Light & Motion is a company that has earned itself a reputation for making excellent lights for cycling, diving and other outdoor activities. Their products are popular amongst backpackers, adventure racers and other outdoor athletes who require lightweight, comfortable and bright lights to see them through their adventures. Their products are tough, dependable and built to survive in the most difficult of environments.
In the past I've reviewed the Solite 150 and 250 headlamps and came away impressed both times. Those two products were exactly what you would hope for in a headlamp. They are lightweight, comfortable to wear, versatile and incredibly bright. They also have outstanding battery life from a built-in USB rechargeable lithium ion power cell, lasting for hours on a single charge. The Solite 250 is so good in fact that it just might be the best headlamp I've ever used, which left me wondering how Light & Motion could possibly top it. Recently I had the opportunity to find out in the form of the new Solite 250EX, a product that has minor – but welcome – upgrades that refine an already great product even further.
In terms of performance, there is virtually no difference between the standard Solite 250 and the new 250EX. They both put out a stunning 250 lumens on their highest settings, which is blindingly bright when used in a very dark setting. Both weight 149 grams (5.2 ounces) and both feature six modes on their lights, including high, medium, low, pulse, SOS and camp/read. Each of those has a different level of brightness and the battery life depends on which mode you use at any given time.
Battery life is exactly where these two headlamps diverge in terms of performance. The 250EX clearly has a bigger power cell, as it is rated for 4 hours of battery life on its highest setting, while the 250 can only mange to muster approximately 2.5 hours. The EX also manages to best its sibling on every other power setting, providing much longer burn times at all levels of brightness. The downside of this larger power cell is that it takes much longer to charge as well. Taking as much as 8 hours to full charge when compared to 5 hours on the standard 250 model.
Cosmetically the 250EX has a slightly different appearance as well. While the standard 250 is bronze in color, the new model is an elegant white. At first glance, it is difficult to even tell the difference between the two lights when they are sitting next to one another, which is why Light & Motion elected to vary the appearance slightly I'm sure. Both lights have the same wide headband that is comfortable and stabilizing, holding the light in place even when you're running or riding a bike. Both version of the headlamp also have the ability to transform into a handheld torch by removing the battery pack and lamp from the headband and attaching them to one another. This is a nice touch for those who don't always want, or need, a head torch on their adventures.
The 250EX has an integrated battery life indicator that lets you know when it is time to charge it and red side lighting that provides a wider range of visibility. Those small, but useful touches, show how well Light & Motion knows its customers and market and caters to their needs nicely.
If you're in the market for a lightweight and powerful headlamp, you'll have a tough time finding anything on the market that beats any of the Solite offerings. Each of them is a real powerhouse, although they don't exactly come cheap. The new 250EX carries a price tag of $179, which is $30 more than its predecessor. Whether or not you feel it is worth the extra money totally depends on how much you'll need to use the light. If it is a gear item that you'll be using on a regular basis, then spending the extra dough is probably worth it for the extended battery. But if you're someone who needs an excellent headlamp on an occasional basis, then either the 150 or 250 will likely meet your needs.
The 250EX will likely appeal to adventure racers and mountain bikers in particular. The light is incredibly bright, can go a long time on a single charge and is comfortable to wear over an extended period. In short, an already great product has gotten even better and those who need this level of performance will not be disappointed.