Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Ion Review

A good quality & lightweight product, but wedged in between the ultralight e+LITE, and the better Tikkina
By: RJ Spurrier ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2018
Price:  $25 List  |  $19.94 at Amazon - 20% Off
Pros:  Light, small, relatively inexpensive, good battery life
Cons:  Below average lighting
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

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

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

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.


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.


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

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: May 29, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 50%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

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   May 29, 2018 - 12:43am
enrol451 · Hiker · Hornby Island

Excellent little light. I live in Canada and this can be bought at MEC for under 30 bucks.I have the newest version which I think dropped in price compared to the swipe switch one. Takes two aa batteries which I prefer to three. Actually thought I'd lost this but it turns out my wife had just borrowed it for about six months. Happy to have it back.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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