November is National Running Safety Month! Just in time for shorter days and darker nights, ATRA Trail Ambassador Susan Kendrick, reviews the BioLite HeadLamp 330, the no-bounce, rechargeable head mounted LED light.
I admit it, I have a drawer full of headlamps. I love to run trails in the late afternoon and evening (my reward at the end of the day) so this time of year shorter days mean taking along some light. You early morning runners out there may have a more year-round need. But, even the best of these headlamps has an adequate, get ‘er done approach—bulky “lamps” strung on an elastic headband that holds the lamp in place. Done. Off you go for your trail run.
Game-Changer for Trail Runners
Enter the BioLite HeadLamp 330, one of those game-changers where you think, “This is so obvious, and now here it is!” I find this crazy, because BioLite is not known for headlamps—this is their first one. What they are known for is incredibly elegant design, from their portable camp stoves and cooking supplies to solar panels and lanterns for backpacking and camping. This headlamp of theirs is also a clear winner right out of the gate. No improving last year’s model, no gradual progress over time. They created their version (vision!) of a headlamp and nailed it for all of us!
The Dirt on Design
Start with how BioLite is put together. They bypassed the usual concept of separate components—one part strapped to another, which makes for a clunky experience, to a whole other “out-of-category” experience. The BioLite headlamp is one continuous, featherlight unit. This thoughtful, minimalistic design results in the following benefits:
- Flush-fit lamp only 9mm thanks to proprietary 3D SlimFit Construction
- 2.43 ounces (69g) total weight. One of the lightest headlamps available
- No bounce or slippage
- 5 light modes, max 330 Lumens
- Variable light angles
- USB rechargeable, no heavy alkaline batteries
- 40 hours burn time on Low, 3.5 Hours on High, plus battery indicator light
- “Brightness Memory” that saves your last setting for next time
- Moisture wicking band stays light and dry in sweat and rain
- Backed by the HolyFit Guarantee
I couldn’t wait to get the BioLite out on the trail. The spotlight was quickly my favorite mode. It shows details on the trail better than any Instagram filter. I was on both single track dirt, roots, and rocks and then on double-wide grass and pine needles. In both cases I could clearly see all details and variations in the terrain. BioLite goes beyond simply lighting up the trail to adding great clarity as well.
No More Tunnel Vision
I have had an issue with other headlamps where it feels like I am running in a light bubble. The BioLite spotlight mode lights up the full scene so you can move down the trail in total confidence at any pace. The floodlight mode illuminates a more horizontal, side-to-side space in front of you. I’m not sure why I would want this mode, since the spotlight is so great, but it may serve the same purpose as low beams versus high beams in a car, to help in fog, mist, etc. The 5 light modes and 5 tilt-down light-angle choices let you completely customize your personal preferences, based on your height, speed, terrain, surroundings, weather conditions, and more.
Even in low-light conditions at dusk, before it was fully dark out, the strobe light mode was highly visible when I pointed it up and swept it back and forth as a distress signal. It shone through and above the high tree canopy and was also clearly visible at a distance and around a sharp turn in the trail—I took along a testing partner to try this.
One, small low-profile button shifts the lamp easily from one light mode to another. I tested this button with a bare finger but wondered how easily I could press it when the weather turns cold and I start wearing gloves, so I tested it. With thin gloves on, I could still easily feel the button and shift modes. Surprisingly, even with heavy gloves on, I could also feel and press the button, no problem. Mittens were a little trickier, but still worked. Nicely done, BioLite!
The instructions that come in the box with the BioLite are simple graphics of how to switch through the 5 light modes. I got it, kind of, but wasn’t getting reliable, easily repeatable change of light modes. I quickly found BioLite’s How-To Instructional Video on the website for the complete story that also covers adjusting the fit and recharging—5-minutes total and everything you need to know. Perfect!
From headlamps to hydration, your gear should improve your time on the trail without weighing you down. BioLite definitely earns its place, thoughtfully designed to keep you safe, comfortable, and confident on any trail so you can move freely, with your mind on other things—like the beauty of where you are!