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Black Diamond Ion Review

A good quality & lightweight product, but wedged in between the ultralight e+LITE, and the better Tikkina
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Price:  $25 List
Pros:  Light, small, relatively inexpensive, good battery life
Cons:  Below average lighting
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By RJ Spurrier ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2018
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49
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#23 of 27
  • Trail Finding - 35% 3
  • Close Proximity - 20% 4
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The first version of the Black Diamond Ion was the first micro headlamp we ever used. At the time, it was hard to believe a light could be so tiny and still cast a decent beam. We immediately bought one and took it everywhere we went — even climbing El Capitan-in-a-day (as a just-in-case item). We like the safety advantage provided by packing a micro headlamp in case something goes wrong — truly micro equipment like the latest crop of tiny headlamps never get in the way, and are sure to be appreciated in an emergency. The latest version of the Ion is almost twice as large as the first. This additional bulk increases basically all of its performance attributes. However, the additional performance is not enough to edge out our Top Pick Petzl e+LITE for ultralight applications.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Black Diamond Ion
Awards  Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $25 List$89.00 at Amazon$36.73 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$39.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$43.12 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light, small, relatively inexpensive, good battery lifeBright 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 Below average lightingExpensive, 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 A good quality & lightweight product, but wedged in between the ultralight e+LITE, and the better TikkinaAn 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 Ion 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
4
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
8
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
4
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Specs Black Diamond Ion Zebralight H600w... Black Diamond Storm Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7
Measured Beam Distance 44 m 121 m 91 m 94 m 112 m
Claimed Distance 38 m Not specified 85 m 80 m 119 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI) 7.4 hrs 3.1 hrs 5 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.1 hrs
Claimed High Mode Run-time 6 hrs 2.9 hrs 40 hrs 30 hrs 1.5 hrs
Measured Low Mode Run-time 115 hrs 232 hrs 42 hrs 9.7 hrs 25 hrs
Claimed Low Mode Run-time 180 hrs 203 hrs 120 hrs 175 hrs 70 hrs
Measured Weight 1.9 oz, 53 g 4.5 oz, 127 g 4 oz, 112 g 3.1 oz, 89 g 4.5 oz, 127 g
Battery Type 2 AAA 18650 rechargeable Li-ion 4 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA
Water Resistance IPX8 waterproof beyond one meter IPX8 waterproof to 2 meters, 30 minutes IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim) water resistant
Manuf Claimed Lumens 100 lumens 1400 lumens 350 lumens 300 lumens 285 lumens
Beam Type flood/spot flood flood/spot flood/spot flood/spot
Red Light yes no yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes yes no
On Switch Lock no yes (tailcap lockout) yes yes no

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Black Diamond Ion is a good quality light, that comes in a compact size that is easy to pack, and relatively lightweight.

Performance Comparison



Trail Finding


This light does not have the most impressive score, until you consider how small it is. As compared to larger lights like the Petzl Tikkina, the Ion's trail finding performance is lackluster. But, it trounces on the ultralight Petzl e+LITE.


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

Black Diamond Ion
Petzl Tikkina

Close Proximity


The Ion offers below average close proximity lighting. This is an area where the e+LITE stands out, and is a much better choice.


Battery Life


The Ion is above average on battery life earning a 6 of 10 score.


Weight


The Ion is relatively light at 1.9 ounces or 53 grams, and compact.


Ease of Use


The Ion is fairly easy to use, but only a bit better than average. Basic functionality is easy enough, but we found accessing advanced features switching between red and white lighting easily confused with lock-out and dimming functions, and thus a bit hard to get right even with practice.


Black Diamond Ion in action while hiking in the dark.
Black Diamond Ion in action while hiking in the dark.

Conclusion


The Ion is a good light that comes in a small and lightweight package. Overall, in compact emergency lights, we prefer the Petzl e+LITE because it is just that much smaller, and thus a better choice for those looking for an ultralight solution. If you are on a budget and don't mind a slightly larger headlamp that weighs another ounce, we would go with the Best Buy winning Petzl Tikkina which offers better performance at a lower price, and yet is still pretty darn small and light.


RJ Spurrier