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The Top All-Around Headlamp for Most People: Black Diamond Spot 400-R Review

The Black Diamond Spot 400-R has proven time and again that, for many use cases, it's just about perfect.

Black Diamond Spot 400-R
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I have a lot of headlamps. As the primary lighting tester at GearJunkie, I have an entire shelf dedicated to storing headlamps and flashlights. Let’s just say I’ve lost count.

But there’s one headlamp that stays out of the pile, and that’s the Black Diamond Spot 400-R. It’s not the most expensive or the brightest, not by a long shot. I have many that will outperform it in all kinds of ways. Some are technological marvels with voice control or automated light adjustment.

But still, the Spot 400-R tends to earn its honorable spot in my pack for more trips than any other. Here’s why.

In short: The Black Diamond Spot 400-R is a simple, easy-to-use rechargeable headlamp with a 400-lumen max output. It has a fantastic battery life, is comfortable, and is light. For camping and slower activities like hiking, it’s darned near perfect.

Black Diamond Spot 400-R


  • Lumen output 400 lumens; spotlight to 100 m
  • Rechargeable Yes, micro-USB
  • Burn time 225 hrs. on low; 4 hrs. on high
  • Weight 2.6 oz.
  • Red light Yes
  • Waterproof rating IP67 (submersible)


  • Intuitive user interface
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight


  • Not the brightest max output, but still plenty sufficient

Black Diamond Spot 400-R Review

The first time I used the Black Diamond Spot 400-R, I was deep in the weeds of testing the best headlamps. I had dozens of headlamps, and put them head-to-head in a longevity test to see which light would run the longest before it died.

The test included a lot of very expensive headlamps, some well over $150. But after 24 hours, only one light was still glowing with enough light to be useful outdoors, and that was the Spot 400-R. I was shocked that this small, affordable headlamp had outperformed several serious lumen canons.

Black Diamond Spot 400 R review
The Black Diamond Spot 400-R; (photo/Sean McCoy)

But that was just the beginning. Over the following 2 years, I’ve used the Spot 400-R on dozens of trips. It’s traveled with me to the tropics of Central America and frozen mountains of Colorado during elk hunts. It’s been rained on, submerged in puddles, and stuffed into backpacks over and over again. And still, it simply works, every time.

It’s worth noting that the Spot 400-R will only run at 400 lumens for 4 hours before dropping to a dim “limp” mode. But the medium power setting stretches battery life much longer, and dropping to low will give you a whopping 225 hours. Sure, it’s dim light. But I’ve never yet had this light die completely on me.

A Simple Headlamp, Just Enough Power

That’s not to say the Spot 400-R doesn’t have competition. At 400 lumens, it really isn’t powerful enough for a lot of pursuits. For anything faster than (and maybe equal to) running, 400 lumens just doesn’t cut it. So to be fair to the much brighter headlamps on the market, this light really is on the entry-level scale.

Compared with the best flashlights, which I prefer when big lumens are needed, it’s rather dim indeed.

Black Diamond Spot 400 R review with red light

Even for hunting, the Spot 400-R is barely enough. Blood trailing at night, you’ll really want a brighter light.

But ultimately, the Spot 400-R’s limitations are also its strengths. Most people really don’t need more than 400 lumens very often. It’s plenty of light to work around camp or hike a nighttime trail. And most of the time, I find myself using a lower setting or even the red light to maintain night vision and preserve battery life.

For now, the only true negative I can see with the Spot 400-R is that it uses micro-USB charging, so it’s a little dated compared with more modern USB-C cables that are both faster and easier to connect.

Beyond that, the Spot 400-R is, in many ways, ideal for many users. It’s very light. It’s small. The user interface is intuitive and easy. And at about $60, while not cheap, this affordable headlamp has proven it will give good, consistent lighting, year after year.

For now, even among a pile of high-quality, expensive headlamps, it’s still one of my primary go-to lights. For those looking for a modest headlamp for camping, hiking, or other slow nighttime pursuits who don’t need lots of power, this one is among the best of the best.

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