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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Princeton Tec Bot Headlamp > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto
Princeton Tec Bot
by Jamie DeBenedetto
Product Information Back to contents
Product Description Back to contents
The Princeton Tec Bot is a 2 LED headlamp with removable headband designed for children. The lamp section is water resistant and runs off of 2 AAA batteries. The battery compartment is located on the right side and can be reached without detaching the lamp from the headband. The compartment door secures with one tiny screw, which requires a #1 Phillips screwdriver or equivalent. The lamp piece attaches to the headband via a slightly concaved bracket. This bracket arm allows the light to be swiveled up and down so the user can set the position as needed. The Bot has three modes of operation, all of which turn on via a single button located on the top of the light. The "flash" setting runs the longest at eleven hours; the "low" setting is next at nine hours and finally the "high" setting at four and half hours. These burn times are applicable under the conditions of new or fully charged batteries and assuming the lamp is running continuously in the same mode. There is the added feature of an automatic shut off after six hours of uninterrupted use. Lastly, the adjustable headband is made of a soft stretchy material with bright colors and little LED shaped ovals printed on it.
Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents
The P-Tec Bot arrived on Oct. 17th, 2011 in perfect working order. The package contained the Bot, the headband and two AAA batteries. Totally ready to be used right off the bat, with a quick bit of assembly first of course. Also included was one page of operating and maintenance instructions. Although fitting the batteries and figuring out the three lamp modes was a no-brainer for me and my 9 year old son, I still found the instructions to be a helpful addition. The sheet provided several good nuggets of info. like what to do if the light won't turn on, how to clear water or saltwater out of the Bot's inner circuitry, Princeton Tec's warranty, return policy, and contact information, as well as how to install the batteries and what types to use. This information is written in English, French and German.
Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents
The Bot is well represented on the Princeton Tec webpage with photos and specifications so it was pretty much exactly what I was expecting. The exception is the way in which the lamp can be rotated via the single bracket arm located on the left side, opposite the battery compartment. It makes perfect sense for the LED to pivot, as it wouldn't be as practical if it couldn't, but I didn't notice this feature on the webpage during my initial browsing.
My boys are excited to try the Bot on the trail. They are both happy with how it looks, the fit, and more importantly neither seemed to notice the weight. I think it looks pretty sturdy and I was very pleased to find out that it's water resistant. It would be helpful to know to what depth that applies but hopefully the kids and I won't find out the hard way. I would also like to know in what temperatures the Bot will still operate. The battery tolerance is probably more of a factor but if I get a chance I'll try to have the kids use it in below freezing temperatures to see how it holds up.
I think the simplicity of this headlight is good, although I have my concerns with the procedure needed to change the batteries. I don't like the idea of needing a tool for this task because I can see how dealing with a very tiny screw and a driver might be problematic in the field at night. It looks like the screw doesn't come all the way out of the hole very easily, which could be a safety measure. Either way, we'll see how it goes, along with many other evaluations over the next few months.
My sons have used the Princeton Tec Bot
on three night hikes totaling 10.5 miles, which is around 6.5 hrs of use. The
Bot has also been used at least 4 times in our vehicle for backseat reading while
traveling and on several occasions just for fun in our back yard.
My seven year old son, MV, volunteered to be the first user of the Bot during a four mile night hike through the Phoenix Mountains Preserve located in Phoenix, Arizona. We picked a beautiful evening for hiking with overcast conditions and temps in the upper 50's F (13-15 C). This area is perfect for night hiking because it's right in town and the trails are well marked and easy to negotiate. MV had a little difficulty with the Bot at first. Unknown to me we didn't have it adjusted as tightly as needed for his head so it kept slipping down his forehead as he bounced along the trail. Once we got that sorted, he was good to go for the rest of the evening. He used the low setting the whole way, which was more than sufficient to light up the path.
AJ, my 9 yr old wore it on the next two hikes. The first was a four mile trek exploring some of the newly created trails in the Deem Hills. The other was a two and half mile group hike once again in the Phoenix Mtns Preserve near Dreamy Draw Park. Both these areas are located in the northern part of Phoenix, AZ. On both occasions we had clear skies with temperatures in the mid 50's F (12-13 C). On these two outings we hiked with other children who were also using headlights and flashlights. The Bot was by far the brightest, even on the low setting. This gave AJ the confidence to stay at the front of the pack leading and keeping the rest of the kids on the right path. This also helped me keep track of him even when he was already at the top of the hill and I was just reaching the half-way point.
Before writing this report I asked my sons a few questions about the Bot. Here's what they had to say:
Both kids agreed the Bot was easy and fun to use. AJ said he let his friend try it out for a few minutes on our Deem Hills hike and he was able to explain how it worked in just a few seconds. MV said it was fun having such a bright light because he could see all the rocks on the trail and what was next to the path by the bushes perfectly. Both boys also felt the headlamp was comfortable to wear with AJ saying he could barely feel it on his head it was so light.
We have yet to use the Bot in a camping situation but I'm expecting that to happen in the final two months of testing. We are also planning to experiment with the distance claims, and its water resistance, within reason. Lastly, I plan to make sure we need to change out the batteries in the field so we can see how well the kids can perform that task without the comforts of our living room.
Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents
Aspects we are pleased with…
Aspects we are under whelmed with…
Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents
In the last two months of testing my sons used the Princeton Tec Bot on three more night hikes and on one overnight camping trip. That puts their collective use at seven nights plus several short bursts of night time reading at home or while in the vehicle. The last three night hikes took place in local desert mountain parks in Phoenix, Arizona. Elevations for these outings fell within the 1,500 ft (450 m) up to 1,900 ft (580 m) range. Weather was either clear or cloudy, no precipitation with temperatures between 55 F and 65 F (13 C and 18 C). The camping trip was a two day outing to Lake Pleasant Regional Park located north of Phoenix in Peoria, Arizona. This lake is a large man-made lake plopped down in the desert at an elevation of around 1,800 ft (550 m). Our single night out was clear, breezy and cool, low 60's F (17 C), beautiful weather for camping and star gazing.
Long Term Conclusions Back to contents
Since our time testing the Bot was drawing to a close I wanted to make sure we evaluated as many of the manufacturer claims as we could. On each of our final nights of use we picked a different aspect to evaluate. The first was the distance claims. We had been mostly using the Bot on low because it put out sufficient light with which to hike while still conserving the batteries and sparing the eyes of the adults hiking with us. At this setting Princeton Tec claims the light extends up to 49 ft (15 m). I'm not sure how they evaluate at what point the light output is too dim to be useful but we found that even at an eighth of a mile (190 m) I could see my son waiting with his friend on the trail. There was enough light illuminating the space around him that I could easily make out identifying features like his backpack and clothes.
The total burn time given for the low setting is 9 hours, our Bot definitely exceeded that. (I'm assuming their number is based on continuous running of the light.) Interestingly, the kids also used the Bot at various times on the high setting as well so our experience was quite different than the manufacturer's claim. In fact, I only recently had the boys change the batteries because up until our 6th hike, it was completely fine. My older son AJ did indicate that for that last hike he had to use it on the high setting because the low setting was just too dim. I would estimate the kids ran the light at least 12 hrs (not continuously) before needing to change the batteries.
On the informational material provided with the Bot, P-Tec gave limited details regarding its water resistance abilities. Light sprinkle, several hours of rain, submersion to a certain depth? I have no idea what it can handle. So, the kids and I decided to find out if it was as least rain tolerant. Luckily on our last week of testing we had a two day stretch of rain with intermittent hail. My kids love to play in the rain anyway so I had AJ turn on the Bot and toss it out in the grass to take on the rain for about 20 minutes. By the time he picked it up it was sitting in a little puddle and the band was soaked but the light was still going strong. I didn't see any leakage into the battery compartment. All was well.
We've only needed to change the batteries once. My older son AJ volunteered. It was dark when we did this so I decided to initially have AJ try doing it without a second flashlight in case that was a reality sometime in the future. Epic fail! The port housing the tiny screw was just too small to find in the dark. Thankfully we had another light with us so I held that and he did the work. It only took him a couple of minutes using the driver on my Leatherman Squirt and our little light was ready for action once more.
Final Thoughts Back to contents
Over the course of this test my sons have used the Bot for many different tasks while hiking and camping in desert terrain. Here are a few things I can remember: assisting in a battery change on my GPS, cactus removal from doggie paws, minor trailside first-aid, locating gear in our backpacks, negotiating rocky out-crops at scenic overlooks, climbing trees (pictured above), tinder/firewood gathering with subsequent fire starting using a magnesium stick, bathroom runs, and a few child-oriented campsite set-up duties. This headlamp has worked well in all situations. It remains in very good condition despite being dropped a few times and wacked with small bits of hail. Both my boys found it simple to turn on and off and fine-tune the angle. My younger son had a little bit of hard time adjusting the headband but that is a very minor inconvenience that I'm sure he'll overcome with a bit more age and practice. Overall, the Princeton Tec Bot was a hit with the DeBenedetto family; I foresee it getting many more hours of use inside our home as well as on our future outdoor adventures.
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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Princeton Tec Bot Headlamp > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto