BioLite HeadLamp 325 Review
I’m sometimes asked what my “favorite” piece of gear is for long-distance hiking. Usually, people are surprised when I tell them it’s the BioLite 200 lightweight, USB-rechargeable headlamp. Ever since I got mine two and a half years ago, it has been my constant, reliable outdoor companion, as faithful as a dog.
Needless to say, I was intrigued when given the opportunity to revie the new BioLite Headlamp 325, which is similar to the 200 but even more powerful.
BioLite HeadLamp 325 At A Glance
Weight: 1.75 ounces
Battery: 700 mAh lithium-ion
Battery life: 40 hours; 3 hours on high
Lighting: 325 lumens max
Beam distance: 70 meters/229 feet
Water resistance: IPx4 — resists splashing, rain
Modes: White spot with dim setting; white strobe; red spot with dim setting; red strobe
Circumstances of Use
Reviewer used the BioLite 325 Headlamp for a total of 30 hours on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, during night runs, and in bed as a reading light.
Form and Fit
Just like the HeadLamp 200, the 325 is a dream to wear. It’s super lightweight, for starters. While it’s 0.15 ounces heavier than its predecessor, it’s not enough to notice. Like the 200, it’s a single, compact, front-facing unit. With no battery pack bouncing up and down, it stays put. You barely notice it’s there.
As with anything, you’ll need to tighten it up from time to time, but adjusting the strap is extremely easy and can be done literally on the run. The strap is hand-washable, moisture-wicking, and surprisingly comfortable even when pulled tight against my head.
The front panel has several tilt positions so you can angle the beam where you want it when wearing a hat, keeping an eye on rough tread, and so on.
BioLite offers a 30-day “Holy Fit Guarantee.” If you don’t like the fit or anything else, they’ll take it back within 30 days and send you a full refund. (But seriously, I can’t imagine anyone returning one; these are excellent headlamps.)
There is a single button atop the lamp/battery unit to control modes. Hold down in any mode to adjust the brightness, with a helpful “flash” indicator to let you know when you’ve hit the top or bottom. There’s also a much-needed lock function to prevent the headlamp from accidentally turning on and draining the battery while in your pack.
The display and battery unit are made of super-light transparent polycarbonate. In “spot” mode, the lamp can illuminate the trail as far as 70 meters/229 feet ahead at full strength. (I still don’t know exactly when or why I might use the strobe, except, I suppose, if I’m trying to get someone’s attention in an emergency.)
Here’s the truth: With a battery life of 40 hours at lower illumination, unless you are in an emergency scenario or doing some massive night-hiking, you won’t drain the battery on this unit.
While on the AT recently, I made a point of not recharging the headlamp over five days. No problem at all, just like the 200, which I used on both the Pacific Crest Trail in 2021 and Continental Divide Trail this year.
One of the best features is that the 700-milli-ampere (mAH) headlamp charges via a USB cable, so you never have to mess with batteries.
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BioLite says it takes three hours to fully recharge the 325. I’ve never drained the battery, but based on my experience with the 200, I believe them.
BioLite 325 Pros
- Lightweight: At 1.75 ounces, this is one of the lightest fully-featured headlamps on the market
- Extremely comfortable
- Bright beam throws light three-quarters of the way down a football field
- Easy to adjust in terms of size, lighting mode, and brightness
- Very compact: Low-profile design takes up little space and doesn’t bounce when worn
- Lock mode prevents accidental battery drainage.
- Adjustable angles: Tilts to shine the light exactly where you want it.
- Affordable: $45 is firmly middle-of-the-road for a backpacking headlamp.
- Four different color choices
- USB recharging: No need for AAAs.
- Versatile: Great for running as well as hiking.
BioLite HeadLamp 325 Cons
- IPx4 water resistance: Seems a tad low, given that the cable port has a rubber cover, though I’ve never had trouble with the 200, which has the same setup.
- USB charging is an advantage until it’s not, e.g., if your charger happens to be low on juice.
- Requires Micro USB cable for charging.
- Low-profile buttons are slightly difficult to use if wearing thicker mittens or gloves.
In all honesty, the “cons” are just a formality, considering everything the BioLite 325 has got going for it. Basically, it’s got everything the 200 has but offers 40 percent more beam distance for the price of just 0.15 ounces. To me, that’s a deal, and I expect that the 325 will become my new favorite piece of gear.
Weight: 0.9 ounces
Brightness: 40 lumens max
Power source: Non-rechargeable lithium batteries with 10-year storage life
Weight: 3 ounces
Brightness: 325 lumens max
Power source: Three AAA batteries
The BioLite HeadLamp 325 was donated for purpose of review.
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