BLACK DIAMOND EQUIPMENT SPOT325 HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY BRIAN HARTMAN
August 31, 2019
|HEIGHT:||5' 9" (1.75 m)|
|WEIGHT:||145 lb (65.80 kg)|
have been backpacking for over 20 years throughout Indiana, Ohio,
Kentucky and most recently in the Western USA. In addition to backpacking I
enjoy family camping with my wife and kids and being outdoors in
general. I would describe myself as a mid-weight backpacker. I use
fairly light weight equipment and gear but still like to bring more
than the bare essentials with me while on the trail.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/
MSRP: $39.95 US
Listed weight: 1.8 oz (50 g) headlamp without batteries
Listed weight: 3.0 oz (86 g) headlamp with batteries
Measured weight: 1.8 oz (50 g) headlamp without batteries
Measured weight: 3.1 oz (88 g) headlamp with batteries
Lumens: High = 325, Medium = 160, Low = 6
Maximum distances: High = 80 m (262.5 ft), Medium = 60 m (196.9 ft), Low = 8 m (26.2 ft)
Maximum burn time: High = 4 hours, Medium = 8 hours, Low = 200 hours
Colors: Aluminum, Octane, Aqua, Black, Dark Olive, Sand, Graphite, Citrus
325 headlamp (hereafter called Spot or 325) is a waterproof LED
headlamp, newly redesigned by the manufacturer, Black Diamond, to
be lighter, brighter and smaller than its predecessor. It
operates on standard AAA batteries and has three brightness settings,
with 325 lumen output at its highest setting. The redesigned
optical lens and circuitry makes the headlamp not only brighter, but
more energy efficient as well, for longer run time at each setting
(more details on this in the paragraph below). The 325 also
sports a strobe, a red LED for night vision mode, a battery life
indicator, and a lock button, to prevent it from being turned on accidently. Holy cow, that's a lot of features!
into more detail on the features above, the Spot 325 can operate
with multiple different battery types including AAA alkaline,
lithium ion, or rechargeable batteries. The Spot 325 has three
LEDs, each of which can be turned on and off independent of others.
The center LED, the one with the largest lens, is a dimmable
spotlight. The LED to its right (see photo above right) is a very
bright flood light with a wide beam spread, that is also dimmable.
Finally, the third LED, in the lower right, is a dimmable red
LED, suitable for close-up work while still maintaining night vision.
The LEDs are controlled by the two buttons on top of the headlamp
as well as the PowerTap sensor on the left side of the headlamp.
The small circular button on top can be used to turn on any one
of the three LEDs and scroll between them. The larger,
rectangular button, also on top, is used to turn off the headlamp as
well as to dim the three LEDs. The PowerTap sensor simply
provides another way to quickly change beam intensity. It is also
possible to lock the headlamp by holding down both top buttons for two
seconds, which is something I really like. Now for the good
stuff. Per the specs, the center LED is capable of 325 lumens
with a 65 hour burn time at its highest setting, and 6 lumens with a 300
hour burn time at its lowest setting. Similarly, the flood
LED is capable of up to 40 lumens with a 20 hour burn time at its
brightest setting and 6 lumens with 125 hour burn time at its lowest
headlamp is capable of outputting
325 lumens for up to 65 hours! What! That's astounding!
I've blinded myself so many times while playing with the LEDs and
control buttons to figure out how they work, that I'm currently
seeing spots and may have missed a decimal
point. Either way, Black Diamond touts some impressive lumen and burn time specs for the
Spot 325 and I'm anxious to check them out during Field Testing to
see how my headlamp compares. The headlamp is constructed of
molded plastic and rubber, and all the buttons as well as the battery
compartment are sealed to give it an IPX8 waterproof rating. This
basically means that the headlamp can be submerged underwater for 30
minutes at one meter (3.3 ft). The low battery indicator consists
of three blue LEDs, located on the right side of the headlamp (see
photo above left). The headlamp is 2.25 in (57 mm) wide by 1.5 in
(38 mm) tall. The headlamp is 1.0 in (25 mm) thick from front to
back, not including the adjustment bracket that is attached to and
pivots from the bottom of the headlamp, allowing the headlamp to point
forward or down. The elastic headband is just under 1.0 in (25
mm) wide and fully adjustable. Black Diamond's name and logo is
imprinted on the left- and right-hand side of the strap. Last but not least, the Spot 325 comes with a three-year warranty.
Spot 325 headlamp arrived in a small box with plenty of product
details on the back (see photo below). However, after unboxing
it, I was immediately drawn to how small and lightweight the headlamp
felt, and how rugged it looked. Included with the headlamp was
a nylon adjustable headband, 3 AAA alkaline batteries and a small
instruction sheet. Upon closer inspection the Spot 325 appeared
to be very well designed, and sharp. It just plain looks
good, especially in black! The headlamp body felt strong and I
felt confident it would do well in the backcountry.
had no problem accessing the battery compartment which swung open from
the side after unlatching a plastic tab on the side of the
headlamp body, next to the battery life indicator. Since the Spot
325 has regulated circuitry that supports all battery types, I will try out the Alkaline batteries
that came with the headlamp as well as my own rechargeable batteries
and see if different battery types have any effect on LED
brightness or burn times.
headband on the Spot 325 was easy to adjust and quick to slip over my
head. I wore the headlamp briefly and it feels comfortable and
not too heavy to wear for extended periods. I currently have a
headlamp with three straps, one of which goes over the top of
my head for additional support, so it may take me a little while
to get used to the Spot but I don't expect any problems.
rectangular on/off dim button on top of the headlamp was easy to find
with my finger thanks to the raised bumps on its surface. It
required a fair amount of pressure to activate when I was
playing with it, which I liked. The small circular button was
slightly hard to locate, but I'm certain that's just because it's new.
Even though I'm right-handed, I found it easier to locate and
depress both buttons with my left hand, especially the small circular
button. I suspect that's because it's located closer to my left
side and the indent in that button lines up better with the angle of my
left index finger when I push it.
The instructions were clear
and concise and operation of the headlamp was intuitive. A single press
of the rectangular button turned on and off the headlamp, and it also
dimmed the LEDs. Pressing the small circular button, when the
headlamp was on, switched between the LEDs, and holding down the
circular button for two seconds, when the headlamp was off, turned it
on. Pressing and holding both top buttons at the same time for 2
seconds locked the headlamp so that the LEDs couldn't be turned on
accidently. I'll talk more about light output and beam spread in
my Field Report. In the meantime, the image below helps explain
all the available functions of the headlamp. Really, it's simple!
After giving myself a few minutes to get acquainted with the
controls, I had no problems turning on and off whichever LEDs I wanted.
I really like the Spot 325 and am looking forward to Field Testing.
January 1, 2020
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
used the Spot 325 extensively during the past four months. It
arrived just in time to accompany me on a three-week trip to
Europe where I visited nine countries and fifteen cities.
Afterwards, I took it on several overnight trips to Southern
Indiana. And finally, I brought it with me to NE Wisconsin and N
Ohio where I used it on the trails and at camp. Below are some of
the places I visited:
Location: Rome, Italy
Weather: 71 to 82 F (21 C to 27 C). Sunny and warm conditions.
headlamp came in handy each night as I walked through Rome, visiting
the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, and
various restaurants and sites in and around Centro Storico.
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Weather: 68 to 76 F (20 C to 24 C). Drizzle with occasional rain showers.
Spot headlamp did a great job of lighting my path as I hiked along the Buda and Pest sides of the Danube river.
Location: Durnstein, Austria
Weather: 65 to 68 F (18 to 20 C). Cool and windy with intermittent sprinkles.
part of Austria was stunning with rolling hills and small towns nestled
alongside the Danube River. While hiking I discovered the
ruins of a medieval castle that served as prison for
King Richard the Lionheart around 1192.
Location: Hallstatt, Austria
Weather: 66 to 72 F (19 to 22 C). Partly cloudy skies.
took the photo (below right) from the top of a mountain, 1,200 ft (365
m) above the town of Hallstatt. Inside this mountain is the
oldest salt mine in Europe, dating back 7,000 years. In 400 BC,
during the height of prehistoric mining, workers dug tunnels
as deep as 656 ft (200 m) by hand to reach the so called "white
gold". It was nearly dark when I summited, so I needed the
Spot headlamp to help light my path back down the switchbacks and
safely to town.
Location: Karlstejn, Czech Republic
Weather: 71 to 74 F (21 to 23 C). Sunny and mild conditions.
read about Karlstejn many months prior to my trip to Europe and was
so intrigued by its history that I planned part of my trip around
this castle. It was built in 1348 by Charles IV, Roman Emperor
elect and King of Bohemia, and included a 200 ft (61 m) tall tower
with walls that were 13 - 25 ft (4 - 6 m) thick. Interestingly,
the builders dug down over 250 ft (76 m) to locate water but couldn't
find any, so they tapped into a local stream via an underground
channel that brought water inside the castle walls, in case of a
prolonged attack by invaders. However, getting enough water
pressure to fill the channel required manually diverting the
stream multiple times per year. The Spot headlamp came in
handy as I hiked back from the castle, late in the day, through densely
forested hillsides (photo below).
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Weather: 71 to 74 F (21 to 23 C). Sunny and mild conditions.
I carried the Spot headlamp with me in Barcelona but only used it a few times when I was out late at night.
Location: Franklin County, Indiana
Weather: 36 to 39 F (2 to 4 C). Cold and windy conditions.
Location: Mayfield and Hudson, Ohio
Weather: 22 to 35 F (-5.5 to 2 C) with cloudy skies the first two days and clear skies on day three
I hiked in the Cleveland Metro Parks and the Cuyahoga Valley area during this three-day trip.
Location: Francis Creek, Wisconsin
Weather: 25 to 36 F (-4 C to 2 C). Mist and occasional rain the first two days and clear skies on the third day.
in Wisconsin I spent most of my time on and around the Devil's River
Trail. It's open to cross-country
skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in winter, but there were very
few people out while I was there. The first photo above is me
wearing the headlamp while on the trail.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
Spot 325 headlamp performed well during my past several months of
testing. It was easy to control, comfortable to wear, plenty
bright, and had great battery life. Below are additional details
regarding these things:
I had no problems working the headlamp controls while hiking or at
camp. The on/off and selector buttons were easy to find and
intuitive to operate. I could quickly locate the large
rectangular button on top of the headlamp to turn on and off the LEDs,
and then slide my finger to the left to access the selector button to
switch between the spot, flood and red LEDs. Dimming the LEDs
was simple as well because it was done using the large
rectangular button. I found that I only dimmed the flood light
(and/or red LED) when I was in my shelter reading, otherwise
I left them at full brightness, and I really didn't mess with the
spotlight. I used the lock feature for the first few weeks of
testing then stopped using it, not because there was anything wrong
with it or because it was difficult to use. Rather the on/off
button was recessed and took a lot of pressure to actuate, so I figured
it likely wouldn't get turned on accidently in my pack. In
addition to the two buttons, there's a sensor on the right side of the
headlamp that can be used to switch between only the flood LED and the
flood LED plus the spotlight for maximum brightness. I originally
didn't think I would use it much, but it came in handy several times
while hiking in Europe. I found myself switching to maximum
brightness mode when I was looking for a trailhead or a fork in
Comfort: I found the headlamp comfortable to wear for extended periods. In addition, the headband was easy to adjust, and it seemed to stay in
didn't have any major problems with
the headlamp moving around or sliding down my forehead although it
did move some. I could have made it tighter to prevent any
movement, but I liked the comfort that came with the looser fit versus
having it too restrictive. Of course, weight plays a big factor
in the long-term comfort of a headlamp and in that regard, the Spot
headlamp isn't ultralight but it's also not heavy or burdensome.
In the end it offers a very good compromise between weight, price,
durability, and features.
Output: The Spot 325 is easily the brightest of my headlamps and more
than adequate for my backpacking needs. With it I can set up
and break down camp in the dark, start a campfire, cook, read, and take
the occasional late-night bathroom break. Most of the time I
found myself using the flood LED on its brightest setting. I
dialed it down to low intensity or switched to the red LED when in my
shelter or reading, and I only turned on the spot LED when trying to
locate a trail marker etc. I took the photos below in a
completely dark room to show the beam spread and intensity of all
three LEDs. The headlamp and camera were 15 ft (4.6 m) away from
the target and the LEDs were at their brightest setting. The
leftmost photo is the flood LED. The second photo is the
spot LED. The third photo is the spot LED, and the fourth photo
is the red LED.
three photos below are from about 50 ft (15 m) away. The
trees are unlit in the first photo, dimly lit using the flood LED in
the second photo, brightly lit via the spot LED in the third photo, and
fully lit via both the flood and spot LEDs in the fourth photo.
Life: I used alkaline batteries in the Spot 325 and am now on my second
set of batteries. I didn't kept detailed records on LED runtime,
but generally know how long the headlamp was on. Given the
usage I must say I'm impressed with the headlamp's efficiency.
The battery life indicator is a handy feature that I really like.
With it I feel better about taking a used set of batteries on the
trail without spares for backup. The Spot 325 did a good job
of conserving battery life. The manufacturer's burn time specs of
4 hours on high, 8 hours on medium and 200 hours appear to be accurate.
There also seems to be little to no leakage current when the
headlamp is turned off as I regularly leave the batteries in and
have had no problems with them running down. One
other note is the battery compartment is ok to access. Granted I
have short fingernails so it's not the easiest thing to release the
hatch to open the battery compartment.
had a great time testing the Black Diamond Spot this test period.
It was easy to control, comfortable, provided plenty of light for
most nighttime activities, and had great battery life. In
addition, it proved to be durable.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During long term testing I used the Spot 325 on two overnight backpacking
trips. Most of my
testing took place in Southern Indiana with
backpacking trips to Franklin County and the Charles Deam Wilderness in
the Hossier National Forest. I also used the Spot for several
repair projects around the house and while working on my car.
Trip One: 2 day, 1 night backpacking trip in Franklin County, Indiana (IN)
Weather: Cool and foggy with temperatures ranging from 28 to 36 F (-2 to 2 C)
Elevation: 710 to 860 ft (216 to 262 m)
I hiked mostly off-trail through a number of fields and forests, and
across several small streams. Total distance hiked was 9 mi (14.5 km).
Pack Weight: 32 lb (14.5 kg)
Comments: I used the Spot while setting up camp at night, while cooking, and while reading in my tent.
Trip Two: 2 day, 2 night backpacking trip to the Charles Deam Wilderness Area in Southern Indiana (IN)
Clear and cold with temperatures ranging from 19 to 24 F (-7.2 to -4.4 C).
Elevation: 794 to 855 ft (242 to 260 m)
Distance: On this trip I hiked both on and off-trail for a total of 12 mi (19
Brief Comments: The Spot 325 was once again reliable and effective.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Spot 325 headlamp performed well during long term testing.
It was easy to operate and provided more than enough light for whatever task I was performing. And it was durable.
I didn't keep a logbook during the past two months of testing, I
generally tried to keep track of my headlamp usage, which was sometimes
challenging depending how often I switched it on and off around camp.
Similar to what I experienced during field testing, during long term testing I felt like the Spot 325 did a great job of
conserving battery life and so I never worried about using the
high beam or whatever setting I needed to give me the most light for
the task at hand. It was obvious to me that Black Diamond had top
notch LED circuitry to regulate battery power consumption. I used the headlamp a lot during long term testing, not just on outings but also around the house, and I
just switched to my third set of batteries last week. I used
to always carry additional batteries with me whenever I went camping,
but because this headlamp is so efficient, and it tells me how much
battery life is left, I no longer worry about toting extra
batteries with me wherever I go.
general, the headlamp was comfortable to wear. Thanks to its light
weight design I found I could wear it for multiple hours with no
problems. On both trips
during this test period I wore the Spot over a wool hat, and it stayed
in place ok, or at least as good as could be expected when worn on top
of cushiony fabric. I would have preferred to wear
it directly on my head but given the cold temperatures I needed
the wool hat to stay warm.
On my first trip of this test
period, there was thick fog most of the afternoon and evening so I used
the headlamp much more, during what would normally be considered
daylight hours, than I normally would have. The Spot cut through
the fog, which was especially thick in the low-lying areas, allowing me
to pick a decent campsite in the woods, setup my tent, and gather dead
sticks and branches for my campfire without tripping over brush on the
ground. Later I used the Spot while making dinner and then again
while reading in my tent. I found it simple to adjust the
brightness of the LEDs and switch between floodlight and spotlight
mode. I also found the red LED worked well for reading and I was
able to adjust it low enough that it didn't create any glare on the
pages of my book.
In regard to durability the Spot held up
really well while being exposed to freezing temperatures, mist, and a
few falls when it got knocked off my head by low hanging tree branches.
Throughout it all, the Spot never missed a beat.
I really like this headlamp. It's lightweight, reliable, and
provides lots of light. In addition, battery life is great, and
the controls are easy to use. This is definitely a keeper and will be stored in my gear closet for future trips.
This concludes my Long Term Report for the
Spot 325 headlamp and this test series. Thanks to Black Diamond and
BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this headlamp.
Read more reviews of Black Diamond gear
Read more gear reviews by Brian Hartman