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Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
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- 1 Quad Power LED and 1 Double Power white LED emit up to 250 lumens on max setting
- Power Tap Technology allows fast transitioning between full and dimmed power in order to momentarily increase illumination in distance and proximity
- Red and Green Single Power LEDs for night vision modes have dimming and strobe settings, and activate without cycling through white mode
- Sleek, modern housing uses 4 AAA batteries and three-level power meter shows remaining battery life for 3 seconds after switching on headlamp
- Fully dust- and waterproof with a sealed housing and latch opening (IP67)
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Outfitted with a sealed, waterproof housing and PowerTap Technology, the Black Diamond Storm Headlamp features 250 lumens of power with both red and green night vision modes. It’s Black Diamond’s premier light for climbing, skiing and other outdoor pursuits where bright, compact illumination is paramount. PowerTap Technology allows for quick adjustments between full and dimmed power by simply tapping the side of the housing, and the regulated design ensures constant brightness throughout the life of the batteries.Sleek, modern housing uses 4 AAA batteries and three-level power meter shows remaining battery life for 3 seconds after switching on headlamp..Settings include: full strength in distance and proximity, dimming, strobe, night vision and lock mode..IP67: Waterproof and dust proof—Best for saltwater and extremely wet or dusty environments. Unit is completely sealed and tested to operate up to 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes. Requires no maintenance after submersion..Max Burn Time: [QuadPower LED] 150 H, [SinglePower LED] 80 H,.
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But I have had a change of heart. Not a total change, but a big enough of a shift to go from a two star review to a four star review, and for me to throw out the old drafts out and start a new review. This will be a lengthy write up, but here is my TL;DR:
Overall, this headlamp is good. Better than "okay" but not "great" or "amazing."
Pros: It is very, very bright. It gets good battery life, especially on lower settings. It has a million different settings. It is waterproof, and it is easy to change batteries.
Cons: It might have a lot of features, but it is complicated to navigate to a lot of them using only the one button and the annoying touch surface. The headlamp can be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time (in my experience), and the strap adjustments tend to come loose after long periods of use.
A run down of all the photos I have attached to this review is included at the bottom of this review.
Now, on with the long write up:------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I had my previous headlamp for about ten years before it broke. It was expensive, about $130 ten years ago, but it lasted me a long time, and it did everything I wanted. Functionally, it was perfect. That lamp gave up the ghost after ten years of almost daily use at work. I am a theatrical electrician and rigger, I work in theaters, in the dark, at height. My old headlamp I would wear for 8-10 hours a day, five to 6 days a week. Even though it was ten years old, I would buy another one today if I could get a new one. I tried extensively to repair my old headlamp before looking at new options.
(My old headlamp was a Petzl Myo XP, for those curious)
I did some extensive research, my biggest complaint about my old headlamp was that it was heavy. It was comfortable, but heavy. I was impressed with all the advances in headlamp tech that had taken place over the past ten years. I decided to give the Black Diamond Storm a shot because:
-It was about half the weight of my old headlamp
-It was about half the cost of my old lamp
-It is about 25% brighter than my old lamp
-It is reviewed well by sites like Amazon and The Wirecutter.
-It comes from a company with a good reputation. My old Headlamp was a Petzel, and all of my safety harness gear for work is also made by Petzel, but Black Diamond has been around for the long time and I am not a brand loyalist to that extent.
The reason why I originally went negative with the review was out of frustration. This was a good, bright headlamp ruined because of a couple questionable design choices/sacrifices. Before getting in to what made me change my mind, I will discuss what I still think are the two or three flaws:
-The operation of this light is unnecessarily complicated. I have never used an illumination device (headlamp or flashlight) that has made using it so difficult. I understand that it has a lot of different modes, but even with the charts provided, figuring them all out is unbelievably difficult. On the first day I brought this to work, I got it stuck in red and green mode, and it took myself and another coworker five minutes of messing around with it to get it back to white mode, even while looking at the charts in the manual. Even then, neither of us knew what we had done to get it out of red/green mode, it just happened by accident. I understand that this headlamp has a lot of modes that need to be reached, but the way they do it is really complicated and confusing. I'd rather just cycle through the modes, as annoying as it is.
-The second "button" is also a pain. It's not really a button, it's just a touch surface. I can't use it when I'm wearing work gloves (which is frequently), but even if I'm not wearing gloves it is hit or miss (about 50/50) whether the "press" on the "button" is registered on the first attempt. Why can't they just make it have two regular buttons? I don't know.
Additionally, I was frustrated by the strap and just general comfort of the lamp. The strap would always come loose while I was wearing it which would result in the lamp sliding down my face, not ideal while working. Additionally, while I was first using it, the weight of the headlamp and poor strap/pad design made some pressure points on my forehead.
SO, what made me change my mind, and this review? ---------------------------------------------------------------------
First of all, after a couple days of begrudging use at work (I had no other option) I got used to the basic use of the controls of the headlamp. If you asked me if I could make the lamp strobe in red, I would shrug, I have no idea what combination of presses and holds would do that, but the basic operation (on/off and dimming) are all done with the single top button. I'm content to pretend that the other modes and the horrid side touch target just don't exist. (I attempted to cover the touch target with some tape to prevent it from being accidentally triggered, but it works even with tape covering it, but oddly enough doesn't work when I am wearing work gloves).
Comfort: Again, I had to use this at work because I had no other option, and although the first two or so days of wear were downright painful, I eventually discovered that this headlamp is much more comfortable when worn further up my forehead. What I mean by this: I wore my old headlamp only about 3/4 of an inch above my eyebrows, pretty low down on my forehead, but that was what I was used to. Eventually I discovered that the comfort of this lamp is improved dramatically if you wear it further up your forehead, in my case about 2.5 inches above my eyebrows. I have a Peyton Manning sized forehead so I have lots of space to play around there. Higher up, the pad that rests on your forehead makes much more even contact, and doesn't just sit on two pressure points like it does when lower down.
The fact that the pad sits evenly on my forehead also made the strap stay tight a little better, but it would still come loose eventually. For now, I have remedied this with a paperclip, but it is a hack. I would say that Black Diamond needs to do some rethinking on the strap/clasp/forehead pad part of this product. It is the main weak point of the product.
Full Disclosure, by a strange turn of events, I ended up with a second identical one of these (see photo 16). Having two is convenient because now I can keep one in each of my two different tool kits. I did not intentionally purchase a second one, REI sent me one because of some strange recall on a totally unrelated product to this review.
These are some other positives about this product that I have come across since giving it a second chance: ------------------------------------------
Battery life is much improved from my ten year old headlamp. Water is wet, Right? Well, battery life is just good in general compared to other modern headlamps. I use 4 rechargeable IKEA LADDA 900 Mili-Amp/Hour batteries in both of these lamps/ (see photo 7). I put four freshly charged batteries in, and the batteries lasted 3 work days without a significant drop in brightness. My old lamp which took 3 AA batteries would be starting to dim after a long single day of work.
While talking about batteries, this lamp does come with four conventional Duracell non rechargeable AAA batteries. I have stopped using non-rechargeable batteries in my house and in my gear, but I taped the four batteries from each lamp together and tossed one set of four in to each of my tool kits so that I would have some sort of spare if I really needed it.
The lamp also has a battery indicator, which is cool, I guess. (See Photos 11 & 13)
These headlamps also fit perfectly in the Princeton Tech "stash" headlamp case (See Photo 15).
Other thoughts (Not necessarily positive or negative): ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The packaging is a little frustrating. Very densely and oddly packed. Not a huge deal, but something to be aware of. (See photos 1, 2, and 3)
The user manual is very large and complicated (See photo 17). Lots of information. The lamps also came with a little card that has all the button shortcuts laid out in an only somewhat confusing way (See photo 8) I keep these cards with the headlamps.
This lamp does get a little warmer than my old one. It vents most of the heat out through a heatsink in the battery compartment (see photo 6) but it is not enough heat to cause me any concern.
I have attached a bunch of photos to this review. Since amazon no longer allows annotations of review photos, I will refer to them each by number chronologically as they appear on this review, starting with 1.
Photos 1, 2, and 3 Show different of the somewhat chaotic and interesting packaging.
Photo 4 shows the front of the light and strap.
Photo 5 shows the left side view of the lamp with the battery compartment latch partally undone.
Photo 6 shows the open rear battery compartment while empty, and the heatsink.
Photo 7 shows the battery compartment loaded with 4 AAA sized IKEA LADDA Rechargeable 900MAh batteries
Photo 8 Shows the little cheat card with all the complicated button press combos.
Photo 9 shows the top of the lamp and the one single true button on it.
Photo 10 shows the right side view and the annoying touch pad.
Photo 11 shows the bottom view, battery level indicator, and the somewhat sharp curve of the part that sits on your forehead.
Photo 12 shows the left side view with the battery compartment latch completely closed.
Photo 13 is a closeup of the front of the light.
Photo 14 is a closeup of the two clasps on the strap.
Photo 15 shows the Black Diamond Storm headlamp in the Princeton Tech Stash headlamp case.
Photo 16 shows both of my identical headlamps next to each other. The one I bought from Amazon, and the on REI gave me for free for an unrelated reason as discusses above.
Photo 17 shows the larger instruction manual that is included with the lamp.
Thank you everyone for reading this review. I will do my best to answer any questions in the comments.
As far as battery life, I can't comment on it at this time. I use the best rechargeables I can get and always have a set ready to go. If I notice something worth noting as far as battery life I will update this review as needed.
As far as areas of improvement, I hope that Black Diamond would consider looking at the headband. I use and abuse my tools and equipment more than most. The last two BD lamps that I've had, the headband would get stretched and worn due to grease, oil and sweat as well as constant on and off throughout the day. I tried purchasing replacement headbands but was not able to find them and had to purchase new lamps.
Overall, I'm amazed at this lamp. It's amazing, when you start using one, especially like this, the number of uses you'll find for it. I've included a few pics. I highly recommend.