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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp > Test Report by Kurt Papke
Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp
|6' 4" (193 cm)
|230 lbs (105 kg)
|kwpapke (at) gmail (dot) com
|City, State, Country:
|Tucson, Arizona USA
The Black Diamond Spot 325 headlamp is a compact lightweight battery-powered LED light attached to an adjustable elastic headband (see photo below, middle left) that provides hands-free lighting. The lamp in this unit is relatively bright, but can be dimmed and switched to a red LED through user controls. I use a headlamp to light my way hiking early in the morning when backpacking, because I always use trekking poles and cannot hold a flashlight in my hands. I also use them in-camp for cooking, gear setup, etc. where a headlamp always directs its light to the task by following my head.
|Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.
|Spot 325 headlamp
|Country of manufacture
|"We warrant for one year from purchase
date and only to the original retail buyer (Buyer) that
our products (Products) are free from defects in material
and workmanship. For headlamps our warranty is for three
|Three AAA batteries
Alkaline batteries are supplied, but should work equally well with rechargeable or lithium
|[High] 325, [Medium] 160, [Low] 6 lumens
|[High] 4, [Medium] 8, [Low] 200 hours
|IPX 8 (can be immersed to 1.1 meter (43 in)
for 30 minutes without damage)
|Weight with batteries
|86 g (3.0 oz)
|84 g (2.95 oz)
The user interface for headlamps often confuses me. There are many features that can be accessed by tapping or pressing on various control surfaces, often with multiple taps or presses. I struggle to remember where the switches are and what magic incantation I must perform to change brightness, etc.
On their website and on the packaging BD mentions their "PowerTap" control to switch between full and dimmed power (see photo above, bottom row left). This sounds really handy as I typically use headlamps in a dimmed setting, but often need brightness for just a few seconds to perform a task. This headlamp also purports to remember the brightness setting when turned off. That sounds great to me as the need to re-dim the headlamp every time I turn it off has been a frustration for me on previous headlamps I have tested or purchased.
The headlamp has one large switch to turn the unit on/off and to control dimming. There is a second switch control for lens mode, which appears to move between a wide and narrow beam. Both of these controls are shown in the photo above, middle row right. A red LED is provided to preserve night vision, and apparently this can also be dimmed. Lastly, there is a mechanism to lock the controls to avoid accidentally turning the unit on when stowed, a problem I have had from time to time.
The headband is easily adjustable (see adjustment buckles in above photo, middle row left), and the lamp slides around the band to facilitate centering on my forehead. The lamp swivels up and down with audible lock points.
There is a battery level indicator with 3 LED's that displays the
battery charge remaining for six seconds after powering the unit
on. See photo above, bottom row middle photo.
Of course I had to try it out. Once out of the packaging, I used a thumbnail to open the back of the housing to expose the battery compartment, and inserted the supplied AAA batteries. I snapped the housing shut and the device was set to go.
The switches on the top were clearly marked (see photo above
middle right). I pressed the main button and presto, there
was light! I very quickly learned how to dim the light (hold
the main button down), and switch between the spotlight,
floodlight and red LED by pressing the button on the left with the
segmented circle. I was able to dim each of the bulbs and
verified that tapping the right side of the housing with the
sunshine logo toggled between the dimmed setting and full
power. I also verified that turning the headlamp off and
back on again did not change the dimmer setting.
I tried the lock function. Yep, holding both buttons down
simultaneously locks and unlocks the on/off switch. The
buttons are clearly labeled for how to do this (see above photo,
I'm impressed - BD did a great job improving the ergonomics of the controls, and I think I may actually be able to remember how to do all these functions.
This headlamp is very bright at full output. I'll have to
be careful not to blind my fellow campers.
|October 17-18, 2019
|Santa Catalina Mountains just north of
|Sunny, warm, windy at night, 60-85 F
|December 6-8, 2019
|Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
|Partly cloudy, one night of rain, 38-65 F
I led a group of four (we started with five...) hikers from the Tucson Backpacking Meetup group on what I advertised as "Beach Camping in the Grand Canyon". On day one we hiked down from the Hermit trailhead to Hermit Rapids and set up camp on the beach. Day two was pretty relaxed, we didn't get going until after lunch and only had a short hike up to the Hermit Creek campsite. Day three we got up early after a night of rain and hiked out.
Before leaving on the trip I did a quick equipment check and
noticed that the LED power indicator on the headlamp was down to
one LED, so I changed out the batteries. I was a little
surprised they were depleted so quickly.
|January 13-15, 2020
|Gila Canyons west of Kearny, Arizona
|Sunny, variable winds,
40-70 F (4-21 C)
|February 8-9, 2020
|Gila Canyons west of Kearny, Arizona
|Sunny, light to variable winds, 35-72 F (2-22F)
It is becoming an annual winter tradition for me to drive up to this beautiful section of the Arizona Trail. It's the perfect spot for winter backpacking: low elevation keeps the temperatures warm, great scenery, and good water access from the Gila River.
This was a solo hike, and when I solo I typically get up very early in the morning. This means the headlamp gets used for morning chores as well as the usual evening stuff.
No issues whatsoever with the headlamp on this trip, it worked
Same trail as my prior outing, just a lot shorter hike. My prior trip was a scouting mission for a future trip I planned to lead with the Tucson Backpacking Meetup group, and this trip was that Meetup organized hike. I billed it as "beginner-friendly", which indeed it was: short hike with gradual elevation change and a scenic campsite with water and fire ring.
Before setting out on this trip I put the headlamp in the "locked" mode so it would not inadvertently switch on in my pack. I regretted doing so in the evening as I struggled for about 5 minutes to unlock it. I knew I had to press both buttons simultaneously, but it took quite a bit of experimenting to rediscover how long I had to hold the buttons before it unlocked. In my experience, the downfall of these seldom-used functions on devices with very few control buttons is it's easy to forget the magic incantation required to access the function once I throw away the user manual. For me, the same is true of the PowerTap feature - I forget it is there or how to activate it.
A bright headlamp with modest battery life. Comfort on my head is good - it is light enough that I often forget I am wearing it. Reliability has been excellent during the test period: no illumination failures, and no mechanical damage despite the fact that I do not protect a headlamp in any way in my pack. Not even any cosmetic damage during the four months.
I used the high/low/red settings constantly, but rarely used the
PowerTap. I made good use of the multiple LED's during the
test period. I normally used the wide beam, but occasionally
shifted to the narrow beam if I had something where I needed
detail. I used the red LED quite often when I got up during
the night to not disturb other campers, and to preserve my night
vision. If I was intending to use the headlamp for an
extended period, I dimmed the brightness to a lower level. I
had no difficulty using the controls to change these settings.
This is the first headlamp I've used in a while that is not rechargeable. On one hand, I like the longer battery life that alkaline battery power provides. On the flip side, it annoys me to replace a perfectly good battery that is half-depleted before leaving on a trip because I don't want to run out of battery power on the trip. Yes, I could have used rechargeable AAA batteries with the headlamp, but those are not easily topped off in the backcountry.
I suspect the main future use I will put this headlamp to is
early morning runs or walks from my house. I really need the
extra illumination of a headlamp this size when I am plodding
through the neighborhood due to the "dark sky" policy that the
Tucson area follows, which means very few street lights.
When using the headlamp from home, the non-rechargeable batteries
are not an issue.