Gear Review: Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot325
$40, 3 oz. (with 3 AAA batteries, included)

From rising before dawn for early starts to beat the heat on a 74-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in May, to predawn mornings and dark evenings in camp on a 94-mile traverse of the CDT in Glacier National Park in September, the Black Diamond Spot325 demonstrated the brightness and versatility that makes it arguably the best value in an ultralight headlamp today. Here’s why.

I was a fan of the Spot325’s predecessor, the Spot, and this new model represents an overhaul of that top performer. It has been reduced somewhat in size while powered up to a much brighter 325 lumens. The low-profile design adds a second button that simplifies mode selection. It powers on and off and dims using the larger button, while the smaller button cycles between the three modes: the primary, direct beam, peripheral white mode, and red for night vision. BD’s brightness memory technology means the Spot325 turns on in the mode and brightness level you last turned it off.

Powered by three AAA batteries, the Spot325’s beam projects at least 200 feet at max brightness, by my estimate (BD says up to 83 meters). In peripheral lighting mode, the broad beam projects light uniformly at medium brightness to organize gear or illuminate a campsite or tent interior, without getting blotchy or having an annoying dark spot in the center.

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BD’s unique PowerTap technology—also found in other BD headlamps—allows you to simply tap the right side of the housing (marked by a bulb icon) to cycle between max brightness and whatever dimmed level you’ve already set. The Spot325 also has dimming capability in all three modes.

The slender headband is wide enough to remain comfortable for hours, and the battery compartment opens easily with the flip of a small lever, requiring no tools. BD says the Spot325’s burn time (how long it operates on one set of batteries) is 65 hours at max brightness and 300 hours at minimum brightness. In addition, the improved optical efficiency not only delivers more power at a longer peak intensity, but also saves battery life, indicated by a three-LED battery meter on the side. I took multiple typical trips without noticing any reduced brightness due to the batteries running low.


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Black Diamond Spot325 headlamp.
Black Diamond Spot325 headlamp.

Like other BD headlamps, the Spot325 has a lockout mode that turns on and off by holding down both buttons for a few seconds, to ensure that the lamp isn’t inadvertently turned on and burning through batteries inside your pack or pocket—definitely a smart feature, even though both buttons lie flush in the housing to help prevent accidental activation. The IPX8 rating means it’s waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes.

The Verdict

It’s not rechargeable, but for brightness, versatile functionality, low weight, and value in an ultralight headlamp for backpacking, hiking, climbing, trail running, and other outdoors activities, the Black Diamond Spot325 is hard to beat.

NOTE: Black Diamond has updated the Spot325 with the Spot350, which is identical but brighter at maximum power. Watch for my upcoming review of the Spot350.

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See my “Gear Review: The 5 Best Headlamps,” and all of my reviews of headlamps, hiking gear, and backpacking gear at The Big Outside.

Want to make your pack lighter and all of your backpacking trips more enjoyable? See my story A Practical Guide to Lightweight and Ultralight Backpacking.” If you don’t have a paid subscription to The Big Outside, you can read part of that story for free, or click here to download that full story without having a paid membership.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

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