I originally bought the Black Diamond Spot LED headlamp for use on winter backpacking trips where I need extra light for melting snow after dark, but I used it last weekend on my first spring AT section hike of the year in New Hampshire. It was great for cooking after sunset, walking back to my tent in the dark, writing in my journal before bed, and staring at my map, planning out the next day’s route.
Having been a long time advocate of the sub-ounce Photon Freedom Microlight, I am sort of embarrassed for falling for a heavier piece of gear. But given that the Spot still weighs 3 oz with 3 AAA batteries, I’m not feeling that guilty.
There are a couple of reasons I like this light better. First, it’s a heck of a lot brighter and casts a much wider beam which is as good for walking around in the dark as it is for sitting in your tent. The push button controls on the top of the light are also pretty idiot-proof. I’ve been having all kinds of trouble with my photon lately trying to keep it from flashing an SOS constantly. I threw out the instructions long ago and I’m really annoyed with it. I am still carrying an ultralight Skunklight LED as an emergency backup light, and because it’s solar powered, which I think is kind of cool.
The Black Diamond Spot is a Super Bright LED. To put this in perspective, the Spot casts a beam 70 feet while a Petzl e+LITE casts one 19 feet (measurements provided by REI.) Similarly, the Lux of the Spot at 2 meters is 306 vs. 23 for the e+Lite. Lux is a measure of the quantity of light the falls on an illuminated surface and is measured using a light meter. On flat surfaces, like a trail or map, the light of the full moon shines at an intensity of 0.25 lux, so 1 lux at 2 meters is 4 times brighter than the full moon.
The Black Diamond Spot has 4 LEDs in it, arranged in two independent arrays, or modes, for different purposes. The Spot array has 1 LED, housed in a reflector (aluminum well) which projects as focused, piercing beam for walking at night. It has can be set to full, medium, economy, or strobe by depressing the switch on top of the light which cycles through these modes. The proximity array has an additional 3 LEDs which are good for cooking or sitting in your tent after dark. They also can be set to full, medium, economy and strobe modes. I think having the two arrays is rather clever, because it’s like having two headlamps in one.
I like this headlamp a lot and it is now a standard part of my 4 season gear list.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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