There are a handful of companies I review regularly, who consistently release products that outperform my expectations on price versus performance. Streamlight Bandit is one of these few, regularly kicking out solid lights at a price that’s tough to beat. Plus, they always ship with batteries included. A small perk, but once you’re used to it, it’s one perk I don’t want to do without. So color me happy when I opened up a box of review gear from my editor and found the Streamlight Bandit.
The Streamlight Bandit is a headlamp with both a hat clip mount as well as a headband. It’s powered by a sealed lithium-polymer battery, which has a 2-13.5 hour runtime depending on mode used. The rechargeable battery is advertised as needing only a 2.5-hour recharge through the included USB cable. This will pair well with my portable camping solar charger, I’d imagine. There are three variants of the Bandit, white only (with flash mode), white/green and white/red. My T&E unit is white/green. In low/high modes, the Bandit puts out 25/135 lumens (in green) and 35/180 lumens in white. The whole package weighs only 1.3 ounces and is both IPX4 weather resistant as well as 2-meter drop proof.
Both of the versions offering color operate like this: press the button to cycle through low/high/off, or hold the button down for three seconds to switch between white or green. Once you’ve switched over to green, button presses are back to low/high/off. Easy!
Most think of a light as such a simple piece of gear, it seems to them nearly a throwaway part. Having lost light when I really needed it more times than I’d like to recount, I recognize it more as an essential piece for certain operations. Certain performance considerations are durability, battery life, batteries being replaceable/rechargeable and finally, whether the beam is a spot or diffused. Spot beams are good in a defensive situation where you want maximum output dazzling the eyes of an unfriendly person. Diffused beams are far better in utility situations, I’ll tell you why.
If you have a focused beam of high intensity, your eyes have to adjust quickly to make out the details within the illuminated circle. Anything outside of that is then too dark to see, so you’re effectively down to tunnel vision. With diffused light there is a wider and more evenly lit area, allowing for a much wider field of view as well as better visual contrast (of course the exchange is a lower intensity light with a shorter range of effective illumination).
The Bandit has an excellent diffused front panel, which is still bright enough to dazzle my eyes on a cloudy day. There is no excessively focused beam here. Using rough measurement, I’d say the beam is about 90° wide and 45° tall. The nature of diffused light means there are significantly fewer shadows left behind.
Bottom line, this is an awesome little light. Camping season is rolling in fast so I’ll be wearing this out during the spring/summer/fall, I’ll be sure to report back here once this thing has been beaten up for a few months. The Streamlight Bandit can be found online for around $19, it’s well worth checking out.