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Reviews > Lighting > Headlamps - LED > Princeton Tec Vizz headlamp > Test Report by Jamie DeBenedetto

Vizz Headlamp
Princeton Tec

Reviewed by Jamie DeBenedetto
Updated November 17th, 2015


Report Contents

INITIAL REPORT
June14th, 2015

FIELD REPORT
September 10th, 2015

LONG TERM REPORT
November 17th, 2015

Reviewer's Information

Collective Use and Field Conditions

Product Information & Description

Long Term Conclusions

Arrival Condition

First Impressions

 

Initial Report
June 30th, 2014


Reviewer's Information

Name Jamie DeBenedetto

Me and the Saguaro

Age and Gender 42 year old female

Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Weight 170 lb (77 kg)

Head Circumference 22 in (56 cm)

Email JamieD1005(at)gmail.com

Background/Experience

I spent many hours of my youth fishing, rafting, creeking, and day-hiking in the wild places of Arizona. I caught the backpacking bug in high school. Presently I work as an exPAWdition leader so I'm in the field, usually with a pack of dogs, at least sixteen times a month. Primarily I'm a day-hiker with the occasional family camping trip mixed in throughout the year.
I prefer hammocks over ground sleeping and I gravitate toward multifunctional gear that enhances my comfort level with minimal fuss and weight. My total pack weight is typically less than 25 lbs (11 kg).

Location

Phoenix, Arizona - The Grand Canyon State - USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Product Information Back to contents

Manufacture URL

www.princetontec.com

Year of Manufacture

Presumed 2015

Made in

USA

MSRP

Not given

Color Options

Black, Green, Red (my test color)

Battery Requirements 3 AAA - Alkaline(included), Lithium or Rechargeable NiCad or NiMH
Tools Needed None

Warranty

Lifetime USA; 10 yrs International

(Listed Specifications - Taken from the packaging and website)

Weight w/ Included Batteries

3.2 oz (92 g)

Modes and Lamp Types 2 Red LEDs, 2 Dimmable White LEDs & 1 Maxbright Spot LED
Red Burn Times & Distance 16 hrs of regulated burn at an initial distance of 16 m (52 ft) dropping to 8 m (26 ft) after 10 hrs; Total burn time at 0.25 lux is 150 hrs
White Burn Times & Distance 6 hrs of regulated burn at an initial distance of 24 m (79 ft) dropping to 10 m (33 ft) after 10 hrs; Total burn time at 0.25 lux is 104 hrs
Spot Burn Times & Distance 1 hour of regulated burn at an initial distance of 78 m (256 ft) dropping to 17 m (56 ft) after 10 hrs, Total burn time at 0.25 lux is 110 hrs
Extras Waterproof to 1 m (3 ft)

(Observations as Received - Measured weights taken with a digital office scale)

Weight Total w/ batteries: 3.3 oz (94 g)
Headlamp Dimensions Length: 2.5 in (64 mm) tapering down to 2 in (50 mm); Width: Just under 2 in (40 mm); Height: 2 in (50 mm)
Headband Dimensions Width: 1 in (2.5 cm); Max Length before stretch 23 in (58 cm), Min Length before stretch 18.5 in (47 cm)

 

Product Description Back to contents

The Vizz is a waterproof LED headlamp from Princeton Tec's Professional Series of lamps. It uses 3 AAA batteries to power two Red Ultrabright LEDs, two dimmable Ultrabright White LEDs, and one Maxbright Spot LED, but not all at the same time. A single operation/power button located on the top of the unit allows the user to run through the complement of LEDs providing three different light choices. The power button also allows for a lockout option and doubles as the low battery indicator, which will start blinking when the headlamp hits 20% battery power. The lamp has a tilt feature which allows it to be rotated downward separating the LED housing from the headband carriage by 60 degrees. The adjustable headband, which is slightly padded and a bit stretchy, threads through the carriage so that most of the plastic or at least the part that would be pressing against the forehead is covered by the band. Lastly, the adjustment buckle on the headband doubles as a tool to tighten or loosen the battery compartment screw.

Arrival Condition and Informational Material Back to contents

The PTEC Vizz arrived in a surprisingly crushed box so I wasn't sure what I would find when I opened it. Thankfully the end of the box where the packaged headlamp was placed wasn't the crushed end so it is, as far as I can tell, undamaged. The packaging contained three items: the red colored headlamp, a black and grey headband and 3 AAA batteries.

Other than the info on the packaging, the lamp came with a multilingual (English, French and German) "Operating and Maintenance Instruction" sheet. The instructions were very thorough, addressing things like battery installation, operating through the different modes, troubleshooting, PTEC's return policy, and details about their warranty. Accompanying the written instructions were some helpful pictures/diagrams to illustrate how to install/replace the batteries and how to switch through the modes. I didn't have any problems understanding this material.

Expectations and First Impressions Back to contents

Assembly of the unit was totally intuitive; I actually did it before reading the instructions (yes, I'm a rebel!). Using the Vizz was also quite simple. In just a few minutes of tinkering around with it I figured out how to access all the modes except lockout. Of course, the instructions set me straight on that. At first glance I thought the battery compartment tightening screw PTEC chose was unnecessarily large. It seemed an odd choice when a smaller screw could certainly do the same job with a lower profile and some weight savings. But, after seeing the instructional diagram on battery installation, PTEC's genius became obvious. They used this style of screw because it can be loosened and tightened by a special tip they integrated right into the adjustment buckle on the headband. So no matter where I am, as long as I have the headband attached to the Vizz, I will always have the tool necessary to change the batteries. Brilliant!

I've owned other headlamps from Princeton Tec and they have all worked well, I see no reason to expect anything less from the Vizz. My only concern right now pertains to sustained light output. Crossing paths with a rattlesnake is a real possibility here in the warmer months and I'm not overly keen on having an encounter due to insufficient light. I anticipate using the White LEDs most while hiking because they have the longest total burn time of the three modes. There is an expected drop off in output after 6 hrs of use though so naturally I'm curious how that decrease will affect the practical usefulness of the light for night hiking. From what I understand from the manufacturer's website, the light output time they have given will primarily be affected by the battery life since they are using a regulated circuit that keeps the LED bulb going strong as long as the batteries have enough juice.

 

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Field Report
September 10th, 2015

Field Tests June thru August Back to contents

Since receiving the Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp back in June I've only been able to field test it on two night hikes, ranging between 2.5 and 4 hrs. Both hikes took place in the Sonoran Desert Preserve located in North Phoenix, Arizona. On both these outings I experienced clear weather with hot temperatures; the max being a toasty 102 F (39 C) at the start of my first hike.

I have also used the Vizz on half a dozen or so occasions around my house and garden, total burn time doing these odd jobs was I'm sure no more than 1.5 hrs.

Field Notes Back to contents

On hike #1 I chose a nearly moonless night with the intent of evaluating the sufficiency of the Ultrabright White LEDs compared to the Maxbright Spot LED option. The former being the setting I figured I'd be using most for tasks at the trailhead, while walking and for rest stops along the way. The White LED option starts off at the dimmest level and progresses a few "clicks" brighter to its highest output. I discovered I preferred the brighter setting for walking, while the dimmer was fine at the trailhead and whenever I needed to retrieve things from my pack.

My companions and I came across a little rattlesnake about halfway into our trek who decided the middle of the trail was a good place for an early evening nap. Upon approach I had no problem spotting the sleepy fella with the Ultrabright White LEDs but I chose to switch to the Maxbright option as we ventured off the path and into the desert shrubs to make our way around. Boy is that ever correctly named! Sometimes when you see little snakes, there are more little snakes so I was glad to have the brighter option and it worked great to get all of us around the road block and back onto the trial safely.

On hike #2, I needed to use the Maxbright option several more times because we had a few issues with our four legged hiking companions stepping in cacti and being chewed on by fire ants. Yes, the desert is sometimes very inhospitable, don't judge! Again, it was more than bright enough for my needs.

In the stop and go setting of this outing I found the rotation feature of the Vizz to be quite handy and totally doable one-handed. This was quite an asset because I was working in close quarters with another hiker (as we removed cholla cactus from doggie feet) who did not have a headlamp. The full downward rotation allowed me to keep the light on the area of focus without totally blinding him.

I haven't had any opportunities to test the waterproof claims of the Vizz yet, nor have I needed to change out the batteries in the field. I will attempt to get to both of these in the last two months of testing and report my findings in my Long Term Report.

Pros and Cons Thus Far Back to contents

Pleasing Aspects…

  • The headband is comfortable and doesn't slip out of place.
  • Cycling through the light options to get to the one I want is uncomplicated.
  • Light output has been sufficient for both hiking and trailhead tasks.
  • Rotation of the light into a functional place can be done one-handed.
  • I haven't had any problems with the light accidentally turning on in storage.

Underwhelming Aspects…

  • As of now, I've found nothing disagreeable about the Vizz unless you count bugs hitting me in the face in their attempt to get to the light, but one can hardly blame that on the headlamp.

Back to contents

Long Term Report
November 17th, 2015

Collective Use and Field Conditions Back to contents

Over the course of the entire test period I was able to use the Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp on six night hikes and for nearly a dozen other random tasks around my house, garden and garage. Here are the locations and conditions of my last four outings:

Hike #3 - Short evening hike in the foothills near Cave Creek Regional Park in Phoenix, AZ, elevation around 2,000 ft (610 m). This was a 2.5 hour trek through Sonoran Desert terrain. Unfortunately temperatures were in the low 90's F (34 C) even after dark! I used the Vizz almost the entire hike on the highest setting of the Ultrabright White LEDs. At rest stops I typically switched to the Red option to spare my companions eyes.

Hike #4 - Family night hike in Spur Cross Conservation Area in Cave Creek, AZ. The elevation in this desert/riparian area is around 2,200 ft (670 m). Again conditions were hot, low 90's (34 C) at least. Most of the 2.5 hr stroll was spent searching for scorpions while trying to avoid snakes and piles of horse poo. Like previous hikes, I used the Ultrabright White LEDs the most but had to switch over to the Maxbright Spot LED setting on several occasions for safety reasons.

Hikes #5 & #6 - These two outings took place on back-to-back weekends up in Prescott, AZ, elevation 5,200 ft (1,600 m). Terrain in Prescott is a jumbled mess of high desert, chaparral scrub and woodland with temperatures in the low 70's (23 C) (which is a little slice of heaven by desert dweller standards). Both trips were short use situations where I needed light coming and going at the trailhead/picnic area. I used the Red LEDs several times and the Ultrabright White while walking. Use time on each night was about an hour.

I don't have any pics of me wearing the Vizz, I don't really do selfies, but I did capture this handsome fella on one of my summer night treks and since he's cuter than me I figured why not share him with you all. Wild Burros love having their picture taken.

Long Term Conclusions Back to contents

It wouldn't really do the PTEC Vizz justice if I simply said, "It works great!", but honestly, that pretty well sums it up. This little headlamp performed beautifully for my needs throughout the summer and into the fall. With three LED choices and different degrees of illumination I always found the perfect one for my needs. Night-time hiking in the Southwest is a bit risky because we have to share the nocturnal hours with the rattlesnakes. Knowing I had a very bright spotlight option only one click away was really comforting. Several of my hiking companions were also impressed with the light output of the Maxbright Spot setting, especially when we ran into critters or more accurately when making an effort to NOT run into critters.

The Vizz is still in very good shape, although to be fair I didn't abuse it much. When not on my head, it rode in the side pocket of my pack every day I hiked (which was about 80 times). Beyond that I only dropped it once from about a foot (30 cm) up as I tried to pull it out of my pack. Although it landed on a pebbly surface, it didn't have a scratch. The headband is also in very good shape. It's maintained its soft stretchy feel and hasn't picked up any odors from my sweaty head so far.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any opportunities to verify the 3 ft (1 m) waterproof claims. I can, however, confirm light rain wasn't a problem for the Vizz.

Changing the batteries in a well lit place was a cinch. As I pointed out in the beginning of this report, Princeton Tec's genius idea to integrate a screw tab into the headband buckle makes popping open the battery compartment nearly effortless. I found it a little more tedious to unseat each battery (especially since my fingernails are always super short) but the screw tab helps with that too. It only works on the connection point at the positive end of the battery, however. On the other hand, changing the batteries in the dark (because the Vizz was my light source remember) is a bit more challenging. Mainly I had trouble fitting the screw tab into the screw when I couldn't see it. On the positive side I didn't have to worry about dropping the screw tab or the screw because again, PTEC was clever and designed it so that the screw doesn't fall out when it's loosened. I also had a hard time remembering which direction each battery faced but I figure that will get easier with repetition.

On the whole, the Vizz is a well conceived product. The only improvement I can think of, and may I say, I'm really having to dig deep to find something to be critical about, would be to add a little strip under the batteries so they can be popped out more quickly. Outside of that, I really found nothing disagreeable about the Vizz. I know I'll be using this headlamp for many more trips to come.

My thanks for Backpackgeartest.org for hosting this test series and to Princeton Tec for providing the gear.

J. DeBenedetto-2015

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