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Princeton Tec Impact Inital Report (Revised)

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  • Jeff Widman
    I just revised this report to meet code. I did interject a few new comments, here and there. Jeff -- Item being tested: Princeton Tec Impact LED Flashlight
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2002
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      I just revised this report to meet code. I did interject a few new comments,
      here and there.

      Item being tested: Princeton Tec Impact LED Flashlight
      Report Number: Initial Report (Report #1)

      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: 11-1-01 (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

      Intro/Description: The Impact is black, about six inches long, and with a
      highly impact resistant plastic body. I received the flashlight in the mail
      Tuesday afternoon, six days after it was shipped. I opened the package to
      find the flashlight in the standard plastic style of case that all Princeton
      Tec lights come in. There was also an invoice, nothing else. The plastic
      wrapping/case contained the flashlight, four Duracell AA batteries, and a
      nice lanyard, which even had a Cord lock.

      Test Duration/Location/Conditions: I have tested this flashlight for about
      four hours total, so far. I used it for three hours last night to read a
      book in bed, as I share a bunkbed with my younger brother. I've also played
      with it a bit at different times during the day.

      Price: Manufacturer's suggested retail price is $29.99.

      Weight: Manufacturers stated weight with batteries: 5.7 oz (161.5g)
      Tested weight: Lanyard/with included cord lock: 6 grams Flashlight weight
      w/o batteries: 63 grams (2.26 oz) The included four Duracell AA batteries:
      98 grams (3.49 oz.) Total weight: 167 grams (5.96 oz) Obviously, the lanyard
      was not included in the stated weight. I would have been surprised if it
      was. That leaves my measurements within .5 grams - extremely accurate on
      Princeton Tec's part.

      Convenience/Ease of Use: I was impressed. When I first got it, I thought
      that the flashlight was ugly. The traditional Princeton Tec design, with
      huge heads and a boxy body, has never appealed to me. It still doesn't.
      However, I value function far above aesthetics. That is where this light
      shined (pun intended.) The design itself, though seriously lacking visual
      appeal, provides a great handhold. The four AA design (see
      Modifications/improvements section,) gives the light a bit of heft, and the
      rectangular box feels much better than my Mini-Maglite (2AA halogen.) The
      huge head provides a single simple switch and battery cap. I appreciated the
      wide head when I tested the light with thick gloves, as I intend to use the
      flashlight at night, when it is often cold out. I had no problems using
      heavy-weight fleece gloves. The switch/head was easy to grip and turn. The
      light was big enough that it was easy to hold.

      Maintenance/Durability: The case is quite strong, made of impact-resistant
      plastic. This results in lighter weight, and no heat sucking aluminum when I
      stick the light in my mouth (quite common, probably the reason someone
      invented the headlamp.) The light is also waterproof to 500 feet (according
      to the manufacturer, as I have never personally been below 20 feet of water.
      I'm sorry, but I won't be testing the depth rating.) However, a ten minute
      soaking in the sink created no problems. I was surprised to see that I could
      even switch the light on and off underwater! Changing batteries is a bit of
      a hassle. Two of the batteries go in with the plus side up, and two go in
      with the minus side facing upwards. There are + and - signs on the case, but
      I didn't see them at first, as they are quite small. LEDs are not supposed
      to have the batteries go in backwards, so this might be a small cause of
      concern. Still, now that I know where the +/- signs are, I strongly doubt
      that I'll have any further trouble. This light has 4AA, which means that you
      have four possible batteries to burst. On the other hand, those four
      batteries create a burntime of 150+ hours according to the manufacturer
      (that's almost an entire week of being left continuously on.) LED's are also
      pretty much shatterproof, with an amazing 10,000 hours of life before they
      burn out. The lens is the only possible part that could get scratched, I
      guess we will see how it stands up in field-testing.

      Drawbacks: Very few. The two main ones were the lanyard and the batteries,
      as well as the obvious; weight. The lanyard has one of those dohickeys that
      encloses the two ends and holds them together. I found it very tough to pry
      apart when I installed the lanyard. However, that means that once installed,
      it is not coming apart without a bit of help. First time battery
      installation was a little bit of a problem. See the above section. Weight is
      a big drawback to this lamp. 5.7 oz is a lot. However, the light itself
      without batteries is a mere 70 grams. It is possible to reduce the battery
      weight by using lithiums, however that comes with a cost. If you are already
      carrying this light, I doubt you'll have enough of a desire to shed weight
      that you'll purchase lithiums; however, to each his own. 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.
      (Update 4-29-02: I have since seen different colored models for sale. There
      was a speckled white color that would probably be a better choice for

      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 the customer
      service. However, the problem was not anything to do with Princeton Tec.
      Please see the Final Report for more details.)

      Possible Modifications/Improvements: Lanyard; I found it nice to have, and
      worth the 6 grams. Up to you. I think that the +/- signs on the case should
      be a bit larger for ease of battery replacement. This light uses 4AA, but
      this also increases the weight. If it was made in a 2AA format, and I
      carried two extra AAs, then there would be less plastic, less weight.
      However, the shape of the 4AA design fits very nicely in the hand, much
      nicer than my 2AA Maglite. I prefer this light in the 4AA design. (Update
      4-29-02: More batteries means a higher chance of battery leakage. With two
      sets of two batteries, it is easy to replace one set of batteries if
      something goes wrong. With one set of four batteries, if anything happens to
      one of the batteries, you are in trouble.)

      Overall impressions/Quality: I am impressed. This light is simply a
      high-tech version of the classic Maglite. Yet it blows it away. The LED
      longevity, both bulb and battery, are amazing. Even more amazing to me was
      the price. A mere $16.99. Quite worth it when you consider how much you'll
      save on batteries. (Update 4-29-02: I have since been corrected. This light
      sells for a hefty $29.95. Still, I feel that the light is worth the cost.)
      However, this light is not for everyone. 5.7 ounces is a ton of weight. I
      have a gut feeling that while the battery life is bigger, and is light is
      better for gloves/cold clumsy hands, and it is the brightest LED flashlight
      I've seen, that it will not be my main choice for backpacking. My three
      Pulsar IIs (Princeton Tec's copy of the Photon's) with their 7 grams total
      weight each will continue to be my choice for most backpacking trips. I'm
      quite concerned about weight, and this light is an extra 5 oz. Still, if I
      want LIGHT than this is the obvious choice. The reflector system coupled
      with a magnifying lens creates a very bright, focused spot light. This is
      the light for car camping/anything where weight/size are not a huge deal. If
      you are willing to carry the weight, than this light will be your Energizer
      bunny. I was very impressed by the fact that the light itself weighed only
      69 grams, as I did not think that batteries weighed that much. Lithium
      batteries should save you an ounce or two of weight. If you normally carry a
      Mini-Maglite or equivalent than get this. If you normally carry the Maglite
      Solitaire or equivalent, than I doubt that you would be interested in this
      light, as there are other, smaller, LED lights. This light would be good for
      groups as well. I'll be testing this light in that capacity next summer.

      Overall, a great light, the best one around in its category, but it fills a
      specific niche, and is not for the weight weenie.

      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.
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