Black Diamond Ion, retail $18.95 (
Manufactured by Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd (
Last updated 05-11-04

The Black Diamond Ion is a very small headlamp. It attaches to your head with a 2-point elastic (stretchy) headband, uses two white LEDs to produce its light, and uses a 6 volt silver oxide battery to power those LEDs.

I don't believe the Ion was meant to be used as your primary headlamp, but as your backup headlamp for when or if your primary one becomes lost, stolen, stepped on & broken, or quits working.


To use the Ion, slit it and its included battery out of the package first (cut the side of the package with a knife or razor blade and remove the Ion, the battery, and the instructional leaflet), install the battery (see below), and THEN you'll be ready to rock.

To turn the Ion on, firmly press on and then release the round black pushbutton switch on the underside of the Ion's body. It emits a relatively loud click sound when activated. You can hear and feel this click, so there's no chance for mistake as to when it comes on. To turn the Ion off, repeat this action. There are no additional modes, so please don't try looking for them.

The Ion comes equipped with an elastic strap which you can use to affix it to your head. This strap has an adjustable size, adjustable by sliding the grey "buckle" at the rear of the strap forward or backward to fit.

The Black Diamond Ion on a flashlight tester's head.

Once you have it fitted to your head, you can adjust the angle of the Ion by pivoting the light body up or down as you see fit.

To change the battery in your Black Diamond Ion, remove the head strap assembly from the light body itself. It is affixed to the light body with a pair of "sockets" that fit onto large diameter "pins" on the light body. Using a fingernail or a large standard screwdriver blade, lift one side of the headstrap bracket away from its pin on the light body, and slide it off the pin. Once it is clear, you should easily be able to remove the socket from the other side. Set the head strap assembly aside.

Again using a fingernail, the blade from a large standard screwdriver, or the small protruding tab on the headband adjuster (the grey piece on the Ion's elastic strap), pry the case halves apart at the back; there is a generously sized seam that allows for this. Set the top case half aside. Remove the used battery from the bottom case half, and dispose of or recycle it as you see fit. Insert a new 6V PX28L silver oxide battery into the space for it, being sure the spring in the battery chamber faces the (-) negative terminal of the battery. Place the top half of the case over the bottom half, and gently press on it until it snaps into place. Refit the head strap assembly onto the light body; placing the hole or socket of one side of bracket over the pin for it, then sliding the other side of the bracket over the back of the light body, and allowing the hole or socket on this side of the bracket to snap over the pin on the light body for it.

For a process that involves actually partially disassembling the unit, this battery changing procedure is remarkably easy to do.

This photograph shows the Ion apart, with the battery installed correctly in its chamber.

Advertised battery life to end of usable light is 15 hours. Since another test is occupying the equipment at the moment, and I don't yet know where to obtain the PX28L battery needed by the Ion, I cannot verify this for myself at the moment.
Black Diamond defines "usable light" as light bright enough to see and identify something at the bottom of a backpack, light your feet when climbing, or see well enough to tie a knot and set up a rappel; all at night of course. ;-)

The Ion is a reasonably durable instrument. I don't believe ordinary flashlight accidents will be enough to do it in. Since the steel rod I normally beat lights against is on another table holding a running test at this moment, I can't slam it against that rod now or I might queer the test. I did slap it against the front of this table a few times, and did not break or damage it. I'll do the steel rod test as soon as it is available - probably at least a few days as of 05-12-04.

The Ion is weather-resistant, but NOT waterproof or submersible. So although a little rain or snow shouldn't hurt it, please try not to drop it in creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes, oceansides, docksides, puddles of zebra pee, slush piles, mud puddles, tubs, toilets, sinks, fishtanks, dog water dishes, or other places where water or water-like liquids might be found. If you know or suspect it got flooded, take it apart (as you would for a battery change) and set the parts in a warm, dry place for a day or so to be sure it's dry before you reassemble it. If it fell into seawater or if something peed on it, douche the parts off with fresh water before setting them out to dry. You don't want your Ion to smell like seaweed or piss when you go to use it next. Salt (from seawater or potty) can't be very good for the Ion, its switch, or its battery, so you'll want that stuff washed out.
There are no O-rings on the Ion to offer any environmental protection; so "weather-resistant" maybe; "waterproof or submersible" no.

The Ion is a nifty little headlamp that you can just stuff into a backpack or bag until needed. It's very small and tidy, and it doesn't need a three point strap system because it's so lightweight. So you can just throw it on and turn the light on, and it will serve you well - as long as you're able to obtain that strange battery anyway.

The switch requires significant pressure to operate, and for this reason should not easily turn on in a backpack, bag, or box.

Beam photo at ~12".
Measures 24,500mcd on a Meterman LM631 light meter.

The light has a slightly bluish-white central hotspot with a slightly purplish-white corona.
This is a normal characteristic of white LEDs, and is nothing whatsoever to be concerned about.

Test sample was sent by D.K. of along with five other lights, and was received on 05-10-04.

UPDATE: 00-00-00

Decent brightness for a little two-banger
Easy, tool-free battery change
Appears to be reasonably durable

Battery is rather unusual, and may be difficult to find or expensive when you need one
Does not appear all that water-resistant

    MANUFACTURER: Black Diamond
    PRODUCT TYPE: Small headlamp
    LAMP TYPE: 5mm white LED
    No. OF LAMPS: 2
    BEAM TYPE: Narrow flood with good corona
    SWITCH TYPE: Pushbutton on/off on underside of light
    BEZEL: LEDs partially inset into plastic cowlings made for them
    BATTERY: One 6V PX28L silver oxide battery
    CURRENT CONSUMPTION: Unknown/unable to measure
    WATER RESISTANT: Yes, weather-resistant at minimum
    ACCESSORIES: Battery
    SIZE: 1.7"W x 1.5"H x 1.3"D
    WEIGHT: 25 grams
    WARRANTY: 3 years


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Black Diamond Ion *

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