Gear Review: Petzl Bindi Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
Ultralight Rechargeable Headlamp
$60, 1.2 oz./35g
To get a backcountry headlamp that’s crazy ultralight, you have to ditch all superfluous parts, stripping it down to only what’s essential—the light and housing. With the rechargeable Bindi, Petzl created a super-ultralight headlamp by shrinking the housing and dropping two elements that comprise much of the weight of many three-ounce headlamps on the market today: the batteries and head strap (the latter replaced with an adjustable, stretch cord). The result is an uber minimalist light that weighs barely more than an ounce and fits in a closed fist, but proved very functional on predawn mornings and dark evenings in camp on a six-day backpacking trip in Glacier National Park in September.
Rechargeable using a micro USB cable, the Bindi has three white brightness levels and a red bulb with proximity and strobe options, and is waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes (IPX4). At 200 lumens, the brightest white beam projects at least 100 feet in my estimation—consistent with Petzl’s claim of 36 meters (118 feet), and competitive with headlamps that weigh three times as much. At medium brightness (100 lumens), the Bindi illuminates a trail well enough for hiking on a dark night, though not for route-finding off-trail. The dimmest white setting (five lumens) is bright enough for reading and tasks within arm’s reach. Red mode is strictly for close-up tasks or stepping outside the tent at night.
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White mode casts a flood beam that’s much brighter in its center than on its periphery, which feels very natural whether in camp or moving along a dark trail. Holding the power button toggles between white and red modes. Burn time on a full charge is a relatively limited two hours at max power, three hours at medium, and 50 hours at the dimmest setting. The Bindi reaches a full charge from drained in about four hours when plugged into a wall outlet.
With such a tiny housing (that tilts) and an adjustable cord in lieu of a strap, the Bindi remains entirely stable on your head even while running. I found the adjustable, stretch cord almost unnoticeable even wearing it for a couple of hours in camp, and it fits on my various climbing helmets. Petzl guarantees the Bindi for three years or 300 charging cycles.
While its burn time on a single charge isn’t adequate for adventures when you’re on the move for several hours in the dark, the Bindi functions well for many dayhikes, trail runs, dawn-patrol backcountry ski laps, and relatively short backpacking trips when you have daylight for most waking hours. At this weight, it’s also appealing as a backup, second headlamp. If you’re willing to spend more on a headlamp for ultra-ultralight weight rather than for versatility, the Bindi shines.
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.