BioLite HeadLamp 330 Review
If you’re looking for the most comfortable headlamp on the market, the BioLite HeadLamp 330 is the device of your dreams. With a comfortable fabric strap, there’s no plastic directly touching your forehead. The BioLite HeadLamp 330 also has a setting for every situation, including a fully dimmable white light and a red flood for chores around camp. If your summer adventures include lots of night hiking and long miles under the cover of darkness, you’ll want to make sure the BioLite is always in your pack.
Weight: 2.4 ounces (69grams)
Battery life: 40 hours low / 3.5 hours high
Lighting: 330 lumens on high, 5 lumens on low
Beam distance: 16ft/5m on low, 250ft/75m on high
Water resistance: IPX4 (resistant but not submersible)
Modes: Red flood / white spot /white flood / white spot and flood / white strobe
Power: 900 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery
This headlamp is perfect for thru-hikers looking for a reliable light for night hiking. The Biolite 330’s extreme comfort makes it perfect for anyone looking for a headlamp you can wear for hours without it bouncing around or giving you a headache.
Circumstance of Review
I took the BioLite HeadLamp 330 on bikepacking, canoe camping, backpacking, and night hiking adventures over the course of two months in Ontario.
The BioLite 330 features a tiltable front light with five main settings, including both a red and white light. The white light goes up to 330 lumens—more than enough for night hiking on the darkest night. The white light is also dimmable. This gives you far more options than the one or two brightness settings that most headlamps normally provide. The red light seemed a bit brighter than my old headlamp, which was great for camp chores but annoyed my grouchy tent mate.
Unusually for a lightweight headlamp, the battery is on the back of the headlamp. The headlamp is incredibly well balanced as a result. The band is made of cozy, moisture-wicking fabric, which completely covers the back of the front light. Therefore, there’s no uncomfortable plastic directly on your forehead.
While taking photos for this review, I got distracted. Fifteen minutes later, I realized I was still wearing the headlamp. I don’t think that’s ever happened before—normally I find headlamps incredibly uncomfortable and take them off as quickly as possible. I was happy to wear the BioLite 330 while reading at night, rather than awkwardly trying to clip it somewhere in my tent.
With 330 lumens on high, the BioLite 330 is more than bright enough for almost all night hiking situations. I really loved the dimmable light, since I didn’t have to worry about wasting battery by having more light than I needed for a certain situation.
The BioLite 330 lasts for 40 hours on low and 3.5 hours on high. Three and a half hours isn’t very long, especially if you’re night hiking for several hours, or hiking both after dusk and before dawn. However, lower light settings prolong the battery and the headlamp is rechargeable, so any hiker already carrying a battery brick shouldn’t worry too much about running out of juice.
Like most other headlamps, the BioLite 330 has one button, which you press multiple times or hold down to access different settings. The button is small and difficult to press while wearing gloves, and I found myself cycling through the different settings multiple times just to find the exact setting I wanted. On the flip side, there are so many different options for lighting that you’ll always find the perfect setting. It just might take you a while.
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Pros
Comfort: Let’s be honest, if there’s one outstanding reason to buy this headlamp, it is comfort. You’ll forget you’re even wearing it.
Bounce: Once on your head, this light is pretty stable. I found the battery on the back of my head slipped down over time, but since the light itself is small and lightweight, it didn’t move around at all.
Weight: At 2.4oz, there are only a few lighter options on the market. However, despite being a fairly solid ultralight choice, this headlamp still gives off a decent amount of light. It’s a great compromise for thru-hikers who want to keep their pack weight low and still be able to do a large amount of night hiking.
Brightness: The BioLite 330 isn’t going to be your first choice for mountain biking or lighting up an entire mountainside. However, it’s more than enough for night hiking in almost any condition. On the brightest setting, it’s overkill for chores around camp. Once you figure out the somewhat tricky controls, the dimmable light makes it a useful tool.
Options: The BioLite 330 has a setting for almost any situation. Both white and red lights are adaptable for everything from night hiking to camp chores. I also found being able to dim the white light incredibly useful for some scenarios, such as reading in the dark without disturbing my partner. Most headlamps I’ve used in the past only have two or three different brightness settings, but you can dim the BioLite to the exact amount of light you need.
Pretty: The BioLite 330 is currently available in four colors: teal, grey, red and yellow. I tested the grey option, which is by far the least exciting color. All of the color options are attractive, with the plastic matching the colored fabric band. I also find the low profile of the light itself is far more attractive than many other headlamps, which can leave you looking like a coal miner. Of course, you only use headlamps in the dark, so few people are going to comment on your pretty gear. However, when you’re thru-hiking you only have a few possessions, so it’s nice to carry gear that you enjoy looking at.
Rechargeable: Almost every thru-hiker carries a battery brick nowadays. So as long as your headlamp is rechargeable, there’s no need to carry spare batteries anymore. The BioLite 330 is only rechargeable: there’s no option to remove the rechargeable battery and replace it with regular batteries like with some headlamps. The battery life is only 40 hours on low, so if you are night hiking a lot, you may have to recharge between resupplies.
BioLite HeadLamp 330 Cons
Awkward to hold: The biggest downside to this light is that the separation of light and battery makes it awkward to hold in your hand. Normally if I get up in the middle of the night, I don’t bother putting my light on my head: I just hold it. Since the battery is the heavy part of the BioLite 330, if you don’t hold onto that as well as the lamp part, it’s difficult to balance properly. However, this is a large part of what makes the headlamp so comfortable to wear. So if you plan on only wearing the BioLite 330 and holding it in your hand very rarely, it’s worth the trade-off.
Button issues: It can be difficult to find the on button in the dark. The light itself is symmetrical, so it takes a few seconds to figure out where the top of the light is in the dark. This isn’t an issue for normal use. However, sometimes when you hear something moving outside your tent at 3 a.m., you want to be able to illuminate the outside quickly.
The on button is also small and somewhat difficult to push. This is fine for bare fingers, but I struggled to use the headlamp without removing gloves. This isn’t a big deal if you only camp during the summer. However, as a frequent winter camper, I prefer being able to use my headlamp during long nights without taking my gloves off.
Settings: The settings to change the lights are also fairly difficult to figure out. I found myself mashing the button and cycling through the settings multiple times to change the brightness or switch between white and red lights. It also took me several trips before I realized the main white light was dimmable. The learning curve may be steep, but once I figured it out, I found the multitude of options very useful.
The BioLite HeadLamp 330 is absolutely worth it if you intend on doing a lot of night hiking. You’re unlikely to find a more comfortable headlamp to wear for long periods of time. There are so many options for light levels that you really can customize your headlamp for any situation. However, if you’re just looking for a headlamp for around camp, you may want to go for a simpler option.
A Few Comparison Items
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The BioLite HeadLamp 330 was donated for purpose of review.
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