EOS lightweight, compact LED headlamp for camping, hiking, and paddling
Power: 80 Lumens
Lamp: Maxbright LED
Burn time: 121 hours
Batteries: 3 AAA Alkaline or Lithium
Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)
3 AAA Alkaline Batteries Included
The Princeton Tec EOS is a lightweight, compact LED headlamp which uses standard AAA alkaline or lithium batteries, suitable for camping, hiking, paddling, or general chores around the home or workplace.
In many ways, the EOS resembles most other typical headlamps: a small module containing the batteries and a light with lens, with a rubber push-button ON/OFF switch. But the EOS is especially compact compared to many other headlamps, particularly those with tilt-adjustable heads, which can be cumbersome. But the EOS uses a minimalist form factor, as though the designers started with a small bundle of three AAA batteries, stuck a bright LED onto them and wedged a switch on top, then built a housing just large enough to hold it all. The result is a sleek and snug little headlamp that easily fits in a pocket.
As soon as I’ve unloaded the kayak and set-up my camp for the night, I pocket my EOS headlamp so that I have it close at hand as darkness falls. This light has perhaps one of the most comfortable straps of any headlamp I’ve used, with a firm but stretchy feel, and covered with a fine fleece-like finish, somewhat like a thin wetsuit material. The standard adjustment buckle allows a range of sizes, and also doubles as a ‘screwdriver’ to loosen the single screw holding the rear cover on the waterproof, rubber-sealed battery compartment.
The EOS is so lightweight and streamlined that you hardly notice it when wearing. The hinged back includes an easily adjusted ratcheted tilt adjustment that strikes the perfect compromise between smooth, quiet detents and firm, solid positioning. The light is turned on by the rubber push button: press once and the EOS clicks on at the High setting, click again for Medium, again for Low, and again for a flashing mode; once more turns the light off.
This arrangement is good for immediate, maximum brightness, such as when a wayward grizzly wanders into your camp at 1 a.m., but may otherwise annoy and blind your campmates. Energy misers like me may prefer the light started on Low and got brighter with more clicks, but are compelled to use multiple button presses each time, to ratchet the brightness down to something more efficient. The EOS can also be turned off from any setting by simply waiting more than two seconds since the previous button press, then clicking once.
By far, the most striking feature of the EOS is its sheer brightness. “Whoa …!”, was my friend’s response when I first lit my EOS after his own headlamp’s batteries died on the trail. At 70 lumens of light output, this is one of the most powerful headlamps on the market, barring those which use separate, proprietary batteries.
On High, the EOS throws a strong and clean, slightly blueish white beam, fairly narrow and focused, which is well suited to trail hiking or searching for a decent tentpad. The Medium setting serves well for typical campsite tasks, while the Low setting is suitable for reading a map in bed. On all settings, the beam is quite uniform in brightness, if a bit hotter in the center. Unlike many headlamps, there is no adjustment to widen or narrow the spread of the beam, though I’ve been happy with the standard beam.
The EOS uses some sort of power regulator to help the light maintain a constant brightness throughout the life of the batteries. While most other headlamps start off bright and soon begin to dim as the batteries deplete and die, the EOS provides a fairly steady illumination until the very end. The light is very efficient, though, and the batteries seems to last much longer than comparable headlamps. Still, with less warning, you’ll want to keep spares close at hand.
One ‘feature’ I like isn’t a feature at all: the EOS uses no special proprietary battery clip, but a simple recess for the AAA batteries. Oftentimes, on lesser headlamps I’ve used, this delicate and unnecessary part is the first to break and is seldom available as a spare part, rendering the entire light useless despite everything else still functioning.
After seeing how well my EOS worked in camp, I bought another one to keep in my dayhatch; waterproof down to one meter for up to 30 minutes, this headlamp is just as valuable in a kayak. The Flashing mode meets the US Coast Guard’s specification for a distress signal of a “high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute”, and the High mode functions as a handheld anti-collision light as required by my state’s boating laws. The EOS has proven indispensable for scouting landing spots after dusk, and for setting up camp in the dark.
In The Long Run
The Princeton Tec EOS packs a lot of power into a small package. This versatile and durable headlamp has proven to be a crucial tool in the backcountry, both afloat and ashore. With its compact size and light weight, there is no reason to be without it.
Hits: very bright, compact, sturdy, streamlined, solid tilt detents, waterproof, common AAA batteries, easy control, four brightness settings, long battery life
Misses: no beam adjustment, some users may find order of brightness settings counterintuitive: High, Medium, Low