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Black Diamond Astro Review

Offers great close proximity lighting at a budget price
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Price:  $20 List | $19.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, small size, excellent flood beam, great price
Cons:  Too weak a beam for trail finding or distance viewing
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By RJ Spurrier ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2018
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 27
  • Trail Finding - 35% 3
  • Close Proximity - 20% 7
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 9

Our Verdict

If weight and price are key considerations for you, then the Black Diamond Astro may be just the ticket. It's not bright for distance viewing, but has a low price and great battery life. If this doesn't make it into your pack, consider one for the glove box of your car, or your thingy drawer at home. It stands just behind the similarly priced and Best Buy winning Petzl Tikkina. The Tikkina is a much better trail finding headlamp and is brighter. The Astro has a better close proximity beam. Both offer excellent battery life, are quality lights, and sell for less than $20. For those looking for an inexpensive lamp to primarily provide close proximity flood lighting, the Astro is an ideal choice.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $19.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$89.00 at Amazon$43.74 at Amazon$39.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$43.12 at Amazon
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Star Rating
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Pros Lightweight, small size, excellent flood beam, great priceBright wide beam, good battery life, durable design, rechargeableExcellent trail finding and close proximity beam, waterproof, above average battery lifeExcellent spot light capability, wide evenly lit flood beam, above average in most waysExcellent brightness and beam control, often available online at discount
Cons Too weak a beam for trail finding or distance viewingExpensive, 18650 Li-ion battery is not included, heavier than averageMore expensive, heavier than average, claimed battery life is very misleadingBelow average battery life, claimed battery life is wildly misleading, single button hard to use, lame waterproofingAverage battery life, heavier and bulkier than most
Bottom Line Offers great close proximity lighting at a budget priceAn impressive, powerful light in a small package that won't disappoint if you can get past the priceA durable light that will last for years with a bright high-quality beam, slightly higher in cost and weightA quality, durable, and bright light that hits the sweet spot for most people's needs, despite dubious marketing claimsPreviously one of our favorites, but hasn't kept pace with competitor's innovations
Rating Categories Black Diamond Astro Zebralight H600w Mk IV Black Diamond Storm Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7
Trail Finding (35%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Close Proximity (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Battery Life (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
5
Weight (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
4
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Specs Black Diamond Astro Zebralight H600w... Black Diamond Storm Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7
Measured Beam Distance 38 m 121 m 91 m 94 m 112 m
Claimed Distance 35 m Not specified 85 m 80 m 119 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI) 4.8 hrs 3.1 hrs 5 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.1 hrs
Claimed High Mode Run-time 20 hrs 2.9 hrs 40 hrs 30 hrs 1.5 hrs
Measured Low Mode Run-time 95 hrs 232 hrs 42 hrs 9.7 hrs 25 hrs
Claimed Low Mode Run-time 80 hrs 203 hrs 120 hrs 175 hrs 70 hrs
Measured Weight 3 oz, 86 g 4.5 oz, 127 g 4 oz, 112 g 3.1 oz, 89 g 4.5 oz, 127 g
Battery Type 3 AAA 18650 rechargeable Li-ion 4 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA
Water Resistance IPX4 splash proof IPX8 waterproof to 2 meters, 30 minutes IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim) water resistant
Manuf Claimed Lumens 150 lumens 1400 lumens 350 lumens 300 lumens 285 lumens
Beam Type flood, dimmable flood flood/spot flood/spot flood/spot
Red Light no no yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes yes no
On Switch Lock yes yes (tailcap lockout) yes yes no

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Astro is a high-quality headlamp that is reasonably priced, compact and simple-to-use, yet offers performance for close proximity work that is better than you might expect.

Performance Comparison



Trail Finding


This is not the best trail finding headlamp - it just doesn't have that much umph — and only gets a 3 of 10 score. This is the main advantage of the Best Buy winning Petzl Tikkina (5 of 10 score) as demonstrated by the side-by-side photos below.

Beam Distance Photos
Beam photo of Black Diamond Astro
Beam photo of Petzl Tikkina

Black Diamond Astro
Petzl Tikkina

However, the Tikkina works OK at distance, certainly passable, where the Astro is not a headlamp we recommended for serious nighttime hikes or any situation where a long-distance beam thow is required.


Close Proximity


Close proximity is the Astro's strongest feature. Not only did it score well with an 7 of 10, it scored better than some headlamps that cost 3 times as much. It casts a nicely diffused, wide, evenly lit beam.


Battery Life


The battery life is above average, scoring 6 of 10. It lasted 4.8 hours in high mode, which is only OK for a beam with under-par brightness like the Astro. But, low-mode output lasted 95 hours, an impressive amount (although far outdistanced by the Tikkina's >200 hours).


The Astro uses (3) AAA batteries, which are easy to replace.


Weight


At 3 ounces the Astro is light and small, typical of the lower cost lights. It is not nearly as lightweight as the Petzl e+LITE (1 ounce, 27 grams) but it also costs less, is easier to use, and offers better overall performance.


Ease of Use


The Astro is quite easy to use for basic functionality with a single button that has a nice tactile feedback. It has a nice feature of remembering its last brightness setting, so if you turn it off, it turns back on at the previous level of brightness. It also offers the ability to lock the on switch, which is neat, but we found it a bit tricky to access without referring to the manual since a long button press operates both the dimming feature and the on-switch lock.


The Astro's large single button is easy to use with gloves on.

Best Applications


This could be the ideal headlamp for you for around home and camp. It casts a soft, even light which not only makes it easy to find things, you won't be blinding your fellow campers. If your main use will be close-proximity, the Astro is an excellent choice that will serve you well. It is not the headlamp you want for following a difficult and confusing trail at night or going cross-country.

Value


The Astron is an excellent value at $20 list, and often available for less online. It was a contender for our Best Buy award. But, the Petzl Tikkina beat it out as our Best Buy winner because at the same price it offers a stronger beam, that shines nearly twice as far, and much better battery life.

Conclusion


While this is not quite the Best Buy winner, we recommend the Astro without hesitation for those who are primarily looking for excellent close proximity flood lighting at a reasonable price. It is just so compact, easy-to-use, and exceptional at close proximity applications.


RJ Spurrier