I don't know why it took me so long to change over to head lamps. I guess I am a bit old fashioned and just didn't see the point of them, thinking they were a gimmick more than anything else. I started to see their benefits while fixing flat tires at night and trying to set up camp while gagging on a torch held in my mouth. I decided it was time to try one out but wanted to be certain I was going with a practical alternative.
I am not really a brand name guy however I will always buy quality if given the choice. I hovered over web reviews of various headlamps for a while trying to see if anything caught my eye. You see, you need a torch that's reliable because when you need to use it, it's usually for something pretty important. This meant that it had to function in rain, sleet, snow and cold. That's right, I specifically said COLD. There are many headlamps that have seperate battery packs that you can put in your jacket to stop the batteries getting too cold and cutting out. I think this is too much fluffing about and decided that I needed a torch that could take lithium L92 batteries that are suited to cold weather. This means that the need for a seperate battery pack is reduundant and you have a smaller headlamp and lighter overall package. Enter the Princeton Tec EOS.
The EOS is a ruggedly built headlamp. It's quite small and lightweight. The lense is frosted plastic and recessed so as to avoid scratches. It is a sealed unit and the manufacturer claims it is water resistant up to 1m under water. The on / off switch is encased in rubber and is quite stiff to operate so you won't be accidentaly turning this thing on. It comes in 2 different colours, black and orange. I chose orange because it makes it easier to find while in my back pack. As an ex-firefighter, I have had experience with sealed torches and lights as we needed to be sure they wouldn't ignite gasses in hazardous environments. This headlamp is rated for such use:
The adjustment of the light angle is via a plastic ratchet system which seems to work quite well. I have run with the headlamp and havn't found it to move under normal movement and jolts. The back can be taken off via undoing a grippy screw at the back either with fingers or a coin / screwdriver. Doing so reveals the battery compartment and the o ring sealing the inner workings.
As you can see it takes 3 AAA batteries. This headlamp as mentioned earlier is lithium compatible which is a huge plus since many are not and thus they have reduced flexability in cold working conditions.
The Technical Stuff
This headlamp boasts some nifty technical upgrades from a normal old headlamp. First of all, it has a Luxeon I LED. This is just a fancy name for an LED that gives great performance for minimal battery consumption. It also means that it is extremely impact resistant and anything short of a minataur wailing on it with a golf club will be survivable. Next, it has some fancy circuitry which regualtes the current. The 1 Watt LED won't flicker and will be kept at a constant brightness as long as possible rather than fade as the battery weakens. When the battery has reached such a weak state that the current regulating circuit can no longer sustain constant brightness it will dim. This is pretty helpful as other lights will simply cut out and you may be left with your pants down in the dark, wondering where you can safely put your foot down.
You have 3 brightness setting too. High, medium and low. There is also a safety mode which gives you a flashing light The battery will last on high: 4.5 hrs, on medium: 9.5 hrs and on low, a staggering 44 hours. These ratings are considered as the time before the light begins to dim.
A comparable product to this headlamp would probably be the Petzl Tactikka range, although at the same price point no Petzl headlamps were Lithium compatible.
I really like this headlamp. I have used mine over the last 2 years and am still on the first set of batteries. It has been very functional and reliable. Would I recommend this to a good friend? For sure. There is a newer model of the Princeton Tec EOS called the... EOS II (those chaps at marketing deserve a raise!) which has a stated burn time of 115 hrs. It does cost extra though so if your maximum is $33 (which is $6 cheaper than when I bought mine!), then the standard EOS is the light for you. This headlamp is proof that you don't need to spend a fortune to get a quality product.