During the winter months, many of my outdoor activities take place partially, if not entirely, in the dark. As a year-round runner, hiker, and rock climber, one thing I always have in my pack is a headlamp. It is always a good idea to have a headlamp around, especially when you know it will get dark while you are out.
My current headlamp has quickly become one of my favorite and most used pieces of all my gear. A few years ago, I picked up the Biolite Headlamp 330, and now I rarely go anywhere without it. Actually, I bought a second one so I can have one that stays in my day pack (rock climbing, hiking, camping) and one that stays in my car (running, emergencies). A number of my friends have bought this same model after hearing me sing its praises for so long.
I first came across this cool gadget when I was on a climbing trip. I was rock climbing with a friend up a special route that requires some caving. We both had our headlamps on as we were climbing through the dark. After a little while, I noticed I could not even see the beam of my own headlamp because the beam of light coming out of my buddy’s headlamp. Being the lover of gear that I am, I asked him about it.
My friend started to show off the 330 and before the trip was over (as soon as I got Wi-Fi), I had already ordered one for myself. The first thing that stands out is that the light itself has a very low profile on the front against the forehead. This is because the battery pack for Biolite Headlamps is tucked back, behind the head. This feature does not just make for a sleek looking piece of gear, it also means that the main weight of the headlamp is no longer bouncing around on your forehead with around every step you take. Instead, it is secured behind, keeping the front panel still, so you don’t miss a step.
It also helps that this is the most comfortable headlamp I have ever worn. Biolite’s proprietary 3D SlimFit Construction keeps the band from slipping. The balanced fit is instantly noticeable and stays in place every time. The fit is easily adjustable for when your friends want to borrow it (and they will). The fabric actually wicks away moisture to help keep you dry and cool during high output activities. The band also has reflectors for high visibility near the road. The front panel that houses the light is able to tilt down, so I can set it to point anywhere from straight ahead or down toward my feet. The whole thing is very light, weighing in at only 2.43 oz (69 g). It even comes in a bunch of different vibrant colors.
The light itself is 330 lumens, which in most cases is going to be more than enough. It has spot and flood settings, both of which are dimmable. It also has red light and strobe modes that come in handy when you need them. It has a beam distance of up to 75 meters and even has brightness memory, so you can always turn it back on right where you left it.
After all of those pros, I still haven’t mentioned my favorite feature of this little thing, and that is the battery itself. Not only does it last for up to 40 hours, but it is also USB rechargeable! That means you can leave the old alkaline batteries at home. An indicator on the side shows how much battery is left, so you never have to wonder if your light is going to suddenly die on you.
The best part is that since it is rechargeable, I can also pair it with my other favorite Biolite creation, the SolarPanel 5+. I usually charge my panel with sunlight in my car and use that to power my headlamp. This creates a cycle of clean, renewable energy that keeps on running as much as I do.
There are few things in my gear kit that get as much use as my headlamp. Whether it is super early morning runs, late night rock climbing, or as a backup just in case, I trust my Biolite headlamp to be there for me every single time.
If you want to get one for yourself, come into AO and ask some of our knowledgeable staff about headlamps, solar panels, or any other outdoor needs. The staff here does not just sell the products, they are out there using them too.