9.1 tech score
The Princeton Tec Aurora is a L.E.D. headlamp with 5 settings (bright, dimmer, dimmest, flashing slow, flashing fast) that uses 3 LED bulbs. The product description describes the Aurora as a plastic waterproof headlamp with a pivot that allows you to direct the beam anywhere. The Aurora has a single head strap that goes around the head with no top strap.
Product information – The Tech Specs
Manufacturer – Princeton Tec
Year of manufacture: 2004
Listed weight – 2.7 oz or 77 grams
Weight as delivered. – About 2.8 oz or 79 g
Field information: I use a headlamp for several different purposes on my kayak-camping trips. While I prefer not to be on the open ocean at dark I want a headlamp that I can use to see where I am going and that would be waterproof just in case. This headlamp, while I have not submerged it in water has been splashed and handled by wet hands with no problem. Mostly I use the headlamp at camp and equally important when I am reading some adventure story while lying in my sleeping bag at night. I also use it in an urban environment when walking my dog in my unlit neighborhood – not so much so that I can see, but so that my dog and I can be seen (plus allowing both hands free to pick up dog waste as I am a responsible pet owner).
For camping and reading I tested in the Black Canyon below the Hoover Dam during Valentine’s Day weekend, when I acted as a kayak instructor for a group of college students (I will not be nominated as husband of the year this year as my wife stayed home to take care of the dog). We were camping alongside the river but back in a small canyon. It was a beautiful weekend. LED lights are not as bright as incandescent lights, and I cannot adjust the beam from broad to narrow (I think that is true for all LED lights), the Aurora at its brightest gave me sufficient light to use at camp for cooking and to make those late night nature calls to a pit toilet which required navigation around many other campers. The lower settings were fine for reading and looking for stuff inside my tent. I didn’t need to hike at night so I don’t know how it would perform, but I believe it would be more than sufficient. The pivoting aspect of the lamp works well both for sitting around the camp and not shining it in someone’s eyes, to adjusting it while walking or so that it illuminates the pages of my story. One of the things I like about the Aurora is the fact that there is no battery pack in the back of my head. This allowed me to lie down on my sleeping bag stuff sack, stuffed with my fleece that I use as a pillow and read comfortably. The strap is comfortable and I have worn it alone and with a hat. Because there is no battery pack in the back it does not need a center strap on the top of the head. This makes it comfortable to use with or without a hat, especially those of us who are “folliclelychallenged.”
The manufacturer says that battery life is between 50-160 hours depending on which mode is used. I have not approached that range yet (20-30 hours) and it seems like it is still going strong. My only criticism of the lamp is that the rubber gasket button on the lamp can sometimes be hard to press, especially if I am wearing gloves. The settings are changed by pressing and releasing the button until I get to the right setting. If I hold it down too long then the lamp turns off instead of cycling through to the setting I want to get to. It sometimes takes 2 hands, one to hold the lamp and one to push the button. I wish the on/off switch were easier to use, but I think after more use I will get used to it. Other aspects are that the pivot is up and down – not 360, which is fine for my needs. Battery replacement is easy, by opening the back of the light and replacing the 3 AAA batteries.
Summary – For the type of camping I am involved in (no winter camping and usually warm weather) the Aurora suits my needs. It is lightweight, bright, rugged enough and comfortable to read with. When I bought the Aurora it came with, as an added bonus, a small LED pinch light to attach to my jacket. This is a nice handy bonus when I need a quick small light to see something without reaching for a flashlight or headlamp.