Review: Black Diamond Sprint 225 Headlamp || Upgraded Iota

On most backpacking trips last year, I carried the Black Diamond Iota Headlamp (my review). Its 150 lumens were plenty for 3-season conditions; it weighed only 1.9 ounces (56 grams) and packed away small; and I loved that it was rechargeable, so that I could keep AAA batteries out of the waste stream and so that I could recharge it mid-trip using the same portable battery that I use for my phone and inReach.

For spring 2020, the Iota has been updated and renamed — it has become the Black Diamond Sprint 225 ($45, 1.9 oz). An early production version was sent to me last fall for review.

The Sprint 225 (left) will replace the Iota (right). The two share a similar price point, weight/size, and feature set.

Review: Black Diamond Sprint 225

The Black Diamond Sprint 225 Headlamp is technically new for spring 2020, but essentially it’s a brighter and updated version of the three-year-old Iota, which will be dropped from BD’s line. I’m uncertain if Black Diamond felt that the improvements warranted a rebrand or if “Sprint” speaks better to the intended end-use.

The key specs of the Sprint:

  • 1.9-oz (56 grams)
  • One TriplePower LED bulb with a non-adjustable oval flood beam
  • Up to 225 lumens of light output (on “full power” using PowerTap)
  • Rechargeable lithium battery
  • IPX4 waterproofness rating (“splashing from any direction”)
  • $45 MSRP
  • More information
Under spec

This winter, I’ve found the Sprint 225 ideal for night-running on Boulder’s bike trails, streets, and some very easy trails. Last fall, I carried it as a just-in-case light on long and adventurous trail running loops in the Indians Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park. And this year I plan to carry it on most of my backpacking trips, which start in April and finish in September.

My only complaint about the Sprint 225 for backpacking is that it lacks a red-light. This night vision-saving feature is wonderful on group trips, and in camp it’s often the only light that I use. Because of this omission, the Sprint seems more optimized for moving (i.e. trail running and long day-hikes) than camping.

The Sprint 225 is not to be confused with the Black Diamond Sprinter 275 ($75, 3.7 oz), which is also new for spring 2020. That model is slightly brighter, powered by three AAA batteries (single-use or rechargeable), and has a second head strap.

Without a red light, the Sprint is optimized more for moving (e.g. hiking and running at night) than for camping and group use.

Light output

The Sprint 225 uses one TriplePower LED bulb. Its light pattern is wonderfully smooth, with no distracting rings; it seems almost perfectly optimized for night-running and night-hiking — it focuses most of the light ahead, but still manages to illuminate the periphery. It’s a nice happy-medium between a spot beam (which makes you feel as if you’re running in a tunnel and which can be dizzyingly bouncy) and a flood beam (which doesn’t throw enough light out ahead).

The Sprint’s smooth beam is optimized for night-hiking and night-running: most of the brightness is focused on the terrain ahead, but it still illuminates the periphery.

Black Diamond reports that the Sprint 225 can maintain its max 225-lumen output for 1.5 hours; its minimum output, for 20 hours. I’m uncertain how BD tests its lights, but this seems roughly accurate — I learned the hard way that the Sprint 225 has enough power for one 60- to 90-minute night run, but needs to be recharged before a second one.

The Sprint is recharged with a mini-USB cord.

The competition

How does the Sprint 225 compare?

Black Diamond Sprint 225 vs Black Diamond Iota

Let’s start by comparing the Sprint to its predecessor. Both fill a similar niche in their price ($45 and $40, respectively) and size/weight; they have the same operating configuration; and they share many features, like the 3-LED battery meter and PowerTap.

The Sprint is 50 percent brighter (225 lumens vs 150), and it has a few small improvements. For example, the Sprint remembers its last brightness setting when it’s turned back on, whereas the Iota has an adjustable default. BD also reports that the Sprint’s lens is more efficient.

Black Diamond Sprint 225 vs Petzl Bindi

The Sprint 225 is brighter and less expensive than the Petzl Bindi, which has only 200 lumens and retails for $60. However, the Bindi has a red light. Moreover, it’s likely that Petzl will soon release an updated brighter Bindi.

Black Diamond Sprint 225 vs Nightcore NU25

The Sprint 225 weighs the same as the Nightcore NU25 but costs $10 more. The NU25 puts out 360 lumens and has a red light. If Nightcore could just work on their 1990’s era PC-like aesthetics, maybe they’d be onto something.

Questions or comments about the Sprint 225? Leave a comment.


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Posted in , on January 17, 2020
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10 Comments

  1. Alex on January 18, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Try out the Nitecore NU25. Its tiny, weighs next to nothing, is bright and has a red light. What’s not to love? I use mine all the time for night running in the winter.

    https://www.litesmith.com/nitecore-nu25-triple-output-usb-rechargeable-headlamp/

    • Vitaly on January 19, 2020 at 10:50 pm

      And NU25 has IP66 water/dust protection instead of IPX4 in BD

    • Eli on January 23, 2020 at 12:17 pm

      Such a sweet little lamp with the strap mod you linked there.

  2. David Rogers on January 18, 2020 at 9:10 am

    The Nitecore NU20 is lighter weight (1.66oz) than the Sprint 225, and gets dramatically better battery life at similar brightness level – 6h vs 1.5h.

    I have found the very low brightness on the NU20 to be the just right amount of dim light that I don’t miss it not having red output.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 18, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      I’d be skeptical of manufacturer battery life claims. There is really no apples to apples testing system across brands.

      • David Rogers on January 18, 2020 at 11:06 pm

        Our family has 3 NU20’s that have been pretty heavily used for the past year. We have observed battery life to match the published numbers.

  3. Bob S. on January 18, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Black Diamond Sprint 225 vs Petzl Bindi – I don’t think you’ll notice much of a difference between 225 vs 200 lumens. What you might notice is the lack of a red light if that’s a feature you want.

  4. Wayne N. on January 23, 2020 at 11:31 am

    How would you compare the Sprint 225 to the BioLite 330?

  5. Chee.C on January 23, 2020 at 1:25 pm

    I like to know about the Suunto hat you were wearing. Where do you get it? I can’t find it on the Suunto website. Great fan of yours. Thank you.

    • Andrew Skurka on January 23, 2020 at 2:35 pm

      Ha, a giveaway in 2013, wear it all the time. It’s just a lightweight polyester Buff.

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