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