Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Solid trail finding for such a lightweight and inexpensive package.
Cons: Sub-par battery life and some reliability issues.
Best Uses: A small light to carry everywhere.
The Byte was the lightest headlamp tested to score a five for trail finding and one of the lightest lights we tested overall. It's a solid performer considering that it only costs $20 and is so light weight. It didn't win an award only because the Petzl Tikkina 2 delivers better battery life and a better close proximity score and the Energizer 3 LED performed so well for only $12. But it is 25 percent lighter than the Tikkina and feels much more compact. If you are counting every gram and don't want the diminished beam power of the featherweight Petzl e+LITE, the Byte is a great buy.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Byte posts a very respectable trail finding score for such a lightweight headlamp that costs $20. Another $20 light that weighs the same, the Black Diamond Gizmo, emitted far less light, as you can see in the beam comparison photo below.
The close proximity score was also pretty good. It's not quite as good as the Black Diamond Gizmo as you can see below, but it wasn't far behind the Tikkina.
Battery life was not exceptional, especially for a light that does not have a powerful beam. Part of the reason the Tikkina and Cosmo scored higher was they had much longer battery lives, which is to be expected from small lights that don't have heavy lumen output. In addition, we had some reliability issues with the Byte. Our unit acted a little flaky and then failed.
In high beam mode, the Byte lasted 8.4 hours in our tests using the ANSI standards. This was a little better than the e+LITE (7.2 hours) but well behind the Energizer 3 LED (27.5 hours). The low beam claimed run time of 96 hours is pretty good, but we did not test this to confirm it. The e+lite has a claimed low beam runtime of 70 hours and the Energizer 3 LED claims 28 hours in low mode.
This score was not that exceptional, however we did find the Byte to be a little brighter than its other lightweight, $20 competitors. We measured its max being distance 29 m, beating the Energizer 3 LED (24 m) and e+LITE (22 m).
In a field of nearly 40 lights, the Byte is on the podium as one of the most compact and lightest headlamps we tested. It was by far the smallest headlamp to still pump out a good trail-finding beam. It weighed in at 60 grams on our scale compared the to e+LITE at 26 grams and the Energizer 3 LED at 77 grams.
Ease of Use
The button is intuitive and easily takes you through the various light functions. The gloved use score is surprisingly high for such a small headlamp.
Because this light is so small and inexpensive, it lends itself to many applications. It's the size that you can permanently leave in your daypack as an emergency light. At $20, it is also a great headlamp to keep permanently in the glove compartment or in the kitchen drawer. It's great for after work runs where you might take longer than expected and spend the last few minutes out at dusk.
You get a lot of performance for $20. The light is relatively powerful and the package is quite compact. This was a strong contender for Best Buy winner. Only the battery life, reliability issues and stiff competition held it back.
This is a headlamp worth consideration. It's 25 percent smaller and arguably has better trail finding ability than the Petzl Tikkina 2. However, the Tikkina 2 has much better battery life, and is probably more reliable. Another close competitor is the Black Diamond Gizmo, which is nearly the same size and weight. The Gizmo has a better close proximity beam but the Byte blows it away in beam power and trail finding. The Energizer 3 LED is scored higher and has a street price of $12. That said, the Byte is available at more retailers and can often be found on sale for a similar price. The Petzl e+LITE, which is a third the weight of the Byte but is not nearly as powerful is another top contender. All four headlamps have their own advantages, so it comes down to what you are using the light for the most. The Energizer is the value champ and the e+LITE is the featherweight, but the Byte just might the best best combination of the two.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 13, 2014
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