Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: Black Diamond "Cosmo" Headlamp

Wet earth, my foggy breath, head light burning, damp clods of grass looking like frogs, twigs looking like snakes, still night air... I'm night running.

I had planned to run with the girls out on the Sandrat trails today but it's been raining for about 24 hours. At the risk of sounding like a wimp, I honestly didn't feel like dealing with the mud. I need to run 14 miles Saturday so getting my shoes completely muddy out there tonight, and then having to wash them out - they'd never be dry in time to do my mileage. Sometimes I can set them out in a hot sun and they might be ready in a little over a day - but it's supposed to rain a lot in the next 3 days so that's not happening. I actually don't even know when I'm going to get the 14 in but as soon as there's a break in the weather, I'm going to be out there laying it down.

I had already resigned to the fact that I just wouldn't get a run in today. I kept thinking however that I hadn't run since my Monday ...and that was eating at me a bit. I want to keep building my base miles. Running 4 miles is pretty much a breeze these days and I'd like to push it to where 8 miles feels easy. It already is very, very doable and on flat surfaces it is a pretty easy run. But, I can't wait for the day it feels just as easy as 4.

I went outside to let the dog out and realized it had stopped raining. The temperature had lifted a little as warm air infiltrated the cool. Out there I decided it'd be a great night to test my headlamp. I had picked it up last year but didn't do any races that started in the dark. I definitely had some training runs that ended in the dark unplanned but never had the headlamp on me.

I ran on city streets so the street lamps lit my way fairly well. But on the darker streets I was able to see just how well the Black Diamond Cosmo lit up the pavement. I don't have anything to compare it to but I believe this will be good enough for my purposes. Certainly, it's a lot less Blair Witch Project (read: jumpy) than holding a flashlight. The headlamp is just a lot smoother and more convenient than holding one more thing in your hands.

The Black Diamond Cosmo is also super light. I have tried out an electrician's head lamp before which is a bit bigger (as well as older) and the Diamond has definitely done a good job minimizing the weight. I would forget that I even had it on. It straps very snugly to my head and didn't move as I worked up a pretty good sweat. There are three settings: Hold to turn on (3 LED lights), push again to dim, push again to flash/blink and hold to turn off. The rubber button for these settings is fairly large, on top of the device, and I was able to access those settings easily while on the move. For being so powerful, the light is pretty compact and I can see taking it off when I don't need it and stowing it in my Nathan Intensity side mesh pockets or in the back, larger zip pocket.

As for the cons, I noticed two minor ones toward the 45 minute mark of my 4 mile run. I felt like it kind of made me itch. I probably have sensitive skin however and maybe having something strapped to my sweating skin was a little irritating. I don't know, but I feel like it was pretty minor. Secondly however, I noticed I had a headache toward the end of the run. I have no idea if this is due to the tightness of the strap, the moving light I'm constantly following or if it's completely unrelated. The pollen count has been astronomical lately - but it had just rained, and I think that's supposed to suppress environmental allergies isn't it? But still, it will take a few night runs to find out if the headache is related to the headlamp. And if it is an issue of following a shinning light in the dark, no headlamp is really going to fix that for me. I would say though, if I have to wear it for more than an hour, it could be more than a minor issue. We'll see though - maybe it'll just take some practice!

Overall, I would recommend it!

Black Diamond "Cosmo"
  • Retail: $29.95
  • 32 meters max light distance
  • 3 LED lights
  • High and low beams plus strobe signal light
  • Water-resistant
  • Uses three AAA batteries


  1. I get slight headaches when I wear headlamps too. I do think it has something to do with the tightness of the band. When my head starts hurting, I loosen it a tad.

    You'll get a different perspective when you run on the trails with it. It's easy to see everything you need to see on the street, but it takes a little more concentration to process your environment on a dark trail. You will spend most of your time looking down at the trail instead of in front of you...unless you get a very powerful light.

    I got a Surefire St. Minimus for Christmas, which I probably wouldn't have bought for myself ('cause it's $150), and it goes up to 100 lumen and is about the same weight as your standard lightweight headlamp. Its only disadvantage is that it drains batteries very quickly at that intensity.

  2. That's great to know about the headaches... Can't wait to try it on the trail - - and see the difference in yours!