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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp > Test Report by Alyssa Kimber

Black Diamond Equipment Spot325 Headlamp

Test Series by Alyssa Kimber

Initial Report - September 29, 2019
Field Report - January 12, 2020
Long-term Report - February 28, 2020

Tester Information
Name: Alyssa Kimber
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Height: 5' 10" (1.8 Meters)
Weight: 130 Pounds (59 Kilograms)
Email address: alyssakimber at hotmail dot com
City, Province, Country: Fernie, British Columbia, Canada

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking two years ago after moving from the prairies to the Kootenay region of British Columbia. I’m relatively new to backpacking but I have significant outdoors experience having enjoyed camping and day hiking for many years. My trip length is generally one to three nights and ranges from prairie hikes to mountainous terrain. I am a 4-season hiker and typically a 3-season backpacker. My pack weight varies depending on the trip, but I tend to sacrifice weight savings for comfort.


Initial Report

September 29, 2019

Product Information & Specifications
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment Ltd.
Year of manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer web site: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/

Specifications
Lumens: [High] 325; [Medium] 160; [Low] 6
Weight With Batteries: 86 g (3.0 oz)
Actual Weight With Batteries: 85 g (3.0 oz)
Max Distances: [High] 80 m (260 ft); [Medium] 60 m (196 ft); [Low] 8 m (26 ft)
Max Burn Time: [High] 4 hours; [Medium] 8 hours; [Low] 200 hours
IPX Rating: IPX 8 (meaning protected when immersed in water over 3 feet (1.1 m) deep for 3 minutes)
Batteries: 3 AAA (included)
Available colours: Aluminum, Octane, Aqua, Black, Dark Olive, Sand, Graphite, Citrus
Tested colour: Octane (Red)
MSRP from web site: $39.95 USD

The Black Diamond headlamp arrived in a square plastic package which included the headlamp, 3 AAA batteries, and instructions.
Front Package    Back Package

The headlamp has a maximum of 325 lumens of power and is housed in a water proof plastic housing with an adjustable elasticized band. Two buttons located on the top of the housing (one larger, one smaller) can be pressed in various combinations to enter different light modes, such as dimming, red light, strobe, and lock mode. Three LED lights located on the side of the housing indicate battery life. The brightness can be adjusted using the "PowerTap Technology" which allows the user to adjust brightness by tapping on the side of the housing. The headlamp also features "Brightness Memory" which allows the user to turn the light on and off without reverting back to the default setting. The headlamp can shine straight-on or can be tilted towards the ground.

Headlamp InstructionsReading the Instructions
The headlamp came with a set of instructions which can also be found on the Black Diamond website. The majority of instructions are provided as illustrations and I was able to follow along with the illustrations easily. I've captured a screenshot of the instructions and included it here for reference. I have also included a written form of the instructions based on my interpretation.

1. To turn the headlamp off/on: one click of large button
2. To view battery life: turn lamp on and view LED indicators on side of housing. LED indicators will remain lit for six seconds.

3. For max brightness: hold the large button for one second.
Batteries4. To dim: hold the large button until preferred dimness is reached. This instruction is the same regardless of whether in white light or red light mode.
5. To adjust the brightness using "PowerTap": tap the side of the housing repeatedly until at desired brightness.
6. To lock/unlock the light mode: hold both buttons for two seconds.
7. To change modes from flood light, to periphery light, to red light: tap the small button once.
8. To turn on/off the strobe light: tap the large button twice to turn on, once to turn off. This instruction is the same regardless of whether in white light or red light mode.
9. To change the batteries: flip back the door on the back of the housing (see photo to right).

For Care and Maintenance and Storage and Transport, the reader is again directed to a set of illustrations. The illustrations include information such as: temperature range (43 to -17 C or 110 to 0 F) and waterproof rating (>1m submerged for 30 minutes). The illustrations depict washing the headlamp band by hand and line drying it, and storing the headlamp away from certain elements such as direct sunlight, moisture, chemicals, etc.


Trying It Out
I tried out the headlamp at home and found it easy to use, as long as I had the instructions in front of me! It is not intuitive how to change into the various modes, although at least I could master the on/off button easily which is the most important thing. Opening the housing and installing the batteries was simple, as was adjusting the headband. I was able to change into each mode with the help of the provided instructions. The "PowerTap" technology works great and I can see that being a useful feature to use at camp or on the trail.

Initial Impressions
I'm looking forward to trying out the headlamp outdoors. It is comfortable to wear and I am impressed with the variety of the features. I may need to take the instructions with me on the first few outings!

Field Report

January 12, 2020
Field Report Test Locations and Conditions

During the field test period I have used the headlamp on two overnight backpacking trips, one day hike, and a handful of times on my early morning and evening trail runs. Trip conditions are listed below.

Location of Trip #1: Dewar Creek Hot Springs, Purcell Wilderness Conservancy, British Columbia
Length: 2 days, 1 night
Distance: 10 km (6 mi)
Pack Weight: 26 lb (12 kg)
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Precipitation: Trace amounts of rain
Temperature: 5 to 15 C (41 to 59 F)
Terrain: Muddy, wet trail. Dry meadow camping area.
Elevation: 1350 to 1550 m (4400 to 5100 ft)

Location of Trip #2: Fish Lake, Top of the World Provincial Park, British Columbia
Length: 2 days, 1 night
Distance: 6.5 km (4 mi)
Pack Weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Weather: Cloudy and snowy
Precipitation: Snow, 5 cm (2 inch)
Temperature: -5 to 0 C (23 to 32 F)
Elevation: 1600 to 1750 m (5250 to 5750 ft)

Location of Trip #3: Castle Mountain near Fernie, British Columbia
Length: Day hike
Distance: 9 km (5.5 mi)
Weather: Sunny, Dusky
Precipitation: None
Temperature:  3 C ( 37 F)
Terrain: Mainly dirt trail, icy patches
Elevation: 1050 to 1600 m (3500 to 5250 ft)

Location of Trip #4: Fernie, British Columbia
Length: Trail Running
Distance: 10 - 20 km (6 - 12 mi), about 5 times
Weather: Mixed
Precipitation: Mixed, from clear skies to rain, sleet and snow
Temperature: -5 to 3 C (37 F)
Elevation: 900 to 1200 m (3000 to 4000 ft)


 Performance in the Field

My first trip with the headlamp was to a natural hot spring in the backcountry. I used the headlamp walking between the hot spring and camp, which was about a 500 m (1640 ft) walk, and around base camp in the evening. The headlamp band was easy to adjust and the large on/off button was easy to find. I appreciated the ability to adjust the angle of the light so it angled toward the ground rather than straight out ahead of me. Around the hot spring I used the small button to access the red light feature, so as not to ruin the ambience of the hot spring with a bright flood light. Around camp, I tested out the "PowerTap" feature to dim the brightness. The PowerTap feature is responsive and also kind of fun! The headlamp stowed away in the top pouch of my backpack easily and was not noticeable as excessive weight.

My second trip with the headlamp was to Fish Lake. I arrived at the trailhead after the sun had set so I used the headlamp to hike the 6.5 km (4 mi) into camp and set up my camp in the dark. I used the headlamp on its brightest setting and it illuminated the trail ahead easily. The trail did not have many straight sections, but where it did I attempted to estimate how far ahead the light was illuminating. The light always illuminated up to the next turn in the trail, which I estimate at the longest point was perhaps 50 m (164 ft).

Since I was anxious to get to camp I hiked quickly but found the jostling caused the headlamp to continually slip down my forehead. To counteract this, I had to overtighten the headband which in turn gave me a headache. I had a terrible experience trying to tighten the headband, which was not hard to do in the comfort of my well-lit home, but was surprisingly difficult to do in the dark, cold and snow. It took me several long, frustrating minutes to figure it out. It's not intuitive (for me) and is something I will have to remind myself how to do before embarking again in the dark. Setting up camp with the headlamp was easy and I utilized the dimmer settings inside the tent and stored the headlamp in an overhead pocket in the tent for the evening.

On my trail runs I found the same issue with the slipping of the headlamp down my forehead. When running I've just resorted to holding the light in my hand, which still works great, but I would prefer a headlamp that can stay in place on my head. Therefore I don't recommend this headlamp for running. I think the weight and bulk of the light is what contributes to the slipping, rather than a loose headband. While running I tend to utilize the periphery light for a dimmer setting, which suits my needs.


Long-term Report

February 28, 2020
Long-term Report Test Locations and Conditions

During the long-term test period I have used the headlamp on two day hikes and one overnight trip. Trip conditions are listed below.

Location of Trip #5: Fairy Creek, Fernie British Columbia
Length: day hike
Distance: 4 km (2.5 mi)
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Precipitation: None
Temperature: -10 C (14 F)
Terrain: Snowy, icy
Elevation: 1000 m to 1150 m (3300 to 3800 ft)

Location of Trip #6: Montane Hut, Fernie British Columbia
Length: day hike
Distance: 10 km (6 mi)
Weather: Cloudy and snowy
Precipitation: Snow, 1 cm (0.5 inch)
Temperature: -5 C (23 F)
Elevation: 1000 to 1200 m (3300 to 4000 ft)

Location of Trip #7: Burton Lake near Elko, British Columbia
Length: 1 night
Distance: 1 km (0.6 mi)
Pack weight: 20 lbs (9 kg)
Weather: Sunny
Precipitation: None
Temperature:  -10 C (14 F)
Terrain: Crusty snow
Elevation: 950 m - minimal gain


Performance in the Field

The headlamp performed well during the long-term test period. On my two day hikes I set out later in the day so I could use the headlamp on my hike out. On both hikes I brought only a running vest and the headlamp stored away easily in the front pocket of the vest on the hike in and was comfortably worn on my head on the hike out. For both hikes I was wearing a toque which helped cushion the headlamp against my forehead.

Before starting the hikes it was easy to view the battery life on the side of the light as the LED indicator lights remain lit for 6 seconds after turning on the light. Having an indication of battery life remaining before setting out on a hike is great as it allows some peace of mind to know whether I will make it back without my headlamp dying, and also gives an indication of whether or not I should carry extra batteries.

On both day hikes I used only the bright light setting which worked great to illuminate my way. On my overnight hike I also utilized the red light setting for lounging in the tent in the evening which provided enough light to eat and read but was soft enough to help me relax.

The headlamp is durable as it does not appear to have any problems performing in cold weather or through precipitation events. The headlamp appears to be in new condition even after repeated use. Overall, I'm very happy with the headlamp as it's light, durable, functional, and comfortable.

Summary

Pros
1. Comfortable for hiking and using around camp
2. Wide variety of lighting modes to suit a variety of needs
3. Easy to use the basic lighting features
4. Bright light that easily illuminates at least 50 m (164 ft) ahead
5. Battery indicator lights provide peace of mind

Cons
1. Some of the button sequences are difficult to remember
2. Uncomfortable, bordering on unusable for jogging or running
3. Difficult to adjust the headband when under stress

Thank you Black Diamond and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. This concludes my long-term report.



Read more reviews of Black Diamond gear
Read more gear reviews by Alyssa Kimber

Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp > Test Report by Alyssa Kimber



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