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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond SpotLite 160 Headlamp > Test Report by Christie Kimber

Black Diamond Spot Lite 160

Initial Report
Field Report
Long Term Report

Initial Report

September 26, 2019bd1

Background Information:

Name: Christie Kimber
Age: 28
Gender: Female
Height: 6’0" (183 cm)
Weight: 145 lb (66 kg)
Email address: christiekimber AT yahoo     DOT com
City, Province, Country: Campbell River, British Columbia (BC), Canada
Backpacking Background:
    I started hiking in 2015 when I moved from Saskatchewan to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I started with day hikes and have eventually pushed myself to weekend and even week-long excursions. I am a three-season hiker. That being said, as I gather new gear and develop skills I am pushing my limits to try out 4-season backpacking and mountaineering. Vancouver Island gets a lot of rain and has a moderate climate. I also spend time in interior British Columbia in the Rocky Mountains.

Product Information:

Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.
Product: Spot Lite 160 lumen headlampbd2
Year of manufacture: 2019
MSRP: $26.95 USD
Color tested: Aqua
Other available colors: Aluminum, Octane, Dark Olive, Graphite, Azul
Listed weight:
  • Headlamp: 30 g (1 oz)
  • Batteries (AAA x 2): 24 g (0.9 oz) 
Measured weight: 
  • Headlamp: 30 g (1 oz)
  • Batteries: 25 g (0.9 oz)
Listed measurements: none listed
Actual measurements (L x H x D): 6 x 3 x 3 cm (2.4 x 1.2 x 1.2 inches)


  • High: 160
  • Medium: 80
  • Low: 6
Max Distance:
  • High: 60 m (200 ft)
  • Medium: 30 m (100 ft)
  • Low: 3 m (10 ft)
Max Burn Time:
  • High: 2 hours
  • Medium 14 hours
  • Low 60 hours
IPX Rating: IPX 8

Product Description:

The Black Diamond Spot Lite 160 lumen headlamp is the smallest and most light weight headlamp in the Black Diamond lineup. It packs 160 lumens of light into a small frame. While this headlamp offers the fewest lumens in the line up, it compensates by being very compact. Both the headlamp itself as well as the band are remarkably thin and small. The headlamp only uses two AAA batteries instead of three, which which I have often seen. I think this allows for the width of the casing to be smaller. Two alkaline AAA batteries are included.

This headlamp has three light strength settings; high, medium, and low. The lumen strength and burn time of these three settings are listed above. The headlamp also has a strobe light setting, a dimmer, and a red LED light. There is also a lock mode to ensure I do not move off of the desired setting, as well as a brightness memory feature. The brightness memory feature means I can turn off the headlamp and when turned back on it will resume the most recent setting. All of these settings are adjustable with a two-button system. Instructions are included which review how to manipulate each setting.

The Spot Lite headlamp is also waterproof. It has an IPX rating of 8. The IP code classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by external casings housing electronics against dust and water. The first number in the code quantifies protection against solid particles. In this case X means there are no data. The second number rates it against liquid protection. This headlamp rates 8 out of 9. In more practical terms, a rating of IPX 8 means the headlamp can be submerged in > 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. The Black Diamond website recommends that if the headlamp is submerged in water the battery compartment may get wet and should be dried out after use.

This headlamp is recommended for activities such as running and hiking, but not for caving of skiing due to the lower lumen range.

Care instructions are also included in the manual. The band can be separated from the light. It can be washed and hung to dry. The headlamp should be used and stored between - 17 C and 43 C (0 to 110 F). It should be stored in a home or vehicle.

There is a limited three-year warranty on this product.

Initial Impressions

I received the Spot Lite in new condition. The packaging, like the headlamp, was small and compact. I love the Aqua color. The band of the headlamp is narrower than I am used to, which likely contributes to the decreased weight. I think the narrow design makes the overall look of the device sleek and streamlined. The band is stretchy and also adjustable. The lamp itself is in a narrow, thin casing. It also has less depth than I am used to, so does not stick off my head as much as other headlamps I have had. The light casing angle is adjustable so that I can direct the light ahead of me or angle it downward for working at close range. I have noticed the graded angle adjustment is quite stiff. It makes a loud sound when adjusted. Initially I thought I broke it. I will watch during my testing to see if this loosens up at all.

Field Report

November 12, 2019

Field Testing:

  • Juan de Fuca Trail, British Columbia, Canada
    • Elevation: 500 m (1640 ft)
    • Duration: 1 night overnight, 20 km (12 miles)
    • Temperature: 15 C (59 F)
    • Weather: clear and sunny
    • Trail Conditions: damp, rain forest and beach trail

  • Smith Rock, Oregon, USA
    • 3-day front country camping trip 
    • clear skies, desert-like conditions
    • Temperature: 15 - 20 C (59 - 68 F)

  • Willamette National Forest, USA
    • 5-day front country camping trip
    • mix of sun and light rain, rainforest conditions
    • Temperature: 10 - 15 C (50 - 59 F)
I have had the opportunity to test this headlamp out numerous times. The above three trips represent when I was using the head lamp for camping and backpacking activities. However, I also live in a van full time, so I have actually used the head lamp almost nightly since receiving it around "home".

I think this is a great all-around, multi-purpose headlamp. It is lightweight, small and durable. I certainly would not think twice about bringing it on any backpacking trip. I have found the thin strap and light source to be comfortable on my head. For most tasks I am able to use the lowest light setting. I have used the highest setting when biking and in the rainforest at night, but otherwise it is not necessary for regular outdoor conditions. I have used the red light setting a few times to read with. This is helpful as it does not disturb my partner. I have not found a need for the strobe light yet but might have to have a dance party to remedy this.

The use of this headlamp is not completely intuitive, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy enough. It uses a two-button system. A single click of the main button turns on the headlamp. When I hold down the button the light slowly dims. Another single click will turn off the headlamp. I do like the memory feature (described above), which just means it will remember my previous setting. This is handy because I try to keep my headlamp on the low setting, and this way I do not have to toggle it to this setting every time I turn it on.

To lock the headlamp, I hold down the main button and the lock button together at the same time for two seconds. I do not personally find that I use this feature at all. I will probably start using it if I ever accidentally find my headlamp on or with dead batteries, but thus far this has not happened, so I do not feel motivated to lock it routinely. The headlamp will flash red when the device is locked. Pressing the lock button alone will toggle between red and white light. The red light is also on a dimmer using the same controls as the white light. Pressing the main button twice turns on the strobe setting.

I have used the headlamp briefly in the rain. It worked well. Had it not been labeled as waterproof I do not think I would have felt comfortable trying that. As a permanent resident of the Pacific Northwest I think this will be a handy feature for me.

The only feature I still do not like is the plastic attached to the headlamp that allows me to adjust the angle. It is very stiff even with regular use and always makes a loud cracking sound that makes me feel like I am breaking it. It also does not seem very robust, so I wonder how it will do with long-term use.

I have not had to replace the batteries yet, so I am happy with that as well!

Long Term Report

January 14, 2020

Unfortunately, we have been having a wild winter so far here in British Columbia, full of much more rain than snow. Avalanche conditions have been high for almost the entire season, so this has quashed some overnight backpacking and ski touring plans. However, I just spent the past month front country camping in Whistler in my camper van, so the head lamp still saw a ton of use, just not necessarily in the back country.
I used the headlamp walking to and from work most days, which is a 5 km (3 mile) round trip. I also used it at "home" in my van in the evenings to conserve battery power when we were not plugged in. This was about 10 nights total. About halfway through my trip I did have to replace the batteries. I usually use the headlamp on the low setting. While it is difficult to estimate the exact amount of time I used the headlamp before the batteries died, I think 60 hours, as quoted by Black Diamond, would be a fair estimate. I certainly felt like I got a lot of use out of the lamp before replacing the batteries.

With long term, regular use the headlamp is still in good condition. The terrible, plastic, clicking sound of the direction toggle has not gone away (I thought this might "break in" a bit) however, it also hasn't broken yet. I guess it is more robust than I am giving it credit for, but I am still quite careful with it.

I have used the headlamp while walking to work in heavy, wet snow. The IPX 8 rating seems to be holding up, as I have had no problems electrically speaking. It did get quite wet on the exterior after one walk, so I followed the instructions to remove the batteries and dry out the inner compartment, although it wasn't really wet. I think this might be the best feature of the head lamp.

I have found the strap easy to adjust and have worn it over a toque. The headlamp itself is also lightweight enough that it doesn't pull my toque down over my eyes.

I think this headlamp is excellent for backpacking because of it is so small and lightweight. It is well suited for all but the most specific types of activities. I wouldn't use the headlamp for activities like caving and high speed, in-the-dark sports, but for most of us it is a great choice.

This concludes my Test Report. Thanks to Black Diamond and for the opportunity to test this headlamp.

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Read more gear reviews by Christie Kimber

Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Black Diamond SpotLite 160 Headlamp > Test Report by Christie Kimber

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