I included BioLite’s HeadLamp 330 in my 2019 camping gear roundup. But I think this rechargeable head light is worth spiking out in a standalone review, especially now that I’ve had more time to play around with it.
A Winner in Looks
Looks are superficial. In a product, they’re secondary to functionality. But I can’t stop comparing the BioLite HeadLamp 330 to the other head lights in my collection, and it’s no contest. No matter what color you pick (and BioLite offers four to choose from), everything else looks ancient, bulky, and ugly beside the HeadLamp 330.
And let’s face it, if you’re going to walk around with a flashlight strapped to your head, the least dorky-looking option is going to be the knee-jerk first pick.
No contest, this is one sleek, modern-looking head light.
Superior Design With Excellent Performance
According to my scale, the BioLite HeadLamp 330 weighs under 2.5 ounces. That’s less than half the weight of the other head lights in my collection—and not much more than the two AA batteries that power those.
The lightweight makes the HeadLamp 330 more comfortable to wear. So does the adjustable, moisture-wicking fabric headband (which is also remarkably tangle-free compared to the competition). And so does the fact that much of the weight is actually in the back, in a module that houses the battery. That approach of separating the battery from the light itself pays off in a big way by reducing the light housing to a mere bump on your forehead. It sticks out less than 1/2 an inch.
This doesn’t just look a lot nicer, if you are trying to get close to something you don’t have to worry about accidentally poking it, and if you’re walking or running you don’t get the same bounce effect.
Despite the slimmed-down design, the HeadLamp 330’s light can be adjusted with four levels of downward tilt. It can output a very useful 330 lumens of light at its high setting. The battery recharges via Micro USB and is good for 40 hours of continuous use on the low setting and 3.5 hours on high. There is also a setting with a flashing light for visibility.
The one potential downside to using any head light is that you have to use caution when wearing it around people. In particular, you have to remember to keep the light angled down so you don’t accidentally blind them if you turn in their direction and they get the full 330 lumens in the eye.
You may wonder what the value is in having a head lamp around the house. Once you start playing around with one, though, you’ll quickly discover uses—pretty much all centered around the key advantage of being able to shine a light where your head is pointed while leaving your hands free.
Readers have always been fans, especially if they prefer dead tree books over backlit e-readers. A head light is great for reading in the dark. As I’ve already mentioned, they are great for camping. Being able to walk around at night in a campground with your path safely illuminated while keeping your hands free to carry stuff, hold onto kids, and/or swat bugs is a game-changer.
The uses for head lights go far beyond these basics, though. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve used the HeadLamp 330 while taking apart a laptop, searching under the couch for a missing Apple TV remote, and to lug a bunch of camping gear from the trailer to a storage shed in the dark.
Should You Buy It?
Every home needs a head-mounted flashlight. They are simply too useful to be without, with plenty of applications around the home—not to mention their excellence for reading in the dark and camping. That’s why you so often find them in the impulse buy bins at big box stores. The BioLite HeadLamp 330 may cost two or three times what the discount versions do, but we’re talking $49.95, not hundreds of dollars. And to me, between the ability to recharge instead of having to replace batteries, the sleek style, the thoughtful design, comfort, and the overall performance, the extra $25 or so for the HeadLamp 330 is well worth it.
Disclosure: BioLite provided HeadLamp 330s for evaluation but had no input into this review.