As I packed for my 50 mile race last weekend I started thinking about my headlamp. I knew I would be running in the dark for many hours, and I had a slight concern with the battery life of my Petzl Tikka+ (review). It’s a decent headlamp, but battery technology has changed a lot in the past couple of years. The Tikka+ advertises that I can get 40 lumens for around 8 hours. That would be long enough for my run, but 40 lumens isn’t as bright as I wanted for that amount of time.
I heard a lot of chatter recently about the new Black Diamond Spot headlamp and their 2016 revision. Many of the people I run with have picked one up and really raved about it. When I’ve been running with them in the dark, I can tell that it’s a much brighter and stronger headlamp than what I was using. When I checked into the battery life I got my biggest surprise yet. At 200 lumens it advertised a 50 hour battery life. That was way more than I needed, and at 200 lumens it would be bright enough to really light up the trail.
Despite always being told never to change up your gear right before a race, I decided to pick up a Spot on my way out of town on Friday and give it a go. I’m happy to say that it was not a bad decision, as the Spot performed amazingly the entire weekend.
The Spot has three different lights; a main spot, a dimmer but wider side light, and a typical red light. The light is operated by a single button, as well as a touch-sensitive section of the casing that enables a “power tap” (both white lights at the same time). When you press the single button the main spot light turns on at full power. A double press activates the dimmer wide light. Finally a long press when turning the light on will enable the red light. All of this is very similar to how my Petzl (and many headlamps work).
Operating the different modes while the lamp was on my head was easy, and I was able to quickly switch back and forth between different lights depending on the situation. When I was just walking around the race village (start/finish) I used the wide light, as it allowed me to see more of my surroundings as I was walking. As soon as I started running, I engaged the high powered spot, and it illuminated the trail beautifully.
At one point in the middle of the night I was getting very tired of staring at a white light, so I switched over to the red light while I ran along a long flat road. The light was nice and soothing, and easy on the eyes at that point in the morning. I certainly couldn’t do that on rugged trail, but for a dark road, it worked pretty well.
All of the lights can be dimmed with a long press. The main spot can be brought down to 4 lumens, and the wider light can go from 40 lumens down to 5 lumens. These all provide a wide range of flexibility for what ever situation you’re facing. There are also modes for locking the single button so it can’t accidentally be pressed in your bag, and for a strobe mode.
Wearing the Spot was comfortable and it never caused me any issues in regards to fit. I usually wear a hat or a wrap when using a headlamp, so I can’t comment on how comfortable it is against a bare forehead. The light can also be used while attached to backpacks and waist straps. The Spot can tilt to many different angles, and the mechanism for doing this tilt feels much stronger than on the Tikka+.
After spending an entire night with the Spot I have to admit that I’m incredibly impressed. MSRP is currently $40, which is an amazing price for a light of this quality. I really liked my Tikka+, but I think Black Diamond may have won me over with this incredible little device.