The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Black Diamond Sprinter Review

Our top pick for runners
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $80 List | $61.42 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, rechargeable, bright for such a diffuse beam, waterproof to 1m
Cons:  Expensive, no spotlight feature, short battery life
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By RJ Spurrier ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2018
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#21 of 27
  • Trail Finding - 35% 3
  • Close Proximity - 20% 6
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Sprinter is our Top Pick award for Runners, due to its thoughtful design and performance for nighttime running or walking in an urban or suburban environment. It is rechargeable, which is great for recurring use like night running, and offers a bright, evenly lit beam, that lights up the path, making it easy to see potholes, cracks, steps, or rocks ahead. It is well constructed, durable, and waterproof to 1 meter. The headband includes a top band, and the battery pack is in the back, balancing the weight between front and back, all of which helps make it comfortable and stable while running. One button operation is simple, even with gloves on, and offers the ability to easily dim the light when desired. For added safety, a flashing row of red taillights is provided on the back battery pack, which helps assure cars can see you on your run. While battery life is too short to be ideal for backcountry use, the Sprinter can serve amiably around the house as a general purpose light when needed. We would not pick this light as a general purpose headlamp, but there is nothing better for nighttime running or hiking in an urban environment.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award  
Price $61.42 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$89.00 at Amazon$36.73 at REI
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$39.95 at REI
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$43.12 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, rechargeable, bright for such a diffuse beam, waterproof to 1mBright 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 Expensive, no spotlight feature, short battery lifeExpensive, 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 Our top pick for runnersAn 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 Sprinter Zebralight H600w Mk IV Black Diamond Storm Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7
Trail Finding (35%)
10
0
3
10
0
9
10
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9
10
0
8
10
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8
Close Proximity (20%)
10
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6
10
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7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Battery Life (15%)
10
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6
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9
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6
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4
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5
Weight (15%)
10
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5
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4
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5
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6
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4
Ease Of Use (15%)
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8
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9
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6
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6
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8
Specs Black Diamond... Zebralight H600w... Black Diamond Storm Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7
Measured Beam Distance 46 m 121 m 91 m 94 m 112 m
Claimed Distance 50 m Not specified 85 m 80 m 119 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI) 3.2 hrs 3.1 hrs 5 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.1 hrs
Claimed High Mode Run-time 4 hrs 2.9 hrs 40 hrs 30 hrs 1.5 hrs
Measured Low Mode Run-time 168 hrs 232 hrs 42 hrs 9.7 hrs 25 hrs
Claimed Low Mode Run-time 42 hrs 203 hrs 120 hrs 175 hrs 70 hrs
Measured Weight 3.8 oz, 107 g 4.5 oz, 127 g 4 oz, 112 g 3.1 oz, 89 g 4.5 oz, 127 g
Battery Type Rechargeable lithium polymer 18650 rechargeable Li-ion 4 AAA 3 AAA 3 AAA
Water Resistance IPX4 splash proof IPX8 waterproof to 2 meters, 30 minutes IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim) water resistant
Manuf Claimed Lumens 200 lumens 1400 lumens 350 lumens 300 lumens 285 lumens
Beam Type flood flood flood/spot flood/spot flood/spot
Red Light no 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


This is perhaps the most purpose-built lamp on the market. Its feature-set and design are targeted at a very narrow niche. While other lamps serve similarly narrow fields, the Sprinter is unabashedly targeted. It is almost like someone at Black Diamond wanted this product for him or herself and set out to make it. Nighttime runners win.

Performance Comparison


The Black Diamond Sprinter is one of the most specialized products in our test. The battery life is too short for most general purpose applications  but the lightweight  secure attachment  and rear-facing red light make it perfect for daily dawn and dusk road and trail running.
The Black Diamond Sprinter is one of the most specialized products in our test. The battery life is too short for most general purpose applications, but the lightweight, secure attachment, and rear-facing red light make it perfect for daily dawn and dusk road and trail running.

Trail Finding


While the Sprinter is far from the brightest light in our test, scoring just 3 of 10, the immaculate lensing and bounce-free headband make for a package that actually finds the kinds of trails used for running quite readily.


We measured the beam distance at 46m, which is more than enough for running most terrain, and certainly enough for running on roads, where the Sprinter is most at home. The wide even beam of the Sprinter doesn't shine as far as the Editors' Choice-winning BD Spot as you can see in the beam comparison photos below, but its shines plenty far for trail running, and its unique design is far superior for running than the Spot.

Beam Distance Photos
Beam photo of Black Diamond Sprinter
Beam photo of Black Diamond Spot

Black Diamond Sprinter
Black Diamond Spot

Also, feel free to play with our beam comparison tool. At that link, you can compare distance, spot, flood, and battery life charts for any two of the lights we tested. As you narrow down your choices, this tool is perhaps one of the most useful things you can use. We can write all we want, but the visual feedback in that tool is invaluable.

Close Proximity


If you use this light for its intended purpose of urban running, you will have little need for close proximity performance. However, should you need to use it for more mundane tasks, rest assured that the gently focused beam and even lighting optics will serve you well. With a score of 6 out of 10, the Sprinter is above average, even though it is optimized for running.


Battery Life


The Sprinter provides 3.2 hours of battery life in high mode, which is more than enough for most night time runners, except those doing 24 hour ultra-distance running.


The Sprinter lithium-ion battery pack is shown above. It includes a button so you can turn off the rear taillight  and is sealed making it exceptionally waterproof.
The Sprinter lithium-ion battery pack is shown above. It includes a button so you can turn off the rear taillight, and is sealed making it exceptionally waterproof.

Weight


The Sprinter, at 3.8 ounces or 107 grams, is about middle of the pack in terms of weight. But, the balanced design, placing the battery pack in the back, and the light in the front, makes that weight seem light and comfortable on the head. While this design makes it a bit more bulky in a drawer, it keeps the mass from bouncing around as much when in use. Additionally, the light can be equipped with an optional top strap, which we liked, that further stabilizes the light in bouncy running.


Ease of Use


The Sprinter comes from Black Diamond all charged up and ready to go and is one of the easiest to use headlamps. Basic operation is simple, using a nice tactile button which can be easily used even with gloves on. Advanced features like dimming are intuitive (press and hold the button). The rear light turns on and off with the main switch, or can be controlled with its own button to switch between three modes or turn it off. Recharging is easy using a standard micro USB cord.


Best Applications


Enumerating the applications of this light is easy. It is best used for early morning and evening street running or walking. It is absolutely purpose built for exactly these situations.

Value


This lamp is not inexpensive, nor is it versatile. If you need and can appreciate a light like this for running, you'll know it. If you are on the fence, consider a more versatile, general purpose light. The Petzl Tikkina has far better battery life than the Sprinter and sends a beam 16 meters further down the trail for a price that is 75% lower — but the Tikkina is no match for the Spinter's running performance.


Conclusion


The Sprinter won our Top Pick Award for Runners.

This headlamp is optimized for use running or walking after dark on trails or in an urban environment. It is rechargeable, simplifying daily use in an earth-friendly manner, and offers a front light and a rear-facing flashing red light.

The Black Diamond Sprinter  winner of our Top Pick for Runners award.
The Black Diamond Sprinter, winner of our Top Pick for Runners award.

The Black Diamond Sprinter offers a great combination of features for the urban runner or walker. It's light, relatively bright (for such a diffuse beam), waterproof, and rechargeable.


RJ Spurrier