Just a few minutes north of the famous Forest Gump Point and sacred Navajo lands that make up Monument Valley is a lesser-known area that is as majestic and beautiful as the crowded neighbor to the south. Valley of the Gods is a network of intricate and superb rock features that line San Juan County Road 242 below Cedar Mesa.
We have had our hands on the DENALI D7 Driving Lights for over 6 months and the results are really impressive. Our D7's have been installed on a couple of our 4x4 trucks and their permanent home is on the steel bumper on our Lexus GX470.
We wrote another article of our first impressions of the D7 that you should read before continuing on. In the past 6 months of use we have explored all of our local trails and even made a trip to Moab, UT with the DENALI D7 lighting the way. Read on for an in depth look at the D7 and hear our opinions on their performance.
DENALI Lights-Top Notch Build Quality
The build quality of the DENALI D7, like every product that we have handled from DENALI, is top notch. The case is tough and sleek looking, while not being obnoxiously designed like a lot of other light brands. We are fans of traveling under the radar when possible, so the discreet branding and simple design is appealing. The D7 optics use seven CREE LED's placed behind a polycarbonate lens with a rugged rubber gasket to keep the elements out. The D7 is IP67 rated and we can attest that after several submersions, our D7's are still completely sealed.
Each D7 comes with a proprietary DENALI 3 wire plug at the end of the light and adapters included to wire up your lights if you aren't using the DENALI harness. We opted to use the DENALI harness and ease of installation and the plugs click in with no drama and 10,000 miles of trouble-free driving.
The most appealing selling factor for us, besides the performance of the light, is the size. At 4.5" in diameter, the D7 is small and packs a massive punch. The light fits perfectly in our Explore Overland front bumper and is less obvious than a light bar or larger set of lights. As much as we like camping, we often spend time in hotels or AirBnB's while we travel and having a light that doesn't scream "Please steal me" is an added benefit.
The D7 comes standard with a clear lens, but DENALI offers a Selective Yellow and Amber lens as well. Swapping the lenses is extremely simple and only requires the removal of 4 small screws on the rear of the casing.
The D7 is Stupid Bright
We have had the opportunity to test the D7 in a variety of conditions including forests in the Ozarks, long highway stretches, and desert runs in Moab. We are a bit blown away each time we flip the switch, these lights are crazy bright. Each D7 cranks out 7,665 lumens per pod and the spot beam pattern reaches over 1,200 feet at 1 lux. In real life conditions, the D7 projects light nearly 2,000 feet in a usable beam.
On our most recent camping trip to Moab, we got caught out in a rain storm and came back to camp to find our tent overturned and water inside. Not only did the D7's save our bacon on the drive back to camp in a torrential downpour, but also lit up our campsite while we drained water and re-pitched our tent. The amount of usable light is simply amazing. Where we live in rural Oklahoma, most roads are poorly lit at night and the chance of hitting a deer or other animal is pretty high. We use the D7's as our high beams nearly every day and have noticed many hazards well before they became problems.
The DENALI D7 is a Great Value
I understand that claiming a light kit that costs $700 is a great value will come as a shock to some. If that is you, it's probably best that you look at the pretty pictures and move on. If you have found that you typically get what you pay for when it comes to gear, keep reading.
At the current price for the D7 light kit ($699.99 USD), the D7 comes in at a cost of $0.04 per lumen. The nearest competitor offering claims 7,500+ lumens at a cost of $1,179 ($0.15 per lumen). The competitor's offering of similarly performing 7 LED spotlights costs 275% more than the DENALI D7. The decision for us is really easy, the D7 offers superior optics at an affordable price, relative to the alternatives.
There are absolutely a ton of offerings from name-brand lighting companies at cheaper price points for this size of light. However, at the lower price point you lose total lumens, distance at 1 lux, and cheaper build materials. DENALI is extremely straight forward about light performance and even offer ISOLUX charts (like above) for all of their lights. Tracking down light tests for many of the bigger lighting brands is extremely challenging.