Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Storm Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:  $50 List | $37.49 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Excellent trail finding and close proximity beam, waterproof, above average battery life
Cons:  More expensive, heavier than average, claimed battery life is very misleading
Bottom line:  A durable light that will last for years with a bright high-quality beam, slightly higher in cost and weight
Editors' Rating:   
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Measured Beam Distance:  91 m
Claimed Distance:  85 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI):  5 hrs
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Storm is a robust and full-featured headlamp that offers a bright and wide beam, a fully waterproof enclosure, and excellent optics for both close proximity flood and long-distance spot lighting. It is our testers favorite Black Diamond headlamp, winner of our Editors' Choice award, and a headlamp we would readily recommend to friend. It uses 4 AAA alkaline batteries, but it will readily accept rechargeables and we found lighting performance was even better using the well regarded Panasonic Eneloop AAA NiMH batteries.

The Storm is rated IPX67, which means it is both waterproof to 1-meter submersion for 30 minutes, and dustproof. Stargazers and hunters will appreciate three excellent color LED lights: red, green, and blue. The Storm weighs in at a reasonable 4.0 ounces (112g), placing it just a bit higher than average, owing to its 4 AAA batteries (most use only 3). But, that extra battery pays dividends in terms of better battery life, with the Storm offering 5 hours in high mode and 42 hours in low, dramatically better than the $10 lower cost Black Diamond Spot. The four AAA battery configuration also simplfiies use with rechargeables, since many chargers require an even number of batteries.

The bottom line is that if you decide to buy the Storm, know that it is a choice we recommend and that you will not regret; we think it is well worth the higher price over strong alternatives like the $20 list Petzl Tikkina or the $40 list BD Spot.



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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
RJ Spurrier

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 29, 2018

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The Black Diamond Storm is the beefiest compact light in the BD line. It offers better performance in lighting and in battery life, is much more waterproof than the others, and built to last with stronger and more durable plastic.

Performance Comparison


With improved optics over prior versions, the Storm is now a light that our testers feel has great all-around performance, and should no longer be thought of as merely a wet-weather person's headlamp like we pidgeon-holed older versions. The Storm today is solid, strong, and a terrific choice for use backcountry, or just around the house. It will last for years, and (almost) never disappoint. The details are revealed below…


Trail Finding


The score of 9 of 10 for trail finding is top notch, placing the Storm tied for first place with two headlamps that cost nearly twice as much, the $89 Zebralight H600w Mk IV and the $80 Fenix HP25R.


Beam Distance Photos

Black Diamond Storm
Zebralight H600w Mk IV

The comparison photo above shows the similarity in the beam performance of the Storm (left) and the Zebralight (right). Both are amazing, and the Zebralight is better, but not by much.

Close Proximity


A score of 8 of 10 for close proximity is outstanding and reflects its evenly lit wide beam.


Battery Life


The ANSI measured high mode runtime of 5 hours is excellent when compared to other high-performance lights that offer a huge throw of light. Low mode battery life is also better than average at 42 hours. BD makes advertising claims that their battery life numbers are >4 times better than we measured, but as we explain in our article, Why Headlamp Claims are Deceptive.



Weight


At 112 grams, the Storm is 26% heavier than the Spot (89 grams) and just a little lighter than the Zebralight (127 grams). The durable case, extra AAA battery, and waterproof structure make the Storm a bit heavier than average compact headlamps. But not dramatically so.


Ease of Use


The Storm scored a 6 of 10 for ease of use which deserves a bit of explanation. The Storm is actually quite easy to use for basic functions (on/off, switching between the major modes). Where it gets tricky is accessing advanced features, and it has a lot of advanced features, which are all controlled from the same one button UI. So, trying to figure out what sequence of single, double, triple click and press-to-hold for X seconds actions will switch the headlamp from Locked into Unlocked, versus White light vs Red, or even dimming, is surprisingly complex to master. We would prefer that we don't need to bring a print-out of the manual to understand a headlamp, but the Storm, and other lights from BD like the Spot, seem to require constant access to a manual to make use of the advanced functionality.


The Storm also includes a feature that Black Diamond calls PowerTap Technology. The PowerTap feature allows the user to make beam adjustments with a pretty casual bump of the fingertip to the right side of the light housing. In theory, this makes it really easy to bump up brightness whenever you need it. In actual application, our testers found PowerTap novel, but not super intuitive. We don't feel this offers a breakthrough in usability, and it wasn't a feature we missed when we switched to other headlamps.

Best Applications


This is one of the few headlamps to be rated IPX67 (dustproof and waterproof to 1m). We found this claim to be legitimate. The Storm features a sealed design, and the battery compartment has a nice rubber or silicone gasket to lock out both water and dust.

Value


At $50, this is a premium priced headlamp, but we still consider it a good value. The Spot performed close to the Storm for $10 less but did not match the Storm. We consider the Storm's additional performance functionality to be beneficial, and we consider the Storm to offer better bang for the buck than the Spot.


Conclusion


The Storm scored #2 in our overall ranking, coming near the performance of the much more expensive $89 Zebralight. The Black Diamond Spot landed 3rd place, performed slightly worse, is lighter, and $10 less expensive. The Storm is one of the best headlamps available today, a light our testers loved, and it is one that will serve you well for years to come if you choose to buy it.

RJ Spurrier

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

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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