Biolite Headlamp 330 Review

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.

Biolite Headlamp 330

Brightness
Controls
Battery
Comfort
Weight

Good for Trail Running

The Biolite Headlamp 330 has an ergonomically designed headband which is tightly integrated with its LED case to provide a bounce-free headlamp perfect for running at night. But the limited battery size and run of the mill features make it underpowered for long hikes at night or in winter when you'd want a brighter headlamp and a bigger battery.

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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

Ergonomic Design

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 grey button is the on-off-and control switch. The small red tab behind it is used to tilt the light assembly forward to aim it.

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 LED light and the battery power cord are welded inside the headband.

Control Logic

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 remote battery pack has a battery meter that shows the charge remaining. It has a reflective strip on the back and a water-resistant cap covers the Micro-USB charging port.

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.

  1. red flood
  2. white spot (with dimmer)
  3. white flood (with dimmer)
  4. white spot and strobe together (with dimmer)
  5. off

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 / ModelLumensLockRed ModeWeightPrice
Biolite 330330YesYes2.4 oz$50
Knog Bilby400YesYes3.2 oz$60
Fenix HM50R500NoNo2.8 oz$60
Petzl Bindi200YesYes1.2 oz$60
Nitecore NU 32550YesYes3.5 oz$40
Nitecore NU 25360YesYes1.85 oz$37
Nitecore NU 20360YesNo1.82 oz$30
LEDLenser SEO7R200YesYes3.3 oz$40
Claymore Heady600YesNo3.7 oz$80
UCO Air150YesYes1.6 oz$30

Recommendation

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.

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6 comments

  1. I loved everything about this headlamp, BUT, the power button! The little tab that you use to tilt the light forward is poorly positioned so it blocks your finger from pushing the button very easily. I found myself having to use a fingernail to compress it enough to turn the light on.

    • I would totally agree with Georgann. I have this headlamp and the power button is made for a small child’s finger. it’s never easy to click it just right. I do like the small size of the headlamp on the front but find myself reaching for my blackdimond headlight more than this light. If they could fix the power button and add the ability to either replace or charge of the battery pack it might be a killer light. for now, I would give it a 3 out of 5.

    • I found it “OK”, but I have smaller fingertips hardened from years of violin playing.

  2. In addition to a rechargeable battery and lockout on/off switch, some of my other personal requirements involve the red LED.

    I want red to be able to be turned on and off independently without scrolling through all the white modes and blinding other star gazers.

    I also want a BRIGHT red light. I’ve found I need at least 12-14 lumens output for the red light to be usable for me. I like to use red for a while after dark before switching to white lights and blasting out my night vision. If the red is too dim, I can’t see well enough to walk safely.

  3. Does anyone find it hot on there head? I reckon if I left it on it would have burnt me.

    • I’ve been thinking of getting one of these, what you said seems logical to me, that the skimpy front part would get hotter than say my heavier Black Diamond at roughly the same output on high. There’s not much of a heat sink between the LED and forehead on this one. If the back part is getting hot it could be a bad lithium battery.

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