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

Black Diamond Storm Review

A durable light that will last for years with a bright high-quality beam, slightly higher in cost and weight
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $50 List | $36.73 at REI
Compare prices at 3 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
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By RJ Spurrier ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 28, 2018
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 27
  • Trail Finding - 35% 9
  • Close Proximity - 20% 8
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 5
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $36.73 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$89.00 at Amazon$39.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$43.12 at Amazon$74.96 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Excellent trail finding and close proximity beam, waterproof, above average battery lifeBright wide beam, good battery life, durable design, rechargeableExcellent spot light capability, wide evenly lit flood beam, above average in most waysExcellent brightness and beam control, often available online at discountBright, wide spotlight, clear/smooth optics, long battery life, robust design
Cons More expensive, heavier than average, claimed battery life is very misleadingExpensive, 18650 Li-ion battery is not included, heavier than averageBelow average battery life, claimed battery life is wildly misleading, single button hard to use, lame waterproofingAverage battery life, heavier and bulkier than mostHeavy, bulky, and expensive
Bottom Line A durable light that will last for years with a bright high-quality beam, slightly higher in cost and weightAn impressive, powerful light in a small package that won't disappoint if you can get past the priceA 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 innovationsA quality light with strong battery life, but no longer our top pick for epics
Rating Categories Black Diamond Storm Zebralight H600w Mk IV Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7 Black Diamond Icon
Trail Finding (35%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
Close Proximity (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Battery Life (15%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
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4
10
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5
10
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6
Weight (15%)
10
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5
10
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4
10
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6
10
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4
10
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2
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
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6
10
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9
10
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6
10
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8
10
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5
Specs Black Diamond Storm Zebralight H600w... Black Diamond Spot Coast HL7 Black Diamond Icon
Measured Beam Distance 91 m 121 m 94 m 112 m 90 m
Claimed Distance 85 m Not specified 80 m 119 m 100 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI) 5 hrs 3.1 hrs 2.9 hrs 3.1 hrs 12.6 hrs
Claimed High Mode Run-time 40 hrs 2.9 hrs 30 hrs 1.5 hrs 70 hrs
Measured Low Mode Run-time 42 hrs 232 hrs 9.7 hrs 25 hrs 74 hrs
Claimed Low Mode Run-time 120 hrs 203 hrs 175 hrs 70 hrs 175 hrs
Measured Weight 4 oz, 112 g 4.5 oz, 127 g 3.1 oz, 89 g 4.5 oz, 127 g 8.2 oz, 233 g
Battery Type 4 AAA 18650 rechargeable Li-ion 3 AAA 3 AAA 4 AA
Water Resistance IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof IPX8 waterproof to 2 meters, 30 minutes Splash proof (dubious IPX8 claim) water resistant IP67 waterproof to one meter and dustproof
Manuf Claimed Lumens 350 lumens 1400 lumens 300 lumens 285 lumens 500 lumens
Beam Type flood/spot flood flood/spot flood/spot flood/spot, dimmable
Red Light yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes no yes no yes, red/green/blue night-vision modes
On Switch Lock yes yes (tailcap lockout) yes no yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

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
Beam photo of Black Diamond Storm
Beam photo of Zebralight H600w Mk IV

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