Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $75 - $90 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Amazing bright light, waterproof to 1meter, robust design,
Cons: Heavier than alternatives, expensive, short battery life
Best Uses: Situations where water resistance, bright light, and long-battery life, are valuable.
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
This offers a robust design, water-proof to 1 meter, with a strong spot light, good flood light, and strong battery life. It is the four AA battery version of the Princeton Tec Apex Pro. It performs very similarly to the Apex Pro in brightness which is to say it is one of the best "powerful high-beam" headlamp we tested. The buttons and operation are also essentially the same as the Apex Pro. The difference between the two is the Apex is heavier, lasts much longer, is a little less expensive, and takes convenient-to-find AA batteries. The lithium ion Apex Pro batteries are much more expensive and, more importantly, much harder to find. If you are on a long trip, you need to stock up on lithium-ion batteries because you never know if any of your buddies will have them and few stores carry them.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This is one of the top scoring headlamps for trail finding with a score of 9 of 10. The beam is powerful and even over distance, especially when the batteries are new. It's on par with both our Editors' Choice, The Coast HL7 (8 of 10) as you can see in the beam comparison photo below and it's closest rival, Black Diamond Icon also 9 of 10.
While the 7 score here is solid, this is where the Icon (9 of 10) and Coast (10 of 10) pull ahead. See the photo below against the icon. The Apex has too much intensity focused in the middle in close proximity mode. The Icon has a nice even beam.
The battery life score of 3 of 10 is low and highlights the key difference between the Apex and the Icon and you can see in this battery life versus being distance chart. Yes the Apex starts out with a more powerful beam, but in less than an hour it is down to the same power as the Icon. After three hours, we stop the clock for measuring high beam run time with the ANSI standard and the Icon carries on for antoher 5 hours. Learn more about ANSI in the Headlamp Review.
We did not measure low mode run time. The manufacturers claim 150 hours for the Apex, 200 hours for the Black Diamond Spot, 175 hours for the Icon, and 76.5 hours for the Coast.
In high beam mode, the Apex shines and impressive ninety four meters. As mentioned in the battery life paragraph. This headlamp has a very impressive beam when the batteries are brand-new and outshines it's closest competitor, the Icon, which starts out at 80 meters. However, this brightness is not sustained. The beam immediately tapers down to match the Icon. While 94 meters is impressive, it well behind the Coast with a maximum beam distance of 128 m.
This is one of the heaviest headlamps tested banquettes just ate two of 10 score here. At 271 g, it is almost 20% heavier than the Icon and more than double the weight of the Coast.
You can reduce the weight with the Princeton Tec Apex Pro which uses lithium-ion batteries. That said, the Apex Pro is not THAT light and doesn't stack up that well against similarly priced competitors. It also requires 123 lithium ion batteries which are much more expensive and harder to come by.
Ease of Use
This does not have as good and ease-of-use score as its competitors because the button that clicks through the different lighting modes is not the most intuitive. It requires a lot more clicking then seems necessary. It is also difficult to use with gloves.
At $90 this is one of the more expensive head lamps in the review. It is $10 more expensive than the Icon, which scores higher. It most than double the price of the Coast.
This light casts an incredibly powerful beam at first, but other than that falls behind the competition. The Black Diamond Icon is lighter, has a more even beam, $10 dollars less, and has a much longer battery life. The Coast HL7 is less than half the costs, half the weight and also has better batter life and beam distance.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 14, 2014
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