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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
Black Diamond Ion
Photo: Abriah Wofford
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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

 
Black Diamond Ion
This Product
Black Diamond Ion
Awards   Best Buy Award   
Price $25 List$29 List$19.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$29.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$19.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Light, small, relatively inexpensive, good battery lifeGood performance for the price, 94 meter beam throw, easy to useSuper easy to use, inexpensive, solid performance, compact, and reliableLightweight, small size, excellent flood lightingLightweight, small size, excellent flood beam, great price
Cons Below average lightingAverage in most waysGood but not great spot beam for trail finding, slightly below average flood beam opticsBelow average spot beam, disappointing low-mode battery lifeToo weak a beam for trail finding or distance viewing
Bottom Line A good quality & lightweight product, but wedged in between the ultralight e+LITE, and the better TikkinaThe Yalumi is a good light, at a good price, that provides basic functionalityFor $20, the Tikkina offers impressive performance at a great price, that will meet most people's needsA good light, but caught in a no-mans land between better lights and cheaper lightsOffers great close proximity lighting at a budget price
Rating Categories Black Diamond Ion Yalumi LED 140-Lumen Petzl Tikkina Black Diamond Cosmo Black Diamond Astro
Trail Finding (35%)
3.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
3.0
Close Proximity (20%)
4.0
5.0
4.0
9.0
7.0
Battery Life (15%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Weight (15%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (15%)
6.0
9.0
10.0
6.0
9.0
Specs Black Diamond Ion Yalumi LED 140-Lumen Petzl Tikkina Black Diamond Cosmo Black Diamond Astro
Measured Beam Distance 44 m 94 m 62 m 66 m 38 m
Claimed Distance 38 m 90 m 55 m 65 m 35 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI) 7.4 hrs 4.3 hrs 3.5 hrs 3.9 hrs 4.8 hrs
Claimed High Mode Run-time 6 hrs Not specified 60 hrs 45 hrs 20 hrs
Measured Low Mode Run-time 115 hrs 47 hrs 223 hrs 39 hrs 95 hrs
Claimed Low Mode Run-time 180 hrs 100 hrs 220 hrs 180 hrs 80 hrs
Measured Weight 1.9 oz, 53 g 2.7 oz, 77 g 2.9 oz, 83 g 3 oz, 86 g 3 oz, 86 g
Battery Type 2 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA
Water Resistance IPX8 waterproof beyond one meter IPX4 splash proof IPX4 splash proof IPX8 waterproof beyond one meter IPX4 splash proof
Manuf Claimed Lumens 100 lumens 140 lumens 150 lumens 200 lumens 150 lumens
Beam Type flood/spot flood/spot flood flood/spot, dimmable flood, dimmable
Red Light yes yes no yes no
On Switch Lock no no no yes yes

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


Photo: Abriah Wofford

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.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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