The Quad is easy to use and has a solid close proximity score but otherwise did not stand out in our tests. It is nearly identical in size, weight and cost to the Black Diamond Spot, yet performed lower on just about every metric. At $35, there is a lot of competition that the Quad was not able to rise above. If we had a durability metric, the Quad likely would have also excelled because it is waterproof down to one meter and very burly. Then again, the reason we don't have a durability metric is that just about every headlamp we came across could take a beating and keep functioning.
Princeton Tec Quad Review
Cons: Heavier than alternatives, no spotlight capability, low brightness.
Manufacturer: Princeton Tec
Our Analysis and Test Results
This score was in the middle of the road in general but low for a headlamps of this size. By comparison, the Spot is the same weight and size but has a much more powerful beam as you can see in the beam comparison photo below.
The score was good, however again it falls short compared to the similarly sized and priced spot as you can see below. The spot has a nice wide and evenly distributed beam for finding anything around you. The quad has a much more intensely focused close proximity beam which decreases your overall field of vision.
The battery life score was below average using standard batteries. The Quad's sophisticated circuitry allows the use of lithium AAA batteries that reduce the Quad's weight to 82 grams, perform in extremely cold temperatures and significantly increase regulated burn times on all modes. That said, even with lithium ion batteries, the quad is still not that light or have that longer battery life compared to the competition.
We measured the high mode run time at 5.5 hours using the ANSI standard. This was similar to the Spot (5.2 hours) but well short of Energizer 3 LED (8.7 hours) which is a third the price.
The claimed low mode run time is 97 hours compared to 200 hours for the Spot (we did not measure this, those are manufacturer-provided numbers).
We measured the max beam distance at 34 m, about half the distance of the Spot. Generally, only lights that were either less than $20 or really small scored below that. For example, the Energizer 3 LED only shines 22 m, but it's also a third the cost.
The Quad is right in the middle for weight. It could not be considered a lightweight headlamp but is not one of the big AA consuming beasts either. That said, for its weight we would expect a much more powerful beam and or a much longer battery life.
Ease of Use
This is an area where the quad did well. The button is intuitive and easy to use. Navigating through the different brightness settings is easy. It did not do all that great for glove use.
At $35, there is a lot of competition. Many $20 headlamps scored higher and some $35 and $40 headlamps scored much higher. You could argue that because the Quad comes in such a durable package, it may offer a very good long-term value. However, in 2+ years of testing, we have found that most headlamps will become technologically obsolete before they break (they are all pretty durable).
The Quad performed reasonably well in about half the categories and has some nice standout features such as great ease-of-use and a good close proximity score. That said, in an incredibly competitive headlamp market, Its weight and price tag do not go well with its performance. For $5 more and slightly less weight, the Black Diamond Spot performs much better across pretty much all rating metrics. For about the same price and an extra ounce, Coast HL7 ads even more beam performance with a similar (short) battery life as the Quad.
— RJ Spurrier and Chris McNamara