Princeton Tec Aurora Headlamp Review

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by the Product Review Staff | 2003-12-10 03:00:00-07

Princeton Tec Aurora Headlamp Review

Princeton Tec Aurora Specifications

The Princeton Tec Aurora weighs 2.66 oz (75 g) with 3xAAA batteries. It is a 3-LED headlamp with batteries in the lamp housing (front). The band is a 1-inch elastic wrap-style headband.

Usability

The Princeton Tec Aurora has three lighting modes ('high', 'medium', and 'low' and two strobe modes (30 cycles/min and 120 cycles/min), toggled by a push-button switch on top of the housing, operated with your index finger while your thumb and index finger 'pinch' the lamp housing. The switch is not recessed, so its operable while wearing a wider range of handwear than lights with recessed switches, and we were even able to operate it while wearing shelled winter mittens.

Changing the battery is performed by pulling on the front of the molded lamp housing with your fingertips, and was difficult, even with cold fingers.

The Princeton Tec Aurora has a pivoting head that operates smoothly and quietly with one hand.

Performance

With fresh batteries at room temperature, the Princeton Tec Aurora has an initial center-of-beam brightness on its high setting of 203 lux at a distance of 2 feet, falling off to 13 lux at 1 foot off the beam's center. On its medium setting, the Aurora's center-of-beam brightness at room temperature was 108 lux.

In our cold conditions test (center-of-beam brightness at 38 °F), the Aurora's lighting power on its high setting was 172 lux at 0 hours (fresh batteries), 64 lux at 8 hours, and 14 lux at 24 hours. On its medium setting, the corresponding brightness values were 88 lux (0 hours), 38 lux (8 hours), and 24 lux (24 hours). In general, the Auora was among the best performing LED headlamps in our review with respect to maintaining enough light for bright task lighting after 24 hours of exposure to cold conditions.

Applications for the Princeton Tec Aurora

The Princeton Tec Aurora attempts to bridge the gap between task and short range navigation lighting. At a high brightness with fresh batteries near 200 lux, it is more than adequate for trail illumination and short range flood lighting for mountaineering scenarios. Further, even after 24 hours, the Princeton Tec Aurora maintains enough intensity for excellent short-range task lighting.

Weaknesses

The Princeton Tec Aurora's weaknesses are few. As with other LED headlamps in our review, there is always room to improve in designing a battery housing that can be opened with cold fingers. In addition, the Aurora's AAA batteries do not sit securely in the battery housing, so some care and attention is needed when closing the housing to ensure that the batteries maintain their contact points.

Strengths

Overall, the Princeton Tec Aurora is a very bright and powerful headlamp. It was the only 1-to-3-LED headlamp tested that had a brightness exceeding 200 lux without the aid of hyperbright or 1-watt LED's. Good brightness over the 24-hour life of the light, combined with a switch that can be used with gloves and a wide, comfortable headband makes the Princeton Tec Aurora a wise choice if you are looking for a excellent all-around trail headlamp that weighs less than 3 ounces.

Summary

We had a difficult time selecting a Trail's Best Award for a headlamp in its class. Two lamps in particular had great performance with multiple lighting modes: the Princeton Tec Aurora and the Petzl Tikka Plus. For cold weather usability, the Aurora earned a slight edge, and we are pleased to honor its design and performance with a 2004 Trail's Best Award.


Citation

"Princeton Tec Aurora Headlamp Review," by the Product Review Staff. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00266.html, 2003-12-10 03:00:00-07.

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