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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond Gizmo Headlamp > Test Report by Steven M Kidd

BLACK DIAMOND GIZMO HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY STEVEN M. KIDD
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - April 14, 2010
FIELD REPORT - July 03, 2010
LONG TERM REPORT - August 30, 2010

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Steven M. Kidd
EMAIL: ftroop94ATgmailDOTcom
AGE: 38
LOCATION: Franklin, Tennessee, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)
SHOE SIZE: 10 1/2 EE (US)

Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25 years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my twenties, while packing an average weight of 50+ lbs (23+ kg). In the last several years I have gained a renewed enthusiasm for the back country. I generally go on one or two night outings and now try to average a 30 lb (14 kg) pack.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

gizmo 1
Photo From Black Diamond Website


Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Year of Manufacture: 2010
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com
MSRP: Not Listed
Listed Weight Without Batteries: 1.2 oz (34 g)
Measured Weight: 1.27 oz (36 g)
Measured Weight with Alkaline Batteries: 2.19 oz (62 g)
Measured Weight with Lithium Batteries: 1.87 oz (53 g)
LED Type : SinglePower
Lumens : 24 maximum output, 4 minimum output
Max Distances : 82 ft (25 m)
Max Burn Time : 100 hours (minimum output)
Batteries : 2 AAA
Colors Available: Lime Green, Lava, Lunar Grey



From the Black Diamond Website: "The Black Diamond Gizmo is an at-the-ready headlamp with three SinglePower LEDs emitting 24 lumens for go-anywhere lighting. It has on/off/strobe modes plus a dimming function, and automatically powers off after four hours to save batteries."

•3 SinglePower LEDs offer compact, go-everywhere lighting at 24 lumens (max setting)
•Ultra compact batteries-in-the-front design uses 2 AAA batteries
•Settings include full strength, dimming and strobe
•Protected against splashing or sprayed water from any angle (IPX 4)

The Black Diamond Equipment Gizmo (hereafter referred to as the Gizmo, headlamp or light) is a lightweight general purpose headlamp. I am testing the Lime Green version. The lamp housing is 2.125 in (54 mm) x 1.25 in (32 mm). The housing is held in place by a bracket that is attached to an elastic headband. When worn on the head the light beam will shine directly ahead or rotate down at varying angles up to 90 degrees, or straight toward the ground. There are eight individual angle settings. The elastic headband is 0.75 in (19 mm) wide and will adjust with a plastic adjustment tab to a head circumference as small as 16.5 in (419 mm) and as large as 25 in (635 mm).

The headlamp has three LEDs (light-emitting diodes) that will shine in a strobe setting (suggested for emergencies), a high setting that is supposed to shine up to 82 ft (25 m) and a third setting that dims to varying distances. The light is powered on by depressing a rubber covered switch that powers it to the high setting. In order to dim the headlamp, continuously depress the power switch and the light will gradually become fainter, much like any ordinary house light with a dimmer setting. To set the light to strobe; power the light off and back on again.

The light uses two AAA batteries. It is packaged with alkaline batteries, but lithium batteries are safe to use. Lithium batteries lessen the overall weight, and are supposed to last longer than traditional alkaline. The 100 hour max burn time is based on the dimmest setting using alkaline batteries. Packaging suggests a 20 hour burn on the high setting. No information on burn times are provided for lithium batteries. At max setting the light is 24 lumens. A lumen is a unit of measure that gauges the total quantity of light emitted in all directions by a light source.

gizmo 3
Headlamp Closeup

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The light arrived from Black Diamond Equipment as a sample version, which meant it contained no instructions or the conventional packaging, but how difficult is a flashlight to operate...on/off? Simpleton that I am, I had a difficult time figuring out how to engage the dimming mode. I weighed, measured and tested the light for comfort and distance, and only deciphered how to dim it by accident while fiddling with it later in the evening.

gizmo 2
Gizmo in Retail Package
The day after receiving it I stopped by a local gear shop to view a commercially packaged version. It comes boxed as shown with some key selling points that I have included throughout the report. I, however, was unable to view the detailed instructions.

I was excited to learn this is a new version of the Gizmo, which doubles the lumens from 12 to 24 over the previous light. The new version also doubles the usable beam from the older version. After weighing the light I was also elated to find that it cut the weight over my old headlamp by more than half. I also found it interesting the company promotes the light's (IPX 4) water resistance rating. I was unfamiliar with these specifications, but research shows that ratings start at (IPX 0-0) providing no protection and progress all the way to an (IPX-8) rating which is entirely suitable for submerging in water. The Gizmo's rating protects against multiple angled splashing, however, I have no plans of taking it for a dip in the drink with me this spring or summer!

I was somewhat concerned the light did not come with a red or green lamp for low level illumination for use in and around camp. Fortunately after dimming the Gizmo to its lowest lighting level, it appears that it should give me adequate lighting for camp use while not blinding my fellow backpackers.

To test the maximum beam distance I stood approximately 80 ft (24 m) from two tomato planters in my back yard. They are nearly 2 ft (0.5 m) tall, and I was able to distinguish them from that range. Though not a field test, it was a rather dark evening with no visible street lighting to brighten the skies. The light also flooded a darkened room quite well. (See photo to Right)
gizmo 4
Sitting on floor with light beam on a 12 ft (4 m) ceiling

The Gizmo is quite comfortable. While testing and becoming familiar with the light for the initial report I found myself wearing it for several hours and not even noticing it was on my head. The color patterns are quite bold. The version I am testing has a lime green main housing along with varying sized dots of differing greenish hues on the headband.

SUMMARY

I'm excited about trying this headlamp in the field over the next several months. I give kudos on several features: It's lightweight, compact, appears to give adequate lighting and comfortable to wear. My only general concern at this point: Will the dimming feature cast enough light in camp without being a nuisance to my fellow campers? Check back in two months for a more detailed review. I'd like to thank Black Diamond Equipment and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this product.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the field report phase I've used Black Diamond Gizmo on two overnight backpacking trips, a family car camping trip, several times during power outages around the house and for a minor auto repair job.

The backcountry outings included an overnight trip to South Cumberland Recreation Area on the Fiery Gizzard trail, near Tracy City, Tennessee. Temperatures were as warm as 81 F (27 C) and as low as 64 F (18 C) on a trip that started dry and hot, but was interrupted by severe weather which included tornado warnings and massive rain storms. Elevations ranged from just under 1500 ft (457 m) upon descending to Foster Falls and rising to around 1720 ft (524 m) climbing out of the gulf onto the Cumberland Plateau.

The car camping outing was a two night event at Old Stone Fort Archeological State Park, near Manchester, Tennessee. The camp site elevation was around 725 ft (221 m) with both dry and muggy conditions and temperatures ranging between 92 F (33 C) and 68 F (20 C).

gizmo 5
Suppertime at Fiery Gizzard


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Gizmo is a great little headlamp. It's compact, lightweight and easily stows away when not in use. Most importantly, it worked well for me in the field.

A key reason it took me ages to adopt headlamp use, and one of my biggest pet peeves around camp, is the unaware or rude fellow that blinds his other campmates with his head mounted flashlight. It was because of this I had initial concerns about the lack of a red or green light for low level camp use. Fortunately, this anxiety quickly disappeared my first evening in camp when I engaged the dimming feature. The headlamp cast enough light for me to prepare and eat my dinner without blinding my backpacking buddy.

After five evenings around camp, a few power outage uses, and replacing the thermostat and plugs in an old Jeep the original set of lithium AAA batteries are holding up fine without adversely effecting what I consider maximum distance output. Also, the lamp has been through a fairly severe rainstorm, so I am comfortable with the IPX water resistance rating.

gizmo 6
Breaking Camp before Sunrise


On a spring trip there was a potential for tornados, so we decided to break camp early enough to get to the trailhead and on the road before the day heated up and severe weather could arrive. The headlamp made breaking down camp before sunrise a breeze. There was sufficient light to take my tent down, pack my backpack and hit the trail as the sun began to rise.

Overall, I have been impressed with the Gizmo as a base camp headlamp. It gives me plenty of light to work around camp, gather nearby firewood or take a short walk to a creek or other water source to purify water. It also clamps easily over a tether I have installed in the top of my tent to work as a ceiling lamp. It casts plenty of light while I change and do other chores and ready myself for bed.

As happy as I have been with the Gizmo, I do believe I'd prefer a more powerful headlamp if I intended to use it for extended night hiking on unknown trails. I've simply seen other headlamps that cast a brighter beam, which I believe would be more beneficial in unknown or extremely dark areas.

SUMMARY

gizmo 7
Car camping Fun


Overall I've been pleasantly surprised with the Gizmo. The lightweight and compact headlamp not only disappears in my pack, but also in my pocket. It works well enough to accomplish all the chores I need to do in and around camp in the evening, and has a dimming feature that aids me in being polite to my fellow campers. I also give kudos to the battery life and water resistance.

I don't really believe the Gizmo is marketed for these purposes, so it's hard to downgrade it for this; but the only downside I see is that it may not be suitable for pitch dark trail blazing.

I can state that I have been impressed enough with the Gizmo that I keep it in my nightstand next to the bed for emergency uses around the house.

Please check back in a few months for a long term review. I'd again like to thank Black Diamond Equipment and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this product.



LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

During the long term phase I've used the Black Diamond Gizmo on two individual outings.

I used it on a backpacking outing to the Stone Door area in the South Cumberland Recreation Area near Beersheba Springs, Tennessee in mid July. The backpacking trip was a steamy weekend with temperatures as high as 94 F (34 C) never going lower than 81 F (27 C). Elevations ranged from 1800 ft (549 m) to 2000 ft (610 m) during the extremely humid trip that was once interrupted by a brief thunderstorm.

I also attempted using the headlamp one evening when I went frog gigging in Straightstone, Virginia. It was a several mile wading event that started at sunset on Little Straightstone creek in the tobacco growing country of southern Virginia. The creek elevation was 554 ft (169 m) with a temperature of 77 F (25 C). The excursion was followed by a 1.4 mile (2.25 km) walk back down a combination of paved and dirt country roads during which a driving rainstorm arose.

I've also used the light for various odd uses around my home throughout this portion of the test.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Gizmo 8My opinion of the Gizmo has changed little over this phase of the report. The lamp is lightweight; works well in damp and even wet conditions and doesn't burn through batteries. Before I went on a solo outing in mid-July I did finally change the batteries for the first time. I did so less out of a dire need, but more so in the interest of safety preparedness. I will reiterate that after receiving the headlamp I decided to replace the alkaline batteries that accompanied it with a set of lithium batteries. I did so because the latter are lighter in weight and generally last longer than alkalines. Although replacing the batteries wasn't completely necessary I did immediately notice it cast a stronger and farther beam.

Since the old batteries were not exhausted, I decided to test the four hour automatic shut off feature that Black Diamond boasts after I returned from my outing. I set a timer, sat it in a closet and left. I checked on it several times to verify the batteries hadn't died, and returned in time to find within just a few minutes of the four hour mark it did turn itself off.

I went frog gigging one summer evening and I was so excited to try this tiny little headlamp, as we had always used a mammoth 12 volt flashlight that weighed a ton when I was a boy. Unfortunately as the sun set and I waded up the creek I quickly learned my light was quite worthless for this type of event. The amount of light that was cast or the distance of the beam was not the issue. The problem lay in the fact that frogs' eyes never reflected when the light was cast on them. In using this lamp, I would only happen upon them by chance or seeing the white underbellies of the animals. I quickly came to a novice conclusion that it was the LED lights not creating a strong reflection. Fortunately we had an old style incandescent light that easily did the trick. When I exited the creek and actually had an opportunity to use the light, I decided to teach my niece the beauty of nature by allowing our eyes adjust to the evening and walking home with nothing more than star and moonlight. I quickly did some research on LED vs. incandescent lighting for use in spotlighting. I never found a definitive answer, but there is conventional wisdom that LED doesn't work well for frog gigging. This lack of performance doesn't cause me to have less of an opinion concerning the Gizmo, but initiates questions concerning LEDs in general for certain unorthodox field uses.

Concerning other intermittent use: it seems like I constantly have to crawl behind some audio/video component in the house to reset some cable interference or the like. Gone are the days of clinching a Maglite between my teeth or attempting to hold a flashlight in one hand and inevitably busting my knuckles on the other one. Nearly all minor home or car repair in which a light is needed is now accompanied by a headlamp, and the Gizmo performed exceedingly well in my opinion. Overall the light has held up extremely well. The elastic headband shows no signs of stretching or wear. Moist conditions have not caused corrosion or failure. It looks as if it were new.

Gizmo 9

SUMMARY


In summary, I'm quite happy with Gizmo. It's shown minimal signs of wear and has held up well in damp and wet conditions. The lightweight nature of the lamp and the acceptable light beam ensures that it will be my primary headlamp for backpacking when extended night use outside camp is not expected. If I plan some serious night hiking outside the normal confines of a campsite I may consider using a more powerful headlamp.

Throughout the entire test phase I kept the light in my nightstand as both an emergency light source, and for other odd home use. Now the series is complete, I've moved it to my gear cabinet to ensure I don't overlook it as my primary headlamp for future backcountry outings.

This concludes my review on the Black Diamond Gizmo headlamp. Thanks to Black Diamond Equipment and BackpackGearTest for the opportunity to test this product.


This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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