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.
Black Diamond Ion Review
Cons: Below average lighting
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Ion
|Price||$24.95 at Amazon||$89.00 at Amazon||$39.99 at Amazon||$39.95 at REI|
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|$29.18 at Amazon|
|Pros||Light, small, relatively inexpensive, good battery life||Bright wide beam, good battery life, durable design, rechargeable||Excellent trail finding and close proximity beam, waterproof, above average battery life||Excellent spot light capability, wide evenly lit flood beam, above average in most ways||Excellent brightness and beam control, often available online at discount|
|Cons||Below average lighting||Expensive, 18650 Li-ion battery is not included, heavier than average||More expensive, heavier than average, claimed battery life is very misleading||Below average battery life, claimed battery life is wildly misleading, single button hard to use, lame waterproofing||Average 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 Tikkina||An impressive, powerful light in a small package that won't disappoint if you can get past the price||A durable light that will last for years with a bright high-quality beam, slightly higher in cost and weight||A quality, durable, and bright light that hits the sweet spot for most people's needs, despite dubious marketing claims||Previously 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%)|
|Close Proximity (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|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|
|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.
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.
The Ion offers below average close proximity lighting. This is an area where the e+LITE stands out, and is a much better choice.
The Ion is above average on battery life earning a 6 of 10 score.
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.
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