The ReVolt from Black Diamond is a mid range headlamp. Released earlier this year, we are taking a closer look in this review at its features and how it performed during our months of testing.
One might be quickly overwhelmed by the current choice in terms of headlamps. From the dirt cheap to the high-end, there is a piece for every budget and every situation. With very similar features between them it is hard for manufacturer to stand out. What does Black Diamond bring to the table with the ReVolt?
The main selling points here are the rechargeable batteries paired with the micro-USD port. This means you can juice the ReVolt up from a lot of different sources: computer, solar-charger, battery-pack, power outlet (with an adapter), etc… BD also supplies with each ReVolt the three AAA rechargeable batteries as well as a USB-to-micro-USB cable. The batteries come pre-charged so I could pop them in and start lighting the office straight away.
Once depleted it took two and a half hours to charge it back up from a standard USB port on my desktop computer. The ReVolt has a very handy battery level indicator on the side which flashes green when in charge and continuous green when fully charged up. Every time you switch the ReVolt on, the indicator will flash with a colour to let you know the battery status. Green, above 50%, orange, below 50%, red, below 25%.
The ReVolt headlamp has six different light modes, but only one button. You can switch between the modes by presses combinations. One click for the two low light white LEDs, click again to switch to the bright single middle LED. A long press will dim it until you release, one more long press after dimming will gradually bring it back to its full power. Press 3 seconds to switch to red light mode. Both dual white and red LEDs can be set to strobe mode by clicking 3 times.
It also has a locked mode, very handy to make sure the headlamp doesn’t switch on in your backpack. Press 6 seconds to put in lock mode, 6 seconds again to unlock it.
All this is fairly ok when you have the manual around but it becomes a lot more difficult coming back to the ReVolt after a few weeks. I understand the advantages of the single-button implementation but it is frustrating to use when you cannot get the light you are looking for and keep cycling between modes.
The general construction of the headlamp is good. The plastic feels strong. The headband is wide and comfortable. The back of the lamp is curved to sit better on the forehead. You can tilt the front part down at different angles like most headlamps. The ReVolt is also IPX4 certified which means resistance against water projections.
I can personally attest of this from a recent trip to the lush island of Madeira. Famous for its ‘levada’ walks, it is not uncommon to go through hundred meters long dark tunnels dripping with water, or duck under a waterfall to continue your progression. The ReVolt did not fail me and I am confident it will stand to some light rain if it had to.
Using the ReVolt around camp, we quickly appreciated the red light mode for preserving night vision. It is also powerful enough to get basic tasks done. The strong main light, rated at 110 lumen is very bright, great for all sorts of activities: walking, running, climbing. Beware that on the supplied rechargeable batteries you will get the full power and range for about 2 hours. After that the distance rapidly drops rendering the ReVolt almost useless after 6h. A far cry from the ‘up to 12h’ advertised on Black Diamond’s website. The low-power dual white LEDs are only bright enough for reading and camp tasks. They will light to a distance of up to 1.5m on fully charged rechargeables.
What’s missing from the ReVolt
Honestly not much but one of my major gripes is that you cannot use the ReVolt to charge other rechargeable batteries than the ones sold by Black Diamond. Although batteries sold by BD do not seem more expensive than other retailers, it would have added to the versatility of the headlamp.
For the price, $60 / £54, this is a decent headlamp. The ReVolt is well made, has a nice design and will help you cut on waste with it’s rechargeable batteries. It weights 99g / 3.49oz with the 3 NiMh batteries provided.
[note]The Black Diamond ReVolt was given to us for the purpose of this review. We try our best to not let this affect our views in any ways. Our gear tests are done in real life, during our own outdoor activities.[/note]