Price (RRP): $59.95
“Designed in Melbourne”. You don’t see too many gadgets bearing that tag, but it applies to the Knog Bandicoot silicone headlamp. And, you know, I kind of think that every travellers backpack, and everyone’s emergency kit, ought to have one of these.
Knog Bandicoot features
First, what it it? The Knog Bandicoot is an adjustable silicone headband which a rechargeable battery and an array of lights. Slip one of these over your head and you can navigate the bush at night, read in the dark and generally live in the 21st Century under adverse conditions.
And why should everyone have one? Well, the Knog Bandicoot is very light at 58.9 grams – slightly under Knog’s 60 gram specification. It’s super flexible, so it can pack away in all manner of nooks without occupying much space. The Knog Bandicoot is easy to use. It doesn’t even employ a separate charge cable. And it’s cheap.
Well $59.95 isn’t exceptionally cheap, but consider the alternatives. The Knog Bandicoot is less than one quarter of the price. (And less than one third the weight.)
That comes at some cost in performance. Specifically, the Knog Bandicoot tops out at 100 lumens. That more expensive one can, at a pinch, go up to 1,000.
The Knog Bandicoot is mostly a silicone band. That’s available in black, indigo, khaki, orange or red. Respecting our conservative nature, the Knog people sent us the bright orange one.
The band is adjustable. On the broad working-parts section at the front it has a soft pad for resting on one’s forehead. The silicone is stretchy around the back so you can have it nice and tight if required.
Indeed, I found the Knog Bandicoot comfortable to wear and quite secure on my head. On the top are two buttons – or, rather, swellings in the silicone, indicating buttons underneath. One does most of the work. Hold it for a second and it switches the lamp on or off. Press it briefly and it cycles through the lighting modes. The other cycles whichever mode is engaged through four levels of brightness.
There are eight LEDs, with four across the front and four on the angled-downwards edge. In fact, the four across the front are slightly downward angled as well. Only slightly. When I did my best at holding my head as though I were looking straight ahead, the centre of the cast light was on the ground, about three metres in front of me. To make the lights shine out horizontal to the ground I had to tilt my head back significantly.
The centre LED is called “Spot”. At full power it’s specified to produce 85 lumens. A smaller LED is on either side of it. These always operate together and produce a combined 35 lumens. When “Combo” mode is engaged, all three of these are engaged, for a total of 100 lumens (increasing light sources doesn’t result in a simple arithmetic increase in output).
The fourth LED is an 8-lumen red one.
The four LEDs on the more horizontal surface are called “Reading” LEDs. They aim down at anything you have before you in a typical reading position. Between them, they produce up to 8 lumens.
Knog Bandicoot power
The four reading light LEDs also act as the battery meter when it’s being charged. You can press one of the top buttons when the Knog Bandicoot is switched off and they – or some of them – will illuminate to indicate battery level.
Which brings us to the Knog Bandicoot headlamp’s battery and how it’s charged. If you press a certain area on the back of the silicone band, you can yank it off one side of the main electronics pod. That exposes a standard USB Type-A plug. Plug that into any standard USB power outlet – including that on a computer – and it charges.
Rather than retype it runtimes from the Knog website, I’ve just lifted its useful graphic here: