|Rating:||8.5 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.8 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Ease of Use||1.7 / 2|
|Comfort||1.7 / 2|
|Versatility||1.6 / 2|
As a brand of headlamps Biolite is not as well known as Petzl or Black Diamond that dominate the market. I have been wanting to test this light for a while to see how it stacks up.
With most products on the hiking market these days there is a large degree of commonality with manufacturers tinkering around the edges of features to provide slight differences. When it comes time to talk about headlamps what surprises me is that the main players have managed to provide a point of difference with their models. As such the Biolite 330 Rechargeable Headlamp provides some unique offerings in this respect.
There are two key features that this headlamp uses and both relate to the configuration of the battery pack and lighting unit. Most models of hiking headlamps tend to have a combined battery and lamp unit that sits on the front of the head. However, the Biolite 330 Rechargeable Headlamp splits these two components to have the lighting unit at the front and the battery at the back of the head. This splits the 69 gram weight between the back and front of the head making this a more comfortable light to use (in most cases) rather than concentrating the weight all at the front. In the past this configuration has been used in high power lights but it’s good to see it moving into the lightweight hiker models.
Where Biolite really succeeds is that the lighting unit is extremely small and lightweight to the point you hardly notice it’s even there. The lamp itself retains the ability to tilt so you won’t blind other hikers or throw the beam in a direction where you don’t want it to go. This headlamp has five separate lighting choices which are:
Each of these options is easy to choose and after the initial requirement to hold the on button for 8 seconds to unlock it, the unit only really requires a simple single button press to cycle through the beam choices. At best, the beam will run for 3½ hours on the highest lighting setting and around 40 hours on the lowest setting which will suit the average hikers needs.
The highest setting on this light really surprised me. For such a little lighting unit it throws a very serious beam which is quoted at 75 metres distance at 330 lumens which is pretty impressive. The flood beam on full power throws a nice wide beam but with a reduced distance down to around 16 metres. As you would expect this light also has dimming options on the flood and spot setting which are intended for use where you don’t need to read. Its great for finding your way around when you don’t need full power or don’t want to distract other sleeping hikers.
Now on to the battery pack. The Biolite 330 Rechargeable Headlamp has a compact sealed Lithium-Ion battery that sits at the rear of the head and recharges with a mini USB port. The bonus with this is you don’t need to carry additional batteries on longer hikes however the downside is that if you need full power for an extended period on high beam, then you are limited to around 3½ hours. For most hikers that will be fine but if you need to do some way-finding while night hiking, a longer burn time would be an advantage. You also don’t have the option to swap out a removable battery unit which I find a necessity on multi-week hikes. For the average hiker this won’t be an issue but I’d be inclined to carry a small power bank just in case. This lamp also contains a reflective strip on the rear of the very comfortable adjustable headband which makes you a bit easier to see if someone is walking behind you.
One other negative which may or may not be an issue for you is that because the battery is contained at the back of the head, it is not really useable if you are lying on your back reading. I must admit that if I’m reading at night in a tent I don’t find it comfortable to lay flat anyway, preferring to read on my side.
In Australia this headlamp comes in three colours which are red, teal and grey (yellow is also available overseas) and sells for just on $95 AUD which is a reasonable price for a headlamp that throws out this much power.
Overall the Biolite 330 Rechargeable Headlamp really did surprise me as I didn’t expect such a physically small lighting unit to throw out such impressive light. For the average hiker this lesser known brand of headlamp is well worth considering if you are in the market for a new night light.
This is a unique headlamp that all hikers will love if you don’t do serious long distance night hiking and need to way-find for extended periods
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$99.99 AUD RRP
Biolite 330 Headlamp available colours
Biolite 330 out of the box. This light comes with it’s own recharge cord
BioLite 330 Headlamp on front view
Biolite 330 Headlamp on, side view. The lighting unit at the front is extremely low profile and the battery pack at the back is also minimal
Light panel tilted forward
Charging port on the battery pack
This review was done with product provided by the Australian distributor of Biolite