Black Diamond Distance 1500 | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Black Diamond Distance 1500 | Review

A bright and powerful head torch that comes with a unique function that left us impressed

The Black Diamond Distance 1500 is a high-spec running head torch that’s designed specifically for the kind of ultra distance runs that take competitors well into the night. I’ve tested it out on night time runs in the Welsh mountains and on the coast. I also took it with me when I participated in Ultra Trail Snowdonia. 

Battery Life and Brightness

This has a multi-bulb torch on the front which puts out white, green, blue or red light. It also has a rear red light. The lights on the front and back can all be dimmed and have strobe settings too.

At most, you’ll get a whopping 1500 lumens from this – that’s enough to illuminate a 100-metre range in front of you. This is only on its PowerTap setting however, which provides a 10-second burst of max illumination after a simple double tap of the finger on the side of the casing. The thinking here is that it can give you a short burst of bright light when you need to quickly spot something ahead, like a trail marker for instance, and without causing the light to overheat. It’s a nice touch that I’ve found to work really effectively. 

I mainly found myself using this on the 300-lumen, medium setting which, in normal weather conditions, gave me a confident footing on narrow forest tracks and enough vision to decipher the path I needed to follow over rocky slabs. I haven’t had the opportunity to use this in very misty, claggy conditions yet so I’ll come back and update this article in due course.

On one occassion, I was able to confidently use the head torch on the 300-lumen setting for the duration of a 15-mile run, using the PowerTap 1500 lumens about six times along the way. Black Diamond says that you can use the 300 lumens for six hours with an extra two hours when the head torch drops down into its reserve mode. 

On the 800 lumen setting, which is technically the max setting if you discount the 1500 lumen PowerTap function, Black Diamond says that the head torch will run continuously for over an hour and a half. I tested this, leaving the head torch on at 800 lumens and with the red light on the back of the torch also on full power and I found the brand’s measurement to be correct. After about an hour and a half the bulb dropped down to its reserve setting (which is a sudden step down rather than a long and slow fade).

I did find cycling through the functions on this a little fiddly and not entirely intuitive. It took me a bit of getting used to. There are two buttons on the front, plus the PowerTap, and the backlight has one button. You cycle through all these via short presses and long presses when you want to dim the bulbs. 

There’s also a low setting which gives 15 lumens for 40 hours. For a bit of perspective on that, the torch on a mid range smartphone gives about 50 to 70 lumens. It’s therefore not a light you want to be using to navigate with but it’s adequate enough for using in a tent at night, whether that’s for reading, rummaging or cooking. 

In terms of the charge time, I plugged the head torch into my Macbook charger, which tends to charge my phone very quickly, and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to get the battery from zero to full. I think that’s pretty good. 


A lot of ultra running races these days now require you to carry a spare head torch or spare battery pack. Addressing this, Black Diamond has cleverly designed this so that the battery pack can be removed and replaced quickly and easily if you have a spare BD Distance 1500 battery (purchased separately). You can even do this with just one hand – that’s mainly thanks to the magnet which helps to guide the battery casing into its clip. Kudos to Black Diamond for its design-thinking here. It’s a really smart touch, one that I think could be very handy for serious ultra runners and also search and rescue crews. 

I found the top strap made this very stable and secure on my head when running and the balance overall felt superb. In some situations a top strap can get in the way – particularly if you’re using the head torch over a helmet or hat – but fortunately Black Diamond have designed it so that it can be removed quickly and with minimal fuss when you don’t want it via twist lock fasteners. I found that the head torch was still stable enough without the top strap, though it meant adjusting the strap to the point that it was quite tight. That’s fine for short to medium distances, but it’ll get a little uncomfortable over a number of hours. 

The Black Diamond Distance 1500 is waterproof but I’d recommend that you always check that the cover for the USB port is on properly when you’re using this in wet conditions. 

The Competition

The Petzl Nao+ is a very similar head torch to this one from Black Diamond. The Nao+ does have a slightly longer burn time and it’s also a bit cheaper and lighter but Black Diamond’s offering is cleaner in its design with less fussy wires and bungees. I’d say it’s also more comfortable. 

Both the Petzl Nao+ and the Black Diamond are undoubtedly very high spec head torches and they’ll both be a bit over-specced for casual runners who aren’t following ultra trail races around the globe all the year round. From my experience, something like the Biolite Headlamp 425 or the Silva Terra Scout XT aremore than adequate for the odd ultra race every now and then.


All in all, this is a very bright head torch that serves serious outdoor pursuits very well. It’s best suited to ultra distance trail running and, from my experience, it offers all you need for that – particularly if you purchase the extra battery pack which will let you run for a whole night with the torch putting out a whopping 800 lumens. While it is on the heavy side and it is a bit complicated to use, it’s still reliable and very comfortable and it feels built to last. 

Black Diamond Distance 1500

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Sping/Summer 2024 guide
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