The Black Diamond Helion is a 3 LED/Xenon headlamp
with 2 modes of operation. The bezel and switching mechanism
are on the front of the user's head and the battery
compartment is in the rear. Both sections are attached
by a cable which wraps around the user's right side
and the unit uses a 3 point elastic fully adjustable
suspension system to attach to the user's head. Three
LEDs rest in a protected reflector with a single Xenon
bulb in the center. The LEDs are housed on a smooth
silver platform which matches a notch in the top of
the xenon bulb faceted reflector. The bezel is vertically
adjustable 90 degrees and when pivoted all the way down
the switch is protected from accidental activation.
The first thing I noticed was the battery box. They
have changed their design so that the battery box is
now easy to access without having to partially remove
the straps. This is a big improvement compared to the
design of the BD headlamps I have reviewed to date.
However, waterproofing is completely absent on the battery
box. The bezel at least has some rubber seals.
The straps are elastic and are very easily adjustable.
No problems there. The strap attachment rings have gaps
cut in them so that the straps can be easily removed
for cleaning or replacement. The cable that runs between
the bezel and the battery box is held on to the straps
by two clips which are unnoticeable from a comfort standpoint.
The bezel contains the 3 LEDs, xenon bulb, and switching
mechanism. There are 2 primary modes of operation. A
firm click turns on the headlamp in either LED or incandescent
mode. A second click turns it off. Third click turns
it on in the opposite mode from before (LED or incandescent)
and fourth is off again. No special fancy circuitry
here, just a mechanical click switch.
Output is in the form of a wide spill of light from
the LEDs and a nice spot from the xenon bulb. On the
both modes you do get some artifacts in the beam due
to the cutout needed by the LEDs in the reflector, but
it isn't really that bad or distracting. The xenon bulb
is adjustable for focus, but I don't see that it would
be necessary at all.
LED mode, Incandescent mode, all at 1 meter.
The switch is a simple click switch covered with a
rubber bladder. It rests under the bezel so most folks
will press it with their thumb when they grab the light
with their hand.
Black Diamond says in the instructions that this headlamp
is tested to IPX-7
water resistance and continues to work when submersed
in water. They do state that water will get in the headlamp
and it will need to be dried, but it will work. There
are no visible seals in the battery box. The bezel has
an o-ring at the primary separation and a rubber seal
at the penetration point of the cable.
Ergonomics: Comfy! Generally seems to fit well with
no serious pressure points. I think the battery box
may get a wee bit irritating pushing on the back of
the head, but that's pretty typical for most headlamps.
The bezel angle adjustment ratchets into place and I
found mine moved too easily. There is a nut-and-bolt
arrangement at the pivot hinge which you can tighten
to match your preferences.
For batteries this little critter runs on 3 AA cells.
Either alkaline or lithium are permitted by the manufacturer.
There is a thumbscrew in the back of the battery box.
Spin it off with your thumb (it has a retainer so it
doesn't get lost) and hinge open the compartment. The
lid is attached to the central strap while the rest
of the box is attached to the side straps. The box lid
can come completely off. Insert your batteries and close
the box. I found it was best to pinch the box shut so
it clicks into alignment and then tighten the thumbscrew.
Batteries are included. Battery life is advertised
as 220 hrs for the LEDs and 3.5 hours for the bulb.
A spare bulb is included and both bulbs are the Black
Diamond "bright" or orange-based bulbs
What I Liked: Water resistant (splashable),
Long battery life option with LEDs, Good output, Easy
What I Didn't Like: Sometimes have
to cycle through the mode you don't want to get to the
one you do want since the switch is a simple series
Conclusions: A good headlamp. Good
output, Low and high output options for battery conservation
or brightness when needed. Simple, straightforward.
Hard to go too wrong with this one. I would just avoid
very wet climates or environments since the battery
box isn't designed to handle too much moisture.