The BioLite Headlamp 330 is a micro-USB rechargeable LED headlamp with a remote battery pack that’s good for hiking, trail running, and camping. Weighing 2.4 oz, it has white and red modes, flood and spot modes, a dimmer, battery meter, and digital lock to prevent accidental discharge when carried in a backpack or waist pack. With a maximum brightness of 330 lumens, its 900 mAh Lithium-ion battery can power the headlamp for 3.5 hours on high and up to 40 hours on low.
Honestly, none of that is terribly exceptional when it comes to rechargeable LED headlamps. What sets the BioLite 330 apart from other LED headlamps is the tight integration of the light into the head strap, so that the light has a very thin profile that sits nearly flush with your forehead. This makes it feel a lot less like a top-heavy headlamp and helps minimize bouncing as your run or walk.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: 2.43 oz (including headband)
- Battery: 900 mAh, Li-on, remote
- Max lumens: 330
- Beam distance: Flood 16m, spot 75m
- Weather-resistant: IPX4
- Modes: White and red
- Dimming: Yes
- Digital lock: Yes
- Power Indicator: Yes
- Micro-USB charging cable included
- Max run time: 3.5 hours on high; 40 hours on low
The Headlamp 330 has a front LED Panel that rests on your forehead and a remote battery pack that sits at the back of your head. The front LED panel can tilt forward in four different positions so you can aim the light where you want it. The panel clicks through the positions one at a time and won’t move between positions even if you’re flying down the trail at a fast clip or run.
The LED switch is located at the top of the light panel, right in front of the angle control. It’s fairly small and thin but easy to depress with the edge of your thumb or a fingernail. It provides click feedback as you loop through the different positions in the light’s control logic.
The Headlamp 330’s remote battery pack sits at the back of your head and is connected to the lighting element in front by a wire that’s embedded in the head strap. The battery pack is a self-contained rechargeable lithium-ion battery that has battery meter so you know how much power you have left. It has a micro-USB plug for recharging with a water-resistant cap and can be recharged while it’s in use.
The head strap adjustment is super easy to use. You simply grab the buckles on the sides of the battery and slide them forward to tighten the strap or backward to make it larger. It works great and a lot more intuitively than the headbands on other handlamps.
The Headlamp 330 has a lock mode which prevents accidental illumination and battery drain when the headlamp is carried in a backpack or your pocket. I consider this a must-have for day hiking and backpacking use. You simply hold the power button down for 8 seconds to lock the light or unlock it. The light switch will remember the setting you had when you set the lock and resume in that mode.
The control sequence is simple to remember, but also simple to reproduce because it is sequential. You just need to pause for a 1/2 second between each mode to proceed to the next.
- red flood
- white spot (with dimmer)
- white flood (with dimmer)
- white spot and strobe together (with dimmer)
The dimmer is engaged by pressing down and holding the power button when you’re in a mode. When the light reached its lowest dimming setting, it will flash once and reverse direction, becoming incrementally brighter. That’s all there is to it.
Comparable Rechargeable LED Headlamps
|Make / Model||Lumens||Lock||Red Mode||Weight|
|Biolite 330 Headlamp||330||Yes||Yes||2.4 oz|
|Petzl Actik Core||450||Yes||Yes||2.8 oz|
|LEDLenser MH5||400||Yes||Yes||3.3 oz|
|Fenix HM50R||500||No||No||2.8 oz|
|Nitecore NU 32||550||Yes||Yes||3.5 oz|
|Nitecore NU 25||360||Yes||Yes||1.85 oz|
|Biolite 750 Headlamp||750||Yes||Yes||5.3 oz|
|Petzl Tactikka||450||Yes||Yes||2.8 oz|
|Nite Ize Radiant 300||300||Yes||Yes||3.2 oz|
|Princeton Tec Axis Recharegable||450||Yes||Yes||2.9 oz|
|Nite Ize Radiant 170 Hat Clip Light||170||No||Yes||1.62 oz|
The Biolite Headlamp 330 is a comfortable and well-engineered rechargeable headlamp ideal for active sports where you need hands free lighting to show you the way. I think it’s tailor-made for trail running where you need a light that won’t bounce around on your forehead and has flood and spot modes so you can see where you’re going before you get there. It’s also available in multiple colors, dead simple to use, and makes a great holiday gift, especially for people new to rechargeable headlamps.
Despite its ergonomic design, there’s nothing technically superior about the Biolite Headlamp 330 that makes it any better than a lot of the other rechargeable headlamps I own or have tried in the past. At $50, I think it’s also on the expensive side, but that’s generally true of any headlamp sold in a brick and mortar outdoor chain store like REI or EMS.
If you’re a hiker or backpacker, you can get by with a much less expensive headlamp, since you really only need it for cooking in the dark, going to the bathroom, reading in your tent, or sitting around a campfire, where a red mode helps you avoid blinding your companions. However, if you did need a headlamp for an emergency or for the rare case where you’ve been benighted and have to hike after dark, my preference would be to carry a brighter headlamp with a large battery like the less expensive Nitecore NU32 (see our review). While the Biolite Headlamp 330 may well be satisfactory, my preference would be to use a rechargeable headlamp with a battery that lasts longer and throws a brighter beam.
Disclosure: Biolite provided the author with a headlamp for this review.Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!