PRINCETON TEC BOT HEADLAMP
TEST SERIES BY MIKE CURRY (AND MY KIDS!)
March 20, 2012
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT
Mike Curry (and my kids!)
thefishguy AT hotmail DOT com
5' 11" (1.80 m)
205 lb (93.00 kg)
Michael and Katharyn have both spent a lot of time in the outdoors. Both love car camping, day hiking, and backpacking, and have recently taken up rock climbing. Both Katharyn and Michael have done up to 7 mi (11 km) a day backpacking, though Michael's stamina usually limits him to distances of around 3 mi (5 km) with a pack. Katharyn is the one that always wants a heavier pack, a faster pace, and a longer hike. She truly enjoys the physical challenge. Michael prefers to stop and smell the roses, and can't walk by a place to sit without trying it out.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
|Bot in packaging|
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Manufacturer's Website: http://princetontec.com
MSRP: None Listed
Listed Weight: 2.26 oz (64 g)
Measured Weight: 2.1 oz (60 g) including supplied alkaline batteries
Color tested: Blue/Red
Other details (From Manufacturer's Website):
POWER: 15 Lumens
LAMP: 2 Ultrabright LEDs
BURN TIME: 9 hours on medium, 4.5 hours on high, 11 hours flash mode
BATTERIES: 2 AAA Alkaline or Lithium
The Bot arrived in its retail packaging. My first impressions upon opening it were very favorable. The Bot felt well made, and the light itself seemed reasonably rugged (something that is very important with my kids). The elastic band seems robust, and clearly has enough adjustment to work for both my kids and myself.
|Back of packaging|
The bulk of the light assembly is colorful plastic, with the exception of the pushbutton switch which is made of a a more flexible rubber-like material that feels very robust and durable.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions were included in a small folded sheet of paper, with instructions in English, French, and German. The English instructions were very easy to follow, very specific, and covered battery installation, warnings, switch operation, troubleshooting, and the warranty and return policy. Pictures were included for both the battery replacement and battery life by mode.
TRYING IT OUT
My initial problem turned out to be opening the package without using a pair of scissors or my pocket knife. It wasn't that I didn't have either at my disposal, it just seemed that getting to the Bot would be easy. I could see the packaging was two pieces of heavy cardstock glued together, sandwiching the plastic edges of the bubbles containing the bot. Peel the paper apart and the the bubbles should fall right out. So I thought.
Twenty minutes later, with shredded cardstock in my hands, I admitted defeat and resorted to scissors. In less than 15 seconds, the Bot, headband, batteries, and instructions were all free.
|Michael wearing Bot|
Now came challenge number 2: putting in the batteries. The battery door is a small, hinged plastic door that is held shut with a small captive screw. The instructions specified to use a #1 Phillips screwdriver to open and then secure the door. I tried a #0 Phillips screwdriver first (as I had one handy) but wasn't able to loosen the screw. I then located a #1 Phillips screwdriver and was able to install the batteries, which was quite easy. I later tried a #2 Phillips screwdriver to no avail, and though I expected that it would be easy to open using the small screwdriver in my pocketknife, I wasn't able to make it work. It looks like changing the batteries in the field will require carrying a small Phillips screwdriver.
I turned out the lights, and found the Bot very intuitive to use. The angle of the light can be changed by simply rotating the part of the body of the light that contains the batteries and bulbs either up or down in the part of the body that attaches to the headband. Pressing the button once turns on one LED, twice (rapidly) turns it on high, and three times (rapidly) puts it in flash mode. After the light is on, pressing it again turns it off.
The light was very natural and white, and it illuminated the area around me very well. On a dark night I'd be quite comfortable hiking with the light, even at medium setting.
My kids both put it on and tried out the Bot. While I adjusted the headband length, they both adjusted the angle of the light and were able to turn it on and off by themselves, cycling through all the modes. They both like the headlamp and find it comfortable, and while my son really likes the color combination being tested, my daughter isn't as much a fan of it.
Overall the Bot seems to be a very well made light that is easy to use and works well. My kids like it and find it easy to use, and my only real concern is the fact that a screwdriver is required to change the batteries, something that may pose problems in the field.
|Katharyn wearing Bot|
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
My kids have used the Bot headlamp in all kinds of weather (rain, sun, dark of night) except snow, and temperatures ranging from freezing (32 F, 0 C) to around 55 F (13 C).
There have been about 15 night hike uses and two overnight uses during the test period.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Bot headlamp has performed very well during field testing. Both my kids report enjoying the headlamp, finding it comfortable, easy to operate, attractive, and bright. The only thing they reported they found difficult, which they reported independently, is that while it seems easy for them to rotate the beam downward, they find it difficult to point it back upward. I've rotated the light in the frame (which is how this is adjusted) and don't notice a difference, but my kids both reported it, so I suspect maybe smaller hands have a problem with this.
Battery life has been very good. While I haven't tracked the total amount of time the batteries lasted (which would be nearly impossible since my kids always leave it on when they come in the house), it certainly hasn't been annoying. I've replaced the original battery twice (always with alkaline batteries), but I'm not certain the second one was fully charged to begin with. The light does dim when the battery gets low, but still functions for at least several minutes.
Replacing the battery in the field hasn't been as problematic as I was afraid it might be. I am able to unscrew the screw with the tip of the large blade on my knife if it isn't over-tightened. I don't like using my knifeblade as a screw driver, but it's better than bringing along a dedicated tool.
The headlamp puts out a very bright beam for its size, and the kids have found it very useful for travel and play in the dark. They find it comfortable to wear, and easy to adjust the strap (which has been worn over their bare heads as well as over winter hats). It's performed very well in the rain, with no signs of leakage, and has seen a fair amount of abuse (dropping, etc.) without any noticeable damage.
The size and weight make it exceptionally easy to stow away in a pack or pocket, making it easy to bring almost everywhere.
Overall, the Bot headlamp has been a solid performer for my kids. It has seen a fair amount of use and my kids love it. Battery life has been good, and it emits a bright light that's perfect for my kids. My kids report that it can be difficult to adjust the beam back upward after pointing it more downward, but otherwise they've been exceptionally satisfied.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
My kids have used the Princeton Tec Bot headlamp on two additional nights of backpacking, three sleepovers, and about a dozen night/evening hikes. Conditions have included rain, snow, sleet, and hail, and (as one would expect) darkness.
Temperatures have ranged from approximately 20 F (-7 C) to 55 F (13 C).
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
The Bot headlamp has continued to perform well during long-term testing. Both my kids continue to struggle with adjusting the angle of the beam, but I can do it pretty quickly and it is pretty much a "set it and forget it" situation, so once I have it where they want it there isn't really a problem.
One thing I noted during long term testing is that both kids find the headband pretty easy to adjust, and find the elastic very comfortable. What is more important for me is that even with a fair amount of use, the elastic strap still holds well and is easy to adjust. No real wear has been noticed. It has a great adjustment range, too, expanding to be large enough to fit over my climbing helmet . . . not bad for a kid's headlamp!
I've had the opportunity to use the BOT in some colder and wetter weather now, and haven't noticed any difference in performance.
Battery life continues to be good.
The Princeton Tec Bot headlamp is a fun and effective source of illumination for both my kids. It works well, is relatively simple to operate, and provides a good, bright light with good battery life. The angle of the light is difficult for my kids to adjust, but aside from that it's been a great little headlamp both my kids enjoy.
I anticipate my son will continue to use this headlamp for several years to come. My daughter would prefer a different color, and I'm thinking one might be in her future very soon. It's a great little headlamp not only for backpacking and night hikes, but reading under the covers, in the back seat of the car, for sleepovers and camp . . . all those situations where a kid might need some light.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
I'd like to thank Princeton Tec and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Bot headlamp. This concludes my report.
Read more reviews of Princeton Tec gear
Read more gear reviews by Mike Curry