I consider a headlamp to be a very important item that should be on everyone’s checklist of hiking essentials. There are, of course, very cheap, no-name headlamps available out there, but there’s certainly something to be said for trusting your only source of light on the trail to a name brand. That’s why I’m going to take the opportunity today to review three Black Diamond headlamps.
The Storm Headlamp
Weight with batteries: 110 grams (3.9 ounces)
Max Distances: 85 meters (High); 8 meters (Low)
Max Burn Time: 40 hours (High); ~120 hours (Low)
LED Type: 1 QuadPower, 1 DoublePower, 3 SinglePower
Batteries: 4 AAA (included)
The Black Diamond Storm headlamp is designed to withstand unexpected weather changes on big adventures. It offers a fully sealed waterproof housing that can withstand immersion up to one-meter for 30 minutes.
The Storm features three distinctly colored night vision modes (red, green, and blue). It is also designed to provide enough peripheral lighting to help with tasks like cooking, reading, or sorting gear in preparation for the morning’s summit attempt.
The Storm also boasts Black Diamond’s Brightness Memory feature, which allows you to turn your light on and off at a given brightness without having to revert back to full power every time. With eight different lighting modes, the Storm is sure to provide just the right lighting for any situation.
The ReVolt Headlamp
Weight with batteries: 97 grams (3.4 ounces)
Max Distances: 80 meters (High); 8 meters (Low)
Max Burn Time: 30 hours (High); 175 hours (Low)
LED Type: 1 TriplePower, 1 DoublePower, 1 DoublePower Red
Batteries: 3 AAA
Black Diamond’s ReVolt headlamp is just a small step up from the Storm in terms of price, but it offers a few unique features. While it offers fewer lumens than the Storm, the ReVolt’s battery life can be significantly longer than the Storm’s, especially when used on the low setting. It also offers a three-level power meter that will keep you from being surprised when your headlamp doesn’t turn on at all.
Like the Storm, the ReVolt also offers Brightness Memory and a variety of lighting modes. The ReVolt’s night vision setting relies on a red light to provide enough light to see while allowing your eyes to stay adjusted to the dark.
Although the ReVolt doesn’t offer the degree of water resistance featured by the Storm, it uses a significantly less amount of battery and is still designed to hold up to immersion up to 1.1 meters for 30 minutes (although Black Diamond cautions that it should be taken apart and thoroughly dried after immersion does occur).
The Icon Headlamp
Weight with batteries: 300 grams (10.6 ounces)
Max Distances: 100 meters (High); 2 meters (Low)
Max Burn Time: 70 hours (High); 175 hours (Low)
LED Type: 1 QuadPower, 1 DoublePower
Batteries: 4 AA (included)
The Icon is Black Diamond’s most powerful headlamp. It’s a perfect option for any activity from rappelling down a cliff face in the wee hours of the morning to waking up at 3 am to climb your next 14’er. It is designed to be both waterproof (up to 1 meter for 30 minutes) and dustproof, and it offers three distinct night vision modes like the Storm (red, green, and blue).
The Icon differs from the Storm and ReVolt because it features a three-strap design that secures more snugly onto your head. This means a higher degree of security when you’re 200 feet up on a cliff face, and it also means that the Icon can be used with a rechargeable battery pack. So if you’re out for days or weeks at a time, you won’t have to carry an extra 2 to 5 pounds in just battery weight.
Choosing a Headlamp
So, what is the difference between the three Black Diamond Headlamps I’ve reviewed above? And how can you choose between the three? To keep things as simple as possible, this section on choosing a headlamp is going to focus on two important factors: lumens and weight.
So, what are lumens? Lumens are defined as “the SI unit of luminous flux, equal to the amount of light emitted per second in a unit solid angle of one steradian from a uniform source of one candela.” Great. So how do we translate that definition so that it’s applicable for us?
Lumens (unlike watts) measure brightness. In terms of headlamps, more lumens means more brightness. When it comes to battery-powered headlamps, a higher lumens count can also (sometimes) mean reduced battery life.
In the case of these Black Diamond Headlamps, we can see that the max burn time on at the highest lumen setting is considerably less than if we were using the headlamp at a lower setting. This illustrates why it’s really nice to have a headlamp that offers a number of lighting modes.
Weight is a concern when it comes to backpacking, mountaineering, or really any other extended stay in the wilderness where you’re going to be moving around constantly.
You’ll want a reliable headlamp to see around camp at night (or in the early morning), but you probably want to minimize your overall weight as much as possible if you’re attempting a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (for example).
Of course, any consideration of weight has to include how many spare batteries you’ll also bring along to be prepared in case your headlamp turns on in your pack and runs out of battery life in a day.
That can be a good reason why having a headlamp with a rechargeable battery pack is nice, but you also have to be mindful of how you’ll recharge that battery. If you’re planning on relying on solar, for example, keep in mind that you might not have ample access to quality sunlight every day on the trail.
Do you have experience with Black Diamond headlamps? I want to know about headlamps that have (or haven’t!) worked for you in the past! Also, if you decide to purchase the Icon, Storm, or Revolt after reading this review, I’d love to know how you like them after you’ve had a few chances to get and put them to use!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review of these Black Diamond headlamps and I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below. I’ll be quick to reply to any questions, comments, or concerns you feel like sharing!
About The Backpack Guide
As The Backpack Guide, I’m always looking for new trails and wildernesses to explore and I’m also interested in the experiences of others in the wild. If there is one thing I am sure of it’s that we can all spend more time enjoying and connecting with Nature.
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