Comfortable and surprisingly capable.
Summary : The Knog Bilby is a radical departure from traditional headlamps. The silicone strap works remarkably well, and 400 lumens can be effectively focused in multiple positions.
The Knog Bilby Headlamp is the newest addition to the Knog lineup. If you’re not familiar with them, they got their start in 2002, and have a great lineup of bike lights and locks that you should also check out. Last year we reviewed the Knog Bandicoot, which is a smaller version of the Bilby.
The Knog Bilby is bright. At 400 lumens it’s packing 300 more than the Knog Bandicoot. I like the option of more power in a headlamp. If I’m wandering around camp I generally have my headlamps on low, but if I have to wander into the woods for firewood I want more light. I’m the same way on night hikes (unless the moon is out). The Bilby is bright enough for any camp task at night.
The Knog Bilby is extremely comfortable. Just like the Bandicoot, it’s a one-piece silicone housing. It has just enough grip to prevent it from sliding up and down on the sides and back of the head. The strap is also thin, so it’s not resting on the top of your ears. The backside of the headlamp has a cushion that makes it very comfortable on the forehead.
It’s awesomely lightweight. I don’t know of many 400 lumen headlamps that weigh 3 ounces. Because it’s so streamlined and snug to your forehead, you barely notice it.
The lighting options are well designed. When I first saw the Bilby I was skeptical because I can’t reach up and adjust the position of the light. On a traditional headlamp, I find myself doing this a LOT. Hiking fast, walking slow, tying rope, and making dinner all require different areas of focus (at least for me). The Knog Bilby has five lighting modes that cover everything: spot, mid, wide-angle, reading, and red night light. The reading mode is particularly handy because it shoots straight down. In addition to the five modes, each mode has four levels of brightness. There’s also a boost mode which will give you 10 minutes of max output regardless of how much battery is left. I also have to mention that when you hold the button on spot, it slowly transitions to down to the lowest angle, so if you wanted something in between you could just stop at any point. Oh – the reading light also doubles as a battery level indicator, which is something I really appreciate in a headlamp.
I’m very impressed by the Knog Bilby. It has the power that I was missing in the Bandicoot. The Bandicoot is a great headlamp, but if I’m only bringing one headlamp camping, I want more than 100 lumens. The two other changes are the headband and the silicone housing itself. I actually prefer the headband on the Bandicoot, but they’re both so light that it’s hard to tell the difference. On the Bilby, the entire light slips out of a one-piece silicone housing for charging, vs the corner of the band snapping apart on the Bandicoot. I’m not sure why they changed that, but they both work well.
They only bad news I have is that you can’t get one until May 2020. They had a very successful Kickstarter, and are still accepting preorders here. It comes out to $52 USD and I personally think it’s worth all of that and more. It’s fully waterproof, has rechargeable batteries, and 400 lumens. It’s a solid deal.