Black Diamond Iota Review
Cons: Below average beam throw, poor battery life, not competitive with general-use lights
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Iota
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|$49.95 at REI|
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|$39.95 at REI|
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|$29 List||$19.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Lightweight, rechargeable, well suited for night time running use||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||Good performance for the price, 94 meter beam throw, easy to use||Super easy to use, inexpensive, solid performance, compact, and reliable|
|Cons||Below average beam throw, poor battery life, not competitive with general-use lights||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 in most ways||Good but not great spot beam for trail finding, slightly below average flood beam optics|
|Bottom Line||A budget alternative for night running use||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||The Yalumi is a good light, at a good price, that provides basic functionality||For $20, the Tikkina offers impressive performance at a great price, that will meet most people's needs|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Iota||Black Diamond Storm||Black Diamond Spot||Yalumi LED 140-Lumen||Petzl Tikkina|
|Trail Finding (35%)|
|Close Proximity (20%)|
|Battery Life (15%)|
|Ease Of Use (15%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Iota||Black Diamond Storm||Black Diamond Spot||Yalumi LED 140-Lumen||Petzl Tikkina|
|Measured Beam Distance||37 m||91 m||94 m||94 m||62 m|
|Claimed Distance||40 m||85 m||80 m||90 m||55 m|
|Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI)||1.8 hrs||5 hrs||2.9 hrs||4.3 hrs||3.5 hrs|
|Claimed High Mode Run-time||2 hrs||40 hrs||30 hrs||Not specified||60 hrs|
|Measured Low Mode Run-time||69 hrs||42 hrs||9.7 hrs||47 hrs||223 hrs|
|Claimed Low Mode Run-time||40 hrs||120 hrs||175 hrs||100 hrs||220 hrs|
|Measured Weight||1.9 oz, 53 g||4 oz, 112 g||3.1 oz, 89 g||2.7 oz, 77 g||2.9 oz, 83 g|
|Battery Type||Rechargeable lithium ion||4 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA||3 AAA|
|Water Resistance||IPX4 splash proof||IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof||Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim)||IPX4 splash proof||IPX4 splash proof|
|Manuf Claimed Lumens||150 lumens||350 lumens||300 lumens||140 lumens||150 lumens|
|Beam Type||flood, dimmable||flood/spot||flood/spot||flood/spot||flood|
|Red Light||no||yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes||yes||yes||no|
|On Switch Lock||yes||yes||yes||no||no|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The BD Iota is a good light for those who love to take regular runs at dusk, dawn, or at night. Its big advantage is that it sells for half the price at $40 of the light you'd really want for running, the Black Diamond Sprinter which costs $80.
The lighting level of the Iota is pretty good when viewed for the special purpose as a runner's headlamp. The beam is wide, evenly lit, and lights up the path ahead sufficiently. While we much prefer the Sprinter's brighter and wider beam (as well as the Sprinter's rear tail light), the Iota is good enough to get the job done on well-defined trails, roads, and paths.
The Iota is pleasantly small and light at only 1.9 ounces or 53g. It is reasonably comfortable to wear when running, although the band is narrower than we'd ideally want to see (much narrower than most other BD headlamps, and it is no match for the stability and comfort offered by the Sprinter's balanced design and supportive top band.
The light's lithium-ion batteries are easily recharged using a micro USB charging cable. Rechargeable batteries are great for a runner's headlamp since it eliminates the hassle and cost of buying replacement batteries.
Battery life is relatively short, at 1.8 hours in our test, which stacks up poorly against most general purpose headlamps but will meet the needs of most runners.
Poor beam distance makes the Iota a compromised solution for general-purpose use, where the ability to switch into spotlight mode is core functionality.
The Iota beam just doesn't stack up well against stronger general-purpose lights like the BD Spot (shown above, right), or even versus the $20 Petzl Tikkina.
No Rear Tail Light for Road Safety
We consider the red safety tail lights on the Sprinter to be a very valuable feature for anyone who runs on the road, a feature that could literally be a lifesaver. While those who run exclusively on dedicated trails may find the red tail lights unnecessary, if you run even part time on the road, or in an urban environment on sidewalks with frequent road crossings, we think the tail light makes the Sprinter well worth the extra $40 over the Iota.
The Iota does a good job at creating the budget light for runners. If you are a runner who frequently runs in the early morning, at sunset, or at night, the Black Diamond Sprinter is the light we recommend and think you'd really want to use. But, the Iota provides good-enough performance at half the price, and so if you are on a tight budget, it just be might be the right solution for you.
— RJ Spurrier