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Black Diamond Spot Headlamp Review (and Giveaway!)

Posted Dec 06 2009 12:00am

Before we get to today’s review and product giveaway, let’s get the previous contest out of the way … drum roll, pleaseRAY, shoot me an e-mail – you’ve won the $15 gift card to shop at Wilderness Running Company. Congrats!

For everybody else, there will be an identical gift card contest at the end of this week, plus a product giveaway drawing from WRC at the end of this review. You didn’t think I was kidding about the giveaways this month, did you?

Today’s post doubles as an introduction to my headlamp reviews, which will be divided into two primary categories for trail runners: compact, super-lightweight models with a single combined battery/lamp casing, and the heavier, brighter models with an external battery pack. There's one other lamp that's something of a category-breaker which I'll review soon as well.

Expanding on the theme of “two”, the battle for the best headlamps has two primary players: Black Diamond and Petzl. They’re the two most prevalent companies on the market, with the most attractive product options for trail runners. Their offerings each have particular strengths that will be more appealing to certain users. And the overall quality of their lamps is outstanding.

We’re starting with the Black Diamond Spot, which I consider the most affordable option for a dedicated trail runner. It features a 1-watt LED direct beam that penetrates 70m, or 3 high-power LEDs that produce a floodlight of 47 lumens across a wide field of vision. The entire unit weighs 85g (3.0 oz) including the 3 AAA batteries for operation.

The Spot’s casing is ultra-compact, measuring just 2.27” x 1.7” x 1.4", with sleek curvature and a stylish black-and-silver color scheme. Atop the casing is the only button you need to use: the simple all-in-one control that’s big enough to use even with gloved fingers. The entire unit has IPX4 water resistance, so you can use it in any harsh conditions you encounter.

Pressing the top button repeatedly scrolls you through 3 brightness levels as well as a strobe. This can be done in either the spot or flood mode, so in total the Spot gives you 6 different brightness levels and 2 strobes between the two settings. The beam can be angled for precise placement by the ratcheting tilt mechanism of the casing.

Battery life for using the LEDs (the most efficient mode) on the high setting is 100 hours, which is outstanding. One potential drawback about the Spot lamp is that it’s not “officially” compatible with rechargeable batteries. Although both the company webpage and the user’s manual indicate to use alkaline batteries only, I’ve heard reports of people using rechargeable batteries in the Spot without problems. Fortunately, even if you stick with regular alkalines, they’ll last you through several long-duration runs before needing replacement.

Spot’s candle power is more than adequate for paved roads or smooth trails, but like most other single-casing headlamps, is probably not quite enough for highly technical trails. Another potential difficulty for hardcore trail running is that changing from spot to flood mode is impossible without turning the bulb off, which might make footing tricky if you’re trying to switch on the fly.

Otherwise, the Spot is a very solid, durable multi-purpose headlamp that is small enough to tuck into a pocket once the sun comes up. Its retail price is a very affordable $40 – minus 10% if you use my R&R10 coupon code from Wilderness Running Company; I can almost guarantee that you won’t find a higher performance lamp for a lower price anywhere.

This week, Wilderness Running Company is contributing to my holiday giveaway spree by awarding one Black Diamond Spot FREE to the winner of a drawing. To enter, leave a comment below this post by 7PM PST on Tuesday 12/8/09, and I’ll randomly select a winner from that group. Kudos to WRC, and good luck to you!

*Product independently purchased
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at

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