note: article first appeared in May 2016
I can’t tell you how much I enjoy, no, truly love my original model Petzl Tactika XP headlamp. It is exactly what I want a headlamp to be. But, why am I talking about a Petzl when I am reviewing a Princeton Tec headlamp? Simple, the original model Petzl Tactica XP is the standard by which I will, I must, judge all other headlamps.
Sooooooo right about now you are saying to yourself, “Why doesn’t AH just buy himself another original model Petzl Tactika XP headlamp?”
Well, I would if they still made them. Yup, Petzl (in all their stupidity) discontinued making that little gem a couple years ago. True, they still have a Tactika model but I already did a review on that new model. Yeah, it sucks compared to the original model. So I have been on a quest ever since to find a headlamp that is just as good, maybe even better. The Princeton Tec Tactical Quad is the latest contender.
As always…the mission –
“To provide personal lighting capability for night operations in a tactical or camping environment.”
Requirements & Restrictions –
- Must be water resistant.
- Must be rugged.
- Must provide foolproof for “red lens” operations.
- Must operate on AAA batteries.
- Should be camouflage or flat earth color.
- Must have headband operation capability.
- Should have helmet mount capability.
- Should contain the lamp and batteries in the same housing.
With all of that in mind I began searching for an acceptable substitute for my old Petzl. This Princeton Tec Tactical Quad model stuck out to me as possibly meeting all my criteria and it looked like it was positioned at very reasonable price point as well. What really caught my attention was the red lens that operated similarly to the Petzl as well as being the right color and compact in size.
The headlamp arrives and right off the mark I see that the housing is not the best quality plastic. There is a gasket to protects the inside components from moisture but it requires tightening a thumb screw to tighten it down. And, there is an option to use a screwdriver, but that might be a problem. What happens when someone tightens it with a screwdriver and you don’t have a screwdriver when swapping the batteries?
The four LEDs are plenty bright enough but they cast a semi-focused wide light pattern. And that pattern sends light too much to the sides for my liking. Although it is pretty focused in the middle of the pattern. I want the light to be tightly focused out in front of me. I am not worried about a “wide” light pattern, I want to see what is out in front of me. The leftover or light-bleed will allow my eyes to pick up details peripherally vs. really bright light. I don’t need the headlamp intentionally sending out a wide pattern or for everyone and their brother to see it.
So I am not crazy about the white light pattern very much but it is acceptable.
Where this headlamp really shinned (no pun intended) was the red lens light pattern. It is really nice, great pattern, and another nice feature was the red lens, you can tell that it is in place making it tough to accidentally light up the area in white light.
Since the headlamp has three intensity settings you can adjust as needed. The picture above is at the high intensity setting.
Another really nice aspect of the headlamp is the band. It is a decent piece of expandable material that appears to be top quality.
At $42+ online, it is at the top of my acceptable price range. But, I still give it a “buy” recommendation…but barely and only if you really need a headlamp and can’t find one anywhere else. Wait till you hear about it’s brother…the Princeton EOS model…Sweet
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