I have to admit that as much of a gear head as I am, I have been perfectly satisfied with a 4 LED headlamp that I have had for almost 10 years. I will admit that I’ve had slight gear envy a few times seeing folks at camp sites with some of the newer, lighter, brighter LED head lamps. Thankfully, I finally ran out of excuses to try out a new head lamp when I was sent the Princeton Tec Remix for a review. The Remix is a moderately small and very light headlamp that runs on 3AAA batteries. It weighs on the scale at one and one half ounces without batteries, just under three ounces with alkaline batteries. I haven’t weighed it with a set of lithium batteries, but it should come in right under two and one half ounces loaded with three. This makes for a very light weight light that adds very little appreciable weight to a pack and will ride easily all night without wearing on your forehead.
Many lights that I have seen (including my aforementioned BD) come with a band that rides over the top of your head. This allows for the main strap to be snug but not so tight that it would cut off circulation. However, the Remix is light enough and rides securely enough that such a band is unnecessary. I found that to be a refreshing difference after years of having the other style. The number of batteries and how they are carried is another aspect of the Remix that is rather refreshing. Many lights that I have seen and used have two built in batteries, which makes them super light, but somewhat less bright than desirable. Other lights have the extra batteries to provide the capability for a brighter light, but that makes them heavier and forces a separate battery compartment to be used. The Remix uses three AAA batteries, the power of LED technology, and the batteries are carried internally. The light output is excellent.
The Remix has a total of four LED lights built in. Three are referred to as Ultrabright and grouped together. The fourth is referred to as a Maxbright LED. The grouped Ultrabright LEDs are offered in three different colors on the Remix: red, green, and white. My test model came with green. The triple Ultrabright LEDs have a high and low setting. On the low setting (which is the lowest of all four total settings) the light outputs four lumens and will run for an exceptional two hundred hours on one set of alkaline batteries! Princeton Tec states that the beam is wide and lights an area to about thirty feet. In my experience with the light, the low setting is a nice area flood, but only effectively lights an area out to about fifteen feet. I think the model with white Maxbright LEDs would more effectively light an area further from the user. That being said, I have really enjoyed using the light on the lowest setting. It works quite well for reading a book or map at night, especially in a tent. When in the outdoors and away from all the artificial light that pollutes the night in more developed areas, four lumens will get you quite far. It is just enough light to leisurely walk around at night and not trip over rocks or stones. It is enough light to look at what is cooking over the fire to make sure it isn’t burning. In more civilized settings, it is even enough light to find your way around the bedroom and get ready for work on the morning without disturbing your spouse. Having that ability alone is worth more than the cost of the light some days!
The high setting for the Ultrabright LEDs provides thirty lumens of light with a run time of sixty one hours. I found this setting to be pretty good, but like the low setting it fell short of the throw figure listed on Princeton Tec’s website. It is listed as a wide beam with a range of ninety two feet. In my woods testing, I was able to use it for a good fifty to sixty feet of illumination. At that range it is casting a huge beam which illuminates a large area that is about the size of a house. Throughout my testing, I ended up using the high setting for the Ultrabrights the least, as I usually want a more concentrated beam or less light. That doesn’t mean it is useless, just that the way I have used the headlamp has led me to use the other modes more.
Just like the three Ultrabright LEDs, the larger single Maxbright LED has a low and high setting. The low setting will run for fifty three hours, putting out twenty lumens of light. Even though it puts out less raw light and runs for less time than the triple Ultrabrights on high, I found the low setting of the Maxbright to be the most overall useful in the outdoors. It is more than enough light to gather and prepare fire materials, set up a tent, prepare and cook food, do various camp chores, safely do a little carving, and tons of other things. In my experience, a light that puts out about fifteen to twenty lumens is the most generally useful for the largest amount of tasks. Because of the reflector the beam is quite a bit more concentrated than the three concurrent beams of the Ultrabright LEDS. On the Princeton Tec site, the beam pattern is considered narrow with a throw of ninety two feet. I found that the rated throw on the low setting is accurate.
The high setting of the Maxbright LED is surprising. The light output is rated at forty five lumens with a run time of twenty eight hours. I was able to test this setting to see if it ran for the advertised time. With a brand new set of regular Energizer AAA batteries, it ran for just over twenty eight and one half hours before cutting off completely. The light output for the last six hours or so was progressively dimmer. After the light shut down and I let it rest for a few minutes it would turn back on, running the lowest Ultrabright setting at seemingly the same brightness as with a new set of batteries (I swapped to a new set for comparison at the time). The rest of the modes were all much dimmer, and the high mode on the Maxbright caused the light to cut off after a few seconds. I was pretty impressed that I was able to have a usable light at all after it had turned itself off due to dead batteries. The beam pattern and throw of the Maxbright high setting is considered narrow with a range of one hundred forty eight feet. In my testing, this setting easily illuminates objects out to about one hundred twenty feet, but past that the beam becomes a little bit too diffused to be able to clearly identify smaller objects.
When I first got the Remix, I opened the shipping box to check it out. As I have stated, the headlamp is nice and light. However, it doesn’t seem to sacrifice durability. The battery door snaps securely into place and is not easily opened accidentally. It does not have an O ring seal in the battery compartment, but it is rated to the waterproof standard of IPX4. This means that the light can be wet for any amount of time and not damaged, as well as stand short dunking (but not button operation) in water. I tested this out a bit, getting the light wet to simulate rain, then repeatedly turning it on and off as well as adjusting the settings. I also dunked it a few times both while on and off to see if either the button or battery door leaked. As I expected the Remix did not leak or have any other issues related to my water testing. As many of us know, having your flashlight give out while you are in the field or the backcountry can be quite handicapping.
The controls of the Remix consist of one large button on top of the housing. For anyone who has used a multi mode flashlight before, cycling through the different light modes is rather intuitive. Pressing the button once will turn the light on the high setting; pressing it again within two seconds will cycle to the low setting. Once the light is on, pressing and holding the button for one and one half seconds will switch between the Maxbright and Ultrabright LEDs. Once the light has been on without an additional button press for two seconds, pressing the button again will turn it off. I enjoy that I don’t have to cycle through all the different settings to turn the light off when I am done using it. The light also remembers which set of LEDs were used last. This is handy, because around camp if I am using the lower power colored Ultrabrights I don’t want to suddenly be blinded if I turn the light off then on again.
I really enjoy how versatile a light the Remix is due to its four different brightness settings, build quality, IPX4 waterproofing, and light weight. Many times I have taken multiple flashlights camping, hiking, or backpacking in order to have a headlamp for around camp and reading in a tent as well as having a brighter flashlight to spotlight objects that are farther away. Having one light that can do it all is certainly an advantage, especially when every ounce counts. I’ve used the remix a ton since I received it for testing, and I have to say that my old faithful headlamp has been semi retired to backup status. If I was to purchase another Remix, I would most likely settle on the model with all white LEDs. Colored LEDs are useful in a lot of situations, but I prefer white light for the amount of versatility offered. At forty five dollars (closer to forty at some online shops), it isn’t the least or most expensive headlamp available, but it is well worth the cost. If you are interested in a lightweight and versatile headlamp for all sorts of outdoor activities, I would solidly recommend it.