Biolite 200 HeadLamp Review

Biolite Headlamp 200 Review

The BioLite Headlamp 200 is a micro-USB rechargeable LED headlamp that’s good for hiking, trail running, and camping. Weighing 1.75 oz, it has white and red modes, flood and spot modes, a dimmer, battery meter, and digital lock to prevent accidental discharge when carried in a backpack or waist pack. With a maximum brightness of 200 lumens, its 700 mAh Lithium-ion battery can power the headlamp for 3.0 hours on high at 200 lumens and up to 40 hours on low at 5 lumens of light. What sets the BioLite Headlamp 200 apart from other headlamps is the tight integration of the light into the head strap, giving it a thinner profile that helps minimize bouncing as your run or walk.

Biolite 200 Headlamp

Brightness
Controls
Battery
Comfort
Weight

No Bounce Rechargeable Headlamp

The Biolite Headlamp 200 is a comfortable and well-engineered rechargeable headlamp ideal for active sports where you need hands free lighting to show you the way.  It's tailor-made for trail running where you need a light that won't bounce around on your forehead and has flood and spot modes so you can see where you're going before you get there.

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Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 1.75 oz (including headband)
  • Battery: 700 mAh, Li-on, remote
  • Max lumens: 200
  • Beam distance: Flood 8 meters, spot 50 meters
  • Weather-resistant: IPX4
  • Modes: White and red
  • Dimming: Yes
  • Digital lock: Yes
  • Power Indicator: Yes
  • Micro-USB charging cable included
  • Max run time: 3.0 hours on high; 40 hours on low
  • Operating temperature: 14*F/ -10*C – 131*F / 55*C
  • Recharging temperature range: 32*F/ 0*C – 113*F / 45*C

Ergonomic Design

The Headlamp 200 has a front LED that rests on your forehead with a small built-in 700 mAh battery, so there aren’t any exposed wires between the light and a power pack. This differs from the larger Biolite Headamp 330 which has a remote battery pack separate from the LED unit and a higher capacity 900 mAh battery.

The Headlamp 200 has a front LED panel that tilts forward in four different positions so you can aim the light where you want it. The panel clicks through the positions one at a time and won’t move between positions even if you’re flying down the trail at a fast clip or run.

The LED unit is very thin and fully integrated into the headband
The LED unit is very thin and fully integrated into the headband

The LED switch is located at the center of the light panel, right in front of the angle control. It’s easy to depress with the meat of your thumb or a finger and provides click feedback as you loop through the different positions in the light’s control logic. This is an upgrade compared the Biolite Headlamp 330 where the switch was more difficult to depress.

The battery pack is built into the light panel and integrated headband so you don’t even know that it’s there. It has battery meter so you know how much power you have left and a micro-USB plug for recharging with a water-resistant cap and can be recharged while it’s in use.

The head strap adjustment is super easy to use. You simply grab the buckles on the sides of the battery and slide them forward to tighten the strap or backward to make it larger. It works great and a lot more intuitively than the headbands on other handlamps. In fact, it’s the most innovative thing about this headlamp, but probably not enough reason to buy it.

The LED element can be angled in four different positions
The LED element can be angled in four different positions

Control Logic

The Headlamp 200 has a lock mode that prevents accidental illumination and battery drain when the headlamp is carried in a backpack or your pocket. I consider this a must-have for day hiking and backpacking use.  You simply hold the power button down for 8 seconds to lock the light or unlock it. The light switch will remember the setting you had when you set the lock and resume in that mode.

The headlamp band is easy for anyone to adjust by pulling both buckles away from one another or together at the same time.
The headlamp band is easy for anyone to adjust by pulling both buckles away from one another or together at the same time.

The control sequence is simple to remember, but also simple to reproduce because it is sequential. You just need to pause for a 1/2 second between each mode to proceed to the next.

  1. red flood (with dimmer)
  2. white spot (with dimmer)
  3. red strobe
  4. white strobe
  5. off

The dimmer is engaged by pressing down and holding the power button when you’re in a mode. When the light reached its lowest dimming setting, it will flash once. That’s all there is to it.

Comparable Rechargeable LED Headlamps

Make / ModelLumensLockRed ModeWeightPrice
Biolite 330330YesYes2.4 oz$50
Knog Bilby400YesYes3.2 oz$60
Fenix HM50R500NoNo2.8 oz$60
Petzl Bindi200YesYes1.2 oz$60
Nitecore NU 32550YesYes3.5 oz$40
Nitecore NU 25360YesYes1.85 oz$37
Nitecore NU 20360YesNo1.82 oz$30
LEDLenser SEO7R200YesYes3.3 oz$40
Claymore Heady600YesNo3.7 oz$80
UCO Air150YesYes1.6 oz$30

Recommendation

The Biolite Headlamp 200 is a comfortable and well-engineered rechargeable headlamp ideal for active sports where you need hands free lighting to show you the way.  It’s tailor-made for trail running where you need a light that won’t bounce around on your forehead and has flood and spot modes so you can see where you’re going before you get there. It’s also available in multiple colors, dead simple to use, and makes a great gift, especially for people new to rechargeable headlamps.

Despite its ergonomic design, there’s nothing technically superior about the Biolite Headlamp 200 that makes it any better than a lot of the other rechargeable headlamps I own or have tried in the past. At $45, I think it’s also on the expensive side, but that’s generally true of any headlamp sold in a brick and mortar outdoor chain store like REI or EMS.

If you’re a hiker or backpacker, you can get by with a much less expensive headlamp, since you really only need it for cooking in the dark, going to the bathroom, reading in your tent, or sitting around a campfire, where a red mode helps you avoid blinding your companions. However, if you did need a headlamp for an emergency or for the rare case where you’ve been benighted and have to hike after dark, my preference would be to carry a brighter headlamp with a much longer-lasting battery like the less expensive Nitecore NU32 (see our review). While the Biolite Headlamp 200 may well be satisfactory for training and forays close to home, my preference would be to use a rechargeable headlamp with a battery that lasts longer and throws a brighter beam.

Disclosure: Biolite provided the author with a headlamp for this review.

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One comment

  1. A good review, and looks like a solid little headlamp. I just purchased the Fenix HM50R, my first rechargeable headlamp. No sense in carrying batteries when I have a GIANT battery bank! :-). I look forward to giving it a long run when things clear.

    Thanks!

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