Black Diamond headlamp reviews

Backpackers at night with headlamps in a campsite in the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park.

The Best Headlamps of 2024

By Michael Lanza

A headlamp is unquestionably essential gear for hiking, backpacking, climbing, trail running, ultra-running and ultra-hiking and other backcountry activities that sometimes push into darkness (whether intentionally or not). But with so many to pick from, how do you choose which one to buy? Price? Brightness? Weight? Design and range of lighting modes? Go with a brand you know and trust? This review cuts through the information overload to help you pick the right headlamp for your adventures.

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A backpacker hiking the Highline Trail past Elbow Lake in Wyoming's Wind River Range.

25 Essential Backpacking Gear Accessories of 2024

By Michael Lanza

Sure, your backpack, boots, tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, and other backpacking gear matter a lot, and you should put serious thought into your choices when buying any of them. But little things matter, too. Various necessary accessories, convenience items, and small comforts accompany me on backcountry trips. Nearly three decades of field-testing gear—including the 10 years I spent as the lead gear reviewer for Backpacker magazine and even longer running this blog—has refined my sense of what I like on certain types of trips and what I will not do without anytime.

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The Black Diamond Distance 1500.

Review: Black Diamond Distance 1500 Headlamp

Rechargeable Ultra-Bright Headlamp
Black Diamond Distance 1500
$200, 7.5 oz./213g

Comparing any hiking-oriented headlamps I’ve used to the Black Diamond Distance 1500 headlamp feels rather like comparing a Honda Civic to a Bradley armored fighting vehicle. At 7.5 ounces/213 grams, and putting out a supernova-like 1500 lumens at max power, the Distance 1500 is at least twice the price of all of today’s best headlamps for the backcountry and more than doubles most of them in weight and power. Over six months of testing this beast hiking, climbing, mountain and road biking, and backcountry skiing, I’ve concluded that, while it’s certainly overkill for many activities, it’s invaluable for both route finding and high-speed sports after dark.

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The Black Diamond Astro 300 and Astro 300-R headlamps.

Review: Black Diamond Astro 300 and Astro 300-R Headlamps

Rechargeable Ultralight Headlamps
Black Diamond Astro 300-R
$40, 2.6 oz./75g

Black Diamond Astro 300
$20, 2.6 oz./75g

How simple and inexpensive a headlamp do you want for the backcountry? Or to frame the question from a different angle: How complex a headlamp do you need? Using Black Diamond’s rechargeable Astro 300-R and the optionally rechargeable, battery-powered Astro 300 on a pair of backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies—the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park and the Nigel, Cataract, and Cline Passes Route in the White Goat Wilderness—as well as a four-day hike in the Wind River Range and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I became very acquainted with the strengths and shortcomings of two of today’s most affordable ultralight headlamps.

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The Black Diamond Spot 400.

Review: Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp

Ultralight Headlamp
Black Diamond Spot 400
$50, 2.5 oz./70.9g

How do you choose a headlamp for the backcountry? If you’re looking for a range of modes that’s both basic and versatile, good brightness and dimming capability, and smart features that make it more useful while maintaining a design simplicity that doesn’t require an advanced science degree to operate it, Black Diamond’s Spot 400 is hard to beat. On evenings in camp on a five-day, late-summer hike in the Wind River Range, I found this latest update sustains and improves on the legacy of BD’s popular Spot line as an excellent value in an ultralight headlamp.

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