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OWNER REVIEW -- Black Diamond Icon headlamp

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  • kenjennorris
    Owner Review: Black Diamond Icon Headlamp Date: December 1, 2007 Name: Ken Norris Age: 30 Gender: Male Height: 5 5 (1.65 Meters) Weight: 170 Pounds (77
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2007
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      Owner Review: Black Diamond Icon Headlamp

      Date: December 1, 2007

      Name: Ken Norris
      Age: 30
      Gender: Male
      Height: 5' 5" (1.65 Meters)
      Weight: 170 Pounds (77 Kilograms)
      Email address: kenjennorris@...
      City, State, Country: Carnation, Washington, USA
      Backpacking Background: I have been hiking and backpacking for the
      past ten years, going on the occasional overnighter or day hike. In
      the past year or so, I have begun night hiking and long day hikes
      (twenty miles or more). These trips center on Washington's Central
      Cascades, supplemented with some trips into Oregon's gorge and
      outback regions – terrain characterized by steep inclines and "moist"

      Test Conditions: The primary test conditions were done in the
      Central Washington Cascades. Moderate temperatures: spring, summer,
      and from down to 30 F (-1.10 C) up to 85 F (30 C). Typically a wet
      climate. Always at night (for obvious reasons). Most of the
      trekking occurred on steep trails on varying terrain, from soft pack
      trails to scree fields. Some excursions consisted of night-long
      hikes of ten miles or more and trail runs, varying from clear moonlit
      nights to fog-socked blindness of only eight feet of visibility.

      Product Information:
      Manufacturer: Black Diamond
      Model: Icon
      URL: www.bdel.com
      Bulb type: 1-3 watt LED/4-superbright LEDs
      Weight (w/ batteries): 6.6 ounces / 0.19 kilograms
      Dimensions 2 x 1.4 x 1.25 inches / 5.08 cm x 3.56 cm x 3.17 cm
      Maximum beam distance: High: 100 meter (328 ' 1.01 '') / low: 50
      meters (164 ' 0.50 '') (per the manufacturer)
      Brightness levels: 6
      Beam type: Fixed / focused
      Strobes: 1
      Battery life: at 70 degrees F (21.11 C) High: 80 / low: 140 hours
      (per the manufacturer)
      Batteries: 3 AA (included)
      MSRP: $60 USD

      Product Description:
      The headlamp comes with typical features, like a headband and a strap
      that crosses over the top of the head – all of which are adjustable
      (the top strap is easily removed). Plastic parts are a light gray,
      while the elastic bands are black with a white design. A cord runs
      from the battery pack (attached at the back) along the right side of
      the head to the bulbs at the front. The bulb housing at the front is
      vertically adjustable to seven different positions. A single button
      on the bottom of the bulb housing activates either the 3-watt LED
      beam or the four 1-watt LEDs that frame the 3-watt bulb. Fully
      depressing this button switches between the beam or the four 1-watt
      LEDs (NOTE: all five beams may not be activated simultaneously).
      Slightly depressing this button within a particular mode changes the
      brightness level: three levels for the 3-watt beam, four levels for
      the four 1-watt lights (one of these levels is the strobe, which
      causes the four 1-watt LEDs to blink).

      Key Features: Here are some of the key features:

      - removable top strap

      - compatible with helmets

      - six brightness levels

      - excellent battery life

      - one strobe setting


      I have used the Icon for eight months, taking it on numerous trips
      and even storing it in my glove box in anticipation of a flat tire.
      My first experience with the Icon occurred on Rattlesnake Ridge, a
      popular day hike through dense woods and on to a granite ridge. I
      experimented with both the four 1-watt LEDs and the one 3-watt LED.
      I quickly realized that the four 1-watt setting worked for hill
      climbing, as long as the pace is mild and there is no competing light
      source. The 3-watt setting provided a focused beam about four feet
      wide (1.22 m) that allowed me to pick up the pace.

      This first excursion prompted me to revisit Rattlesnake Ridge for a
      longer trek – 12 miles (19.32 km) and over one thousand feet (305 m)
      of elevation gain in a dense fog. With visibility at a minimum
      (about eight feet [2.44 m] thanks to the fog), I discovered the
      versatility of the Icon. In order to get my bearings, I would use
      the four 1-watt setting. It lit up my immediate area. But when it
      came to keeping track of the trail, the 3-watt setting was optimum:
      it cut through the fog to the greatest degree possible considering
      the circumstances.

      The four 1-watt LEDs proved their usefulness yet again during a trip
      to Montana in the Bozeman area. I was crewing for some friends'
      adventure racing team, so I had to set up camp at a new location
      every day, often at night. The Icon made setting up my tent in
      terrain I had not seen during the day easy. At one point I arrived
      at a trailhead at around ten p.m. I noticed some tents silhouetted
      thirty yards (27.43 m) from the parking lot. The Icon helped me find
      a level area without waking up other teams, thanks to the lowest
      brightness setting. At another leg of this experience I used the
      brightest setting of the four 1-watt LEDs in order to read a book.
      My second extended use of the Icon (the first being my traverse of
      Rattlesnake Ridge) was on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail by
      Snoqualmie Pass in the Central Cascades. Because we hiked through
      the night, I had the Icon on for about ten hours. This time I
      reached an elevation of roughly six thousand feet, which meant
      negotiating rough trails that required some trail blazing and finding
      secure footing in scree. The Icon proved itself a comfort. I never
      once felt that the darkness was an issue, even when the trail seemed
      to disappear or finding my footing required a keen eye for
      potentially loose rocks. This trip also opened my eyes to the ease
      with which the Icon fits over a hat – the bill did not interfere with
      the quality of the beam directly below thanks to the seven vertical

      My successes with the Icon even prompted me to try it as a bike
      light. Sadly, the 3-watt beam just is not wide enough, nor does it
      project far enough for the quick speeds associated with downhill
      mountain biking at night . . . but I digress from the realm of hiking
      and backpacking.

      I used the Icon with this same set of three Duracell batteries on at
      least three times the number of adventures I have described so far.
      I never noticed a change in brightness. In fact, the indicator light
      on the battery pack continued to register green – the highest level –
      up until the point that I installed new batteries out of a sense of
      curiosity. There was no difference in brightness between these new
      batteries and the old. I estimate I have used the original batteries
      between thirty and forty hours, yet the green light continues to
      burn. Amazing.

      Things I Like:

      The comfortable elastic straps (I forget I'm wearing it, even while I

      The 3-watt LED

      All seven vertical positions

      Long battery life

      Things I don't like:

      The large battery pack

      Not being able to activate all five lights simultaneously

      I continue to marvel at the brightness of the Icon, coupled with its
      battery life. I've set up tents with it in total darkness by
      myself. I've tested its endurance during night long hikes; it never
      lessened in its brightness despite constantly being on. I've hiked
      in conditions of near zero visibility due to fog, and the Icon
      pierced through the vapors.
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