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Last year, before heading down to the southern tip of South America with nothing more than a one-way ticket and a backpack, I bought Black Diamond’s Spot headlamp to take along for the journey. At the time, all I cared about was the fact that it was waterproof, didn’t have one of those back-of-the-head battery packs and cost about $40. Countless nights spent in a tent later, and the Spot is still my favorite headlamp. Along with the 40-ounce water bottle I carry everywhere, it has earned a permanent place in my pack whenever I head out for an adventure.
The qualities that first drew me to buy the Spot for my trip to the Southern Hemisphere still hold true. A camping light doesn’t have to be complicated — it’s just a light source after all; it doesn’t need fancy add-ons like USB charging. The Spot is great because it’s simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s basic. The headlamp uses three AAA batteries (which you’ll be able to find pretty much anywhere on the planet) and it’s fully waterproof. The main light is 300 lumens, emits light to a claimed range of 80 meters (about 262 feet) and is easily dimmable. There’s even a red night vision setting. Black Diamond also added its PowerTap Technology, which lets you cycle through modes by tapping the side of the lamp housing (a feature that strays toward gimmicky but is actually very useful for reading and cooking, among other things). Another smart feature is a lock mode that prevents the light from turning on in your backpack and killing the batteries. (You only forget to use that function once; hiking along train tracks through a Peruvian jungle in the dark was no fun.)
Beyond all that, the Spot is just plain economical. If I take a fall and accidentally crush the thing, I won’t be heartbroken that I just lost an expensive piece of gear. I’ll just go pick up a new one, because until something more practical comes around, I don’t have to think about my choice when it comes to choosing a headlamp.
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