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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Primus PrimeLite Compact Trekk > Test Report by Nathan Kettner

PRIMUS PRIMELITE HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY NATHAN KETTNER
LONG-TERM REPORT
November 07, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Nathan Kettner
EMAIL: kettnernw "at" yahoo "dot" com
AGE: 31
LOCATION: Colorado Springs, Colorado
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 1" (1.85 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.40 kg)

I'm a medium weight backpacker, meaning my pack usually weighs 30-35 lb (13-16 kg), and I generally hike a moderate pace and mostly in mountainous terrain. I almost always use a tent (lightweight when backpacking, wall tent when hunting). I'm a weekend backpacker and make lots of day trips and single nights out, plus a few week-long backpack trips. All of my outings have been in the beautiful and rugged Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming since I started backpacking in 2004.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Primus
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.primus.se
MSRP: US$55.00
Listed Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
Measured Weight: 2.4 oz (68 g)
with three AAA batteries: 3.4 oz (96 g)

Listed Battery Life (Setting : Life)
6 LEDs 25% : 80 hours
6 LEDs 100%: 12 hours
1 Luxeon™ diode 50% : 36 hours
1 Luxeon™ diode 100% : 12 hours
6 LEDs flash 100% : 24 hours

Waterproof up to 1 m (3.28 ft).

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The shipping box was torn open at one corner when I received it (most likely because it was a rather large box and was probably crushed during shipping), but the contents inside the cardboard were undamaged and the headlamp was in perfect condition.
IMAGE 1
Damaged Box
IMAGE 2
Next to Shipping Box


After cutting the headlamp out of the plastic packaging my first impression was that the headlamp seemed rather flimsy, the headband stiff, and the adjustable tilt seemed way too easy to move. Overall, I would say it was much lighter and not quite what I expected after viewing pictures of it online.

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

The instructions were fairly limited, but the two button operation is very simple so instructions were really not even necessary for me to figure out. A table on the back of the instructions lists the beam length and expected life for each of the five settings (listed above). I did learn one other thing from reading the instructions - turning the headlamp on and putting it inside the travel bag allows you to have a softer light inside the tent rather than a directed beam of light.

TRYING IT OUT

Adjusting the headband was done easily and quickly and the strap is not as stiff and abrasive as it felt at first. However, only time will tell if it is comfortable when worn for hours at a time. Installing the batteries was likewise very straightforward for me and the battery compartment opens with a little pressure from my fingernail. The power button and the setting button are next to each other on top of the battery compartment and are easy to find with my fingers

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the tilt adjustment is much tighter once I have the headlamp on my head. Apparently, the tension of the headband also applies some pressure to the tilt adjust, helping to keep it pointing down at the angle I want it, but not so tight that I can't adjust it on the fly.

I have no way to measure the luminosity of the headlamp, but I did stand in a dark room in my basement and tried all the different settings (as listed in the Product Info section above) , which are cycled through by pressing the selector button on top of the battery compartment. Each of the settings was about as bright as I would expect from a few LEDs. I will have to wait until I'm in the field to get a good feel for whether the brightness and beam length are sufficient.

The last comment I have is that the Primelite CT is much lighter weight than the other headlamps I have worn in the past. This will be a nice advantage when backpacking and every ounce counts.
IMAGE 3
Contents

TESTING STRATEGY

Two out of my three trips so far this year have started with an evening drive that put us at our trailhead campsite after dark. Setting-up a tent in the car high beams would be OK, except it's not a very good way to impress the neighbors who don't appreciate the headlights shining through their tent. Unfortunately, I am also one of those unlucky individuals that has to get up at least once each night and having two hands available for the tent zipper is an indispensable advantage of having a headlamp. So I plan to use the Primelite CT for all my after dark activities including hiking, setting-up camp, cooking, and answering the call of nature. I intend to test this headlight on several upcoming single and multi-day trips in the Lost Creek and Flat Tops Wilderness areas in Colorado.

The Primelite CT packaging says the headlamp is waterproof up to 1 M (3.3 Ft). I doubt I'll risk ruining this piece of equipment by intentionally submerging it, but if I'm lucky (unlucky?), I'll get caught in a rain shower that will provide an opportunity to test the water resistance.

SUMMARY

I initially thought the Primelite CT might be poorly designed and constructed, but after playing around with it for a few minutes I think those impressions were not well founded. I'm looking forward to putting in some hours in the dark with this headlamp guiding the way. I'm especially curious to see if putting the headlamp in the travel bag provides enough light to see what I'm doing inside the tent.


This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report
will be appended to this report approximately two months from the date of this
report. Please check back then for further information


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I used the Primus Primelite CT headlamp in the dark. Seriously, I used it on several backpacking trips and on a car camping trip (5 nights total), but I don't think the conditions really matter other than to say that it was dark every night and I didn't go outside when it was raining. Of some importance is that the air temperature was fairly warm, in the 40-60 degF (4-15 degC) during the nights that I used the headlamp. Also, I generally only used the headlamp to find my way around on fairly even ground - no cave exploring or anything of that nature.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

This headlamp provided plenty of light for finding my way around in the dark, whether I was just going to the head or looking for my earplugs under the pile of gear at the foot of the tent. In most cases I only used the 25% setting with the 6 LEDs to avoid blinding anyone else in the vicinity. The 25% setting is also the lowest setting and provides the longest battery life. After several hours use on several occasions I have not noticed any dimming of the light's intensity.

As noted in my Initial Report, the headlamp is very lightweight, and combined with the easily adjusted headband, I think it was very comfortable whether I was wearing it directly against the skin of my forehead or I had it over my baseball cap or stocking hat.

I tried out the clever storage bag that acts as a light damper for general illumination, like a lamp, but I don't think it was really anymore effective than just setting the headlamp against the side of the tent or somewhere else that would make it cast light indirectly on the scene. It's not a bad idea, just not that useful for me.

If I had to find any criticism for this headlamp, I guess it would be the number of settings. The 6 blinking LEDs setting, in particular, could be eliminated at no loss of utility to me.

SUMMARY

I like this headlamp for its lightweight and comfort and can't find any reason why I wouldn't take it with me on every future backpacking and camping trip.

TESTING STRATEGY

I will have plenty of opportunities to use this headlamp again as long as the Earth continues to rotate and it gets dark every night. Seriously though, I intend to do at least a short hike on a single track trail to see if the headlamp is sufficient for spotting and avoiding tree roots and other tripping hazards. In addition, I would like to give it some exposure to rain to see if it is waterproof.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I wore the headlamp on two hunting trips (11 days total) where I camped in a wall tent near 9,000 feet (2700 m) elevation and temperatures from 25 to 50 degF (-4 to 10 degC). I generally had the headlamp on for 1/2 hour in the morning and 1-2 hours each evening. Unfortunately (fortunately?) it never rained while I was wearing the headlamp.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The headlamp seemed to remain very bright throughout the time I tested it, probably due to the fact that I used the 25% LED setting a majority of the time. I used it to walk along single-track trails in the woods almost daily and found it provided more than ample light for avoiding tree roots, rocks, and other obstacles, even on the lowest power setting.

SUMMARY

This headlamp's brightness and durability is more than sufficient for any backpacking trip I will ever take and the battery life is more than enough for several hours use each day (assuming the lower power setting) even on a weeklong backpacking trip.

CONTINUED USE

This headlamp will be on my short-list of necessary items to pack on any outdoor excursion that involves wandering about in the dark or even just digging in my pack after the sun sets.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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