Several months ago, we got in touch with the Brooklyn-based company called BioLite. BioLite produces various accessories for backpacking, hiking and other outdoor activities. Their offer includes backpacking stoves, solar chargers, headlamps and more. They offered us a sample of their brand-new Headlamp 200 for testing in return for an unbiased review. As usually, I checked the technical specifications before agreeing. The BioLite Headlamp 200 impressed me with its low weight while having similar features as heavier headlamps. So, I couldn’t wait to test it.
I received the headlamp in the beginning of February which was perfect because the days were still quite short here in Scandinavia. Since then I’ve been regularly using the headlamp for running and hiking. I also used it on the popular Velika Planina trail in the Alps (to be published soon) as it got dark before I managed to return to the starting point. Below is what I learned about the BioLite Headlamp 200.
The BioLite Headlamp 200 is suitable for:
The BioLite Headlamp 200 is an extremely lightweight headlamp – which was also the first thing I noticed when I unwrapped it. With the weight of merely 50 grams (1.75 oz.), it’s indeed the lightest headlamp I’ve ever had. I was also positively surprised over the headband. It is made of a breathable and moisture-wicking material and unlike headbands of most other headlamps, it completely covers the backside of the headlamp. All other headlamps I have tried are designed so that the plastic backside of the headlamp touches your forehead directly, which I never liked. It can be okay if you are wearing a hat but having the plastic material directly against the bare skin is uncomfortable. So, that’s a very thought-through feature and I’m very happy about it.
The backside of the headlamp is also ergonomically shaped and thus the headlamp fits nicely on the head. I used the headlamp for the first time on a short evening run and I quickly noticed that it provides a much better fit than any other headlamp I have. The headlamp stayed firmly on my head throughout the run due to its low weight and ergonomic design. No readjustments (headband, position etc.) were required and I honestly forgot that I was wearing it after a few hundred of meters. After the run I put the headlamp drying, and I was impressed how fast the headband dried. It’s indeed important that the headband is quick drying because wet fabrics make you cold quickly due to conductive heat loss.
The headlamp is equipped with a single rubber button on the top which I didn’t have trouble using – even while was wearing gloves. With this button you turn the headlamp on/off and if you press it in short intervals you toggle through different modes. The headlamp supports four modes: white spot, white strobe, red flood and red strobe. The white spot and red flood mode can also be dimmed. To enable/disable dimming you simply hold the button for several seconds while you are in one of these two modes. To select a mode, you don’t always have to toggle through all modes because the headlamp has a memory function. When you turn it on it will be in the same mode as it was when you turned it off.
The BioLite Headlamp 200 also has a lock mode which is very useful when you are carrying the headlamp in a backpack because it prevents accidental battery drain. To enable/disable the lock mode you simply hold the button for eight seconds.
According to BioLite the headlamp projects up to 200 lumens which is a bit less than competitive products from brands such as Petzl and Black Diamond. Nevertheless, I don’t think lumens are the most important metric. In my experience, headlamps with the same number of lumens vary a lot in terms of illumination and beam distances. BioLite states that the headlamp has a beam distance of 50 meters in white spot mode and 8 meters in dimmed white spot mode. That sounds quite probable, although I haven’t measured the beam distance precisely. All in all, I can say that the headlamp provides adequate illumination for running and hiking. Nevertheless, I wish the beam pattern would be slightly wider for increased coverage. However, this is a minor thing.
The BioLite Headlamp 200 is equipped with a 700 mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery with a burn time of 3 hours in white spot mode and 40 hours in dimmed white spot mode which is comparable to competitive products. It comes with a micro-USB cable for charging and according to my measurements the charging time is less than 3 hours. I simply charged the headlamp with my phone charger. Now, one thing I actually do miss is the possibility to replace the battery. While you are backpacking, electricity is not always available and if you, like me, don’t take a lot of electronic devices on trails, chances are that you don’t own a power bank. Many backpacking headlamps have the option that you can simply change the battery pack or even insert disposable batteries, which is very convenient for multi-day trips in remote areas. Once the battery dies, you don’t have to wait that it recharges.
The headlamp also has a battery level indicator. So, when you turn the headlamp off it will blink: If you see two green blinks, it means that the headlamp is more than 50% full; if you see two red blinks, the headlamp is less than 50% full, and if it blinks red four times it means it’s empty. I think it would be better if these intervals of battery level had been a bit smaller, especially considering that once the battery dies you are without illumination until it’s charged again. Not a great scenario if you are still roaming through the wild.
Durability and Weather Resistance
The materials of the BiolIte 200 make it look slightly “cheap”, but I haven’t noticed any problems in terms of durability so far although I for sure haven’t been particularly careful with the headlamp. The headlamp also comes with 1-year limited warranty, and BioLite offers a one-month money back guarantee which shows that they are confident in their product.
The headlamp has IPX4 water resistance rating which means that it can withstand splashing water (rain) but should not be submerged in the water. I used the headlamp on several runs in light rain without a problem.
The BioLite Headlamp 200 impressed me by being extremely lightweight and simple to use. The headlamp also provides very good fit and stays firmly on your head without bouncing. It provides good illumination although it has a bit narrower beam than the other headlamps I have tried. I was also satisfied with the battery life, durability and basic functionality. In my opinion the headlamp is perfect for running because it’s so light you don’t even notice you are wearing it. It’s also a good option for hiking and backpacking but I wish it would be possible to change the battery on-the-go because recharging on trail can be a hassle. Nevertheless, I’m really happy with the headlamp.
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.