When we head out camping on the bike we only pack two different lights, our solar rechargeable Luci lights for our general lighting, and our headlamps.
We love our solar powered Luci lights around camp as they provide great general lighting in and around the tent. They have four different output modes (low, medium, high, and flashing) and depending on the Luci model will depend on the overall brightness and battery life. They are very simple to use, blow it up to create the lantern and then there are two buttons, one to turn it on/off and cycle through the modes and the other shows the level of battery charge. The beauty of Luci lights is that they put out great light, take up very little room as they collapse to a disc of only 13cm round and 2.5cm (Luci 2.0 ) or 3.8cm (Luci 2.0 Pro), they have no cables, and you just throw them out in the sun to charge them. The more expensive 2.0 Pro comes with a two-way USB port so you can charge it or if you get stuck … give your phone a bit of juice.
When I first heard of Luci lights I was drawn to their back story of bringing light to those who don’t have access to it. Having a look over their parent company MPOWERD from the US, their mission is “to empower the three billion people around the world living without access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy“. That’s a pretty powerful mission.
I highly recommend these lights as these are just a great simple little lights that take up no room to pack and provides great light. They make the perfect companion for moto-camping.
Headlamps should be on everyone’s camping checklist. From pitching the tent in the dark because you were running late, taking a walk after dark, or fixing a punctured tyre on the side of the road in the middle of the night.
The main functions I want in a headlamp is a spot function for out walking and looking around where the longer beam is always handy, and a more general light function for doing stuff around the campsite. What I don’t like about most of the lights on the market is they typically use AAA batteries and what often happens to me is that when I go to use them they are flat because they were accidentally turned on while travelling.
I was recently put onto a locally designed light that certainly has the goods. Knog is a company based out of Melbourne and specialise in a range of high-quality lights for a range of outdoor activities. They have lighting solutions from cycle lights, flashlights, lanterns and headlamps. Their headlamps looked quite different to other headlamps I have seen and come with silicon construction, internal USB rechargeable battery, a range of lighting modes and brightness levels, a specific reading light, charge indicator, and lockable so they are not accidentally turned on. You can even program the headlamp to your own preference.
I grabbed a couple of the little Bandicoots to give them a try on our next camping trip. I say little as they are only 55 grams and provide up to 100 lumens of light. Just using them around home they are a very capable all round light with spot, spread, a combo light with both spot and spread, a red light, and a specific reading light shining light down on what you are reading. They are also really easy to use – one button for modes and the other to adjust the brightness. Push and hold both buttons to lock and unlock. Easy.
No doubt these would be a great addition to our camp gear.
My only real complaints with the Bandicoot – I’d like a bit more overall brightness, and while I love the reading light it isn’t quite bright enough and the reduced output meant I had to move the headlamp around to maximise the light on what I was reading. But that is being picky and overall these are a great lightweight light with great features, with a very simple interface.
When I mentioned that I’d like a brighter light I was sent a couple Knog’s Bilbys to try as they have a much higher output at 400 lumens compared to the Bandicoot’s 100 lumens and a few more features. The Bilby is marginally larger as it must have a larger battery which comes at a cost of weight with the Bilby at 90 grams or 35 grams (60%) heavier than the Bandicoot.
I have to say that my first play with the Knog Bilby was a bit confusing as there are so many features and you only have the same two buttons, so to access all the various features you have to cycle through them by a press, or double press, or long press, or using both buttons. There was certainly quite a few cool features, including a tilt function which somehow moves the focus of the light up and down, however a lot of these are not functions that I need or would use.
Like the Bandicoot, the Bilby is USB rechargeable and programmable. Knog ModeMaker is Knog’s downloadable software to customise your light by programming what modes and features you have access to and in what order. It also has a few fun modes if you are so inclined, such as the knight rider mode that has all the lights in a chaser mode running back and forward, for those old enough to remember KITT.
So while it is cool to have all these different modes … for me I’d rather sacrifice some functions for ease of use. So I uploaded just the basic modes that I will use in order to keep it nice and simple. I also disabled the hotkeys and tilt mode which makes it even simpler to operate, in fact it is now as easy to use as the Bandicoot.
These headlamps also remember what mode and brightness you last used, so when you turned it back on it goes to that mode.
Below are some comparison photos of the Bandicoot and Bilby headlamps to show the difference using similar modes of full light, just the spot and a wide general light pattern. These are all taken at the same exposure setting (f3.5, 0.5 seconds, ISO1600) which provides a good indication of the difference between the two headlamps. As you can see the difference between the two headlamps is quite stark. The Bandicoot is a great little light, but the Bilby blows it away.
So which headlamp will be included with our camping gear when we next hitch-up the trailer and head off…??
No question. It has to be the Bilby.