Back in January, when the Winter Outdoor Retailer show was taking place, there was a lot of buzz about a new headlamp from a company called Light & Motion. The headlamp is called the Solite 150, and all of the early previews and reviews raved about what a great product it was, but all I could think was “For $150, it better be a damn good headlamp!” Recently, I got my hands on a unit so I could see first hand if it was worth the hype – and the money!
The first thing I noticed when I took the Solite out of the box was that it certainly lives up to its name. It is indeed very light, weighing in at just 150 grams or about 5.3 ounces. The second thing I noticed when I turned on the light was just how bright it is. At the highest of the three settings, the Solite cranks out 150 lumens, which is very bright in the dark. At that setting, the included rechargeable battery pack is only rated for three hours, so you may want to crank it down to the medium or low settings which offer 75 and 33 lumens respectively. Both were more than adequate for casual around camp and night trail hiking.
Where the highest setting does come in handy however is when riding your bike. Those 150 lumens make it easier to see further down the road, which is useful when traveling at higher speeds, and it ensure that other vehicles will see you as well. The Solite comes with a great, easy to use quick mount for your handlebars, keeping the light locked in place when out for a ride. It is a nice touch that the Solite comes with both a headband and handlebar holder, making it all the more useful For your $150, you’re going to want to use it as often as you can.
The Solite does have one issue, and that is its rechargeable batteries. While they are rated for 40 hours of life on their lowest setting, and my tests seem to bear that out, on an extended trip you’ll want some way to charge them, and there is no way to use standard batteries. The light charges via USB, which means you’ll have to get creative on how you want to charge while in the backcountry. You could take your laptop with you of course, but that’s generally more weight than you’ll want to carry, and laptops have their own battery issues. Fortunately for me, I have a Solio Classic solar charger, which collects and stores energy from the sun just for recharging these kinds of devices. It worked well with the Solite, although it did take awhile to charge it up fully. I realize that not everyone has that kind of gear at their disposal, and for them I’d recommend a headlamp from another manufacturer that uses standard batteries. Chances are, you’ll find one for less money as well.
On the other hand, if you really demand performance out of your gear, and you’re always looking to shave weight off your pack, the Solite is a great choice, even for $150. I also have a feeling that this headlamp will prove very popular with the adventure racing crowd. It is durable, bright, and versatile. Something that the AR crowd is always looking for in their gear.
So? Is it worth the $150 price tag? For the casual hiker/backpacker, I’d say no, there are cheaper alternatives that get the job done for them. But for those that need a little something more than “getting the job done,” this is a great piece of kit that will definitely prove itself useful in a wide variety of situations.
Unfortunately for me, I have a penchant for leaving my headlamp in some distant country while I travel. Leaving my Solite behind would hurt. A lot!
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