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.
Black Diamond Astro Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightweight, small size, excellent flood beam, great price
Cons: Too weak a beam for trail finding or distance viewing
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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