I recently had a chance to try out the Princeton Tec FUEL headlamp and I have to say… headlamps have come a long way since the old days. I remember winning a headlamp in Boy Scouts in the ’80s and back then it was pretty uncool to strap what looked like a car headlight to your head unless you were exploring a cave. Of course I was a cool kid so I only used my headlamp for spelunking trips 🙂 Anyway, all of Princeton Tec’s headlamps have a cool factor that their bulkier predecessors didn’t have plus the FUEL is much more than a headlamp.
The Princeton Tec FUEL light retails for $19.95 to $24.95. It comes in three colors – pink, grey and green. According to Princeton Tec, the FUEL weighs 78g, emits 35 lumens of brightness and can last up to 160 hours on three AAA batteries. The light has three brightness settings and a strobe setting, allowing the light to be used for general outdoor hiking, reading in your tent, or as a beacon in case you want to attract attention in an emergency.
The three ultra-bright LEDs give off plenty of light. The most noticeable feature is the wide field of view or what Princeton calls “Focused Wide Beams.” The light uses three bright LED bulbs to send a beam in front of you and a beam to your left and right. Unlike a light with a single bulb pointed in one direction and a reflector that diffuses the light, the FUEL’s three LED bulbs produce a wide swath of bright light that fills your peripheral vision. As a result, I didn’t feel like I was walking down a tunnel.
You can easily adjust the direction of the light by rotating the base up or down. The head strap seems comfortable and is easy to adjust. Most importantly, the strap kept the light in place while walking. I didn’t try running with it, but I suspect it would stay put even while jogging.
Aside from the basic functionality of the FUEL, the one feature that really makes the FUEL more than a headlamp is the fact that you can easily remove the light from the elastic head strap and attach it to any 1″ webbing.
I was able to attach the light to the sternum strap of my backpack and illuminate the trail in front of me without wearing the FUEL on my head. I also attached the FUEL to some gear with Molle webbing, which kept the light out of the way but immediately accessible when needed. With its long battery life, compact shape, excellent wide illumination and overall versatility the FUEL light is a great addition to your kit. I anticipate using it in place of a regular handheld flashlight. Overall, I give the light two thumbs up!