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Princeton Tec Pulsar II Owner Review (Revised)

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  • Jeff Widman
    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
    Message 1 of 2 , May 1, 2002
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      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.
      Jeff
      --


      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
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'3"
      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
      a gram.

      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
      utility.

      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)
      of backpacking.
      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.
    • Andrew Priest
      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
      Message 2 of 2 , May 2, 2002
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        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.

        Regards
        Andrew


        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
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