Product Review: Black Diamond Spot LED Headlamp

For years I dismissed the notion of a headlamp, sticking faithfully by my Mini MagLite for my after hours visibility needs. I considered a headlamp to be the camper’s version of a pocket protector, or at best a fad that would soon be forgotten and replaced with a new and improved gadget.

I guess my skepticism was rooted in my first foray into head-based illumination devices. Years ago I bought a small, but relatively heavy incandescent flashlight that clipped to the bill of a hat. It was a bad design. It was heavy, so heavy in fact that I frequently had to push my cap up out of my eyes. (So much for being hands free.) And the amount of light it produced was insufficient.

So I reverted back to my faithful MagLite. But trying to work with both hands at night is difficult with only a handheld light. You have to prop it up just so or hold it in your mouth or under your arm. None of which can be done well for long periods of time.

The Spot

Then I tried a newer generation of headlamps.

I was on my way to a camping trip and realized that in my haste I had forgotten to pack a flashlight. Luckily my route to the trail head would pass near an REI store. I stopped in and looked at their offerings. After reading all I could about the product features on the packages, talking with not one but two sales associates, and trying on demo units, I decided to give the Black Diamond Spot a try. I’m glad I did.

The Spot is held to your forehead with a single adjustable strap that goes around your head. It’s surprisingly comfortable yet feels durable. It weighs 54 grams without batteries and 90 grams when loaded with the 3 AAA batteries that power the unit.

The Spot has multiple modes. The triple power LED claims to put out 75 lumens and shines up to 70 meters for 5 hours. The “2 single power LED” mode provides 16 lumens and shines 15 meters for 90 hours. Both modes can adjust down to a mere 4 lumens to conserve the batteries. In this mode, the light claims a battery life of 250 hours.

I haven’t tested the claims of battery life. The distance claims seem to be a stretch to me, but it’s output is more than adequate in terms of both brightness and distance.

The headlamp has a red LED to preserve you night vision. It also boasts a white light strobe effect.

The on-off switch remembers the most recent mode used and automatically returns to that mode at the next use. For example, if you are using the red light and turn the light off, the next time you turn it on it will default to red again. That’s nice since it decreases the likelihood I’d inadvertently resetting your night vision.


Since buying the Spot, I’ve used it as my sole flashlight on several camping trips. I’ve found it to be durable, lightweight, and more than sufficient for my lighting needs. And it for what you get, it seems to be pretty reasonably priced at $39.95. I’d recommend it.

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9 Comments on “Product Review: Black Diamond Spot LED Headlamp”

  1. Arsenius the Hermit Says:

    I’ve seen those headlamp things for sale but since I am usually wearning a ball cap outside, and I usually need a flashlight only outside, I never got one. However, I can how , in a power failure, it might be nice to be able to keep both hands free. I’ll have to give it some thought instead of just rejecting the idea out of hand as I have in the past.


    • Joe Says:

      After being a skeptic about these little devices for quite a while, I’m a believer in them now. When camping, I frequently walk by moon light, but having two hands to work with when I do need light is great.



  2. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    These types of headlamps were a gift from the heavens. My first one was a fairly heavy incandescent as well, but it was on a head strap and worked well with my climbing helmet. They’ve become lighter over the years and you can buy them at Walmart for about $15. I’ve had some of the more expensive ones as well. Last hunting season I left one similar to the headlamp pictured here in the woods somewhere. Grrrr!

    I bought a couple at Walmart for my bugout bags and they work just as good, but with just a few less of the blinking lights.

    These headlamps rate as a must-have in Jarhead’s survival and camping kits!

    Good review.

    -Jarhead Survivor



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