When I was growing up, we always used battery-powered lanterns around camp at night, and so that always seemed the natural choice to me.
I always thought the idea of a head lamp was a little silly—I’m not going to be underground mining coal or anything.
But after hearing others swear by them for years, I finally gave them a shot, and I’m never going back.
It’s remarkable how much better life is having your hands free at night, and having light directed exactly where you are looking.
It especially helps to have a really powerful head lamp that makes it easy to see well at night.
It's one of the best headlamps on the market today but it doesn't cost much more than the bargain bin headlamps you find in the checkout aisle at Lowe's or Home Depot.
The Black Diamond Storm offers a very attractive package. There is a lot to love about the Storm, and it’s amazing how many features they were able to cram into this little piece of gear.
One of the major features boasted by the Storm is its upper-limit illumination of 350 lumens.
Even in pitch-black nights with no moon, if you point this thing in an area on full-blast, it feels like it is daytime where you are looking.
This is really helpful if you’re trying to do something complicated like repair gear or find a trail, and it’s nice to have the peace of mind knowing that you can spot all the little things on the ground that might poke a hole in your tent floor when you’re setting up at night.
I typically try to avoid hiking on trails at night (especially unfamiliar trails). But if I’ve gotta do it to make it to the next campsite, I want to make sure I can see every rock, twig, and critter on the path.
Especially for these conditions, it’s worth it to me to opt for the model with a higher light output.
And the storm certainly doesn’t disappoint. The 350 lumens rating is considerably higher than the peak output of many other comparably-priced models like the Petzl Tikka, or even the older version of the Storm, which only go up to 200 and 250 lumens, respectively.
Given that the Storm cranks out so much more light at the high end, it’s worth it to pay the extra money.
The Storm isn’t just a one-trick pony.
Although its high max illumination is a major draw, it can do a lot more. Like many other lamps, it offers high and low-illumination settings that are relatively easy to cycle through.
One nice little thing about the Storm is its brightness memory feature.
If you’re on a particular setting (say, low-end), and it’s there for a while, the lamp will simply turn off the next time you press the button.
You don’t need to cycle through all of the other settings to get it to turn off.
And the lamp “remembers” what setting you left it on, so if you turned it off on the highest setting, it will revert back to that setting when you turn it back on. (Though this can be a little annoying if you turned it off on the high setting but wanted to turn it on and go straight to the low-power setting. But that’s really only a minor inconvenience.)
The Storm also has two directionality settings: one is a precise “spotlight” beam, and the other is a broader beam that includes some peripheral lighting.
This can be nice to shift between depending on what you’re doing. For example, walking on a trail at night calls for a bright narrow beam, but sorting gear in the tent is aided by the peripheral lighting.
Though I mostly cycle through the brighter outputs of the white light when walking around outside and the softer light when in my tent, it’s nice to have more options.
The Storm comes will three additional non-white colors: red, green, and blue.
These help to see in different nighttime conditions, are less disturbing to other campers, and it seems to me that they help cut down on how strongly the light attracts moths at night.
The colors also have a strobe setting in case you want to attract attention or signal your location to others (maybe if you’re on a bike or walking on a busy road at night, for example).
Another really great feature that the Storm brings to the table is its waterproofing.
After all, people with this lamp aren’t typically sitting around the house reading books (though you could definitely do that as well!)
I typically use it on extended backpacking trips in the backcountry so it’s inevitable that I’m going to encounter some rain at some point.
It would really suck to have your lamp short-circuit when you’re trying to set up camp at night, and there’s only so much protection you can get from shoving your lamp under the hood of your rain jacket.
So it’s nice having the reassurance that this little guy won’t fail on me from a little rain.
It’s rated at IPX67 waterproofing, which means that it should be able to survive being fully submerged under 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
It’s also dustproof too, in case you are trekking in the desert or near beaches.
Even though the lamp needs 4 AAA batteries to operate and has several high-tech components built in, it’s surprisingly compact.
When I was a kid, I remember my mom made me wear a super bulky head lamp when I’d ride my bike at night. This thing took up the entire front of my head, and barely gave off any light.
The Black Diamond Storm, in contrast, comes in a small, compact package while giving off very intense light.
Despite the high-end light output and fancy electronics, the lamp is surprisingly light.
It weighs just 3.9 oz with the batteries installed, and so you aren’t going to really save any noticeable weight in your pack by opting for a less powerful alternative.
One last little feature that’s a nice add-on is the battery indicator, which shows you how much juice is left.
No one is a fan of the surprise darkness that results from lamp batteries dying, and so it’s nice to know about how long you have until you’ll need to replace the batteries.
While there’s a lot to love here, there are a few places where Black Diamond can improve on future versions of the Storm.
Requires 4 AAA batteries to run, unlike some of the 3 AAA-powered competitors.
So you’ll need to buy extra batteries and carry around 4 replacements with you.
This also contributes a little bit to the weight of the lamp (almost 4 oz compared to 3 oz of some competitors).
But the reason this lamp needs more batteries is so it can crank out really bright light. And the batteries last a long time (22 hrs on high output setting, 160 hrs on low output).
So, since a single AAA battery isn’t all that heavy or bulky, this isn’t a real big downside.
One thing that would be a nice add-on from Black Diamond would be a rechargeable battery feature, similar to what Petzl offers through its Core Battery pack.
This would cut down on waste from disposable batteries, and would let users recharge the battery on the trail using a battery pack or solar charger.
It’s possible to buy rechargeable AAA batteries to accomplish the same result, but that costs extra money if you don't already own one. It’s a small gripe, but something to consider.
Many users of the Storm complain that this head lamp takes a little while to fully figure out, since it has so many features to cycle through.
It did take me some practice getting the hang of things, but if you try it out a bit a home, it shouldn’t be that difficult to manage in the field.
Another minor complaint is the design of the head strap.
There is a little piece of plastic that’s on the inside of the stretchy band material, and this can get a little uncomfortable rubbing against your head after long periods of use.
If you wear a bandanna underneath, you can minimize this problem, but that’s not a solution that will work for everyone.
Overall, the Storm is an excellent head lamp from Black Diamond that offers power and versatility in a compact package.
It’s hard to get more bang for your buck in the market right now, and there are good reasons why Black Diamond is one of the leading head lamp manufacturers.
If you’re looking for a high-end product at an affordable price, this is the lamp for you.