The Princeton Tec Apex uses a sophisticated electronic circuit inside the headtorch to control light output for the duration of the battery life. The heat sink on the back is designed to prevent overheating when the headtorch is set on maximum power. With technology like this the Apex could be ideal for hill-walkers.
The Princeton Tec Apex weighs in at 278g, which is pretty heavy – but you do get extra features. It takes four AA batteries, while most only have three, so you are getting extra power. The headtorch has four smaller LEDs plus one high-powered LED. Operation is via two buttons, one with a circular moulding and the other with dots so you can identify each button easily. The buttons click positively through power settings but you can only have the four smaller LEDs or the main LED on, rather than being able to have everything on at the same time. The head tilt is not ratcheted so it relies on the nut and bolt being set just right to allow movement. This does seem to work okay, although my gut feeling is a ratchet would be better. The battery housing has a locking screw with a crosshead slot that can be unscrewed with the plastic buckle moulding on the headstrap. This is a neat use of the plastic buckles, and it works well.
On the hill
Using the Princeton Tec Apex on a cold, wet night in the Lakes, I soon lost patience with the Apex. The battery housing has a rubber O-ring to seal it against water entry. However this O-ring repeatedly came out of its location. This happened when I tested this unit in the past as well, so it is not an isolated issue. The buttons are quite small, and with wet or cold hands or gloves it is not easy to locate the buttons. The main beam is not as well directed as some others but in a way this is an advantage is it creates a broader beam. However it is not so good for picking out detail ahead due to this broader beam, even though it stretches to 96m. And despite that heat sink the headtorch gets pretty warm and I could actually warm my fingers on it (which is perhaps an advantage?!).
Bulbs 1 x 3 LED, 4 x LED
Maximum output 130 lumens
Maximum beam 96 metres
Max burn time 150 hours
Batteries 4 x AA (included)
Battery charge indicator yes
Weight with batteries 278g
Made in USA
Stores in the UK 49
Stockist details tel. (01539) 721032; www.whitbyandco.co.uk
The Princeton Tec Apex has a very long burn time; high level of output; battery charge indicator; heat sink reduces overheating on max power. But operation could be better if the buttons were bigger; there are lighter headtorches; battery housing O-ring seal comes loose too easily; would a ratchet tilt mechanism be better? It’s a high-powered headtorch with a long beam but the features could be better for use hill-walking in the cold and wet.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2011