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  • Writer's pictureAllen Crater

Gear Review: Princeton Tec VIZZ Headlamp

Updated: Mar 7

Overview: I use headlamps all the time. From night fishing for big browns on the river, to walks out to my tree stand before daylight and navigating harrowing switchbacks in the dark, my headlamps see a lot of use. And abuse. I go through headlamps like tic-tacs. Getting ready for a recent backpacking trip I broke one trying to change out the batteries. The one before that fell in the river while fishing, never to be used again. The one before that ended up getting dropped (by one of my kids) next to my truck and run over. You get the idea.

I’ve used a number of brands: Black Diamond, Petzl, Princeton Tec and the emergency Walmart special.

Through the cycle of headlamps I’ve learned what I like and what I don’t. My criteria for a great headlamp is that first and foremost it needs to be really bright on the highest setting – I’ve bought lower lumen headlamps only to realize I might as well be carrying a match to find my way. Second, it needs to offer multiple settings including a “red” setting, which I will often use when I need some quick light while mousing my home river for browns in the dark of the night. Third, it needs to be at least somewhat water resistant – I am outside in all types of weather and my headlamp needs to hold up to that. Fourth, it needs to be light and not clunky. Last, it needs to be relatively affordable – like I said I tend to go through lamps at a pretty steady clip.

I took all of that into consideration when I purchased my latest torch, the upgraded (from 150 to 205 lumen - and now available in 420 lumen) Princeton Tec Vizz in preparation for a 6-day backcountry trip through the Sawtooth mountains. Here are my thoughts.

What I like: I can tell you that in my weeklong test, the Vizz checked every one of these boxes and checked them well.

At 205 lumens it was extremely bright, making night chores and the early morning hike out in the dark a snap. My hiking partner was pretty jealous. In fact he bought a Vizz when he got home. The difference was that noticeable.

The Vizz offers 3 settings: a “spotlight” setting – the brightest and providing the longest distance viewing, a "flood" setting for slightly closer in, and a “red” setting for close range while preserving night vision.

The Vizz is rated as IPX7 Waterproof – which means it is protected from accidental submersion in 1m (about 3.3 feet) of water for up to 30 minutes. While I never gave it the “river test” it held up exceptionally well in the rain and damp conditions we experienced in the mountains.

Weighing in at just 92 grams, the Vizz is light and non-intrusive – barely noticing it on your head.

And, with a retail price under $50 (I’ve seen them as low as $35 – just make sure you are looking at the upgraded 205 lumen version), the Vizz certainly checked the box for affordability as well – especially considering the features.

What I don’t like: One thing I noticed right away was that this light sucked the juice pretty quickly. Granted I tended to use the headlamp on the highest setting and I was using regular Alkaline batteries, not Lithium (3 AAA). But still, I think the manufacturer-stated burn time of 150 hours (I’m assuming on the lowest setting with lithium batteries) might be a little oversold. I didn’t put a ton of hours on this lamp on my trip and by the last night the low battery indicator was blinking away at me. Speaking of the low-battery indicator, I hate it. And I have yet to figure out a way to turn it off. I keep my headlamp nearby in the tent at night and the flashing red light was certainly an annoyance.

Last, this is probably just a small learning curve on my part, but I didn’t find the controls super intuitive – I never was able to figure out how to activate the lock feature.

Perfect for: For me, the Vizz is a perfect do-all headlamp and offers a very bright spotlight option, a nice flood setting and the useful RED night setting. It’s waterproof which makes it versatile for a number of activities and it is relatively affordable – especially considering the features. This lamp should serve you well on the trail, in the woods and river or just walking your dog at night.

Stars: 4 out of 5

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