Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Good trail finding and close proximity beam, easy to use, waterproof
Cons: More expensive and heavier than the higher scoring Spot
Best Uses: Bad weather lighting
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). In our tests, we found Storm performed well but not as well as its more versatile sibling and Editors' Choice winner, the Black Diamond ReVolt.
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.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
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.
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.
Compared to the Coast, the Storm beam is not quite as even and wide.
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.
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.
The measured max beam distance of 78m is a tiny bit better than the Spot (71m) and well behind the Coast (131m).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For a cheaper alternative, consider the Black Diamond Spot, $36 or Black Diamond ReVolt at $60. The ReVolt wins our Editors' Choice Award because it had the best beam performance and battery life for a compact headlamp that is also rechargeable.
For those on a tight budget, you may want to consider the Black Diamond Gizmo for $20. If weight and price are key considerations, then the Black Diamond Gizmo may be just the ticket. It's not bright, but has a low price and great battery life.
— Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier
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Most recent review: May 25, 2015
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