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Black Diamond Storm Review


Headlamp

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Price:   Varies from $37 - $50 online  —  Compare at 6 sellers
Pros:  Good trail finding and close proximity beam, easy to use, waterproof
Cons:  More expensive and heavier than the higher scoring Spot
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Overview

The Black Diamond Storm is a robust and full featured headlamp that offers a bright beam, a fully waterproof enclosure, and provides good close proximity and trail scores. It is Black Diamond's most durable headlamp, using 4 AAA batteries (the top-of-the-line Black Diamond Icon uses 4 AA batteries and is considerably heavier).

New 2016 Version Improves the Storm
In the spring of 2016, a new and improved version of the Storm was made available. It is a nice upgrade that includes 56% more light output (now 250 lumens vs. 160), improved optics with a wider, smoother beam pattern, and is now dustproof as well as waterproof.

Scroll down for a more detailed comparison of the new 2016 version vs. the older 2015 version. We are in the process of testing the new Storm now, and will update this review soon with a more full report. In the meantime, the text and ratings still reflect the older 2015 version.

The Storm tied for 4th place in our overall performance scores with its sibling, the Black Diamond Spot. Compared to the Spot, the Storm costs $10 more, is a bit heavier (1 oz, for the addition of one more AAA battery), offers longer battery life, and is waterproof to 1 meter deep. Both the Storm and the Spot include a new Black Diamond feature called PowerTap, which lets you adjust brightness with the tap of a finger. While novel, we didn't feel PowerTap improved usability much. The Storm offers more lumens than the Spot, but we found it offered about the same performance for trail finding as the Spot and the other Editors' Choice winner, the Coast HL7. And, the ability of the Coast to see so much further was a factor in earning it the top score and Editors' Choice award.

In the end, we think there is much to love about the Storm, and if you need a solid, easy to use headlamp that is waterproof, it is your best option. But, if waterproof isn't crucial, we'd recommend you look closely at the Coast HL7 or the Black Diamond ReVolt before you buy.

RELATED: Our complete review of headlamps

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Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings

Review by:
Jediah Porter
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
May 10, 2015

Improved 2016 Storm vs. Older 2015 Version


In the spring of 2016, Black Diamond introduced a new version of the Storm with 56% higher Lumens, now 250 lumens vs. the older's 160 lumens, improved optics, and is now dustproof as well as waterproof. Price remains the same at $50 list. It is still a 4 AAA battery light, a bit easier to change batteries, and about the same weight (we measured the new one at 112 grams vs. the older model at 116g). For those who like to preserve their night vision, or who use the headlamp hunting, the Storm now offers both a red LED and a green LED (many hunters prefer green over red).

The newer Storm is shown on the left below, with the older version on the right.
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge 

We are in the process of testing the new Storm and will update this review once we have final results. In the meantime, here is a summary of our findings:
  • Better Optics — the new Storm offers better optics, with a smoother beam, and a significantly wider spot mode beam. While it sees about the same maximum distance in our tests (we measured the old one at 78 meter max beam distance, and our tests of the new version is about the same at 77 meters). Close proximity lighting is very smooth and evenly lit over a wide area.
  • 56% more Lumens — Black Diamond upped the light output from 160 lumens to 250 lumens. While it sees no further in distance, the new beam is about 2x bigger in diameter and lights a wider area.
  • Improved waterproof rating — the new Storm is rated IPX67, which means it is both waterproof to 1 meter submersion for 30 minutes, and dustproof. The older version was just waterproof (IPX7).
  • Red and Green Night Vision — for star-gazers and hunters, or just to make the batteries last longer, the new Storm includes your choice of red or green night vision LEDs.
  • Less comfy headband — We consider it an improved light in almost every way, except for the headband strap. Unlike the older strap, the new one has one of the buckles facing inward, toward your head, and we found it annoying over time if you have it strapped securely to your head. This seems an unfortunate design flaw, for an otherwise terrific upgrade. On the other hand, they added some nice padding to the front buckle (where the light attaches to the elastic headband), which is more comfortable than the prior version of the Storm. We wish that BD had added similar padding to the front of the Storm's less expensive sibling, the Black Diamond Spot.

The review text that follows is still for the older version of the Storm, written in May 2015. We'll have a full update available soon.

Review of Older 2015 Storm


The Black Diamond Storm is the beefiest compact light in the BD line. It is more waterproof than the others, with stronger plastic. Otherwise it performs well but not spectacularly.

Performance Comparison


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The Black Diamond Storm is a waterproof headlamp with a strong beam.

Trail Finding


The score of 8 of 10 for trail finding is top notch, but this light does not perform quite as well as the Coast HL7 or Black Diamond Spot, which each cost at least $10 less. The comparison photo below shows the similarity in the beam performance of the Spot and Storm.


Beam Distance Photos


Black Diamond StormBlack Diamond Spot

Compared to the Coast, the Storm beam is not quite as even and wide.


Spot-mode Beam Pattern


Black Diamond StormCoast HL7

Close Proximity


A score of 6 of 10 for close proximity is solid, but behind the Spot (7 of 10) and Coast (8 of 10). Below, you can see how the Storm compares to the Spot.


Close-proximity Beam Pattern


Black Diamond StormBlack Diamond Spot

Battery Life


The ANSI measured high mode runtime of 8 hours is less than the ReVolt (10.6 hours) and much better than the Coast (3.4 hours). This battery life vs. beam distance chart shows how the two perform.

Click to enlarge
The Storm uses 3 AAA batteries.

Brightness


The measured max beam distance of 78m is a tiny bit better than the Spot (71m) and well behind the Coast (131m).

Weight


At 120 grams, this is 25% heavier than the Spot (96 grams) and just a little lighter than the Coast (128 grams). The durable case and waterproof structure make the Storm one of the heavier compact headlamps. As compared to the next most durable light in our review, the Nitecore HC50 the Storm is quite a bit lighter, and far more reliable. The Nitecore, however, features an even higher degree of waterproof certification. Its IPX 8 rating means it is waterproof in full submersion for a long time and more than 1m down.

Ease of Use


The Storm scored an 8 of 10 for ease of use. It compares favorably in this category to the Editors' Choice winning ReVolt lamp. In fact, the user interface on these two lights is remarkably similar. How Black Diamond makes the ReVolt and the Spot so similar in size, burning essentially the same batteries, and with the same user interface, but with such differing performance attributes is a bit of a mystery. The company is not shy about splitting their offerings into marginally different products.

Click to enlarge
Black Diamond Storm being put to use around a campfire in the Utah desert.

The 2015 version of the Storm which we tested has the addition of what Black Diamond calls PowerTap Technology. The PowerTap feature allows the user to make rudimentary beam adjustments with a pretty casual bump of the fingertip to the side of the light housing. This feature bridges the gap in ease of beam adjustment between regular button pushes and the automatic adjustment of Petzl's Reactive Lighting technology. In actual application, our testers found PowerTap novel, but not super intuitive. We don't feel this offers a breakthrough in usability, and it wasn't a feature we missed when we switched to other headlamps.

Best Applications


This is one of the few headlamps to be rated IPX 7 (waterproof to 1m). By comparison, the ReVolt is IPX 4 (splash proof). This is essentially the more burly and waterproof version of the Spot.

Value


At $50, this is a premium priced headlamp. Both the Coast and Spot performed better for less. This model is really for the Spot lover who is willing to pay more for the waterproof features.

Conclusion


The Storm scored in the top 5 but did not win an award because of some stiff competition. The Black Diamond Spot performed slightly better, is lighter, and $10 less expensive. The Coast HL7 has a much more powerful beam and is $15 less expensive. If you are going for a burly weatherproof headlamp that shines far, we would suggest the Black Diamond Icon. The Storm is essentially for Spot lovers who want burly water protection.

Other Versions


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Black Diamond Icon
  • Cost- $90
  • Weight with batteries- 8.2oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 82m
  • Measured Run-Time- 9.4 hours
  • Super bright, high performance headlamp

Click to enlarge
Black Diamond ReVolt
  • Cost- $60.00
  • Weight with batteries- 3.7oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 56m
  • Measured Run-time- 10.6 hours
  • Batteries can be charged right in the lamp using a USB adapter
  • Editors' Choice award winner

Click to enlarge
Black Diamond Spot
  • Cost- $40.00
  • Weight with batteries- 3.4oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 71m
  • Measured Run-time- 3.7 hours
  • Excellent mid-range daily use headlamp

Click to enlarge
Black Diamond Gizmo
  • Cost- $20.00
  • Weight with batteries- 2.3oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 15m
  • Measured Run-time- 2 hours
  • Micro headlamp for emergency use
Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: January 15, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.5)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 33%  (1)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 3 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 15, 2016 - 09:10am
bushy · Hiker · Licola, Victoria
I have used a Black Diamond Storm EVERYDAY since mid-2011 so I thought that I should add my two cents in here.

First of all, like "Happy Camper" there, I commend Outdoor Gear Lab for the work they've done here. Champions! I jumped on as I'm up for replacing my BD Storm and I wanted to see what else was available (bit of a difference as I'm in Oz).

Context: I am an outdoor educator. I live directing an outdoor education centre in the middle of the Victorian mountains that has no electricity. I spend many, many nights a year out bush. I have done this for over eight years. I use my head torch every day from dark 'till when I go to sleep. It is my light when there's no sun.

I first owned a BD Icon from 2008-mid-2011. I found them an amazing, if heavy and bulky, torch but at around the two-year mark, something would invariably go wrong, usually between the battery pack and the light and it would cease to function. With a three-year warranty, it was no issue to get a new one off BD. However, early in to my third rotation, a mates' dog ate the lead between the battery pack and the light and I couldn't get it fixed. BD in Oz didn't sell any replacement cords either so I was up for a replacement. After a chat to my local supplier, I shifted to the BD Storm.

So, my BD Storm has been used every single day since then. Even when I lived in town, it was used every day. Shoved into the pocket of my backpack to be my bike light on the commute home, even as my reading lamp in bed because it takes us less room than a normal lamp. Not to mention climbing, hiking and ski-touring in all conditions. It's got the guts to shine a bright beam to help me find lost kids in the bush, or to light up the track late at night, but also in low-light settings for around the campfire, tending to the kids tents at night, or even the red mode for reading in bed (comfy, as unlike the Icon, there's no bulky battery pack at the back).

Why do I need a new one: well, the button on the top is starting to fail and wear through and give me a bit of grief turing it on or off, the hinge that tilts the torch is loose and it often falls forward, the strap is super stretched and I've had to sew it in twice in the last 12 months so that it can still sit on my head, the plastic lens has cracks in it, but that's about it. Doing bloody well for something that's been dropped from heights, hammered by storms and water, thrown about and used, as I've said, at least once a day for four and half years.

Also, 95% of the time, it has been used with rechargeable batteries.

Things I like about the BD Storm:
Absolutely rugged.
Bugger-all moving or breakable parts.
Simple design and ease of use.
Spot is powerful enough to find what you need in a tight spot.
Low-light gets you about camp beautifully.
Red-light for keeping your night vision and reading in bed.
Flash-modes so that cars don't run you over when you're on your bike.
No battery-pack at the back makes it easier to wear on hats, under helmets, lying in bed.
Fits in your pocket like a beauty.
One button.
Button-lock mode.
Lock-tight battery compartment, and in-built "tool" for opening it = waterproof.
Versatility.

Things I don't like about the BD Storm:
Not that great for running, tends to fall forward.
High-beam drains the batteries super quickly.
I only get 4-5 nights of good light out of it.

After looking on here, I reckon I'll go the Storm again. I really like the idea of the BD Revolt, but I need the waterproofing, and the micro-usb slot creates a major weak point. Hey BD, here's how to up the Revolt to the next level: make a battery pack to fit inside the Revolt, and to charge it, you have to open up the interior, that way you can waterproof the exterior. (Like the Led Lenser SEO 7R has).

I hope this helps ya'll.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 6, 2015 - 12:25am
Love the Storm once I got the hang of it. There is a bit of a quick, short learning curve to get used to all it's features.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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May 25, 2015 - 11:04am
 
First I wish to commend your efforts to provide detailed comparisons of headlamp performance including the graphical data by which performance judgments can be made by users for different types of uses. It's a complex subject with no single right answer for everyone.

I just purchased my second BD Storm headlight (the first one suffered a battery leak after several years of use - it never stopped working but there was an ugliness factor created by the leak). Since I had to go thru the decision process again, I was particularly sensitive to your comments on the BD Spot versus Storm. One serious error in your Storm review is the many times you refer to the use of 3 AAA cells when of course the Storm actually uses 4 AAA cells. While the extra cell necessarily adds weight compared to the Spot, your test results show about twice the operating life. For my uses this is a major performance improvement gained at a small weight penalty.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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