By Jason Boyle
Princeton Tec was founded in 1975 and started making dive gear and broadened their reach from there. They have a nice youtube video on their website that outlines their history. The 2 minutes it takes to watch the video is worth it. Their products are made in the USA.
The Axis headlamp comes in a standard model that runs on AAA batteries and a rechargeable model. This review will focus on the standard model. The Axis has a low profile but throws a significant amount of light with a max setting of 250 lumens. What sets the Axis apart from other low profile headlamps is the ability to choose between three modes – red, spot, and flood, AND the ability to dim the light in each of the settings with knob on the side of the headlamp. The headlamp also has the ability to use both the spot and flood modes together by using the dimmer knob to dial up both of them while in the flood mode. The headlamp features Princeton Tec’s Max Bright LED technology that “shines a smooth white light that is useful for a wide range of tasks.” Princeton Tec does not sell the headlamp on their website, but a quick search shows numerous online stores selling the lamp for approximately $40 dollars.
One of the things I appreciate from Princeton Tec is that they provide a burn time graphic with estimated burn times in all of the headlamp’s modes. I won’t point them all out, but I am surprised that the highest mode – flood and spot on high has a burn time of 50 hours. I think this is pretty awesome. The flood setting on low has an approximate burn time of 102 hours. I am a bit surprised that the flood setting on high only has a burn time of 34 hours. Regardless, I will keep an eye on this area to see if I get similar results.
My first experience with the headlamp was an early morning run on the Levee in New Orleans. Like any good gear tester, I opened the package without reading the directions and inserted the included batteries and took off for a four mile run. The interface is pretty simple – there is one button on the side that switches between the modes – first click red, second click spot, hold the button for flood. I also like that the Axis housing allows the body to rotate up and down, which means I never have to worry about putting on the headlamp upside down because the bezel goes both directions. The Levee where I was running is lit every so often by lights, so the flood was the best mode for me. It allowed bikers and other runners to see me and provided enough light to see where I was going.
Now that fall has arrived, I expect that the Axis will get to see plenty of use running in the dark, camping and general household chores.
I look for several characteristics when reviewing a headlamp. The first is durability. Does the headlamp hold up to everyday abuse? The second is usability. Do the various lighting modes offer enough light for outdoor activities? For example, does the highest setting work for running or hiking technical terrain in the dark? How easy is the headlamp to adjust? The third characteristic is the headlamp’s burn time. Princeton Tec actually supplies burn times for each of the modes which is great. I am interested to see if my use matches theirs.
Thanks for reading my initial review of the Princeton Tec Axis headlamp. Please check back in a month or so for an update.
Thank you to 4alloutdoors.org and Princeton Tec for providing the headlamp for this review.