Knog Bilby 400 Rechargeable Headlamp Review

Knog Bilby 400 Headlamp Review

Weighing at 3.17 oz, the Knog Bilby is a 400-lumen rechargeable LED headlamp ($60) with red and white lightning modes including a spot, wide-angle, red, and special reading mode. Ideal for hiking and trail running, it comes with a comfortable bounce-free silicone headband and has an integrated USB plug that eliminates the need for recharging wires.

Specs at a Glance

  • Weight: 3.17 oz/90g
  • Bulb detail: 5 LED
  • Beam type: Spot / Flood / Strobe / Reading
  • Max Light Output: 400 Lumens
  • Red mode: Yes
  • Lock mode: Yes
  • Battery indicator: Yes
  • Dimmer: Yes
  • Battery: 880 mAh
  • Charge time: 4 hours
  • Maximum runtime: 105 hours at min lumens
  • Maximum lumens: 5 hours at maximum lumens
  • Waterproof: Yes (IP67)

The Knog Bilby is a rechargeable LED headlamp with a silicone strap. The headlamp circuitry is totally self-contained and pulls out when you want to charge it. It has an exposed male USB that you plug can plug into a mobile battery pack or USB port. I like the fact that you don’t need wires to connect it to a battery or charger, which simplifies packing.

The headlamp is removed from the silicone strap when you want to recharge it
The headlamp “body” is removed from the silicone strap when you want to recharge it.

The strap is made with medical silicone which feels comfortable against the skin and is trivial to adjust. Unlike cloth straps, the Bilby’s silicone strap doesn’t absorb water, it won’t ever smell bad, and it won’t lose its elasticity. It’s also easy to adjust for a wide range of head circumferences including child-sized heads, ranging from 11.8 inches to 26 inches in size. To adjust,  you simply pull the slack through a plastic clip in the back to tighten or loosen. The plastic clip is permanently attached to the strap so you can’t lose it.

There are two buttons on top of the band that you depress to turn on the light and cycle through the headlamp’s logic. The headlamp has an electronic lock to prevent accidental activation and power drain when the headlamp is packed. I consider this a must-have for any hiking or backpacking headlamp.

The control logic is a little complicated however because the Bibly has 5 different LED settings as including: Spot, Mid, Wide-angle, Reading, and Red Night light.  This includes a high beam to see by, 2 elliptical beams for mid and wide beam angles, a red light to help preserve your night vision, and downlights for reading.

The light fits into the headband like this after charging. Plush Cthulu not included.
The light fits into the headband like this after charging. Plush Cthulu not included.

There are two buttons on the top of the unit and holding them both down for 3 seconds unlocks the light. The right button can then be used to switch between modes while the left button controls the brightness. A long press on the right button tilts the beam up while a long press on the left points it down, while a double press on each button activates their boost modes. Holding down both buttons turns the light off. That’s about as I much as I can remember to be honest.

But there’s more! The Bilby comes with an app called Modemaker that lets you reprogram the buttons and add additional modes. I’ve tested other lights with this capability and honestly, it’s not anything I’ve ever needed. Hiking is pretty simple stuff, although I’d probably feel differently if I was a competitive trail runner or cyclist.

Here’s a video that illustrates the programming functionality.

Comparable rechargeable headlamps

Recommendation

The Knog Bilby 400 (lumen) is a very powerful and customizable rechargeable multi-sport headlamp. It comes with a fully integrated bounce-free silicone head strap that doesn’t absorb sweat or odors and can be recharged via USB without requiring additional wires. The Bilby also has an electronic lock and battery indicator to prevent accidental discharge when packed in a backpack and to help notify you when it needs to be recharged. The Bilby’s high lumen output, wide-angle modes, map reading mode, and waterproof rating makes it a particularly good choice for night hiking and trail running. It can also be reprogrammed if you want to alter the button bindings and settings for specific needs.

If the Biby’s headband and wire-free charging capabilities appeal to you, but the control instruction set and programmability of the light are more than you need, I recommend checking out the 80-lumen rechargeable Knog Quokka headlamp ($25). It weighs half as much as the Bilby and has a much simpler control instruction set.

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Last updated: 2020-12-04 02:31:06

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

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