Black Diamond Spot 400
The Spot 400 is an easy-to-use, bright enough headlamp that delivers long-lasting battery life and reliable performance year after year.
*At the time of publication, the price was $37.
When you’re car camping or just rummaging through a closet, the Black Diamond Spot 400 provides exactly what you need: a bright beam, easy-to-navigate buttons, and long-lasting battery life. The Spot has topped our list since 2012 because it’s reliable and bright enough to light the way in most situations, whether indoors or outdoors. The 400 model includes the same features we’ve always loved. And it’s got 50 lumens more than the previous Spot (so 400 in all), for a noticeable boost in brightness (although we still think the previous version was bright enough). The Spot’s top buttons are more intuitive to use than the single button on pre-350 versions. You’ll still have to experiment and click through the different modes, but we think the learning curve is pretty steep. The Spot has a brightness memory mode, so it can revert to a previous setting each time you turn on the headlamp. This model also has a red light option (useful when turning the lamp on and off at night), a “proximity” spotlight option (which gives you a wider beam and more peripheral illumination, so ideal for camping) and strobe options (perfect for throwing an emergency signal in the dark). The 3 oz Spot 400 is lock down and weather resistant. And its PowerTap technology lets you switch the headlamp from full power to dimmed with a simple tap. While there are headlights out there with brighter, higher quality beams, none offered the same combination of decent brightness, simplicity, and reliability at such a low price. If you want to save a little money, we think the discontinued Spot 350 is still a great bright projector, if you can find it.
While not as bright as our top pick, this headlamp is still a comfortable and easy-to-use option for use around the home at a fraction of the price of competitors.
The Vitchelo V800 remains a good low-cost choice. Switching between red and white light settings (there are two separate buttons) is easy, and we liked the comfortable headband. That said, we do wish the light was brighter (it’s still only 168 lumens). This headlamp also has fewer features and lacks the memory and lockout modes we liked in our top pick. Even so, this headlamp performed just as well as competitors that were several times more expensive. If you need a low-cost headlamp for doing household chores, taking your dog for evening walks, or out in the yard at night, this is a good option.
Petzl Actik Core
The Actik Core has the brightest light with the best beam quality, and it stays charged for days whether you charge it via USB or AAA batteries. It is perfect for backpacking trips.
*At the time of publication, the price was $70.
The Petzl Actik Core is the best choice for backpackers, outdoor adventurers and anyone who needs a headlamp with charging options (USB and batteries). We tested two rechargeable headlamps in 2019 (and we’ve reviewed nine others for previous versions of this guide), and we think this headlamp is the best for outdoor adventures. It’s durable, easy to use, and weighs less than 3 ounces (just a little less than the Black Diamond Spot 400). The Actik Core’s 450 lumen light was also the brightest of the bunch and had the best optical quality. This model charges quickly and easily, which is great if you want to power up the light on your way to the trail. If you’re traveling with a battery, rechargeable devices may be more convenient (you accumulate a little less battery waste over time and the charge lasts over 16 hours). The Actik Core is also versatile – if you don’t have a USB source handy, you can run the headlamp on three AAA batteries. Some things we liked less: there’s no spotlight function (which is good for camping), and the Actik Core has a weather resistance rating below expectations. Compared to the Spot 400, which can handle being submerged underwater, this model only supports splashing.
Black Diamond Sprinter 500
The Sprinter 500 is a light, comfortable and safe model equipped with front and rear lights. The front light is brighter than those on previous versions of the Sprinter and even more powerful than our top pick (which is also bright enough).
After years of testing, we still haven’t found a headlamp (with a headband or harness, plus a taillight, that doesn’t bounce when you run) that’s light, safe, and bright. But the Black Diamond Sprinter 500 continues to hold our best-in-class spot. The Sprinter has a 500-lumen front light and it provided decent trail illumination during our long night runs. You’ll need to charge the headlamp every few days (according to the manual), but we used it for over 13 hours with no issues (you can use AAA batteries if you prefer). The Sprinter scored a few wins over the other race models we tested. Its comfortable, easily adjustable strap keeps the light secured to your head while you run, and it weighs just over 4 ounces (more than the Spot 400, but not enough to feel heavy). In addition, its rear indicator is an important safety feature. In an upgrade from the Sprinter 275, the 500 features a lockout setting, which prevents the light from accidentally turning on in your bag or pocket.
The genius of the black diamond
Rainbow lights make this kids headlamp fun to play with during camping trips or backyard adventures.
The fancy light feature – which glows in all colors of the rainbow – was what really sold us on the Black Diamond Wiz. This model also shuts off after two hours, in case your child forgets to do so. The control mechanism on the Wiz is a little complicated, but we don’t think kids want to click the colors of the rainbow to figure out which setting to choose. We think that compared to other kids’ models we’ve tested (all of which only offered red and white lights), this headlamp is both the right price and more fun to use. Although the Wiz only has 30 lumens, that should be plenty for most kids (plus they won’t be able to blind themselves – or you – with the light).
Leave a Reply