Weight: 100g (including batteries)
Headtorches have improved in leaps and bounds in the last few years and now come with an array of different light settings and features. I’ve been testing Black Diamond’s updated ReVolt on my weekly night runs, a couple of short night walks and an impromtu hill descent as darkness fell.
Having been used to a basic Lenser headtorch with one light and two options for adjusting the brightness and field, I was a bit flummoxed by the options on the ReVolt. It features a main triple-power LED which comes on when you click the power button on the top once. At this point the three-level power monitor will also briefly light up – green for over 50% battery power, yellow for 25-50%, and red for below 25% – a very useful feature. A clip at the side makes the battery compartment easily accessible. The torch is supplied with Black Diamond’s own rechargeable AAA NiMH batteries and these are the only ones it will recharge. It does have the very useful feature of being able to take standard AAA alkaline batteries so I’d recommend packing a set in your pack as backup. I like the ability to recharge using a USB cable so there is no need to take a dedicated charger on longer trips.
The brightness on the main light is easily adjusted, just keep the top button depressed when you turn it on and it will cycle through the brightness levels. The torch will “remember” the brightness level you choose and always turn it back on at that level – I’ve yet to decide whether this is truly useful as conditions are always different from night to night so I tend to be adjusting the brightness level anyway. There is a useful feature that to quickly return to full brightness, using the additional double-power LED as well, you can just tap the right side of the torch. You can change between the brighter LED and the smaller LED by pressing the top button.
The red night vision mode is activated by first turning off the torch and then holding down the button for 2 seconds. This is surprisingly bright and can be used perfectly well on its dimmest setting for adequately lighting a tent and saving power – you can also use the red LED in strobe mode. You need to turn back to the main light by holding the top button for 2 seconds otherwise next time you turn on it goes back to night vision. The emergency distress strobe feature is activated by pressing the top button 3 times when any light is on.
The stretchy headband is adjustable in two places and I’ve found it comfortable for long uses, the weight of the actual lamp unit is reasonable for this type of torch and doesn’t feel heavy after prolonged use. The headband has some reflective text but could be more visible from behind; runners going on roads might want to fix a small back-facing red LED here.
Black Diamond say that the torch is waterproof to up to 1 metre submersion for 30 minutes which should translate as being able to cope with most wet conditions on the hill. The international body which tests items ability to withstand water ingress has given it a rating of IPX8 meaning it should be one of the most water resistant headtorches currently on the market. I’ve had no problems after getting it wet a few times but I would always recommend drying out the battery compartment and opening the USB cable hatch after a soaking.
The main issue when comparing with other torches is that the headline performance statistics from Black Diamond refer to the torch when used with alkaline batteries which give a stated brightness of 300 lumens with a maximum range of 80m and a run time of 30 hours at that level. Most people will want to use this torch with the supplied rechargeables and Black Diamond says this gives a maximum brightness of 175 lumens, illuminating a maximum distance of 68m and a 6 hour run time.
In general I found the brightness to be more than adequate for walking and have been able to use a fairly dim setting or at times just the double-power LED but for night trail running I’ve been using it on the maximum brightness which has run the battery down to the red 25% warning light in just over 3 hours use. The spot beam and flood beam options are useful depending on the terrain you’re on and the speed you’re going – its good to be able to change between these options. It comes with a three-year warranty and overall I think the price is reasonable for a quality torch with a number of good features.
Pros: USB charging port, battery power level indicator, ability to also run on stadard AAA (non-rechargeable) batteries, reasonable price.
Cons: Headlamp will only recharge Black Diamond’s rechargeables, not as powerful as some other torches when using rechargeable batteries.