Another revised report. Once again, some new information at a few points.
Item being tested: Princeton Tec Impact LED Flashlight
Report Number: Field Report (Report #2)
Name: Jeff Widman
Weight: 164 lbs.
Age: 15 yrs
Area of Residence: Bellingham, WA (two hours north of Seattle.)
E-mail address: jeffwidman@...
Date: 1-27-02 (Revised 4-29-02)
(Please see end of report for a short biography of my backpacking exploits.)
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.princetontec.com/
Year of Manufacture: 2001
Test Duration/Location/Conditions: I have tested this flashlight for over
fifty hours, so far. I do not know the exact amount. Since originally
installing the batteries that came with the light, I have used it as a
reading lamp at least 4-5 days a week. I have also used it to take a few
night walks, and once as a light for running at dusk.
I have not actually taken it backpacking, but I have still put it through
quite a bit of use.
Price: Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $29.99 (Not the $16.99 I
mistakenly wrote in my last report.)
Convenience/Ease of Use/Performance: I have remained extremely impressed.
The light turns on and stays on. The incredible battery life allows me to
avoid worrying about wasting battery life. Several times I have purposely
left it on for several hours at a time. I have yet to notice any drop in
brightness. This light keeps going and going and going.
I have been extremely impressed with the lanyard. Big enough to promote easy
use, while still weighing a mere 6 grams. The cord lock on the lanyard has
the unique (to this model/manufacturer) feature of locking in the open
position to allow easy adjustment. The light has an extremely comfortable
fit; I took it running and never ended up using it (I got home before it got
dark enough to use,) but even while running, when I normally hate to carry
things, I really didn't have any problems. The light is extremely well
balanced in my hand.
Last night I spent about half an hour comparing a Princeton Tec Pulsar II to
the Impact. The Pulsars are not as focused. They illuminated a wider area
around my feet, but once I started looking at things five feet away or more,
the narrower focus of the Impact made it much brighter/better. I do not know
about PT's claim to illuminate items 50 yards away; last night was a full
moon and I could detect noticeable illumination at approximately 30 yards
distance. I would not hesitate to say that a dark night would increase the
illumination distance by at least 10 yards.
Maintenance/Durability: The case has held up with no noticeable wear and
tear. The head of the light is coated with a rubbery material, which does
leave marks. Once I had my hands full, so I used my teeth to turn the light
off. The teeth marks, though minor, are still visible on the head. The LED
is still going strong. Still on the original battery set, yet I guesstimate
that I have only used about 1/3 of the batteries. As I mentioned above, the
lanyard is very handy. The lens was a main area of concern for me, but it
still looks as good as new. I haven't taken this light into some extremely
abusive situations, but it looks like new after several deliberate
Drawbacks: Very few. I mentioned in my last report the color "The color of
the light is a possible drawback. Dark black! (Ever seen light black?) If
you drop it, the little sliver of moonlight might not make this visible.
Possibly consider a neon yellow/green. Or simply paint your flashlight with
reflective paint. I personally prefer the dark black color, as it allows me
to paint it if I want to. Possibly Princeton Tec should offer both colors."
I was happy to notice that REI was selling a 'granite' (speckled white)
color. PT eliminates one of my complaints.
Price is a drawback. As Ed succinctly put it, "I doubt that I would have
paid $30 for this light, but now that I have it, I would definitely pay
another $30 to replace it."
Weight is the only drawback that I am seriously concerned about. The
incredible burn time is obtained at the incredible weight of 5.7 oz. Lithium
batteries have been mentioned as an option to reduce the weight to around 4
ounces total. Normally I would shy away from the expense of Lithiums, but I
am more and more becoming convinced that they are the way to go.
Customer Service: ? The shipping was prompt and the packing professional.
Limited Lifetime warranty, however, I STRONGLY doubt that I will ever have
to make use of it. (Update 4-29-02: I did have to make use of customer
service, but the problem was not Princeton Tec's Fault. Please see my final
report for more details.)
Possible Modifications/Improvements: ? I really don't know how the light
could be improved. Jerry mentioned using a baseball cap and Velcro to create
a headlamp. Personally, I may easily do the same, but not until I start
carrying a baseball cap. :-) I really like having a flashlight as compared
to a headlamp.
Overall impressions/Quality: "Overall, a great light, the best one around in
its category, but it fills a specific niche, and is not for the weight
weenie." I still firmly believe everything that I wrote in that statement
(from my previous report.) This light will not become a part of my normal
summer backpacking ensemble. Why? Frankly it's just too heavy. I'll take the
lower runtime and comparative awkwardness of my Pulsar IIs to the Impact.
However, this light will be my only flashlight that I'll use for night
games, for car camping, and for winter backpacking. Winter, and to a lesser
degree spring and fall, are when I would seriously consider the Impact for
backpacking. The Pulsars are extremely tough to use with thick gloves. In
winter, when I would normally stay awake longer than the sun, I will just
bring my artificial sun, in the form of this light. Whether or not you would
be willing to use this as your normal summer light, I would still HIGHLY
recommend that you buy one. It'll be the only flashlight you'll ever use for
anything other than backpacking. And, I can almost guarantee that you will
not wear it out. In fact, I would be surprised if you wore the batteries out
before the end of the batteries' shelf life.
About the author (me): I have spent around 15 nights actually backpacking.
During those three trips, I have covered close to 100 miles actually
carrying a 35+ pound backpack. However, my parents (especially my dad,) have
been enthralled with the outdoors since long before I was born. As my three
younger siblings and I have grown, we have day-hiked over 1000 miles as a
family. Over the past year and a half, backpacking has become a natural
extension of day-hiking. The summer of '01 was the first summer that my dad
really started taking my siblings and I backpacking. For this coming summer
('02,) we have already tentatively planned another 15-20 nights (125+ miles)
On another note, I am a very analytical person, more commonly known as a
gear freak. I have spent many tens of hours learning about gear on the
Internet. I have also spend many hours testing gear, returning some gear,
keeping other gear, as I continually strive to achieve that perfect balance
of weight-function-durability-cost. My current shelter is an old Sierra
Designs tent, but I have been seriously considering either a hammock or a
modified tarp design (ID Silshelter, HS Tarp Tent, etc.) I live and backpack
mainly in the North Cascades. I have day-hiked in the following National
Parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Yellowstone,
Glacier, North Cascades, and quite a few others that I am forgetting. My
family currently averages between 2-3 mph while both day-hiking (faster,)
and backpacking (slower.)
Our average day-hike is approximately 10 miles long. Currently, our favorite
backpacking trips are 4-6 nights long, and approximately 50 miles long. My
current base pack weight is around 25 pounds, depending on conditions.