Thanks to modern batteries, electronics and LED bulbs, headlamps are now available in all shapes and sizes. Inevitably, they now come with various lighting modes of various utility. The matchbox-sized BioLite Headlamp 200 offers diminutive size and weight with a bit of a learning curve from this old dude.

BioLite Headlamp 200 Features:

  • Soft, integrated headband
  • 200 lumens max output
  • Tilts downward in set notches
  • Micro USB rechargeable
  • Battery life: 40 hours on LO, 3 hours on HIGH
  • Settings: White + Dim , Red + Dim, White Strobe, Red Strobe
  • Weight: 50 grams
  • MSRP: $44.95
BioLite Headlamp 200 Review - Side View

200 lumens, adjustable brightness and modes — all via a single button.

Compact, lightweight headlamp

It truly is impressive to get such a full-featured headlamp into such a small package. You get a multi-mode light that’s adjustable and is attached to a soft, stretchy headband for comfortable use. The box part is truly about the size of a box of matches, which then adjusts downward, as needed.

The aim-able beam is a nice feature, but the notched stopping points can be difficult to adjust if you want to go just a single stop downward. The force required to get it to move often makes me go all the way forward. I’ve just come to embrace it as a feature and just push it forward all the way intentionally, then push it backward one notch at a time (which it reliably does with ease). I really wish it just had infinite adjustment because on top of the multi-notch issue, I feel like the best light position for me sits between stops.

Almost every headlamp I own has multiple lighting modes and I really tend to use just one of them – HIGH. But, then there’s those serendipitous occasions where the downward-facing night mode comes in handy. One of the best examples is fixing the kids some sandwiches from the front seat of the car on a nighttime road trip through New Mexico. I can tilt it down and turn on the solid red light to see what I’m doing without causing my wife to go blind. So, yes, the hero mode is full-on bright, but don’t forget about the occasional utility of the night mode. It’s nice to have.

BioLite Headlamp 200 Review - Side view

The dual-sided adjustments are easy to use.

At 200 lumens, the headlamp offers more than enough brightness for trail running or early morning backcountry dawn patrols. BioLite does offer brighter units, if you find yourself in need of even more light. I found myself using it regularly to walk the dog at night as well. It’s light, comfortable and convenient for daily use.

Admittedly, the learning curve for the various modes is a little steep. It’s definitely helpful that BioLite has created an instructional video. Without it, I would have been lost. I’m used to the pattern of long-press for on or off, then short press to rotate through settings. This one requires remembering whether to tap in 1/2 second, 1 second or 8 second increments. The trickiest one is between the 1/2 second and 1 second. The former allows you to scroll through the modes, but the latter will leave you confused, wondering if the battery is toast (I wondered that on several occasions before I really mastered the mode switching).

BioLite Headlamp 200 Review - Front view

The Headlamp 200 wears well with a beanie for early morning activities.

When the unit arrives, it’s in lock mode, so nothing works. The main LED will do nothing more than blink twice when you attempt to turn it on. No worries… hold that button down for 8 seconds to unlock and you’re in business. Button lock comes in handy if you’re stuffing it in your backpack so you don’t end up with a dead battery. Speaking of that, all you need is a ubiquitous Micro USB charger and you’re golden. Leaving the light on HIGH, I was able to get about 3 hours of run time.

I appreciate the integrated light and fabric band. It sits very comfortably on my bare noggin and deals with perspiration quite well. Maybe a little silicone rubber backing would make it even better, but I have been able to keep the Headlamp 200 secure with beanies, running hats and on my bare head just fine. I do also like the dual-sided adjustment as it’s very easy to adjust and reliably maintain tightness

The Good

  • Lightweight design
  • Integrated band/light is comfortable
  • Easy size adjustments
  • Good brightness with other usable modes
  • Easily charged

The Bad

  • Single-button mode switching can be tricky
  • Button is hard to operate with gloves on
  • Infinite angle adjustment would be far superior to the notched design (which left me wishing for an in-between notch)

The Bottom Line: BioLite Headlamp 200

BioLite has packed a ton of features into this little, compact headlamp. The construction is unique and works well for a variety of uses. It’s definitely a great one to have handy for all sorts of lighting needs. However, the mode adjustments are pretty complex and I wished for infinite angle adjustments. Still, it’s a cool little headlamp that I find myself grabbing almost every time.

Buy Now: Available from BioLite

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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