Black Diamond Spot350
$40, 3 oz. (with three AAA batteries, included)
BD’s latest update to its Spot line of headlamps, while incremental, maintains this light’s high functionality for backpackers, climbers, trail runners, backcountry skiers, and other users. The Spot350 illuminated moonless nights for me on a six-day rafting and kayaking trip down the Green River through Desolation and Gray canyons, demonstrating the reliability and versatility that its lineage has on many past adventures, such as rising before dawn to beat the heat on a 74-mile backpacking trip through the Grand Canyon in May and predawn mornings and dark evenings on a 94-mile traverse of the CDT in Glacier National Park in September.
The primary upgrade is a boost in max brightness to 350 lumens, projecting a beam for nearly 300 feet (BD claims 86 meters, or 282 feet)—bright enough for climbers searching for a descent route in the dark, trail runners and backcountry skiers on predawn missions, and certainly for hiking a dark trail. The Spot350 will burn for almost four hours at max power on three AAA batteries.
As before, the low-profile design—featuring two buttons that simplify mode selection—uses the larger button to power on and off and for dimming function (in all modes), while the smaller button cycles between the three modes: white beam, peripheral white mode, and red for night vision. The strobe function activates when double clicking the large button in all three modes.
BD’s PowerTap technology—found in other BD headlamps—allows you to simply tap the right side of the casing to cycle between max brightness and whatever dimmed level you previously set. The brightness memory technology means the Spot350 turns on in the mode and brightness level you last turned it off.
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. At low power, six lumens, the beam carries eight meters and BD says lasts 200 hours on three AAA batteries. I’ve taken numerous multi-day trips with all Spot models—including time hiking in the dark as well as normal campsite usage—without the batteries dying.
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The easy and infallible lockout function turns on and off by depressing both buttons for a few seconds. The IPX8 rating means it’s waterproof to a little over one meter for 30 minutes.
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’s Spot325 differs largely in that it has minimally less brightness at max power—it’s essentially unnoticeable—and you can grab one at 25 percent off until stocks are sold out at blackdiamondequipment.com.
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The Black Diamond Spot350 isn’t rechargeable, but for brightness, versatility, features, weight, and price, it’s still a top value in an ultralight headlamp for backpackers, dayhikers, climbers, trail runners, backcountry skiers, and other users.
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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 The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all my reviews and expert buying tips.
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