Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review; Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp


It’s a bit of a standing joke in my house that I am fixated with headlamps…it’s not so much that I am fixated with the lamps it’s more that I am fixated with not running into things, tripping over things and now I can add being run over by a car to that list! Previously I have reviewed the Black Diamond Spot Headlamp and the Fenix 2LD Flashlight

So allow me you present the Black Diamond Sprinter.

From their website:

The urban-inspired Sprinter opens up the dark for those whose running isn’t restricted to daytime hours. This rechargeable streets-to-trails runner’s headlamp features excellent fore-aft balance and a super low profile, which minimizes bouncing and shifting with your stride. A red rear strobe offers safety around cars while a strong, ovalized beam keeps your vision focused on the path ahead”.

  • DoublePower LED with 68 lumens (max setting) projects a strong, ovalized beam optimized for running
  • Red taillight strobe for visibility in urban areas with on/off switch
  • Powered by a lithium polymer rechargeable battery (6-hour charge time)
  • Settings include full strength, dimming and strobe
  • Regulated for constant illumination on max brightness setting
  • Sealed waterproof to 1 m (3.3 ft)

Sounds good right..any questions! Nope ok, thanks then, seeya! Seriously this is one smart headlamp, so let’s translates some of this:

68 Lumens, you know what a lumen is right? Well one lumen is equal to one foot-candle falling on one square foot of area, so 68 is equal to 68 candles, this is not being very illuminating is it, so a picture is worth a 1000 words so here you go:


My garden shed at 20 meters: L-R Petzl Tikka vs. Black Diamond Spot vs. Black Diamond Sprinter

So you get a sense of how bright this thing is. As the description says there are dimmer settings but let’s be honest when your running through the woods in the middle of the night chances are your going to be being chased by like minded lycra and bib wearing folks, not AK47 brandishing, Korean speaking nationals bent on stopping you from escaping to the south with their nuclear secrets…of course if you were you could use this to guide in the rescue chopper! According to the specs the highest light setting is good for up to 50 meters, I think that’s probably a stretch but who is looking that far ahead when they are running, I think that is much more of a “be seen with” than “to see with” feature, that is someone will see the light but you won’t see the someone. Now as best I can tell the constant illumination means that it will not dim but I am guessing that means it will just stop!

Ok now I will focus on the other two big features, the rear light and the charger.

One of the big appeals of this lamp was the rear light, I have lost numerous red clip on blinkies without knowing that they have fallen off and the fact that this is built in had some appeal, you can turn it off independently of the front so if you don’t want to be followed or are not running where there is traffic then you won’t need it, I have yet to do a distance test, my yard is about 40m wide (it’s wider than deeper) and it’s works fine within those constraints, I am guessing that there is probably another 10 meters of range on that.

The real downside of all this power is that the battery life on max brightness is only 5 hours, on medium it is 10 hours and on low 64 hours.

imageAnd so onto the charger. In this picture you can see all the bits that come in the box, and as you can see the charger is rated for international use, from top to bottom, USA, EU, UK the forth I don’t know I have never been anywhere to use this…answers on a postcard. The charger takes 5 hours to fully juice it up and it plugs into the bottom of the red blinkie, I was a bit worried about those connections being exposed to the elements but this does haves an IPX Rating of 7 which means it is good for up to 30 minutes submersed in 1 meter of water, so let's be honest your running in the wrong weather if you need to rely on that!  But with one eye on the environment if you’re not having to throw batteries into the landfill every week that’s a good thing in my mind.

The last thing is that this lamp comes with an over the head band which is a good thing as it is not lightest lamp in the shop weighing in at 100g or 3.5oz, that’s twice the weight of the Spot which comes without the rear lamp. Comfortwise it’s fine, it’s easily adjustable, you can wear it with a beanie, visor or a bare head without issue. It’s well balanced and doesn’t slip and slide even on the shiniest of heads a’la mine! It comes in a lime/black or red/black color coding.

So conclusion time. Well I am really torn, I really like the illumination power and I am struggling to reconcile the photo above, my  2009 Spot is rated at 47 Lumens (the 2011 model is 75 max Lumens) and should be a lot brighter? So I am going to redo the photo test with new batteries in the Spot and repost it, I am in Las Vegas as I write this so that’s probably not the best environment for a dark test so I will wait till I get to Zion this week! I really like the fact that there is a bright red blinkie at the back and that it is rechargeable it is also a bonus, eventually this will pay for itself (approx 29 sets of 3 AAA batteries would be the break even point) of course you could but rechargeable AAA batteries I suppose!

This would seem like a good time to mention the price, $79.95, I have seen it on line for as low as $70.00 + S/H.

But for actual usage I see two potential arenas for my own use; running the roads early morning/late night or during an ultra at night. Due to battery life this, in my opinion, self selects out of the second group and it’s unlikely for most people that they will be putting in 5 hour+ runs before breakfast or after dinner. The perfect scenario I see is keeping the charger base plugged in next to your Garmin so you just walk in the house and plug it into the charger for the next run, it’s very much rinse and repeat, is low maintenance and is good to go every time, when you look back at BDs own description they call it “urban inspired” so it does all make some sense. Personally for the longer night time runs through the woods I will be taking my Spot and a set of extra batteries.

This headlamp was purchased from my good friends at Wilderness Running Company, (I do actually buy some of my kit) if you would like to pick one up from them don’t forget to use the Quad10 coupon code for 10% off and free shipping, you can also get a 2011 Spot headlamp from WRC, the same coupon code will work, which has the bargain price of $40.00!


  1. I don't know much about the differences with headlamps. I have the Petzl TIKKA XP, had it since 2007 and it done a great job so far. Do you wear them around your head? I wear mine around my waist, because I find the lamp to slide on my forehead!

  2. Good review - I'm leaning towards the Icon, but it's even heavier than the Sprinter, so...

  3. Good post, thinking of picking a headlamp up.

  4. I was wondering what the "urban inspired" was all about. Great review!

  5. Thanks for the review... going to need better lighting than I currently have.

  6. The fourth powerpoint option is for Australia! Awesome! =]


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