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Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Cosmo Review

Cosmo 2016
Price:   $30 List | $18.99 at MooseJaw
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, small size, great price
Cons:  Much less brightness than alternatives
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

While this is a good headlamp, we implore you to spend another $10 and get something like the Black Diamond Spot which has much better beam brightness and quality combined with a very respectable battery life. The Cosmo is a middle of the road kind of light. It offers average performance and average battery life at an average price. If you are on a budget, look to the Energizer 3 LED which scored just a little lower for a fraction of the price. Or if you're looking for a lighting powerhouse, check out the Coast HL7.

New Version Available - February 2016
Black Diamond has released a new Black Diamond Cosmo, which has been updated. Keep reading to find out more!


RELATED REVIEW: The Hunt for the Best Headlamps

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Score Product Price Measured Max Beam Distance Claimed Distance Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI)
72
$50
Editors' Choice Award
131 m 152 m 3.4 hrs
68
$60
Editors' Choice Award
56 m 70 m 10.6 hrs
68
$100
82 m 100 m 9.4 hrs
67
$50
78 m 70 m 7.8 hrs
67
$40
71 m 75 m 3.7 hrs
66
$100
Top Pick Award
157 m 153 m 1.8 hrs
65
$35
73 m 90 m 4.6 hrs
65
$185
113 m 135 m 2 hrs
62
$64
66 m 0.6 hrs
60
$110
102 m 110 m 1.8 hrs
59
$55
60 m 50 m 3.1 hrs
58
$40
49 m 73 m 6.4 hrs
56
$60
75 m 85 m 2 hrs
56
$20
Best Buy Award
31 m 30 m 14.7 hrs
56
$80
Top Pick Award
39 m 30 m 5.1 hrs
55
$89
42 m 3.5 hrs
55
$40
41 m 60 m 3 hrs
53
$50
58 m 90 m 3.2 hrs
53
$30
30 m 58 m 6.3 hrs
51
$25
34 m 38 m 7.3 hrs
51
$18
33 m 10.3 hrs
49
$23
39 m 30 m 1.9 hrs
47
$30
Top Pick Award
28 m 29 m 9.4 hrs
47
$45
40 m 40 m 3.2 hrs
46
$80
52 m 65 m 3 hrs
45
$30
29 m 50 m 7.1 hrs
44
$20
15 m 15 m 2 hrs
42
$45
27 m 30 m 4.2 hrs

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results


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Review by:
Jediah Porter
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
May 10, 2015

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The New Black Diamond Cosmo vs. The Older Version


The Black Diamond Cosmo has been upgraded and is now available for purchase. The list price remains $30 and it's available in four new colors: Grass, Aluminum, Matte Black, and Plum. The redesigned Cosmo boasts 160 lumens, as well as six different modes, and is now waterproof.

Check out a side-by-side comparison below, with the latest version of the Cosmo shown on the left (shown in the color Grass) and the older version pictured on the right.
Cosmo 2016
Black Diamond Cosmo
 

Hands-On Review


This is an average performing headlamp that falls into the tough $30 price range. Just a little more money gets you a much higher performance headlamp, while less expensive models don't score too far behind this one. The Cosmo is exceptional at one thing: very long battery life when on low mode.

Performance Comparison


This $30 headlamp runs for a long time on low mode.
This $30 headlamp runs for a long time on low mode.

Trail Finding


A score of 7 for trail finding is very respectable, especially for a $30 headlamp. But if you spend just another $6, you can get a trail finding powerhouse with the Coast HL7. As you can see in the beam comparison, the coast shines much further.




The Coast gets that awesome beam, however, by burning through batteries very fast. Perhaps a better comparison is with the Cosmo's big siblings, the Black Diamond Spot and Black Diamond ReVolt which both have solid battery life. What you get for your extra $10 in upgrading from the Cosmo to Spot is well worth the investment.




Close Proximity


In comparing the Black Diamond Spot and Cosmo, two products from the same manufacturer and priced just $10 apart, it is remarkable that they can vary so much. The Spot, in close proximity mode, casts a very even beam. The Cosmo has a hot spot in the middle and not very even light.




Battery Life


Battery life is where the Cosmo edges slightly ahead of the Spot. It lasted seven hours in our ANSI measured high mode runtime tests. This is much better than the Spot (3.7 hours) and Coast (3.4 hours). During that test, the beam power starts much lower on the Cosmo, which does not make for the best direct comparison. In other words, it is no mystery as to why the Cosmo lasts so much longer on the same batteries than the brighter lights. The brighter bulbs in the more expensive lights consume more battery power right away than those in the Cosmo. Confused? What is ANSI? See our detailed description in the full Headlamp Review.

We did not measure low mode runtime, but the Cosmo's claimed 250 hours is one of the highest of any headlamp in the review. We can extrapolate that, given the relatively long high-mode run time, the Cosmo will run a very, very long time in low mode on fresh batteries.

The Cosmo takes 3 AAA batteries.
The Cosmo takes 3 AAA batteries.

Brightness


This light casts a beam 29 meters long in our measured max beam distance tests. This compares with 71 m for the spot and 131 m for the Coast. 29 m is not bad, it's just not that impressive for a $30 headlamp when the Coast goes three times as far for only an extra $6.

A photo of the beam distance of the BD Cosmo. It shines 29 meters.
A photo of the beam distance of the BD Cosmo. It shines 29 meters.

Weight


At 94 grams, this is a compact but not ultralight headlamp. It is about the same weight as the Spot. For comparison, the featherweight champion Petzl e+LITE is less than a third the weight at 30 g.

Best Applications


Use this light when it is essential to have long battery life. Otherwise, we think there are better options out there.

Value


The thirty dollar price point is a tough spot. Just a little more money gets you the top scoring headlamps in our review. And for a total of $12, you can get the well-performing Energizer 3 LED, which is more attractive to those on a budget.

Conclusion


This is a solid light but there are just too many competitors that either score much better for another $6-10 or score just a little lower at a much lower cost. The Black Diamond Spot, for example, performs significantly better for only $10. It has a nearly identical form factor and mass with a much better beam. The Coast HL7 is a light-emitting powerhouse for only $6 more. And for a mere $12, the Energizer 3 LED scored slightly better than the Cosmo.

Other Versions


Black Diamond Spot
Black Diamond Spot
  • Cost- $40.00
  • Weight with batteries- 3.4oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 71m
  • Measured Run-time- 3.7 hours
  • Excellent all around, general use headlamp, from camping to alpine climbing

Black Diamond Sprinter  a light custom built for runners.
Black Diamond Sprinter
  • Cost- $70.00
  • Weight with batteries- 3.7oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 39m
  • Measured Run-time- 5.1 hours
  • Rechargeable battery with red blinking rear light
  • Top Pick award winner for runners

Black Diamond Icon
Black Diamond Icon
  • Cost- $90.00
  • Weight with batteries- 8.2oz
  • Measured Max Distance- 82m
  • Measured Run-time- 9.4 hours
  • Contender for Top Pick for Trail Finding due to beam distance and excellent battery life
Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 17, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (5.0)

100% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 50%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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Write a Review on this Gear

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   May 17, 2016 - 10:58pm
Niii Pawww · Climber · Los Angeles
This is the best headlamp ever!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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