Black Diamond has launched a new range of head lamps for 2022 with better specs and new features. The outgoing Storm 400 was a well-reviewed classic, so I was excited to test the new 500-R. The compact but chunky-looking unit has an internal battery that charges with micro USB (I wish it had adopted the new USB-C standard). Battery life is stellar, easily the best tested. I found it hard to kill even on medium setting, despite offering 250 lumens here (a great sweet spot). Boost mode is very bright – more than enough for the most extreme conditions – and the battery will last for 7 hours even here. This is a huge improvement over the old Storm 400.
The only downside to the storm 500 is that you can’t swap the battery on the go. However, battery life is good enough that I’ll still use it on multi-day winter trips and charge it with a power bank. I haven’t noticed any reduction in battery life in sub-freezing conditions. It’s rated to work down to -17°C, and the IP67 rating makes it completely waterproof.
Right button switches on and off and is used for dimming; left button switches between flood, spot and red LED. The touch sensor immediately switches to boost. Although there are plenty of modes, I find this layout logical and intuitive. The hinge has a relatively limited range of adjustment but is simple to use and has good tension. The strap is tapered, comfortable and made from recycled elastic.
Although the joint heaviest lamp tested, it’s still relatively lightweight – fine for keeping in your pack over the summer or on minimal backpacking missions. A go-anywhere, do-anything head torch and highly recommended.
Want to see more head torches? Check out our guide to the best head torches for hiking