PRINCETON TEC REMIX HYBRID HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
INITIAL REPORT - August 28, 2009
FIELD REPORT - October 26, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - January 09, 2009
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week-long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Photo courtesy of Princeton Tec website
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
|Photo courtesy of Princeton Tec website
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.princetontec.com
MSRP: $44.99 US via Shopatron link
Listed Weight: 83 g (2.9 oz) including batteries
Measured Weight: 83 g (2.9 oz)
5mm LED Color: White
Also Available in Red or Green
Made in USA with domestic and foreign components
The Princeton Tec Remix Hybrid LED Headlamp has one white Maxbright LED (for spot lighting) and 3 white Ultrabright LEDs (for flood lighting). Both have a high and low setting which makes for four settings overall. The modes and associated lumen strength, burn time and distance illuminated are as follows:
Maxbright LED high - 45 lumens - 28 hours - 45 m (148 ft)
Maxbright LED low - 20 lumens - 53 hours - 28 m (92 ft)
(3) 5mm LEDs high - 30 lumens - 61 hours - 28 m (92 ft)
(3) 5mm LEDs low - 4 lumens - 200 hours - 10 m (33 ft)
The headlamp uses 3 AAA batteries which are housed in a water resistant compartment behind the light. The battery door has a positive snap closure. The lamp is able to pivot in a bracket to allow for shining the light in the direction that it is needed.
The switch is a large push button switch which is supposed to be compatible with gloves. The strap is a wide elastic band which is adjustable to various lengths. It is removable and attaches to the lamp by slipping it into a slit on either side of the bracket. The website shows the buckle for the strap adjustment doubling as a tool for opening the battery compartment door.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My first impression was that the headlamp is smaller and lighter than my current headlamp. Without reading the instructions, I inserted the 3 alkaline AAA batteries according to the + and - markings on the battery door and snapped the latch closed. I noticed that while the closure was tight, it didn't look all that water-resistant. The battery door opens to the top which seems backwards to me for allowing water in and there is no seal on the door.
Then I pushed the button. There is only one button, so that was self-explanatory. It turned on the 3 LEDs at their high setting. Pushing the button again dimmed the light and pushing it a third time turned it off. So, I read the instructions to figure out how to get the other (Maxbright) bulb to work. By holding the button down, it will switch between sources (from 3 Ultrabright LEDs to 1 Maxbright LED). Pushing the button again within 1.5 seconds dims the light. By waiting over 2 seconds however, pushing the button again will turn it off.
I really like that I don't have to toggle through all of the modes to get to the light I want and that I can turn it off with one push.
As a test, my husband put on our other headlamp while I wore the Remix and we wandered around the house in the dark comparing beams. The Remix Maxbright bulb is very bright and cast a spot light that was not very focused. I think that this will be good for me because I would use the headlamp for hiking and not for trying to focus on one area. I'll have to see though after some actual use. The Ultrabright mode at the low setting seems perfect for reading.
My first outdoor test was a pre-dawn run where I used the Maxbright setting on high. I was running on a smooth road, so avoiding obstacles was not a concern, but I could see very well with the light.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are in three languages, English, French and German.
There are diagrams and instructions explaining how to open the battery door, insert the batteries and close the door.
They explain how to switch between light sources (hold down button) and cycle through the high and low modes (press again within 1.5 seconds). For turning it off, I can either cycle through the modes until turning off, or if the light has been on for more than 2 seconds pressing the button will turn it off.
If it doesn't light, check battery installation, replace batteries if needed and check for water contamination. The light will resume normal operation once the water is out and the light is completely dry. If contaminated with salt water, rinse with fresh water and allow to dry.
There is a 5-year warranty against defects in workmanship and materials under normal use.
The Princeton Tec Remix appears to be a well-constructed headlamp with some good features.
Don't have to toggle through all settings
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term testing period, I used the headlamp for 3 backpacking trips, 3 camping trips and 3 morning runs. I also used it many times for reading at home and for looking for insects in the garden. I have been trying to track my usage time at each setting. I used it in total for about 18 hours with 2.5 hours at Max High, 30 minutes at Max Low, 9 hours at Ultra High and 6 hours at Ultra Low.
Appalachian Trail, White Mountains (New Hampshire): 3 days; 2,032 to 5,367 ft (619 to 1,636 m); 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C).
Pacific Crest Trail, Central Sierra Nevada (California): 2 days; 9,610 to 10,500 ft (2,929 to 3,200 m); 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C).
Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada (California): 2 days; 6,560 to 7,520 ft (2,000 to 2,292 m); 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C).
Baxter State Park, Maine: 4 days; 1,079 ft (329 m); 38 to 65 F (3 to 18 C).
Recompence Shores, Freeport, Maine: 1 night; nearly sea level; 40 to 65 F (4 to 18 C).
Shawme-Crowell State Park, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: 2 days; nearly sea level; 40 to 55 F (4 to 13 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I find the Max High beam to be best for hiking or running in the dark. It shines a strong beam which gives me a lot of confidence that I won't trip over anything. I use both the Ultra High and Ultra Low beam for reading. In a tent, I prefer the low setting. At home, I prefer the high setting. I suppose this is because in a tent there is no other light source and I am very close to my reading material. At home there are other lights on which cause some glare and my reading material is on my lap (and not right in my face). I haven't found a reason to prefer the Max Low setting yet.
I have been surprised at how much I like to use this headlamp for reading at home. We don't have a habit of leaving many lights on at home, so it is funny how many times we are sitting on the couch (in the dark) reading with our headlamps on. If my husband is watching TV and I want to read, I can sit right next to him without bothering him by turning on additional lights. I just have to make sure not to look him in the eye!
I really like having one headlamp that provides both a strong spot light for night hiking and also has a good beam (or two) for reading. This makes this particular lamp quite versatile for me. I also like that it does not have a flashing bulb setting since I do not use this. On my other headlamp I always have to cycle past the flashing setting to get to the beam that I want to use.
I found that I cannot adjust the tilt position with one hand. I have to hold the frame with one hand and tilt the light with the other. This hasn't been a big problem for me though. The tilt position does stay in place well.
The switch button has some ridges on it to provide a grip. This is a nice feature, but the bottom of the light (the opposite side from the switch) also has similar ridges. So, when I pick the lamp up in the dark I can feel the ridges, but I can't tell which ones they are so I often put the lamp on my head upside down. Then when the switch button isn't on top, I realize my mistake and have to turn it over.
I have had several occurrences with the lamp not turning on when I press the switch button. At times I shook it and it turned on. At other times I had to open the battery cover, remove the batteries, give it a shake and then it may turn back on. On one morning run, I could not get it to turn on despite my various efforts. I just stuffed it in my pocket and continued running. After a short distance I pulled it out and tried again and it worked. There is a definite intermittent electrical connection. I have also noticed a slight flickering of the beam sometimes while I'm reading. Once it is on, I have not had it turn off inadvertently.
I have not had occasion to use the headlamp in the rain, so I haven't been able to evaluate its water-resistant properties. I hope to do this in the Long-Term test period.
There are a lot of features to like about this headlamp. However, the problems that I have had with it not always turning on are a show-stopper for me. I need a reliable lamp and am not confident that this one will work when I need it.
Don't have to toggle through all settings
No flashing bulb setting
Intermittent electrical connection
Identical ridges on top and bottom don't help me to identify the switch in the dark
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term testing period, I used the headlamp for a 3-day backpacking trip, a 3-day camping trip, 4 morning runs, many times for reading at home, for walking at night and for sitting around a campfire. We had a snowstorm in early December which knocked out our power for 3 days, so I was especially happy to have it then.
I have continued to track my usage time at each setting and was able to use the lamp enough to require replacing the batteries. On the first set of batteries, I used it during the LTR period for about 18 hours with 5 hours at Max High, 40 minutes at Max Low, 10 hours at Ultra High and 4 hours at Ultra Low.
The total battery life allowed 7 hours on Max High, 1 hour on Max Low, 18.5 hours on Ultra High and 10 hours on Ultra Low. This is significantly less than the advertised run-time. Based on the advertised run-time possible at each setting, I saw 62% of that amount.
After replacing the batteries, I have so far used the lamp for 1 hour on Max High and 7 hours on Ultra Low.
Locations/conditions of camping and backpacking trips:
Bagby Recreation Area, Central California: 3 days; 1,000 ft (300 m); 30 to 55 F (-1 to 13 C); rainy to cloudy
Point Reyes National Seashore, California: 3 days; 0 to 1,407 ft (429 m); 40 to 55 F (4 to 13 C); partly cloudy to heavy rainstorm conditions
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I continued to have problems with the intermittent electrical connection and had to shake the lamp and/or open and close the battery door multiple times to get it to work. At times it just kept going out so often that I gave up on using it. However, after I replaced the batteries, I had NO issue at all with an intermittent connection. The original batteries were the 3 alkaline AAAs supplied with the headlamp. The replacement batteries were a different brand of 3 new alkaline AAAs that I had in my drawer at home.
The batteries were in a state of needing to be replaced for several uses before I got around to doing it. By the time I replaced them, I was using the Max High setting for reading since the brightness had dimmed so much. At that time the Max High (highest) setting was not as bright as what the Ultra Low (lowest) setting is with new batteries. The photos show the lamp on the Max High setting before and after replacing the batteries. I appreciate that the light dims prior to completely going out. I have another headlamp that seems to be working just fine (no dimming) and then just shuts off when the batteries are dead. There is no warning that they need to be replaced.
I was able to use the battery door lever (also serving as the strap buckle) to open the battery door. However, I found it easy to open without it and preferred to open it by hand.
The angle of the lamp is difficult to adjust. I can only do it with two hands and usually have to take the lamp off of my head to do it. It does stay at the set angle once adjusted.
On the Point Reyes trip, I was able to use the lamp in downpour conditions and had no problem at all with any moisture getting into the battery compartment.
I found the Princeton Tec Remix Hybrid headlamp to be a durable, lighter weight, compact headlamp. Once replacing the batteries it has been completely reliable.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
No toggling through all modes
No flashing mode
Reliability was an issue with the first set of batteries but changed to being completely reliable with the second set
Battery life with provided set of batteries wasn't as advertised
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Princeton Tec and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
Read more reviews of Princeton Tec gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith