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Material: Polycarbonate lens, plastic frame
Weight: 2.43 ounces
Best Features: Lightweight, bright beam, rechargeable, comfortable.
Room for Improvement: Lasts 3.5 hours on brightest setting.
All trail runners, especially those who compete in ultras or have to train at odd hours, need a good, reliable headlamp. BioLite, a company known for innovative off-grid energy products like camp stoves and portable solar panels, has introduced a battery-free headlamp.
The lamp part itself is pretty small, as the rechargeable lithium-ion battery sits in the back, and comes with a USB-compatible charging cord. The adjustable band is made from flexible, moisture-wicking material. Weighing less than 2.5 ounces, you’d barely feel like you’re wearing it, were it not for the bright light it emits.
Speaking of light, it comes with five different settings: white flood, white spot, white strobe, red flood and a white spot/flood combo. Fully charged, the battery lasts up to 40 hours on a lower setting (100 lumens), 3.5 on high (330 lumens). The angle of the light is easily adjustable and projects about 50′ in flood mode or 250′ in spotlight mode. It’s also water resistant.
I found the BioLite 330 to be very comfortable; it easily fit over a hat on a cold night and it did not bounce around at all. Even on the lower flood setting, it still projected a lot of light. The high spot setting allowed me to see just about anything in the dark and would certainly make running downhill on a rocky trail much easier.
A final feature I enjoyed was the fact that this headlamp is rechargeable, negating the need to purchase (and dispose of) alkaline batteries. There is a trade-off any potential buyer should be aware of when considering a rechargeable headlamp: duration. Lithium-ion batteries last significantly shorter than standard alkaline batteries. At its brightest setting, the headlamp lasts approximately three and a half hours. This makes it great for long workouts in the dark, but would not cut it running a 100 miler overnight without significant back up in the form of a spare headlamp, but that’s the only possible shortcoming I could find. Overall, this is a fantastic headlamp, especially for $50.
—Will Fisher, age 47, chooses training runs and races for their scenic value. He’s a relatively large runner who cross trains a lot and is excited to have just been accepted into the Western States 100 Endurance Run.