Here's my (short) FR for the Princeton Tec Fuel. None of my hiking trips
where I carried the Fuel ended up requiring supplemental lighting during
this period, so I wrote about the ways I'd used it around the house. I
had planned to spend much of November backpacking, but a sprained back
and injured knee have kept me down and are only just beginning to
Winter is here and the long days are commencing, so I expect (and plan)
to satisfy the field use commitment during the LTR phase.
Thanks for your edits!
Field Report - 1 December 2009:
During this period, I carried the Fuel for five days of hiking, although
I never ended up needing it on the trail. It's finally snowing out, and
winter climbing season is two weeks away, so I look forward to long days
In the meantime, I've used the Fuel extensively around my house and at
work, and my Field Report comments are based on that. In brief, the Fuel
is light, bright, and easy to use. It has become my favorite headlamp,
to the point that I actively remove it from my pack after hikes and put
it on my desk so it'll be available whenever I need it.
Since I've been off-trail by sunset during all my walking in the last
two months, I'll talk about the other things this headlamp has helped me
do. It's been an invaluable tool for household tasks.
I've used the Fuel repeatedly to help me clean up broken glass when
people have dropped dishware in my kitchen. I turn off the overhead
lights, set the Fuel to its brightest setting, and then hold it on the
floor, sweeping the beam back and forth. The bright light causes shards
of glass to cast big shadows, which shows me where they are. I... have
more experience with this use than I'd like.
I keep the Fuel on my desk and use it quite frequently when I'm filing
paperwork. My filing cabinet sits in the shadow cast by my desk, which
makes it difficult to read the titles on my folders. I just pop the Fuel
onto my head and I'm golden. It's light enough that I often forget it's
there, which means it's good that I have a mirror near the desk. I would
get funny looks going out with a headlamp on!
During this test period, the weather changed from 75 F (24 C) summer to
snowy weather that's well below freezing. That's meant digging all of my
winter gear out of storage and reorganizing it for use. Most of my
winter gear is black. In previous years, I've spent hours digging
through piles of dimly-lit black fabric trying to find the pair of
gloves I want or the fleece leggings I need. Not this year! I got smart
and used the Fuel.
I've also used the Fuel at the end of some hiking trips while unpacking
the car in the dark. It's very helpful to have a point source of light
in these contexts!
The more I use the Fuel around the house, the more I discover its
utility. I can't wait to be on trail in the dark.
So far, the Fuel's battery life has been excellent. I haven't noticed
any change in brightness during the time that I've been using the
headlamp, and I still use the lowest brightness setting by preference.
For tasks that require seriously bright light, I kick up to the highest
power, but when I'm wearing the headlamp it tends to be on Low. I raked
my yard in the dark one day using the lamp on Low, and it was fine.
The Fuel's beam orientation seems to be pretty effective for the things
I choose to do. It's neither too narrow nor too broad, and it provides a
reasonable amount of light anywhere in its beam. When I'm working
close-up, the beam functions more as a task light, giving me adequate
illumination for everything I've tried so far. When I'm working in a
larger space, the Fuel's flood-like beam gives me clear vision without
needing to sweep the beam around the area. I'm impressed, because
Princeton Tec seems to have the sweet spot for beam design.
The Fuel is the most comfortable headlamp I've worn. It's light, to
start with, even when loaded with three AAA battery cells. There's
another thing about the Fuel's rocker arm design that works well for
comfort. Because the pivot point is always centered in the rotating arm,
there's never additional leverage because of tilting the beam downward.
That means I don't get additional forehead squeezing due to adjusting
the beam angleâsomething that makes me very happy! I also find that
the tilt adjustment stays where I put it, even when I take the headlamp
The band is soft and comfortable, and it doesn't smell bad even though
I've sweated while wearing the headlamp. Good!
I love the fact that there's no glare shining into my eyes when I'm
using the Fuel. My previous headlamp's design had a "feature" that
allowed the lamp to shed light directly into my eyes whenever I wore
it... most unwelcome! The Fuel seems to direct all its light outwards.
It's a small thing, but very important to me.
I really like the Fuel's switch. It's easy to use, and I don't have to
fiddle with it to get the lighting level I want. It has a comfortable
amount of travel, too. The Fuel's design also seems effective at
preventing the headlamp from turning itself on inside my pack. Again,
this is an improvement over my previous headlamp.
I'm glad I picked the grey and bright green color for my Fuel. It's easy
to find even in pretty low-light conditions: the green seems to "pop" if
there's even a little bit of light.
I really like the Fuel. It is now my favorite headlamp, and I use it
several times a week at home. It's light enough that I don't mind
carrying it in my pack, and it's small enough that I can toss it into my
pants pocket for a quick walk after work. It sheds enough light to be
really useful without overpowering me and wasting battery life. It's
comfortable and seems to fit my needs well so far!
* Light weight
* Bright, but not too bright
* Long advertised burn time
* Doesn't turn on accidentally
* Good switch design
* Wide adjustment range
* Comfortable band
* No glare
* Good beam design
* Batteries hard to install in darkness
* Some concerns about water resistance
This concludes my Field Report. The Long-Term Report will be appended to
this report in approximately two months from the date of the Field
Report. Please check back then for further information.