Gear Review: Bosavi Headlamp

Bosavi headlamp
Bosavi headlamp

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamp
$70, 2 oz. (including rechargeable battery)
Max burn time: 65 hours at low power, six hours at high power

With an increasing number of headlamps weighing in under four ounces without compromising brightness, the name of the game these days is versatility and convenience. The Bosavi sets itself apart not just because it’s rechargeable (like some others), but with a design that makes it ideal for hiking or backpacking, trail running, climbing, skiing, bike commuting, and just about any activity you’ll do outside in the dark that doesn’t require a super bright light (and a massive, heavy battery pack). Plus, an ounce or two may seem like splitting hairs to some, but ultralight backpackers and hikers, climbers, and trail runners will appreciate that the Bosavi is lighter and more compact than most competitors.

I used the Bosavi quite a bit this summer: on a three-day backpacking trip to the Big Boulder Lakes in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains with my son, including 90 minutes of hiking after dark; and on a six-day hike in Sequoia National Park; and my son used it on our five-day backpacking trip in Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness. Its slim strap and small unit are quite comfortable and unobtrusive on my head whether hiking, in camp, or lying down reading in the tent. And unlike some models that are only slightly larger, the Bosavi does not bob at all when trail running.

The power button scrolls through six modes, including bright LED, low power LED, and red LED (for night vision). Double clicking in any mode activates a brighter, white LED setting for up to a minute before automatically powering back down to the previous mode; that “boost” mode illuminated a food bag hanging in a tree 200 feet away. But at 110 lumens, the regular bright setting casts plenty of light for hiking a trail in the dark. I particularly like two convenient features: first, depressing the power button for two seconds indicates the amount of charge remaining (measured in white versus red blinks); and second, you can turn off any unwanted mode (I turned off blinking white) to reduce how much you have to scroll through the various modes, which is the only inconvenient design feature. A lock button inside the hinge prevents accidental turn-on; if you depress the power button, the lights blink between white and red to indicate it’s locked.

You can recharge the Bosavi with its micro USB port from a computer, car charger, solar charger, or scores of other power sources. One full charge carried it through 11 days of about an hour of use per day on the Glacier Peak Wilderness and Sequoia trips; afterward, it showed three-quarters of the charge still remaining. The head strap removes easily and you can purchase a bike mount for the Bosavi ($10, sold separately); the headlamp is bright enough for biking around town, but I wouldn’t use it for high-speed or technical trail riding. Lastly, the Bosavi’s packaging converts into an origami lantern—nice that it’s reuseable, though it’s certainly a delicate lantern.

See my other headlamp reviews, including two ultralight models, the Princeton Tec Vizz and the rechargeable Black Diamond ReVolt, and all of my reviews of backpacking gear.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza


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