The Black Diamond Ion is a cute little headlamp powered by two AAA batteries that has a built-in dimmer switch, red light mode, strobe, and an electronic lock. Getting a headlamp with a locking on/off switch is a must-have if you know you’ll need to count on it at night. (See Headlamps with Locking On/Off Switches for a complete list)
Weighing just 1.5 ounces, including lithium-ion batteries (which are included in the package), the Ion, has a maximum burn time of 200 hours on low with a range of 4 to 80 lumens of light. With a comfortable head strap, I thought this little lamp would be a good replacement for my Petal e+Lite which is a fantastic headlamp, but a little uncomfortable since it uses a retractable string for a head strap and not a wider band.
|Make / Model||Lumens||Lock||Red Mode||Weight||Price|
|Biolite 330||330||Yes||Yes||2.4 oz||$50|
|Knog Bilby||400||Yes||Yes||3.2 oz||$60|
|Fenix HM50R||500||No||No||2.8 oz||$60|
|Petzl Bindi||200||Yes||Yes||1.2 oz||$60|
|Nitecore NU 32||550||Yes||Yes||3.5 oz||$40|
|Nitecore NU 25||360||Yes||Yes||1.85 oz||$37|
|Nitecore NU 20||360||Yes||No||1.82 oz||$30|
|LEDLenser SEO7R||200||Yes||Yes||3.3 oz||$40|
|Claymore Heady||600||Yes||No||3.7 oz||$80|
|UCO Air||150||Yes||Yes||1.6 oz||$30|
But I had problems with the Ion from the get-go:
–>The battery case is really difficult to open and seemingly impossible to close completely to recreate the waterproof seal afterwards. It’s hard to tell if the case will stay closed once it’s been opened.
–>The front touch sensor is clever but difficult to use when you’re wearing the headlamp instead of holding it in your hands. While it’s pretty easy to learn and remember the swiping logic with a little practice, you really need to stop what you’re doing and take the headlamp off to adjust it. This gets pretty old, pretty fast, when you’re hiking at night or you’re in camp and want more or less light for cooking, reading, or setting up gear.
–>The touch sensor doesn’t work when wearing gloves.
I really wanted to like the Black Diamond Ion headlamp, but quickly decided that my old Petzl e+Lite wasn’t so bad after all and subsequently returned the Ion to the store. If you want my advice, I’d give the Black Diamond Ion headlamp a pass and stick to a headlamp with a mechanical interface like a button or the Petzl e+Lite style selector switch.
Disclosure: The author bought this product with his own funds.
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