Feature-rich and powerful, yet contained within a small package, Black Diamond’s Storm 500R does everything most adventurers could want from a headlamp. A solid, durable, high-quality product.
Easy to adjust brightness
Multiple light modes
Lock mode preserves battery life
Suitable for adventures above the snow line
Short USB cable
No rear light for road runners
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Black Diamond Storm 500R: First impressions
The Black Diamond Storm 500R is the most powerful product in the Utah brand’s new multi-purpose, rechargeable R series of headlamps. It’s designed for adventurers who value versatility and performance alongside the size and weight of a small unit. In essence, it’s one of the best headlamps around: tiny, mighty and with a sprinkling of magic to assist you in a variety of scenarios.
Boasting a maximum brightness of 500 lumens and a beam distance of 120 meters, the 500R packs a powerful punch for something so diminutive. Add three colored night vision modes into the equation, and you soon realize you’re dealing with a clever little product.
Burntime on its maximum setting is an impressive seven hours – long enough for any pre-dawn alpine start – while its medium mode gives you 250 lumens for 19 hours. You can flick between proximity and distance modes, as well as red, green and blue night vision.
The Storm 500R contains a built-in Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery so, as with many of the best headlamps these days, there’s no messing around with Duracells in your backpack. Mountaineers and skiers take heed: lithium-ion cells perform better than their alkaline counterparts in the cold, making this a great option for those who like to venture above the snow line. Recharging is easy and takes just three hours with a micro-USB cable. Black Diamond say that its R series headlamps can be recharged up to 1,000 times, so this is a headlamp that will serve you over many adventures. It also comes with a three-year warranty.
There are a few handy features, such as Brightness Memory, which remembers the intensity you had the lamp set to before turning it off. Intensity can be subtly adjusted by holding down the main button, while a double tap activates strobe mode. A battery meter on the bottom of the unit lets you know how much juice you’ve got left. The Storm 500R shouldn’t let you down in wet conditions, as it has been waterproof tested under a meter of water for 30 minutes, giving it a rating of IP67. The headband is crafted from recycled elastic and is easily adjustable.
A micro-USB cable is included in the package, but it is only 10cm long, which is fine for connecting to a power bank while on expedition but not great for plugging in to a wall socket at home. You could argue that it represents a weight saving on ultralight missions in the backcountry. However, I’d say that if you’re worried about the weight of a USB cable, you’re spending too long thinking about minor details and not enough time enjoying the great outdoors!
List price: $74.95 (US) / £65 (UK) • Weight: 100g / 3.5oz • Max light output: 500 lumens • Average run time: High: 7 hours Medium: 19 hours Low: 350 hours • Max beam distance: 120m • Water resistance: IP67 (submersible) • Compatibility: Hiking, mountaineering, camping, trail running, snow sports
In the field
I tested the Storm in a range of settings and found it performed well throughout. Whether running trails at sunset, backpacking in the early hours or pottering around the campsite, the Storm 500R’s all-round performance and different light modes make it a gloriously versatile little headlamp. Its trail finding ability in distance mode is excellent thanks to its impressive brightness and range, while the evenly lit wide beam of proximity mode is well suited to campsite life.
At 100g, this is hardly a heavy headlamp, and is perfectly suitable for runners. I found it handled my favourite local trails with aplomb. The elastic headband was comfortable and held the light securely in place throughout.
It’s the heaviest model in the R series so racers serious about shaving off every last gram might want to look at lighter, albeit less powerful, models in the range or Black Diamond’s Sprinter 500, which boasts a rear light for road runners. However, for hiking, mountaineering, camping and snow sports, the additional power and features of the Storm make it the obvious choice for those who want an uncomplicated, rechargeable, yet powerful headlamp.
As a new father, I found its colored night vision modes a real help while transferring baby from sitting room to bedroom in the dead of night without waking mother or child. I’m sure this kind of use wasn’t at the top of Black Diamond’s thoughts during the design stage, yet it underlines the versatility of the product. Many a camp mate has been woken in the night by a bright headlamp; the Storm's night vision options make such an occurrence far less likely.
Despite having only two buttons, cycling between its various functions is relatively intuitive and doesn’t take long to master. A single tap of the main on/off button activates the beam, while a double tap activates the strobe. Holding down the main button gradually dims and then brightens the beam until you arrive at your desired intensity. The smaller button is tapped to cycle between modes and held down to change the night vision color. To ensure your headlamp isn’t accidentally switched on in your best daypack, the Digital Lock Out function is a real boon. It is activated by holding down both buttons for a couple of seconds.
Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He is currently President of the London Mountaineering Club, training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and hoping to scale more Alpine 4000ers when circumstances allow. Find out more at www.alexfoxfield.com