A high-power headlamp made for every adventure
The Black Diamond Storm 400 headlamp is quite possibly the most popular headlamp of 2021. It may not be the brightest or have the longest battery life, but it is a best seller for a reason. As a mid-priced headlamp, it comes packed full of features and has the performance needed for even the most extreme activities.
Black Diamond is well known for making popular headlamps besides the Storm 400. The Spot 350, Icon 700 and Cosmo 300 are also top sellers. It is the most popular brand for headlamps, ahead of Pretzl, Coast and everything else. However, new contenders such as BioLite and Fenix with rechargeable batteries and more powerful lights aim to break into the market.
So, what makes the Black Diamond Storm 400 the best headlamp to bring for your next hiking or camping adventure? We will reveal everything you need to know about this headlamp so you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it to add this to your pack or if you should consider other options.
- Best waterproofing in price range
- Removable strap
- Memory feature
- 3 color LED plus 2 white LEDs for flood and spot
- Long battery life at low setting
- Battery life indicator
- Frustrating to change batteries
- Not rechargeable
Black Diamond Storm 400 Specs
|Bulbs||White distance LED, white proximity LED, red LED, blue LED, green LED|
|Batteries||4 AAA (included)|
|Features||Dimming, stobe, lock, brightness memory, battery life indicator|
|Max Distance||100m (328ft)|
|Weight||4.2 oz (120g) with all batteries inside|
|Colors||8 different colors available|
What’s in the box?
- 4 AAA batteries
- Instruction Manual
Who is this for?
The Storm 400 is a time-tested, dependable headlamp made for hikers and campers who sometimes need to battle heavy rain, wind, sand, mud and snow. If you’re heading into a cave, doing some canyoneering or crossing rivers, you’ll want a headlamp that can handle being submersed for awhile. If you are hiking or camping in some dusty, windy weather you will love that this headlamp is fully dust tight.
Other similarly priced headlamps are mostly IPX4 rated which means that they are splash resistant. That means that they can withstand light to moderate rain, but not much more. And as for dust resistance, many of the other headlamps have not even been tested for it.
The much respected IP67 rating that the Storm 400 has makes this stand out against the crowd. And while it might seem only suitable for people into extreme outdoor activities, this headlamp is perfect for anyone. You never really know when you’re going to get caught out in a storm or need to deal with water. Also, kayakers and boaters will appreciate that their headlamp will stay functional should it get any water contact.
It’s the anywhere and everywhere headlamp when you need it the most. If you are looking for a backup headlamp, something to throw into your vehicle or keep at home for emergencies, or something for walking the dog at night, you may be better off with some of the simpler, cheaper options that you can get in bulk at Costco. If you want the brightest headlamp or something that is rechargeable, prepare to pay more. If you need a headlamp for long distance backpacking, it might not be the best due to the 4th AAA battery needed.For everyone and everything else, it’s a great option.
Black Diamond Storm 400 Features
2 white LEDs for spot and flood
The first of the two white LEDs is the main distance beam. This is your spotlight beam which produces a tighter beam pattern. It has the largest lens on the headlamp and is positioned right in the center. The advertised range of this LED is 100 meters or 328 feet but it will depend on the weather conditions. This is what you will use while on the trails or trying to see what’s in front of you. The distance of the beam is notably further than most of the rivals.
The second of the white LEDs is positioned on the upper right of the headlamp. This is more of a wider flood light. It has a usable distance of 9m or about 30 feet. This one is perfect for using at the campsite or when you are working with something in front of you or while reading.
Both are dimmable and can be used at the same time when hitting the “Powertap” button on the side of the headlamp. When you use the Powertap button, it will turn on both white LEDs to their maximum brightness. When tapping the Powertap again, it will revert back to the previous mode. The white color is warmer in color temperature aiding in contrast.0
3 color LED for more night vision options
A unique feature of the Storm 400 and a couple of other Black Diamond headlamps is the 3 color LED lamp. You get blue, green and red dimmable LEDs. This adds a little more versatility and gives you many creative options for how you could use this.
Red is your best option when you want to preserve your night adapted vision. With the red LED, you can turn it on momentarily and then back off giving you the shortest recovery time for getting back your low light vision.
Green is another great option for use at night because compared to red, it allows for more detail, let’s you see a little further and makes reading easier. It’s also less disturbing for others around you.
Blue is an interesting addition as there isn’t really much precedent for its use in low light conditions aside from maybe some military applications like with green. At any rate, it does give you one more option which may be more advantageous depending on the color of your environment.
Long Battery Life
In today’s market, many headlamps feature extra low-lumen modes to maximize battery life. The Storm 400 is no exception. At the minimum of 8 lumens, battery life is claimed to be 150 hours. This puts it as well above average for comparably-priced headlamps.
Adjustable tilting headlamp
There are 6 tilting positions available with the Storm 400. This gives you the ability to use the headlamp for illuminating objects in front of you without you having to use your head. This is great for reading, rummaging through your pack, and cooking among other things.
There really isn’t too much too the strap. It’s comfortable enough and of the quality you’d expect for this price. One unique thing, however, is that the strap can be removed easily. I do emphasize the “easily” part as other removable head bands can be hard to work with. The headlamp can be attached to straps with similar widths such as a backpack strap. It could become a makeshift tail light for bikers. Also, when you remove the strap, you can set it down on a flat surface and adjust its angle to the maximum adjustment making for a stationary spot light. With some creative effort, you can probably turn it into a tent ceiling light as well.
One interesting idea to try is seeing if it fits on a thinner dog color. With the 3 color LED, you could use it to help identify your dogs at night, though for $50, you may have cheaper options.
The strap is fairly elastic, though does have a little bit of resistance. It should fit most climbing helmets, but again, with the removable band, it can give you options when you need to strap it around larger objects.
The Storm 400 comes with an IP67 rating. Many headlamps are IPX4 which makes this a better application for wet conditions. The IP rating system is pretty interesting if you aren’t familiar with it. IP stands for Ingress Protection. In other words, how protected the device is from solid and liquids. The first number relates to solid objects and ranges from 0-6 depending on how fine the object is. IP5X is dust resistant and IP6X (which this is) is impenetrable to dust. The second number is the water protection and usually ranges from 1 to 8. 4 means resistant to splashes. 5 means resistant to low-pressure water jets. 6 is for high-pressure jets. 7 means that it can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. While 8 means that it can go below 1 meter.
So, the Storm 400 has maximum dust protection and can be submerged up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. The other headlamps with IPX4 have no dust rating and are only resistant to “splashes.” This is probably due to a rubber gasket in the battery compartment and how it is sealed as well as the button design.
How to open the Black Diamond Storm 400 headlamp
Accessing the battery compartment is simple and effortless. You must lift a lever on the back of the headlamp to release a clip that keeps the back panel held to the body. The back swings open and you get access to the battery. It’s kind of similar to the older GoPro housings if you know what I mean.
The locking mechanism itself does appear a little thin, so you’ll want to take care when opening. There is a 3 year warranty however so you probably don’t have to worry too much.
One complaint that has been brought up by owners is with switching out batteries. All but the fourth battery is easy to remove. Unless you have long fingernails, you may be finding yourself having a difficult situation out in the field. I’ve had to use things like guitar picks to get that battery out. There is some kind of lever to help get that battery out, but I’ve found it pretty impossible to use.
One feature of these headlamps is that it remembers which setting you had on last. While this doesn’t seem like a leap in technology, it does give you a better user experience. There are many headlamps (and flashlights) out there that require you to cycle through all your options before you get to the setting you want.
This can be very inconvenient because if you are trying to maintain your low-light vision, you don’t want to have your headlamp on full blast when you are trying to get to the lowest setting. The other thing is that the Storm 400 comes with 6 LED modes plus dimming. The memory function is almost mandatory.
How do you use the Black Diamond Storm 400?
Operating the Storm 400 takes some getting used to. The instructions manual that comes with the product was written in dozens of languages which share the same illustrations. Also, you can tell that some of the illustrations have been taken from other products such as the back clip illustration which shows a different design than what the product has. Trying to decipher every photo is a little bit of a challenge, but I will list some of the main functions below organized buy what each button does which may provide an alternative context.
To turn the headlamp on, press the larger, rectangular button on top. When pressed, it will also reveal the battery life indicator.
Pushing and holding the button will cycle through the active LED’s dimming mode. It will go all the way to the bottom and back to the top of brightness. When you have your desired brightness, let go of the button. This works for both white LEDs and the color LEDs for dimming. When the main distance LED is on, it will also activate the second white LED at the max level when dimming.
Double tapping the On Off switch will activate the strobe mode for the last used LED. This words for the color LEDs as well. You can push it a single time to turn off.
The smaller, circular button on top lets you cycle between the white distance beam (spot), white proximity beam (flood), and the last used color LED.
To cycle between the color LEDs, push and hold the cycle button for two seconds and it will switch between red, green and blue.
This button can be tapped when any of the LEDs are active. If one of the white LEDs is on, it will brighten that LED and turn on the other white LED at max level. If you have a color LED on, it will switch it to max brightness. Tapping it again will revert it back to whichever dim level you had.
Do note that the button doesn’t click in. You can use gloves to activate it with a simple tap, but keep in mind that the button is on the right side when facing the same direction as you.
On/Off switch + Cycle button
Pushing and holding both the on/off switch and cycle button for 2 seconds lets you lock and unlock the headlamp. This can be used to prevent turning on the headlamp unintentionally. This feature is great because other headlamps might turn on accidentally while in your pocket or pack when something inside hits the on/off button. I’ve had this happen a few times with other headlamps and until you notice it, you are draining your batteries and reducing your usable time. This can be super frustrating and a waste of money. So, good on Black Diamond for including this feature.
How does the Black Diamond Storm 400 compare to other headlamps?
Within its price range of $50 plus or minus $5, it sits comfortable at the top in terms of the overall features and specs. It’s bright for most applications and has the waterproof and dustproof rating. It comes with multiple LEDs, a dimming mode and has the locking functionality which is helpful. Overall, it’s a solid choice when choosing headlamps.
If you are looking for cheaper headlamps, you have so many options. If you want the brightest one, then be prepared to pay a little more money for something else. If you want something even more comfortable than this, then there are alternatives. And finally, if you prefer a rechargeable headlamp, this one isn’t for you.
For most people, however, the Storm 400 has the right balance of price, features and performance.
What are some alternatives of the Black Diamond Storm 400?
Fenix HM65R headlamp
For people who want the maximum brightness, they can check out the Fenix HM65R which features a “turbo” mode that outputs 1400 lumens. A 3500mAh rechargeable battery is also used but can be substituted with two CR123A batteries. It is IP68 dustproof/waterproof and built with a strong magnesium alloy for impact resistance but comes in at around $95 which is a lot to spend. Also, note that there are many counterfeit Fenix products on the market.
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
Based on reviews and user feedback, the Petzl Actik Core is a very popular (although $20 more expensive) alternative. It features a rechargeable battery interchangeable with AAA batteries, simple operation, and between 6 to 450 lumens of light output. Unlike the Storm 400, it is only IPX4 rated but is a bit lighter in weight. The lenses on the LEDs are kind of interesting too because they were designed to widen the beam horizontally for the spot and vertically for the flood.
BioLite 200 HeadLamp
If comfort is more important, then consider the ultra lightweight BioLite 200 which has a slim profile and is only 1.75 ounces. It also has a rechargeable battery and dimming features. This is perfect for trail running or overnight camping. It only has a 40 hour battery life on low and 3 hour life on high, so keep that in mind. While it’s only 200 lumens, there is a brighter 330 lumen model available but you will sacrifice weight and durability.
Other Black Diamond Headlamps
Black Diamond does offer some other time-tested headlamps. Just like their dominance with trekking poles, Black Diamond offers a solid lineup of headlamp options.
The Icon 700 gives you 700 lumens of brightness, a longer 140m distance, and an IP67 rating. It is very similar to the Storm but is a little heavier and bulkier with the battery unit in the back and some additional straps and cords. A rechargeable battery pack is available aftermarket. This is a $100 headlamp plus $50 for the rechargeable pack.
The Revolt 350 comes with a rechargeable battery and accepts AAA batteries as well. It is similar to the Storm 400, but is only IPX4 rated and maxes out at 350 lumens. It has a slightly higher runtime at low and slightly lower runtime at high. It doesn’t have the blue or green LEDs.
The Spot Lite 200 and Cosmo 300 are cheaper, $30 alternatives which have an IPX8 rating giving you waterproof headlamps. They have less output and less features, but are lighter weight and some people will enjoy the simplicity. The Spot Lite 200 only needs 2 AA batteries but does have a low run time.
The Black Diamond Storm 400 is a great all-around, all-weather headlamp for adventures. While it’s not the best at every feature, it’s balanced enough to make sense.
The biggest complaint people have over this headlamp is the operation. Compared to other headlamps with simple on/off switches, this one is fairly complex. It does take some time to get used to this. Also, as mentioned before, it isn’t rechargeable and has some issues with battery replacement.
Still, you will find many people happy about this headlamp and as an owner myself, I can highly recommend this.