Princeton Tec Pulsar II Owner Review (Revised)
- Once again, the revision were mainly to comply with the specification in the
Survival Guide v. 302.2
Let me know if you need clarification on anything, or if you spot any typos.
Item being tested: Princeton Tec Pulsar II Mini LED Light
Report Number: Owner Review
(Please note: I am reviewing only the white LED model, and certain of my
comments, particularly those relating to battery life and brightness, will
vary depending on the color of the LED.)
Name: Jeff Widman
Weight: 164 lbs.
Age: 15 yrs
Area of Residence: Bellingham, WA (two hours north of Seattle.)
E-mail address: jeffwidman@...
Date: 10-12-01 (revised 4-27-02)
(Please see end of report for a short biography of my backpacking exploits.)
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.princetontec.com/
Intro/Description: I had been looking into replacing my 4.5 ounce Maglite
2AA halogen flashlight in order to reduce weight. I had three main options:
a 'regular' flashlight, a new watch battery keychain light, or a headlamp. I
had also decided that I wanted a backup light, just in case the first light
quit. When Campmor had a sale on the Pulsar IIs, it was a no brainer to pick
up two. I figured I could use one around the house/main backpacking light,
and the other as my backup backpacking light. I also managed to convince
myself to purchase a third because it would make a great gift for my dad.
The lights were even on sale! Somehow I still have all three lights; my dad
received something else for his birthday. :-)
Test Duration/Location/Conditions: I, my dad, and two of my younger siblings
took a five day, fifty mile backpacking trip in Mt. Baker National Park. Due
to various circumstances, we didn't hit the trail until 6 pm, with ten miles
to our campsite. That day we hiked six miles in the dark. On that trip, we
eventually hiked around 10 miles in the dark using three Pulsar IIs as our
sole source of light. I also went on two five mile night runs, with just two
of these lights.
Price: While I got my lights, on sale from Campmor, as cosmetic blemishes,
the normal price of $10.99 (at most retailers) is quite attractive. The
Pulsar I, the earlier version without the on/off switch (light is must be
squeezed to stay on,) is a mere $7.99. The main competitor, the Photons, are
normally around $15 for the switched version, and $10 for the unswitched
version. I have not personally verified this, but I have heard from others
that one set of replacement batteries (two batteries equals one set) are
around $6 (Update: I purchased a set of replacement batteries from Walmart.
The total for the two batteries (one set) was right around $3.)
Weight: The light itself (with its two lithium watch batteries) is listed at
a mere 7 grams. My scale verified this, but the small included keyring adds
Convenience/Ease of Use: I was quite impressed with the lights. They are
very bright. I had heard that LEDs were amazingly bright, but I was still
very surprised by their exceptional performance. I was also impressed by
just how light they were (pun intended.) Replacement of the batteries is
relatively easy; I used the back of a knife blade in the built in slot to
leverage the two halves of the case apart. The batteries are then easily
replaced. It takes less than a minute to change the batteries. I was also
impressed by the case. Unlike the Photon, the Pulsars come in several
colors, from black, dark blue, and dark red, to neon yellow. All of the
cases are slightly translucent for a 'cool' technology feel. While I did get
the dark blue, because they were on sale, in the future I plan to get the
neon yellow. Unlike the black of the Photons, and the darker red and blue
Pulsars, I have found the bright yellowish-green case to be relatively easy
to find in the dark using another light. A major plus, as these small lights
are easy to drop. I carried a small wrist lanyard, which I clipped onto the
Pulsar II each night, which provided security, and allowed me to drop the
light and use both hands if I needed to. The design of the case is also
impressive. It has an offset teardrop or trigger style to it, which makes it
easy to grasp and natural to hold, another plus with such a small light. The
switch itself is a simple slide, which places pressure on the simple
pressure contact wire. I found the switch easy to slide back and forth with
bare hands, but a bit tougher with gloves. Still possible, but much tougher.
Maintenance/Durability: The battery life is purported to be 12-14 hours. I
haven't fully tested a new set of batteries to see how long they will run,
but since I have already used the lights for over 8 hours, with no signs of
dimness, I would estimate that the light is good for at least 12-14 hours. I
have heard from several people that keyring LED lights do get noticeably
dimmer after an hour or so of use, but I have not found this to be true. I
have used these lights for over three hours of night hiking without every
turning them off, and they worked wonderfully. We had to go at about a 1
mile per hour pace using these lights, but that was due in large part to
hiking with two pulsars for four people, as we wanted to save my dad's
Mini-Maglite and my third Pulsar as spares. The case is well built, and not
easily crushed. LED technology, which gives such an incredible
brightness/battery life/weight combination, is surrounded by total epoxy, so
the light 'bulb' assemblies are impossible to crush. The burn times are an
exceptional 10,000 hours minimum, with 100,000 commonly quoted. No need to
bring spare bulbs. The Pulsars are not waterproof. If water gets in them,
they will merely keep working until they burn themselves out. Once water
gets inside, they must be opened up and the water removed before they will
turn off. This is an advantage when one is hiking in the rain, as they won't
turn off on you. However, waterproofing would be an advantage, but it would
probably double the weight. The switch was the one disadvantage. While it
worked fine for a while, it did eventually quit working, as the wire inside
became bent. This problem is created by switching the lights on and off a
lot, and you especially want to avoid switching the light on and pressing on
it at the same time. The simple cure to this problem was to snap the case
apart and bend the wire back a bit.
Drawbacks: See just above for the problem regarding the switch. The lack of
water proofing is another drawback. The small size can be both a blessing
and a curse. They are easy to store, and weigh little, but the small size
also means that they can be easily lost, and they are tough to hold if your
hands are very cold or if you are wearing thick gloves.
Customer Service: I haven't contacted them, but all Princeton Tec lights do
have a lifetime warranty. (Update 4-29-02: Some defective batteries leaked
in my Princeton Tec Impact LED. PT does not normally warrantee lights damage
because of defective batteries, but because I was testing the Impact, they
replaced it with another new light. For more details, please see my final
report on the Princeton Tec Impact series.)
Possible Modifications/Improvements: I have heard of someone who took one of
these lights and ran some elastic through the back. This created an
extremely lightweight headlamp. Adding the provided key ring to the light
allowed me to stick the keyring in my mouth, with the light just outside it.
Carrying a Pulsar II in each hand and one in my mouth gave me more than
enough light for running at night, what I consider one of the ultimate
tests. Lights used when running must be brighter than those needed for
backpacking because I travel faster when I'm running.
Overall impressions/Quality: I am blown away by these lights. 7 grams for 12
hours of light. Not waterproof, but they only weigh 7 grams. And these are
just $11! This is probably one of the cheapest ways to noticeably reduce
weight packweight. The slide switch problem is the only major drawback, but
it isn't tough to fix, even on the trail, and it rarely happens. These
lights are not fragile. When I first saw these lights, I thought that $10
was way too much to pay, but that was because I was impressed (or rather,
not impressed) by the small package. It may not seem like you get much for
$10, but once you try one, you will be astounded. I highly recommend paying
the extra $3 for the switch, as it gets annoying very quickly to be
constantly squeezing the light as you hike. The tenseness in your hand will
travel along your whole body, make it tough to stay relaxed, causing you to
be unnecessarily tired.
Overall, I would say that everyone needs one in their pack, no matter what.
They are great backup lights.
If you are looking to reduce packweight, switching to the Pulsar IIs is one
of the most economical ways to lose ounces, often without sacrificing
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.
- Hi Jeff
Report looks good. Just picked up a couple of typos for you to
review/correct as you see fit.
(1) In the PRICE paragraph you have written "(light is must be squeezed to
stay on)." I assume the IS should not be there.
(2) In the CUSTOMER SERVICE paragraph you have the word "warrantee."
According to the Meriam-Webster dictionary a warrantee "the person to whom
a warranty is made." Therefore I think in your sentence the word should be
WARRANT or maybe COVERS.
Otherwise I think the report looks good and you should upload it as soon as
you are done.
At 12:28 AM 02/05/2002, you wrote:
>Once again, the revision were mainly to comply with the specification in the--
Aushiker - Hiking in Western Australia - http://aushiker.cjb.net