Princeton Tec Impact Inital Report (Revised)
- 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
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)
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.