The BioLite Headlamp 330 is a headlamp with an external battery pack, a weight of only 69 grams and BioLite claims it produces 330 Lumens. Review time!
- Weight: 69 grams
- Size: 45 – 63 cm
- Price: € 59,95/ $ 59,95/ £49.99
When I got the press release on the BioLite Headlamp 330 in November 2019 I was quite surprised; BioLite is not the first brand that I think of when I am thinking about headlamps. It’s more the field of traditional brands like Black Diamond, Olight, Led Lenser, Silva and – not to be missed – Petzl. When the BioLite arrived I had my second – pleasant – surprise: design wise it is definitely a new kid on the block. When researching and writing this review I got my third surprise: The BioLite Headlamp 330 has been on the market since late 2018… How did I miss it? Have I been sleeping? No matter what, it still deservers to be reviewed!
The BioLite Headlamp 330 is a headlamp with an external battery pack, a weight of only 69 grams and BioLite claims it produces 330 Lumens. Now, lets break down the features in small parts.
The 900 mAh rechargeable 3.4 Wh Li-on battery pack is located at the rear of the headband and is charged with the micro USB-cable that is provided in the package. The opening for the micro USB-connector is situated in the downside of the battery pack and has a good rubber cover. This prevents rain from getting in the opening. Next to it are four small led’s that indicate the battery status. The battery pack is made out of a solid plastic and it is not possible to exchange the rechargeable batteries. On the sustainability side this is a bit of a bummer. The battery pack can be moved along the headband with ease so you can resituate it if you want.
The headband is made from an elastic material and has a very soft feel to the naked skin. It can be adjusted easily to fit small and bigger heads. I measured a circumference that varies from 45 cm – so kids will like it! – at its smallest to 63 at its maximum. In its smallest configuration the battery pack moves a bit to the side and at its widest the headband is totally stretched out. I have tried the BioLite Headlamp 330 in combination with several bike- and climbing helmets and it works well. Nice detail on the headband is the fact that the flat spiral cord that connects the lamp and the battery is partly concealed in the headband. This looks very clean.
Not only the power cord is concealed in the headband, also the headlamp itself is an integral part of it. Again, clean looks but it is also a very smooth part, later more on this. The lamp itself consists of two LEDS’s that are fitted in a housing that can be tilted. The LED on the left (looking from the front the right) is white and has a spot lens. According to BioLite it has a reach of 75 meters. The one the right is white too but consists of in fact 4 LED’s in a row and gives a more wide flood pattern lighting. BioLite claims a beam distance of 16 meters.
Behind this same big rectangular lens are also two red LED’s. Both the LED-units can be dimmed and there is a Strobe function as well. On top of the headlamp is small on/off button. It is protected by a little wall to prevent it from switching on by accident during transport. You can also block the button by pressing the on/off button for 8 seconds. BioLite claims that the BioLite Headlamp 330 has an output of maximum 330 lumens, hence the name.
About Lumens there is a lot to tell. When I was attending the ISPO Awards last December we had a torch that was claimed at 4.400 Lumen and I just received a mail from a Chinese company that claims 6.500 Lumens on a headlamp but like BioLite they fail to state were they measure it. Right in front of the lamp or at 1 meter or… Your guess is as good as mine. Lumen is just a way of expressing how much light – the light intensity – the lamp produces. And that is the whole point with Lumens, it not that important. Important is the usability in real life. Now let’s talk about Lux.
Lux is – like Lumen – a way of expressing an amount of light but with Lux we talk about the amount of light that reaches a certain spot. So this is actually the useful amount of light for your eyes and the visibility. In the past I did quite a lot of testing on headlamps for the magazine I used to work for. We tested headlamps by measuring the Lumens and the amount of Lux that reaches a certain spot in the R&D laboratory of Philips car lighting. In this laboratory we not only measured the amount of Lumen and Lux but also the lighting pattern. After we did this several times, we made our own lab in the basement of the office. You might understand that since I left the magazine I don’t have this possibility anymore so now I do almost the same, but outdoors.
For every lamp that I review I measure the amount of light in the different lighting modes that reaches a black square at 5 meters, 10 meters and 20 meters. Five meters is the point that I believe is a good distance while running or just looking around your camp. The other two are more important when speeds get higher or when you need the lamp also for searching the area around you. With a simple Lux-meter I figured out that the 330 Lumens is measured at 1 meter distance. Or, at least at 1 meter I measured 320 Lux. For the BioLite Headlamp 330 and all the lighting modes I measured the following values:
- Spot & Flood Max: 35.8 Lux at 5 meter, 6.9 Lux at 10 meter and 1.6 Lux at 20 meter.
- Spot & Flood Low: 1.8 Lux at 5 meter, 0.4 Lux at 10 meter and 0.1 Lux at 20 meter.
- Spot Max: 35.8 Lux at 5 meter, 8.3 Lux at 10 meter and 1.6 Lux at 20 meter.
- Spot Low: 1.8 Lux at 5 meter, 0.4 Lux at 10 meter and 0.0 Lux at 20 meter.
- Flood Max: 3.8 Lux at 5 meter, 0.9 Lux at 10 meter and 0,2 Lux at 20 meter.
- Flood Low: 0.2 Lux at 5 meter, 0.1 Lux at 10 meter and 0.0 Lux at 20 meter.
For so far the numbers, how do they relate to daily use.
Beam patters in real life
I used the BioLite Headlamp 330 for several activities: hiking, camping and running and in general I like the beam pattern of flood and spot combined together the best. The flood provides a good wide overview on what is around and besides the main track and the spot enlightens the ‘trail’ in front of me. Even when running, the 20 meters and 1.6 Lux is workable. The claim that BioLite makes about the spot reaching 75 meters…. I am not too sure about it. Maybe in the lab under perfect conditions but definitely not outdoors when it is a bit damp. In and around camp I can do perfect with the more low energy consuming dimmed flood. Or… the red flood light if I want to see in the dark without blinding others.
Battery life in practice
Battery life is very depending on how you use the BioLite Headlamp 330. BioLite claims 3.5 hours of light at maximum power with the combined Flood and Spot LED’s on while keeping it running for 40 hours in the most energy-efficient position. I checked this a couple of times for the Spot only and combined Spot and Flood in maximum output position and I can confirm that BioLite is accurate on the 3.5 hours for Flood and Spot at max. I even measured a bit more: 3 hours and 45 minutes but this was in house at 20 degrees Celsius. For Spot Max only I measured 6 hours en 15 minutes of battery life. Charging go’s pretty fast: 2.5 hours from totally empty.
BioLite Headlamp 330 Usability
The BioLite Headlamp 330 is comfortable to wear and the headband – I discovered this when trailrunning – is pretty good in absorbing and transporting sweat. Also the weight of only 69 grams – claimed and checked! – makes the BioLite one of my favorites when running. Next to the weight is the position of the battery pack in the back very well chosen. The tilting of the lamp unit works too. But… To tilt the unit you really need small fingers otherwise it is pretty hard.
The same for the on/off button: It is too small to be comfortable to use. With gloves it is impossible. The BioLite Headlamp 330 is more for warmer dark summer nights than for colder ‘winter’ use. One final remark: the on/off button is also used to switch between lighting modes and since the button is hard to feel, switching can be a hassle. I keep ending up in Strobe or Red Flood for no reason at all. Dimming on the other side is easy if you are in the right lighting mode: just keep pressing the button.
One final remark on the BioLite Headlamp 330: it is rated at IPX4. IPX4 means it is only protected from splashing water from any direction. So it is not waterproof and with IPX4 it should withstand some light rain, but it will not survive a downpour. If you need a waterproof headlamp, buy an IPX8 rated one.
The BioLite Headlamp 330 has surprised me in more than one way. I like the fresh clean overall design that makes it stand out from the crowd. I love the very comfortable headband and the way in which the battery pack – on the back – and headlamp – in the front – are incorporated in the headband. But the best thing is its weight: only 69 grams! When running this is noticeable or better, you hardly feel that there is something on your head.
The lighting and the lighting modes are not the most powerful out there and many other headlamps will out power the BioLite just by sheer numbers. For me, the lighting has proven fine in daily outdoor practice. What I don’t like is the tiny on/off/lighting modes change button and the fact that changing into another light mode doesn’t always results in the mode I think I have switched to. The price of € 59,95/$ 59,95/£49.99 is on the high side. Because of this and the tiny button I rate the BioLite Headlamp 330 at 7,2 out of 10 points.