Rechargeable Headlamp
BioLite Headlamp 330
$60, 2.4 oz.
backcountry.com

Few headlamps combine the attributes of being super ultralight, rechargeable, very bright, and having a long enough burn time (or charge duration) for a multi-day backcountry trip, but that’s exactly what you get with the BioLite Headlamp 330. For multiple backpacking trips this summer—including four days on Nevada’s Ruby Crest Trail, five days hiking the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier, six days in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness, and seven days on the Wind River High Route—this torch lit up the darkness quite well and never lost its charge.

Over six days in the High Uintas in July (when, granted, we had long days), a full charge lasted until the headlamp died late on our last night—it was good for five nights of normal summer use. And my Wonderland Trail hike was in the first week of September, when days were short enough that I used the headlamp on each of our four evenings and some mornings without it losing its charge. BioLite says the rechargeable 330 runs for 3.5 hours at max brightness—which is rarely needed, so it’s easy to prolong its charge—on its 900 mAh USB rechargeable li-ion battery and for 40 hours at its minimum brightness level of five lumens, which is dim but good enough to read by.


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The BioLite Headlamp 330 tilted.
The BioLite Headlamp 330 tilted.

While there are brighter headlamps out there, this one’s max brightness of 330 lumens is more than powerful enough for backpackers, dayhikers, ultra-hikers and ultra-runners, climbers, and backcountry skiers getting after it before dawn or past dusk. In one camp on the Wonderland Trail, I put the Headlamp 330 at maximum brightness in dark forest and could see trees and other objects clearly at a distance of approximately 200 feet.

The Headlamp 330 has an ultrathin, low-profile, molded front casing with a slightly curved shape that rests flush against your forehead, not bouncing at all, and a battery mounted on the back side of the slender, adjustable head strap. The light casing does have tilt capacity, although it’s so small that it’s not easy to manipulate with light gloves on.

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The tiny power button controls on and off, the lockout mode (holding it for eight seconds), and clicks through the five white and red modes in sequential order: red flood, white spot, white flood, white spot and flood combined (maximum brightness), and white spot strobe. The white spot and flood have dimming capacity, the headlamp turns on in the mode it was last turned off, and it has a battery indicator (four LED lights).

The IPX 4 rating means it’s fine in rain or getting wet from perspiration but is not designed for immersion in water.

Any headlamp with a battery pack positioned at the back of your head creates minor discomfort if you’re wearing it while lying down (for, say, reading). But it’s easy enough to slide that pack higher on your head without the headlamp slipping off, and it’s a small inconvenience for this level of performance.

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The BioLite Headlamp 330 battery pack.
The BioLite Headlamp 330 battery pack.

The Verdict

While its charge does not last as long as some rechargeable headlamps or most that run on batteries, the BioLite Headlamp 330 sports the advantages of being rechargeable, super light, powerful, and holding a charge long enough for most backpackers, especially in summer.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase a BioLite Headlamp 330 at backcountry.com or moosejaw.com.

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See my review of “The 5 Best Headlamps,” and all of my reviews of headlamps, hiking gear, and backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned backpacker, you’ll learn new tricks for making all of your trips go better in my “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip,” “A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking,” and “10 Tricks for Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier.” With a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read all of those three stories for free; if you don’t have a subscription, you can download the e-guide versions of “12 Expert Tips for Planning a Wilderness Backpacking Trip,” the lightweight backpacking guide, and the 10 tricks for making hiking and backpacking easier without having a paid membership.

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You may also be interested in my story “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be,” which you can read in its entirety as a subscriber or click here to purchase separately.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

 

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