impossible - with the bumper in place. To read about the Shrockworks bumper installation, see this page (off site, opens in a new window).

Performance
lightforce lights on a winch bumper with a bull skullWith approximately 350,000 candlepower, these suckers light up the night.

The parabolic-shaped reflectors are also nearly perfect mirrors, which produce a beam that burns further than most. It's a scientifically proven combination that is highly efficient.

However, I care less about the brightness than I do the longevity of the product. Auxiliary lighting is an aid, and as such I want the units to operate easily and faithfully in extreme conditions. I trust that the wiring will last thanks to the loom and heat shrink, and I suspect these light bodies will last the life of this Nissan Frontier / Navara.

Light force driving lights on a Nissan Frontier D40 NavaraSeven days (and many nights) on the trails and tracks in Baja I was pleasantly surprised to see that the beams did not "self adjust" while we drove, so my initial apprehensions are put to rest.

I don't find much use for the spot setting, as I like these to illuminate the trail in a sweeping fashion - that's just my style. The Australians, as I understand it, like to set one light to "spot" and use the other for flooding the ground with light. I may try this type of set-up as well. Make me feel "global" in my approach to this eccentric little lifestyle of driving rough roads in the dark for fun . . .

The lenses that come with these lights are clear, and they simply snap on around the housing. Lightforce also offers an assortment of other clip-on, shatterproof, polycarbonate colored lenses for different applications; from snow and ice to dust, from wide angle to spot.

Value
Nissan Frontier off highway expedition vehicle with lightforce lightsLighting is expensive. Period. Get over it.

I understand that these are not cheap lights, and I'm appreciative of that. Construction is well-thought-out and the quality materials prevent the Lightforce lights from being bargain-basement buys.

Though the feature of the adjustable beam may look good on paper, but it's not an impressive benefit. More below in the "Evaluation" section.

Be not misled! I consider the value of these units quite high, and my dollar well spent.

Just as much . . . uh, these look good on our Nissan Frontier Navara D40.

Evaluation

lightforce video with shotgun and bouncing on the ground, displaying the toughness and strength of lightforce lightsSo after about a year of service, how do I like these lights?

They perform exceptionally well . . . but what the heck does that mean? First, they are as indestructible as the stories, videos, and sales pitches say.

(Check out the mpeg to the right, it opens in a new window.)

Second, you can't screw around with any other reflector shape: a round reflector is the only choice if you're concerned about getting the maximum light output. Lightforce delivers.

Let's talk about that for a second:

The bulb filament size and shape, combined with the reflector's design, is what determines the concentration of a focused beam. A vertical filament provides a circular spot for a beam, while a horizontal filament provies a slight oval spot beam. Which filament comes on these lights? Horizontal. However, I'm sure you can specify either one at the time you order. (Otherwise, replacements about about $14.00)

Anyway, to get a good, broad flooding light pattern from these Striker 170 lights, you have to spin the housing by a few threads - then the pattern isn't all that impressive, and the light is now loose. So the best way to take advantage of the adjustability is to get a few filters in your hands. Namely, a "wide angle" filter that comes in clear or yellow, your choice. I think that a yellow wide angle filter set is in my future.

Lightforce lights example
Links to larger pictures of above examples:
Headlights only (large) . . . w/ Lightforce 170 (large)

I'm just not a fan of tossing the least amount of money at an item like auxiliary lights. Particularly with lights that grace the nose of the truck. I don't want one of those "it's better than nothing" type of products here. While trying to locate a campsite at night in the bowels of Mexico, I want to be able to see at the flip of a switch. Without failure.

In summary:

  • Polycarbonate alloy is nearly indestructible, and resistant to corrosion and associated faliure
  • Minimal weight reduces vibration and associated failure; marginal affect on payload
  • Increased safety with improved visibility and ability for rescue signaling
  • Easy-to-install wiring harness available
  • Assorted lenses available and inexpensive
  • Adjustable beam (eh . . .)
  • They look really cool


On the highway

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Mark D. Stephens: Adventurer, Writer, Photgrapher and Ambassador of the Sonoran Desert