Black Diamond Sprinter Review

Black Diamond logoWith Fall upon us, it’s time to start watching the sun go down earlier and wait for it to come up later. With that in mind we decided here on Trail Trials to take a look at some lighting solutions to brighten up those inevitable times when you can’t coordinate your outdoor activities with the shortened window of daylight. Below we take a look at the Black Diamond Sprinter headlamp. As usual, there’s a video review followed by written highlights.

Intro
What separates the Sprinter from any other headlamp on the market? It has rechargeable battery that is built into the headlamp. No extra batteries to take out and charge. Simply pop the proprietary charging adapter on to the battery pack, plug it and let the charging begin. We know that we have some viewers/readers that live outside the US and the good news is that the charging kit includes not only a standard US plug, but 3 foreign adapters that snap onto body of the wall plug to fit your need.

Overview
Black Diamond SprinterThe Sprinter headlamp is rated at 68 lumens which falls into the midrange in terms of brightness. It’s not going to light up the night sky like the 200 lumen Petzl Ultra, but you are going to get ample output to keep the ground beneath you illuminated. There is not a diffuser, but Black Diamond did go with an oval lens to cast a wider beam versus the circle lens that is found on most lamps. High steady, high strobe, low steady and low strobe are the light modes to choose from. One click turns on the lamp and puts you in the high beam mode. Another click brings on the strobe. The third click turns the lamp off. To get from high beam to low beam, you simple hold down the button and it will decrease in brightness.

On the back of the headlamp you will find a safety light embedded in the battery pack. While this flashing red light is great for running in areas of high traffic, it may not always be needed so we were glad to see that you have the option to disable it.

Battery Performance
Since we can’t just throw in some fresh batteries and start using the unit, we took the chance to charge and discharge this lamp a few times. Performing this exercise gave us a better feel for how long it takes to charge fully and then how long we could run it before looking for the outlet. What we discovered in 4 discharge/charge sessions was that once the lamp was completely drained it took between 4-5 hours to fully charge. Once fully charged we were able to get 7-8 hours of continuous output on high beam before the light rapidly dropped in light output. These charging/discharging tests were performed in the climate controlled Trail Trials indoor lab so outside temperature, humidity, and other factors will probably cause a little more strain on the batteries resulting in shorter burn times.

Other Features of Note
Black Diamond put some thought into the design of this unit. It’s very lightweight. The entire assembly feels almost not there when wearing it on your head, which is a good thing! The headband is well designed with a “compartment” that the cord that runs from the battery pack to the light travels though and keeps it from dangling and potentially getting snagged on something.

Pro’s

  • Lightweight – 3.5 ounces (100 grams)
  • Rechargeable – fewer batteries to throw away
  • Brightness to weight ratio is good
  • Well thought out headband with top stability strap and wire compartment
  • Red blinking safety light on the back that can be turned off

Con’s

  • Rechargeable – tough to recharge on the trail
  • Has proprietary charging attachment
  • Only 7 hour burn time on full brightness

Conclusion
Black Diamond touts this as a “streets-to-trail” headlamp. Without even knowing that prior to the review that is the same conclusion we arrived at, so in that aspect, they nailed it. This is not the lamp you are going to use to get you through a 100 miler. It is, however, a headlamp you can trust to be bright enough and have the juice needed to get you through your week day runs when you get home after the sun has already set.

Availability
If you want to pick it up, the Black Diamond Sprinter is available from the Wilderness Running Company. As an iRunFar reader, you get 10% off all Wilderness Running Company purchases. Just enter the code iRunFar10 at checkout. You’ll also get free shipping AND help support iRunFar.com. It’s a win-win-win!

Call for Comments
Have you run with the Black Diamond Sprinter? If so, let us know how it went. If you’ve got questions, fire away. If you’ve got a different favorite headlamp, share what it is.

[Disclosure: Black Diamond provided the author with a sample Sprinter to review. In addition, the Wilderness Running Company links in this post is part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar.com.]

Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing "Trail Trials with Travis Liles" video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 16 comments

  1. Kovas Palubinskas

    I run and ride every morning in the dark before work. So far I've not needed the headlamp, but with it I could hit a local trail if I wanted. I've heard good things about the BD headlamps, I appreciate the rechargable battery. Nice review.

  2. Paul

    Glad you posted a review of this lamp. I've had mine for a bit now and have gotten some good use out of it. I love this headlamp!

  3. Heidi Dietrich

    I picked up this headlamp on Matt Hart's recommendation, and I use it regularly for trail running in the dark before work. It works great and I love that I don't have to use batteries.

  4. Justus

    Very nice review. I agree that the rechargeable batteries are a mixed blessing. For every day short running should work great.

    It took me a while to figure out what made lights more usable in a trail running applications than others. Here is what I have come up with, I hope this helps someone in selecting the right light.

    I have owned a lot of headlamps in my life, many cheap walmart lights, which are sometimes better than much more expensive lights. The lights of note were the original petzil tikka, the petzil tikka plus, the petzil tikka xp2, and the Mammut Lucido TX1. The mammut light was bought because of backbackers editors choice award. I have bought a lot of editors choice gear over the years and have never regretted it. I recently bought the tikka xp2 and have only run on trails with it one time, but the trails were extremely rocky (massanutten mountain area).

    What I have found is the light pattern is just as important than the actual light. The Lucido's spot light is extremely bright and cuts through the night like no other light I have owned. The beam is to focused to be useful for running. The Lucido's flood lights are poor at best and do not provide enough light for running in the rocks. You can turn them both on at once, but this does not help as you have an extremely bright spot light and poor flood lights. You get this focused beam that moves around when you run and never provided enough lighted space to be useful for running. Mammut would have been much better off diffusing the spotlight and making it cover 2 or 3 times the area and have less reach. This light does have some red led flashers on the back battery pack, which I have used exclusively while running roads in the dark.

    The tikka and tikka plus have little in reach, but adequate flood, not enough for me to run at speed in the rocks. My solution was to carry a small hand light to supplement the head lamp. Enter the tikka xp2: this light is brighter than the other tikkas and provided a bright flood light that had enough reach for running in the rocks. So far it is the best of both worlds.

    In conclusion one light does not adapt to all situations. You need to try them out as lumens is not the only indicator of how a light will perform. You really need to look at the flood vs spot and find something that adequately lights up the trail in not only length, but also depth.

    Hope this is understandable. I will subscribe to this comment thread, so if you have any questions reply to the thread.

    Justus

  5. Justus

    One last thing: Fresh batteries make a world of difference in lights. I just looked up the specs for the xp2, with new batteries on high it is rated to 60 meters, after just 30 minutes it has degraded to 38 meters and after just 10 hours it is down to 18 meters. The overall life is stated at 80 hours.

  6. Mike

    You had me at hello! Ordered one this afternoon.

    Thanks for pointing out the additional savings.

    I'll follow up comments after using the light a few times

    Mike from Mechanicsburg

  7. Nils Hahn

    Have been using the BD sprinter for a month now and really like the brightness, light weight, comfort and rechargeable battery. Been eyeballing the light now for a year, since most of my runs are in the dark – finally got one. One thing missing is a battery indicator. Battery life is rather short as well.

    I live in Alaska and have been running with the BD Icon, Princeton Tec Apex as well as several others. The sprinter is the best light for trail runs for sure. IF one has the option of recharging it as needed.

    The BD Icon as well as the Princeton Tec Apex are fine headlamps for running as well, with the Apex being the brightest as well as the heaviest of the three.

  8. Ben

    Great review as always Travis. I will NOT be buying this or any other rechargeable headlamps because of the way I use them. As long as it remains a necessity to fully charge and discharge these to maintain full battery life, this isn't useful to me due to the inconvenience. I have 2 headlamps in one of my cars that both require 3 AAA batteries. I can use them for short or long runs and throw them back in the car again until the next use and use them that way repeatedly until the batteries need to be changed. It is not convenient to add the additional step of fully charging and later discharging them. ESPECIALLY if there is no battery charge meter/indicator.

    Justus made several good points as well on the light pattern. For $40, my Petzl Tikka XP has been the best light I've owned for trail running thusfar because of the 5 brightness settings, the diffuser, and the battery indicator not to mention the price.

    I also like Justus's name. James Thom once said, "Too often, we seek justice for just us." :-)

    Cheers!

    Good Ben

  9. Paul

    Don’t know how common these are over there, but for my money (and you do need to fork out a fair bit of it for these babies) you can’t beat ay-ups. They’re designed as MTB lights and are brighter than anything else I’ve seen that aren’t the size of tanks. They are very light (58g sans battery unit). The battery unit can be attached to the headband but I find this a bit heavy and use the extension cable and pop it in my shorts pocket. The battery life at maximum brighness (over 400 lumens) for the larger battery is 6 hours – this is 6 hours before they start to fade.
    http://www.ayup-lights.com

    No financial interest etc. Just a fan of great lights.

  10. Nick

    Justus, I appreciate the post. I purchased a Tikka Plus last year and have not been comfortable running with it at all. I just don't think it puts out enough light. I didn't know what I was buying but now I see it's rated at only 35 lumens. The biggest problem I have with it is depth.

    Looking at the MYO RXP as my next try, although at $100.00 I am hesitant. Have just run three straight days on our treadmill and much more of this and I might be pulling the trigger on one sooner than later.

    Nick

    1. Justus

      The XP2 is rated at 60 lumens. I seems to be much brighter than the tikka plus. I know what you mean about the depth of the lights. Buying a light is a lot like buying different shoes, you never really know what you are getting until you take it out for a few test runs. Everyone likes something a little different….

  11. Chris

    So what headlamp does Travis use? My Plus 2 is on its way out after about 1.5 years. I am looking for another brand and still want to stick with disposible batteries.

    Chris

  12. Blair

    I bought this online from REI only about a month ago. I use it under my helmet which protects it from rain without blocking the lights. It has worked great when charged, but there have been problems keeping it charged. At first I didn't realize it requires considerable force to snap it into the charger. Now it shows a full charge, but the light is very dim. When I work the dimming function there is no difference you can be certain of. When working properly at full brightness there is enough light to see about a dozen feet ahead. When there are streetlights you mostly notice that every reflective surface seems to be brightly lit from within.

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