A little more than a year ago, when I first reviewed the Black Diamond Spot headlamp, I called it the most affordable option for dedicated trail runners.
Shortly thereafter, I did a comparison review to Petzl’s equivalent lamp, the Tikka XP2. At that time, the XP2 was a stronger high-performance option, thanks to some additional features - such as a battery life indicator, red lamp option, and compatibility with rechargeable batteries - that weren’t available on the Spot, and a brighter lumen output (60 compared to 45). However, since the price point of the Spot was only $40 compared to the XP2’s $55, I concluded that the Spot was a decent value for basic features in a durable compact lamp.
Since then, here’s what Black Diamond has done to the Spot lamp: they added a three-stage battery life indicator and a red bulb mode. They made the lamp compatible with rechargeable batteries. And they boosted the lumen output – not to 60, but to 75.
Sounds great, right? But even better is what they didn’t change. The lamp is just as compact as last year’s Spot, with an overall size and shape that are only slightly different than the previous version. And the retail price remains exactly the same.
(And if you keep reading, it’s even cheaper … but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.)
The new Spot operates much like the previous versions. It has separate bulbs that effectively function as flood lights or a spot beam. The flood setting uses two LEDs that shine at only 16 lumens, which isn’t very helpful on the trail, but it’s useful enough to find your way to the trailhead. The larger triple-power LED is the real powerhouse of the lamp, producing a strong beam that burns for 50 hours on the high setting. On previous versions of this lamp, I felt that the spotlight beam shone almost too narrowly to see the whole trail; on the new version, the beam is noticeably wider – which is great, since the flood setting isn’t a viable trail option. Both the flood and spot modes have two brightness settings that can extend the battery life to a maximum of 200 hours.
Despite the overall performance improvement, there are a couple of subtle changes on this upgraded version that don’t compare quite as favorably to the previous model. The new Spot weighs in at 90g (3.17 oz) with batteries, which is 5g heavier than the old version. Also, the single multi-use button on top of the casing is slightly smaller on the new Spot, which makes it somewhat more difficult to operate with gloved hands.
Finally, as you’d expect from a beam that burns 60% brighter than its predecessor but uses the same battery power, the life span of the batteries on the high setting is noticeably shorter – the old Spot lasted for 100 hours on high, while the new one lasts only 50. However, this drawback is more than offset by the fact that the new Spot is compatible with rechargeable batteries, so if you’re a responsible consumer, the shorter lifespan is a non-factor.
Here’s the bottom line with the Spot: at a price point of $40, it used to be the best value on the market for basic compact lighting needs. Now that it’s packed with improvements and retails for the exact same price, there’s no question that the Spot offers more bang for your buck than any other lamp on the market.
And here’s where the deal gets even better: one of my affiliates, Wilderness Running Company, has a full supply of the 2011 Black Diamond Spot, and offers them at a 10% discount if you use coupon code R&R10 at checkout. If you pick up something else cheap (like maybe the best socks in the world) and bring your total order to $50, you get free shipping on everything. My coupon code applies to your entire order – so go check out the Spot lamp from WRC, and feel free to take a look around the place while you’re there.
*Product provided by Black Diamond
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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