A double power LED beam projects a very nice, even oval flood beam through a wide perimeter, and illumination stays constant throughout the battery life. There’s a red taillight strobe to improve your visibility from behind, which is the reason this is my #1 choice for road running. The rear strobe can be turned off with a simple push button if necessary.
Another difference between last year’s model and the current version is that instead of recharging from a standard outlet, the new Sprinter charges with a USB cable. This is great if you charge everything from your computer, but I ended up using a cheap AC-to-USB adapter so I can recharge the lamp in my bedroom and grab it when I roll out of bed on dark mornings.
One change I wanted to see was a more stable interface between lamp and charger; the lamp doesn’t always lock into place real firmly, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell from the LED indicator if you’re getting the charge you think you are. The only other downside of the new Sprinter is the same as the original version: you only get one type of beam, so if you like to flip back and forth between spot and flood mode, the Sprinter can’t help you there.
If spot mode is what you like, Black Diamond’s Spot is one of the most powerfully compact lamps you’ll find. A triple-power LED increases the brightness of last year’s model from 75 to 90 lumens, without changing the battery requirement (three AAA) or overall weight of 3.17 oz (90g).
Its overall shape and dimensions are unchanged as well, so the light is still perfect for tucking in a waist pack after sunrise. 90 lumens is more than bright enough to illuminate the trails, and the variable dimmer function can customize the level to whatever your needs may be, whether running under moonlight or reading in your sleeping bag. Burn time is 50 hours on the high setting, or 200 hours with the dimmer LEDs
The Spot is chock full of other cool features as well: two red night vision bulbs, a three-level battery life indicator, a strobe setting, and a lock mode to prevent accidental battery drain. Water resistance is IPX4, so it’s no problem to run through a storm.
Like with the Sprinter, my downsides to the new Spot are unchanged from the old version to the updated one. If you prefer the flood setting (which I do), you have to use the single power LEDs which only shine at 16 lumens. Also, even though the Spot is compatible with rechargeable batteries, I’ve been hoping that Black Diamond would develop a version of this lamp that can be recharged by a plug-in like the Sprinter (or like Petzl’s CORE battery pack ).
I happened to mention this point in an e-mail to my BD rep, who gave me the following reply: We will be showing something at Summer OR [Outdoor Retailer convention] that will be of interest to you. That's all I can say for now. So keep your eyes peeled for some kind of announcement in the next few weeks – and I’ll let you know as soon as I’m in the loop as well.
[**UPDATED: See the bottom of this post for a sneak peek at Black Diamond's upcoming rechargeable lamp, called the ReVolt. Big thanks to my reader Luke for passing this along.]
In the meantime, Black Diamond’s 2012 lamps provide an outstanding combination of performance and value, especially as the days start to grow shorter again this fall. Here are your product links:
Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp retails for $70, but is discounted to .
Black Diamond Spot headlamp retails for .
*Products provided by Black Diamond. Affiliate sales support Running and Rambling.
**If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
**Here's the sneak peek video of Black Diamond's ReVolt compact headlamp, available in Spring 2013 (click to play)
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