Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gear Review - Princeton Tec APEX Headlamp

Product Features and Impressions:
To give context for review, I have never used an LED lighting system that has been able to match the power of a halogen setup. I've tried LED's from other companies but have always found that they did not deliver and left me wanting more light to see the trail or to navigate well through the dark bush. That was until I used the APEX. This light delivers.

The single long range Maxbright LED is impressive and allowed our team to navigate down a steep canyon by spotting out the best route from 50 meters or more away. The light is even and the width is adequate for long range viewing. I was especially impressed with the quad short range Ultrabright LEDs used for proximity lighting. When not navigating up front, I would always switch to the quad setup and was amazed at how well and comfortable I found myself moving through the terrain. I was a little concerned with the weight of the battery pack on my head as I'm fond of battery packs that can be stowed remotely. However, the four AA's never bothered me as the strap set-up held the light firmly in place with little to no movement while moving fast. Lighting operation was easy even with thick leather repelling gloves and I never found the lighting bezel to tilt inadvertently. The light generally withstood continuous abuse and the light had no problems after being submerged during short night-time water crossings.

For durability, the main weakness of the light appears to be the small plastic head strap holder on the battery pack which broke off on my team mates light. While the light continued to function with no problems, the battery pack was not held as securely. My main negative feedback would be the burn time of the light. My team found that batteries had to be changed after approximately 4-6 hours of use due to a significant dimming of the light after this time. This is in contrast to the claimed 72 hours of use for the Maxbright High setting. Batteries used by our team included high output single-use alkalines and high output NMHD rechargables with no significant burn time difference being noted.

Overall Impression:
Even with the significantly lower than claimed burn time, I still feel that this is an awesome light that can deliver race after race.

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