Hands-on Gear Review

Princeton Tec Sync Review

Price:  $30 List | $16.47 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive with multiple modes
Cons:  Short beam throw, cannot be operated one-handed
Bottom line:  Multiple modes make this inexpensive lamp a nice option.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Measured Max Beam Distance:  30 m
Claimed Distance:  58 m
Measured High Mode Run-time (ANSI):  6.3 hrs
Manufacturer:   Princeton Tec

Our Verdict

With a red light, spot mode, floodlight, and long battery life, the Princeton Tec Sync is the least expensive product in our test that can truly be considered a full-functioning headlamp. Scoring near the bottom of our roster for brightness and trail finding, the max beam distance is the limiting factor. If this amount of light suits you, you may be better off with the Best Buy winning Petzl Tikkina and save some dollars. If you need more light, just $10 more will get you into the typical street price range of our Editors' Choice winner, the Coast HL7.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

Last Updated:
Wednesday
February 22, 2017

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Product Update


There are some technical updates to the Sync headlamp since the version we tested. Below, the new version is on the left and the version we tested on the right.
Princeton Tec Sync

Here's a summary of the key updates:
  • Beam Distance — Princeton Tec has changed their claimed beam distance from 58m in the version we tested to 38m in the newest version.
  • Run Time — The claimed runtime for the version we tested was 75hrs, the newest version of the Sync has a claimed dual beam run time of 97hrs, and a claimed high spot run time of 144hrs.
  • Water Resistance — The new Sync has a water resistance rating of IPX4. To learn more about water resistance ratings, check out our Buying Advice.

Hands-On Review


Princeton Tec makes a plethora of lighting products. Distinguishing between them can be difficult. The Sync seems to hit a sweet spot in their line-up, with long battery life and multiple modes available at a very reasonable price and with perfectly acceptable weight and bulk.

Performance Comparison


With long battery life and many lighting mode  the Princeton Tec Sync is the least expensive full-function headlamp. However  it is not very bright.
With long battery life and many lighting mode, the Princeton Tec Sync is the least expensive full-function headlamp. However, it is not very bright.

Trail Finding


While the bulb is far from the brightest in our test, throwing a beam just 30m, the lenses on the Sync make the most of it and send an even, usable beam that entire distance. The Sync isn't expensive, but when it comes to trail finding it must be compared to the only-a-few-dollars-more Coast HL7. The Coast throws its beam four times as far without costing much more. Check out the beam comparison below for a clear and obvious difference in trail finding chops.

Beam Distance Photos

Princeton Tec Sync
Coast HL7

Close Proximity


Every tester appreciated the smooth, even light of the close-up functions on the Sync. The only negative comment we have is that the high-profile housing sticks out into the upper periphery of the users' view.

The Sync in use for camp dinner cooking. The broad  smooth beam is great for close-proximity tasks. Most users will wish for a more distant beam.
The Sync in use for camp dinner cooking. The broad, smooth beam is great for close-proximity tasks. Most users will wish for a more distant beam.

Battery Life


Lasting 9.4 hours in our ANSI High Mode Run time test, the Sync is exactly tied with our Editors' Choice winner, the Black Diamond ReVolt. However, the truly secure lock mode on the ReVolt tilts things in its favor. It doesn't matter how efficient the batteries are if the light comes on inadvertently. That being said, we didn't have any actual problems with the Sync coming on unintentionally. Additionally, we must point to a limitation of our testing. We tested each light's run time in its respective highest mode. The brightest lights with lower modes, can be run for much longer than our raw numbers indicate if used in those lower modes. Our final battery life scores indicate this. So the brighter ReVolt will ultimately outlast the much dimmer Sync.

The AAA batteries slide into the side of the Sync.
The AAA batteries slide into the side of the Sync.

Brightness


The Sync is not strong in the brightness category. Scoring 3 of 10 puts it essentially tied for third worst in this category. As compared to the similarly priced Petzl Tikka Plus, for instance, the Petzl throws light 11m and 30 percent further.

Spot-mode Beam Pattern

Princeton Tec Sync
Petzl Tikka Plus

Weight


At 86g, the Sync is right in the mix with most of the high scoring compact headlamps. The Editors' Choice winning ReVolt weighs slightly more at 104g, but our Best Buy Petzl Tikkina weighs exactly the same.

Ease of Use


Of the models with multiple modes, the Sync is the most obvious to use. With 5 light types and levels, the rotating switch leaves the user with clear instruction on how to choose the next level. This system is indeed much clearer than the one-button, multiple-press method that other products use. However, this rotating switch is basically impossible to use with one hand. Changing modes requires one hand to stabilize and another to turn the switch.

The Sync in action around the campfire in Indian Creek  Utah. Long desert autumn nights necessitate a good  close proximity headlamp.
The Sync in action around the campfire in Indian Creek, Utah. Long desert autumn nights necessitate a good, close proximity headlamp.

Best Applications


This is a good headlamp for occasional camping use. If don't you need to see long distances, and want a light that won't require frequent battery changes, this could be a good choice. Overall, while it doesn't offer nearly as many modes, we feel the Petzl Tikkina is a far better value in this size range.

Value


With so may excellent products crowding this price point, and even below, Princeton Tec is hard up against some strong competition. With multiple, clearly delineated modes and long high-mode battery life, this product is sure to win some hearts, especially if it is found on sale to bring the price even closer to that of the Tikkina.

Conclusion


This headlamp offers many modes and a long battery life for the price, we just wish it was brighter.
Jediah Porter and RJ Spurrier

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Most recent review: February 22, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 100%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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