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Black Diamond Spot 400-R

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Black Diamond Spot 400-R headlamp

Everything you might need in a hiking headlamp and then some.

Pros

  • Light
  • Waterproof
  • A variety of easy to access modes
  • Dimmable
  • Powerful
  • Rechargeable
  • Long-lasting charge
  • Smooth direction adjustment

Cons

  • Two buttons needed to lock/unlock
  • Unnecessary "Power Tap" feature
  • Headband may be too tight for some
  • Not compatible with alkaline batteries

As most of us know, there are some who REALLY get in to headlamps and can take crazy deep dives. That's not me, but I do night hike a lot and know the features I need/like so, when comparison shopping, it's a matter of maybe giving something up to get something else. And the Black Diamond Spot 400-R ticked almost every box for me. I've only had it for about six months but the other BD lamps I've had have all shown excellent durability so I expect the same here.

I really like rechargeable lamps and have found this to charge quickly and hold that charge. There's three indicator lights on the side that denote how much power is left and I've been pleasantly surprised with how long it can go between charges if you're not running it a full blast. And the full blast is definitely full. 400 lumens which is FAR more than I ever need on a trail but it does pack a punch. It comes with a 1500 Li-ion battery that’s charged by a micro-USB. There's a rubber covering over the input that seem sturdy and fits well but that's a place  you may want to be a little gentle with. Those covers have come off on me in the past with other rechargeables and they can't be replaced.

The housing of the Spot is very small and the lamp overall, with the integrated battery, is super light at 2.6 ounces. You don't really feel it when it's on. I will say I found the thin, very comfortable headband to be on the smaller side. At it's fullest extension it fits me perfectly but I don't have a particularly large head. Those with big melons might need to be prepared to swap out the headband.

The Spot is fully submersible and rated at IP67. I don't intend on submerging it but it does give confidence as far as rain, snow and dust.

There are two buttons on the top of the housing that allow you toggle back and forth between the main spot light and the flood feature. Cycling through the different features is easy and intuitive. Didn't take long to figure it out. The second, recessed button (not great with gloves) is where you'll find the excellent red light which is really bright at it's highest setting. I usually dim it to save juice and it's still more than enough in camp or around others.

The dimming feature is a favorite of mine. I love being able to control the brightness and have found that at its lower levels (goes down to 6 lumens) it's still sufficient for being on the trail. And what's great is that if you turn the lamp off, or toggle between the lights, it 'remembers' the last setting and returns to it. Super helpful and a great feature that I use a lot.

Another nice feature with this, that I haven't had in previous BD lamps, is that there's no "clicking" when you adjust the lamp direction. It's a smooth operation and doesn't lock in to one of three adjustments. I would like it to extend down just a touch more to light up my feet a little better. That can come in handy if you're scrambling or on sketchy terrain but it's fine for trail use..

In addition to the spot, flood and red light, there's a strobe which, at the highest setting, would definitely catch someone's eye. There's also a lock feature, which is must have, but it needs two hands to operate. This can be a bit of hassle, particularly given that one of the buttons is recessed which means removing gloves, but it's a pretty quick process. Would have preferred it to be built in to the one main button.

The Spot 400-R comes with something they call "Power Tap." It's located on the right side of the housing and when tapped it immediately changes the brightness to the highest setting. I find this to be a solution in search of a problem. You can get the same function just as quickly by holding the main button down and when I first got it I accidentally hit it enough times for it to start bugging me. Maybe I've learned how to handle it and it doesn't really happen now. For that matter, even when I try to activate the feature it's hit or miss if it works. I can't really think of the scenario where it would be beneficial for a hiker so that's something they could dump and not lose any effectiveness.

One downside to this lamp, which some other brands offer, is that you can't use alkaline batteries with it. Having some kind of a back up would be beneficial. I don't really like putting all my eggs in one lithium battery basket but given that I carry an Anker charger on trips, don't run the lamp with the highest brightness and the battery seems to hold juice really well, I'm hopeful it's a bridge I won't need to cross.

I've used this light a lot since I bought it and, overall, I think it was an excellent purchase. It has pretty everything you would need in a lamp in a small, light, comfortable package. I got it with a discount (buy all my gear discounted) but I think the $65 MSRP is perfectly fair and would be money well spent.

Super solid lamp. Highly recommended. 

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Six months of a lot of use.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 50

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Specs

Price Current Retail: $64.95
Historic Range: $48.99-$64.95
Product Details from Black Diamond »

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