Princeton Tec Byte

I recently received the Princeton Tec Byte headlamp and am excited to put it to use.  The Byte has some interesting design aspects which I think make it a headlamp worth keeping around.


Thanks to Princeton Tec for providing the Byte headlamp for reviewing purposes.

Specifications:

  • Weight:  2.25 ounces (64 grams) including batteries
  • Brightness:  35 lumens
  • Burn Time: 96 hours (Maxbright LED), 146 hours (red Ultrabright LED)
  • Batteries:  2 AAA, alkaline or lithium (two alkaline included)
  • Water Resistance:  Level 1** (See note below)

**According to the manufacturer, the Byte is “Level 1 Waterproof– Level 1 is assigned to lights that offer a degree of water protection equivalent to IPX4 in the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. Lights rated at Level 1 are designed for water resistance to splashing and quick dunkings. If a light with a Level 1 rating is accidentally submerged for a longer period of time, the batteries should be removed and the cabinets should be carefully inspected for signs of battery leakage. If water has entered the housing, the light should be dried and batteries replaced.”

The Princeton Tec Byte brings maximizes functionality while saving space and weight. The Byte boasts a big punch while maintaining a weight of only 2.25 ounces (64 grams), which includes the batteries. The Byte is powered by two AAA batteries (the lamp is designed so that you can use either Alkaline or Lithium varieties) and Princeton Tec is kind enough to include your first two with the purchase of the headlamp. The Byte also offers easy access to your batteries using a single latch opening on the side of the lamp so that you don’t have to spend those tedious minutes just trying to figure out the how to open the contraption.  (See picture below.)

Single Latch for Easy Battery Access

One of the differences that you first notice with the Byte is its “asymmetrical single arm bracket” design, which allows the headlamp to pivot up and down.  This is different than the usual “hinge” design that you see on so many headlamps of similar size.  The best way that I can describe this design is as a circular “ratcheting” motion from a single pivot point.  I like this design because it holds its position when bumped or hit but also allows you to easily adjust the Byte.  The Princeton Tec Byte also employs three different modes of brightness (high, low, red) utilizing two different types of LEDs (Maxbright and Ultrabright Red). The Byte is designed to create a focused narrow beam that enables the headlamp to be used as a “spotlight”.  The Maxbright LED can be used in two modes:  High and Low. The Byte’s specifications list the “High” mode’s beam distance to shoot up to 98 feet (30 m) with a burn time of 80 hours.   The “Low” mode’s beam is rated to travel up to 49 feet (15 m) with a burn time of 96 hours.  The Byte’s Ultrabright red LED has one mode, with a beam reach of 19 feet (6 m) and a burn time of 146 hours.  The red LED is best suited for very short distances, and is especially good for those times when you don’t want to blind yourself or someone else in the dark with your bright modes.  The Byte has an output of 35 lumens—the derived unit of light output as derived by the International System of Units (SI).

That’s about all I have now on the Byte.  I look forward to using and testing the Princeton Tec Byte out more over the next few months and will have some reviews on how it performs.  Check back in a month for my next review on the Byte.

-Kaleb R.

Update #1:  1/11/11

I have been using the Princeton Tec Byte for a couple of months now and I am still impressed with the compact headlamp.  I have come to appreciate the red LED more and more since using the Byte.  I noted this in my initial review, but did not get into specifics.  I had never used a red light prior to this headlamp.  The only experience I had with them was seeing them in the local military surplus store when I was younger and they were not bright enough to do me any good on my adventures as a kid.  The Byte has shown me the benefits of the red light.

While the technologies of LED’s have vastly improved headlamps, they can easily have adverse effects on your vision at night.  Whether you are rummaging around in the tent, or just don’t want to blind others around you, using red light can help you avoid seeing spots after getting blinded by your bright LED or not wake up others when you need to make trips out of the tent in the middle of the night.  The human eye is less sensitive to red wavelengths in the visible light spectrum, thus it does not negatively affect the eye’s natural “night vision” like others wavelengths of light.

I found the red LED in the Princeton Tec Byte very helpful on a recent trip with a group where we stayed in a bunk house with close quarters.  The red LED enabled me to get into my pack and maneuver around without disturbing anyone in the night.

I enjoy reading when I’m backpacking or camping.  If you ever like to carry a book with you on the trail and you have ever tried to read with your bright-as-the-sun headlamp, you can find yourself with a headache because the light is just too bright when it hits the pages of your book.  The red LED illuminates the page at a brightness that is very comfortable to your eyes.  My experiences reading with the Princeton Tec Byte have been very good so far.

I have worn the headlamp on several occasions for an extended period of time.  Besides wearing it too tight and getting a headache (all I had to do was loosen the head band), I have found the Byte to be comfortable, absent of any pressure points, ect.  The Byte boasts that it is water resistant; however, I have only been able to use it in dry conditions.

Recently, I let someone borrow one of my other headlamps and wanted to change the batteries out for them prior to lending it out.  This helped me appreciate two things about the Princeton Tec even more:    (1) it uses AA batteries and (2) has a much easier access to reach the batteries.  I have found that whenever I need AAA batteries I never seem to have them on hand, not to mention that they are more expensive than AA batteries.  Also, the contraption to get to the headlamp I was lending out was tricky to open and I struggled with it for longer than I should have, whereas the Byte has an easy access external latch.  (Note:  I have not had to change the batteries yet with the Byte)

After my second review I am still very pleased with the Princeton Tec Byte.

That’s all that I have for now.  Check back in a month to see my next review and updates on my experiences with the Byte.

-Kaleb R.

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