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April 21, 2010

Princeton Tec Remix Headlamp Review

Princeton Tec is an equal-opportunity illuminator: for more than three decades, they’ve produced a huge variety of lighting systems for cycling, SCUBA, climbing and camping, as well as industrial and military applications. Or, according to their website: We've consulted great athletes, scaled mountains, traversed the poles, touched the ocean floors and rolled two wheels on every continent. By comparison, your routine morning trail run shouldn’t pose that much of a challenge, right?


Despite all this, the company lacked what I consider an essential accessory for early morning trail outings: a compact lamp that’s light enough to wear for hours, bright enough to take on single track trails in the dark, and small enough to fit in your pocket. It’s the category where Black Diamond’s Spot and Petzl’s Tikka XP2 really (pardon the pun) shine, and Princeton Tec lagged behind with the Fuel lamp, which fell short of the brightness and battery life of its competitors.

The Remix is an enormous step forward in both those regards, and makes Princeton Tec a legitimate player in the compact lamp category. Basically, they’ve taken the 3-LED Fuel design and supercharged it with an additional Maxbright LED bulb and extended battery life, while keeping the dimensions the same and adding only a fraction of increased weight.

Princeton Tec Remix


Additionally, the Remix offers some unique features that aren’t typically seen in compact trail headlamps. Its water-resistant casing has a single-arm bracket, which allows rotation through an expansive 120-degree range of motion. The 5mm LED bulbs are white on the standard Remix, but available in red (for night vision) or green (for reading topo maps) versions with the Remix Pro. The 3 AAA battery compartment is very easily accessed by a built-in opening tool on the headband.

Power output for the Maxbright bulb is quite impressive at 70 lumens, and each bulb type has a high and low setting. On high, the Maxbright bulb shoots 45m with a burn time of 28 hours, while the 5mm LEDs have a range of 30m for 61 hours. Functionally, the 5mm LEDs serve as a flood mode, while the Maxbright is more of a spot application. Extended battery life is up to 200 hours with the 5mm LEDs on the low setting. The Remix is compatible with rechargeable batteries as well as standard alkalines.


Three 5mm LEDs; 1Maxbright LED, single on/off button on top


Above the casing is a single large button that is used for on/off and for switching from the 5mm LEDs to the Maxbright. The button is large enough to be used with gloves, but I found it a little overly sensitive to mild pressure, as it accidentally turned on in my pocket a couple of times after I had stowed it away for the morning. One of these times, I didn’t notice until much later, unknowingly draining my battery life while I was oblivious.

Those episodes also highlighted (another pun – sorry about that) one other drawback to the Remix, in that there’s no battery life indicator to tell you when you’re running low. There’s also no strobe function, but for trail running applications that’s pretty much a non-factor.

Overall weight of the Remix is 83g (2.9 oz), and the sleek design sits very comfortably on my forehead even for a couple of hours. Its MSRP is officially $40, although both the company website (link above) and Amazon.com list it at $45. Either way, it's a fairly affordable option for a convenient and compact headlamp.

But how does it compare to the other compact lamps I’ve reviewed? I’ve got that taken care of for you as well. Click here for my comparison review of the Tikka XP2 and the Black Diamond Spot, and compare the specs with this review.


*Product provided by Princeton Tec
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at
info@runningandrambling.com

1 comments:

Trackerjack 4/22/11, 9:31 AM  

Great light for the money, about $32, the only issue i have with the lite is, According to P.T customer svs. you can't use the high end litheum batteries, due to the fact that battery output is just too much for the circuit board inside the light to deal with. Long term causing premature LED failure

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