Bosavi: Changing the Headlamp Game
I currently have, in my possession, what just might be the world’s most intelligent headlamp.
Several months ago my friend Evan sent out an email about his friend’s project on Kickstarter. This friend of his, Dan Freschl, had a design for a headlamp that would be USB rechargeable, ultra-bright, and full of all other kinds of smart features that most other headlamp designers either never thought of or never implemented. (Also, Dan climbs at Touchstone’s Berkeley Ironworks, so he’s a gym homie).
Like most people being solicited, I was skeptical, but for $65 I was able to not only support a friend-of-a-friend, but also guarantee delivery of the first edition of the product at a lower-than-MSRP price. Hell, I thought, if it’s all he says it is, then $65 is a steal. Months ticked by, and I was steadily reassured by the over four dozen update emails Dan wrote to his backers, detailing all aspects of the design and manufacturing process.
Finally, my Bosavi arrived. How do I love it? Let me count the ways…
Virtually everyone has a half-dozen micro-USB cables laying around. The Bosavi comes with one in case you don’t, and this means that you can charge it with a laptop, car charger, or your non-Apple-smart-phone charger. When I think of the price of batteries, which always seems higher than it should be (not to mention the stress of disposing of used batteries properly), I already think of my investment as a good one. The headlamp gets 60 hours on a charge, plenty for a couple of weekend trips, or a week in the backcountry.
Don’t you love those headlamps with a dorsal strap and a battery pack that digs into your occipital lobe? Me neither. This thing is the size of the crappy spare headlamp at the bottom of your Subaru’s glove box. And this headlamp ain’t crappy…read on.
It has an output of up to 110 lumens, which I think is Latin for bright. You’ve got a high-efficiency LED for reading, a bright white LED for signaling UFOs, and a hyper-bright “boost mode” for blinding a welder through his face shield. Okay, it’s not quite like that, but the point is you’ll have plenty of light for any situation. I would comfortably take the Bosavi along as my only night-bouldering light.
I appreciate when attention is given to the little details. Clearly, Mr. Freschl thought long and hard about the user experience, and as a result, the headlamp was designed very, very well. It has 5 modes (white/blinking white, bright white, and red/blinking red), but you can “delete” the modes you don’t use. The strap is detachable and the lighting unit can be put on an optional bike mount. The packaging turns into a lantern that fits onto the headlamp. The hinge is smooth, durable, and silent. The buttons are minimal. Oh, and it has a battery guage. Does your headlamp tell you when it’s about to die in the middle of setting up your tent? Didn’t think so.
Just by holding this little guy in your hand, you can tell that there isn’t much that’s fragile. In Dan’s words:
I have dropped, drowned, smashed, and stabbed a bunch of headlamps. The worst I have been able to do is damage the hinge mechanism, but the light has never failed in all of my tests.
My headlamp is water-resistant, and the Bosavi team is working on a new model (Scu-Bosavi) that will be waterproof. They are also developing many new accessories, including a pull-cord generator.
Not only is the product smart, but Dan is doing a clever thing by donating headlamps to Outward Bound and similar organizations. He will likely earn many fans of his headlamp by doing this, but he’ll also help the overarching cause of conservation by helping people get outside and experience nature for themselves.
Perhaps Bosavi isn’t as bright as some of the other headlamps out there (like the Lupine, a 900 lumen output model), but for most purposes, I have a hard time imagining a better headlamp in the $70 range.