PRINCETON TEC AMP 1.0 FLASHLIGHT
TEST SERIES BY BRETT HAYDIN
INITIAL REPORT - March 25, 2009
FIELD REPORT - June 03, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - August 04, 2009
bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
Salida, Colorado, USA
5' 11" (1.80 m)
195 lb (88.50 kg)
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in the Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips in rough, mountainous terrain, although I have extensive experience in the upper Midwest as well. I take one or two longer trips each year, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
March 25, 2009
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
|Princeton Tec Amp 1.0|
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: www.princetontec.com
MSRP: $14.99 USD
Listed Weight: 57 g
Measured Weight without batteries: 1.1 oz (31 g)
Measured Weight with batteries: 2 oz (57 g)
Dimensions: 4.875 x 1.25 in (12.4 x 3.2 cm) roughly cylindrical shape
Available Colors: Blue, Gray, Orange and Yellow
Warranty: Lifetime warranty on defects in workmanship and materials, not including bulb or batteries for customers in the USA. 10-year warranty outside the USA.
Other details provided by manufacturer:
Power: 14 Lumens
Burn Time: 3 Hours
Batteries: 2 AAA Alkaline
Weight: 57g (2 oz)
Waterproof to 100 m (328 ft)
The Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 flashlight is a lightweight, waterproof light that uses a xenon bulb. The main body of the light is made of Lexan, while a little more than half of the total surface is covered with a rubber material that provides a good grip when I hold it in my hands. While the overall shape is cylindrical in nature, there are some variations in the shape that provides a very natural feel in my palm. In fact, the manufacturer claims that the shape is ergonomic. On one end there is an opening a little larger than 0.5 in (1.25 cm) that the manufacturer recommends using for a carabiner attachment.
The battery compartment can be accessed by unscrewing the top of the light. The cover is a rubber coated plastic housing that has the lens installed in the end. There is an O-ring below the threads on the main body of the flashlight to help keep water out. There is a separate silver housing that contains the xenon bulb as well as a small circuit board and contacts for the batteries. The batteries themselves slide into the body of the flashlight parallel to each other. I can see two springs at the rear of the compartment.
The Amp 1.0 turns on by twisting the cap clockwise until the light turns on. There is only one setting for the beam. The packaging for the Amp 1.0 includes two AAA Alkaline batteries as well.
The Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 flashlight arrived in perfect condition with no obvious defects whatsoever. The first thing I noticed about the flashlight was how light it feels. Without the batteries it is hardly noticeable! Even with the batteries installed, this is still a very light flashlight.
For the size, the flashlight is quite bright. It is a clear white light, not yellow at all. Since the beam cannot be focused, the light fans out relatively quickly and can illuminate a larger area from afar. I am interested to see how useful this light will be in the field. I am only a little concerned that the light has a burn time of only 3 hours.
I really enjoy the way the light feels in my palm. Because of its shape, I find that I can easily operate the flashlight with one hand. The body, while cylindrical, is tapered slightly toward the back end. Additionally, the body is flattened slightly so when I grip the flashlight, it remains in place while I use my thumb and forefinger to twist the cap and turn the light on.
The Amp 1.0 is a little thicker that I thought it would be, so I am struggling with how I can use the light in a hands free manner. Because there is an excellent attachment point for a carabiner, I am sure that I can find a way to rig up a system.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions included with the Amp 1.0 have proven to be useful so far. I wasn't quite sure how to install the batteries and since there are no positive or negative symbols in the battery compartment. Using the manual as a guide, it is clear that the batteries need to be placed opposite each other (negative and positive sides).
There are some instructions on the overall care that should be noted. The O-ring and lens cap threads should be cleaned and lubricated with silicone grease occasionally. Should the flashlight need to be cleaned, soap and water can be used and be allowed to air dry.
The manufacturer's website has useful information about the product. Xenon bulbs, for example, burn twice as bright as halogen bulbs but with half the power needed. The manufacturer does state "They are less desirable for longer-term, backcountry uses, where weight and battery efficiency are a must." However, the light is ideal for night hikes and search and rescue.
Interestingly enough, there is a little discrepancy on the weight of the product. The packaging states the weight to be 42 g (1.5 oz) on the front cover, but in every other instance the weight is listed at 57 g (2 oz). Based on my confirmation of the weight, this is likely an oversight.
TRYING IT OUT
I find this to be a useful tool so far. I had the opportunity to use the Amp 1.0 at work while installing some new grates on the bottom of our community pool. Suited up with scuba gear, I attached the light to my gear with a standard oval carabiner. The depth of the pool is roughly 12 ft (3.7 m) and the light operated perfectly underwater. The advertised burn time was pretty accurate. About three hours into the project, the light finally wavered and then ceased.
The Amp 1.0 appears to be a useful flashlight so far. The light is bright and easy to operate. The short burn time will require me to carry multiple sets of batteries into the backcountry. Because it is so light and comfortable, I am excited to see how well the Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 performs in the backcountry!
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have been able to use the Amp 1.0 on three backpacking and two car camping trips totaling six nights of use. The first backpacking trip was a 12 mi (19.3 km) out-and-back spontaneous trip in the San Isabel National Forest along the Colorado trail. The weather looked threatening the whole time, but temperatures remained between 30 and 50 F (-1 to 10 C) with only a trace amount of snow and rain mix. The trail was mostly snow covered, but much of it did not require any snowshoes. The elevation was between 9,900 and 11,950 ft (3,018 to 3,642 m).
My second trip was a 14 mi (22.5 km) hike up the Barr Trail toward Pikes Peak, however the weather conditions deteriorated and I was forced to turn back. The original plan would have been 26 mi (42 km) with a spectacular view. The temperatures dropped to about 5 F (-15 C) overnight and the high was only 25 F (-4 C) on our retreat. The depth of snow and high winds were the major problems. Starting elevation was 6,600 ft (2,012 m) and we camped at about 9,500 ft (2,896 m). I followed up with a return trip a couple of weekends later and made it much further, but stopped 2 mi (3.2 km) short of the summit because of 8 ft (2.4 m) snow drifts that proved too tough for my dog. I suppose the better route in winter conditions really is the Crags route!
I also camped with my daughter and three of her friends (all 8 years old) for her birthday party at the Cherry Creek State Park in Denver, Colorado. This is an established campground with amenities, but also has some splendid trails for exploring. Temperatures were mild, only dropping to 45 F (7 C) overnight. Sunny skies but breezy conditions made some elements a little hectic.
I took another car camping trip for three days in Moab, Utah with my daughter and a friend as well as my sister and her two boys. We camped in national forest land in the arid desert climate roughly 15 mi (24 km) northwest of Moab. The terrain was mostly slick rock and sandy soils with warm temperatures between 60 and 80 F (16 and 27 C). There was quite a bit of rain, with some thunderstorms, all of which were limited to the late afternoons and evenings.
I have also used this flashlight as my primary source of light for evening strolls, in my car as well as in my "ten essentials" pouch that I carry with me on any hike I go on, even for the day. What can I say, I like to be prepared!
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I would have to say I am pleasantly surprised with the Amp 1.0 so far but I have developed some reservations. I have found the flashlight incredible useful as a general flashlight. It is lightweight, easy to stow away and provides good light.
I have used the Amp 1.0 to perform a variety of tasks around the home and with special projects. As I noted in my initial report, I used the light to perform some maintenance underwater in a pool setting. The beam was adequate for our needs, which included drilling and installing equipment underwater. When the water was murky, the light was able to penetrate the cloud enough to allow us to see what we were doing. Likewise, while performing maintenance on my wife's car, I used the light to help see what I was doing under the hood. Once again, the light was ample for my needs.
Out in the field, the light has some limitations. While the light will shine well in the night, the beam is narrow (as advertised) but cannot be adjusted to a wide setting. I have found that I can see with the light for at least 75 ft (23 m). I will continue to test the limits of the range throughout my testing, but while camping for my daughter's birthday party (she's turning 9) I was able to pace out the distance and could keep track of the kids from a central location. At farther distances, I can continue to see as the beam disperses. A lot of my campsites have been in wooded areas so far, so I have been limited more by the trees than by light.
I have tried to use the Amp as a lantern in my tent by suspending the light from the top of my tent. With such a short range, the light is rather useless because the beam is too focused. In fact, even as a reading light, the beam is almost too narrow to comfortably read; at least for me.
The durability of the light is excellent so far. I have not had any issues with the lens or any other part so far. The burn time of 3 hours continues to be an accurate gauge. I use name-brand alkaline batteries and always bring one set extra "just in case." This has proven to be a good strategy because I have run out of power twice so far. The first was a trip up the Barr Trail, but I am certain that the batteries were not 100% when I started. The second time was in Moab where I was using the light over several days. Replacing batteries is easy, even on the trail. The design of the battery compartment makes it almost foolproof for me to get it wrong.
The operation continues to be relatively easy. First, I can easily clip the light just about anywhere. My original thought was to try and find a way to attach the light to my hat for hands-free operation, but the light is too thick to make it practical. While performing camp chores on my first trip out with the light, I was able to wedge it in between my hat and head, but it was not all that comfortable or practical. It can be operated with one hand if necessary, but my initial impression seems to have been too optimistic. It just is far easier to turn it on with two hands.
I have another two months of testing to go, so I will reserve my final judgment for then. However, some of my initial impressions still hold. For a small light, this one really packs a punch. The light is bright and illuminates for a good distance. It is also very easy to carry with me. Because it is so small and light, I don't mind shoving it in my pocket as well as clipping it. I have also found it very useful as an all-purpose light.
The shorter burn time is a little bit of a bummer so far. The additional expense of batteries is adding up (on my sixth set of batteries now) but I also have inadvertently left it on overnight once. It would also be nice to have a variable beam width as needed.
I plan to continue to use the light as my primary source of light in the backcountry. I recently moved to a rural mountain community surrounded by wilderness areas. I anticipate that I will be able to get Amp-le more use over the next two months! Please check back then to see how the light is doing!
I would like to thank Princeton Tec as well as the monitors at BackpackGearTest for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I have continued to use the Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 on several backpacking trips over the past two months. I have also used the flashlight around the house and in the car for emergencies. One backpacking trip was a three day trek in the San Isabel National Forest along the Browns Pass and Kroenke Lake Trails. Temperatures were mild with daytime highs of 80 F (27 C) and overnight lows at about 40 F (4 C) and some afternoon showers. The terrain was quite varied with soft forest trails to soggy meadows and even some rock scrambling on Mt Yale! All told, I put on a little over 20 mi (32 km) with elevations from 10,000 - 14,196 ft (3,048 - 4327 m).
Another trip was a backpacking trip with my sister along the Horn Fork Trail to Mt Harvard in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. We hiked about 14 mi (22.5 km) over alpine forest, tundra and steep talus slopes, not to mention snow! Of course, hiking to an elevation of 14,420 ft (4,395 m) is bound to have a mix of terrain. Temperatures were very pleasant: 40 - 75 F (4 - 24 C) but the weather brought hail and rain on our final retreat to the car.
My final trip was an overnight trip on Mt Shavano in the San Isabel forest. I hiked a short 1.5 mi (2.4 km) to a great campsite I had previously scouted. The following day was an early hike to the summit of Mt Shavano and Tabuache Peak, both over 14,000 ft (4267 m). The terrain was both alpine forest and tundra with some loose talus, but a mostly solid trail. Temperatures were excellent with a high of 85 F (29 C) and an overnight low near 40 F (4 C).
During the testing period, I also used the Amp on another 3 day hikes, leaving before sunrise on each of these occasions.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have been very pleased with the performance of the Amp 1.0 flashlight. I have found that the light is exceptional for the small size and light weight. Over the past two months I have tried to capture pictures at night that could capture the intensity of the beam. The images below show the light shining on an interesting rock and vegetation from approximately 15 ft (4.5 m) away and another picture of a tree trunk from approximately 30 ft (9.1 m). Even my camera could pick up the light from those distances, but the light can shine much farther.
|Rock and Shrub from 15 ft|
|Tree from 30 ft|
One night at home, I heard a wailing noise outside. I could not tell what the noise was so I grabbed the Amp to go investigate. It was probably not especially smart, since I have seen bear in the neighborhood and mountain lions are also in the area. However, I was able to spot a deer some 150 ft (46 m) from my porch. At that distance I was able to see the deer but the light was rather dispersed so I could not make out much of the detail.
The Amp has held up extremely well. There are no obvious flaws or peeling edges. The light is still burning, although I have used up a number of batteries up until this point. On two trips I have have replaced the batteries once due to the short burn time associated with the batteries. Over the past four months, I would estimate that I have used 10 sets of batteries. To be fair, I have also gone out of my way to use the flashlight more than I would normally in the spirit of testing the usefulness and limits. The light does not turn on accidentally, which is somewhat of a plus in my opinion.
I normally use the flashlight in the tent at night, but from time to time have used it for doing camp chores or on night hikes. One of the challenges of bringing along the Amp while backpacking is the limited functionality for no-hands use. I love taking it along for hikes at night because the beam is bright and shines a great distance. But if I need both hands, there is just no easy way to use it.
A definite plus for the Amp is the bright color. On my last backpacking trip I forgot to bring a carabiner to attach the light to my belt. After the sun rose, I stowed the light in my jacket pocket. However somewhere along the way the light slipped out and was lost. Because of the bright color another hiker was able to spot it and carried it up the mountain. On my way down, I noticed the light hanging from their pack and asked if they had found it. They returned it, thankfully! I suppose the good news is it is so light I didn't even notice it fell out!
I am definitely happy with the Princeton Tec Amp 1.0 flashlight.
Things I Like
- Light weight
- Exceptional light source. Much brighter than others I use.
- Easy to store with a carabiner, provided I bring one along!
Things that could be improved
- It would be great if the beam could be focused or dispersed. The single setting limits the use, in my opinion.
I doubt that I will use the Amp 1.0 much on backpacking trips. The short lifespan of the batteries limits the utility on extended trips. It is an excellent flashlight to keep in my 10 essentials sack as well as for future scuba excursions so I will definitely keep it around! To be fair, Princeton Tec notes on their website that they are less suitable for backcountry use. This is a great flashlight for its intended purpose!
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
I would like to thank Princeton Tech and the monitors at BackpackGearTest for allowing me to be a part of this test series.
Read more reviews of Princeton Tec gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin