The Gear Loop is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(The Gear Loop) - When a product garners a reputation as being a "workhorse", you can expect something highly functional that will see plenty of use. 

A workhorse is a strong, reliable specimen that is called upon time and time again to help get things done. Black Diamond’s popular Storm headlamp series is often given this description, which suggests this is a piece of outdoor kit to be trusted to pull its weight and not let you down when the going gets tough.

-

New for Spring 2022, the Storm 500-R is the most powerful unit in Black Diamond’s new rechargeable range, which all feature Lithium-Ion batteries for high effective, reusable lighting. It is an obvious upgrade on the Storm series’ previous incarnation, the Storm 400. 

Black Diamond/Christian AdamBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 1

The 500-R retains the robust construction and waterproof qualities of its predecessor, yet weighs 20g less. It is also brighter, has a longer beam distance and a more powerful battery, too. Considering its small size, this makes for a mighty unit, and it’s fit for a range of pursuits and adventure styles. It seems this workhorse just got given racing stripes.

These upgrades make it a solid option for general purpose outdoor use. Its low weight makes it suitable for fast and light escapades, like trail running and fastpacking, while its multiple beam settings and night vision modes make it a versatile, campsite-ready unit. 

With batteries that cope well with the cold, 500 lumens brightness and a range of 120 metres, it’ll serve mountaineers and skiers well on pre-dawn alpine starts and late afternoon Scottish winter walk outs.

Black DiamondBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 6
Our quick take

A highly versatile little headlamp that punches well above its weight. For users who expect a high level of performance and a raft of features, yet still value a small unit, it is a no-brainer. Those who primarily focus on one sport, such as road running, are probably better served by a torch dedicated to their discipline. However, for a general-purpose workhorse that will handle a range of applications, the Storm 500-R may just be the first past the post. 

Black Diamond Storm 500-R review: lighter, brighter and more powerful than ever

Black Diamond Storm 500-R

4.5 stars - The Gear Loop recommended
For
  • Compact yet powerful
  • Multiple beam modes
  • Intuitive controls
  • Operates well above the snow line
Against
  • Tiny USB cable
  • Not ideal for road running

squirrel_widget_12853020

In the Loop

A quick look at what you can expect from the Storm 500-R head torch:

  • An impressive brightness of 500 lumens on full intensity
  • 120m max beam distance
  • Spot, flood and three-colour night vision modes, as well as strobe setting
  • Intuitive intensity control and Brightness Memory remembers the previous setting
  • Micro-USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • 7 hours of battery life on max setting, 19 hours on mediu, 250 hours on low
  • Digital Lock Out: avoid accidental turn on
  • IP67 (submersible) waterproof rating for wet conditions
  • Comfortable recycled elastic headband

Features

One of the features that sets the Storm apart from the other models in Black Diamond’s new R (rechargeable) range is its array of beam settings. Spot mode gives you a focused beam, ideal for trail finding and distance vision, while the flood setting provides a diffused light for proximity work, such as map reading or having a flick through the guidebook in your sleeping bag. There’s also the option of night vision, with three colours: red, blue and green, while a strobe mode can be applied to each setting too.

Black Diamond/ Tyler Rizzuto FinsBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 5

Power is provided by a high-capacity Lithium-Ion battery, which is fully rechargeable via a micro-USB port. A huge plus is that these kinds of batteries perform well in sub-zero conditions, making the Storm a good option for high altitude and winter mountaineering, as well as snow sports. There’s no dual fuel option, so unlike with some modern head torches, you can’t swap the integrated battery for AAAs. However, this also means you don’t have to worry about carrying spares on backpacking expeditions and the like.

With no option to swap the integrated battery out, remembering to recharge between uses is important, especially on multi-day adventures. Black Diamond claims that you can recharge the battery up to 1,000 times during its life, so that’s a lot of adventuring. 

On maximum intensity, the Storm will give you light for 7 hours. Meanwhile, at a medium setting of around 250 lumens, it will provide 19 hours – more than enough to see you through the night, unless you’re somewhere like Tromsø in the dead of winter, of course.

Christian AdamBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 3

This workhorse has a few little tricks up its horseshoes. Lock mode is activated by holding down both buttons for a couple of seconds, meaning that it can’t be accidentally switched on when not in use. Brightness Memory is a neat feature too; the Storm remembers the intensity you had it set to previously for when it is turned back on. 

It also doesn’t mind galloping around in the rain either (sorry for the horse puns), as it is waterproof tested at a depth of a metre for 30 minutes, earning it a rating of IP67. It’ll also tell you when it needs fed, thanks to a battery life indicator on its underbelly.

Performance

We tested the Storm in a range of settings, both indoors and out, hiking, reading, running and simply pottering around the house at night.

Black DiamondBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 7

The first thing you notice after opening the package is that the Storm comes with an absolutely tiny, 10cm USB cable. This would be fine for connecting it to a power bank on expedition, but not great for plug sockets at home. 

We immediately went to fetch a longer cable. We suppose Black Diamond could argue that a minimalist USB cable saves weight on the trails.

The Storm coped very well on rainy gravel runs, reliably throwing out its bright spotlight and showing off its trail finding ability. Of course, with no rear light to warn traffic, it’s not well suited to country road running, but we found it was a great companion for the off-road pursuits. 

Christian AdamBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 2

Its elasticated headband proved comfortable and held the lamp in place over some pretty rough terrain. It’s worth pointing out that if you’re a dedicated runner, there are lighter and slightly more stable head torches specifically designed for running – the Storm is more of a jack of all trades.

During nighttime hikes, we found switching between light modes and changing the torch’s intensity intuitive, quickly getting the hang of it. There are two buttons: a large on button and a smaller button for cycling between settings. Holding the on button down slowly changes the light’s intensity, taking it full circle from maximum to minimum and back again. Double tapping the button also activates strobe mode. Holding down the smaller button cycles between the three night vision colours.

Although admittedly a bit of an odd scenario, we found around the house, night vision proved very useful in the dead of night, when other members of the household were asleep. 

Black DiamondBlack Diamond Storm 500R review photo 8

We can imagine its use in a shared tent or campervan during the early hours. The last thing anyone wants to do is wake their adventure buddy when nature calls in the middle of the night. 

In addition to this, the Storm’s flood mode was suitable for late night reading, while the ability to dim it to a low setting meant that we could read for hours next to a sleeping partner. 

squirrel_widget_12853020

To recap

The 500R is an excellent update in Black Diamond’s workhorse Storm Series – a versatile and well-featured little headtorch that is a must-have for any kind of outdoor adventure

Writing by Alex Foxfield. Editing by Leon Poultney.