Gear Review: Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp
Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3 oz. (including three AAA batteries)
Max burn time: 160 hours (dimmable white LEDs), 150 hours (red LEDs), 110 hours (brightest mode)
With backcountry headlamps getting lighter yet brighter, choosing among the sub-4-oz. options out there gets a little overwhelming. The Vizz stands out for hiking, backpacking, trail running, and climbing not just for its low weight and impressive brightness, but for versatility and remarkable ease of use: You don’t need a Ph.D. in electronics to operate the Vizz. I used it numerous days this summer on backpacking trips in Sequoia National Park, Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains—including hours of hiking in the dark—a hut trip in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, a pre-dawn start on a dayhike in Mount Rainier National Park, and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks.
In high-power mode, the 165-lumen LED in the Vizz throws a powerful beam that Princeton Tec claims projects 90 meters, which I don’t doubt; when I backpacked in to the Big Boulder Lakes in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains after dark, and took a 6.4-mile evening hike from our campsite in the Glacier Peak Wilderness to Image Lake, the beam projected at least 200 feet (60 meters). But it also puts out a wider beam in the bright mode than some competitors, illuminating the forest on both sides of the trail—very helpful when hiking or especially running or mountaineering in the dark.
Besides being waterproof (down to a meter for 30 minutes), the Vizz has fast, intuitive, one-button operation: click once for the two bright, red LEDs for night vision; double-click for the brightest mode; and hold the button down for the dimmable white LEDs. No clicking multiple times to scroll through modes you don’t want. Triple-click when it’s off to lock the power button (a red indicator light inside the button blinks three times to confirm it’s locked), and triple-click again to unlock. The indicator light also serves as a low-battery warning, flashing when batteries are below 20 percent (only when turned off and unlocked). To access the battery chamber, turn a small screw, which I could loosen and tighten with my fingers. The Vizz uses three AAA alkaline, lithium, or rechargeable batteries, but does not have a built-in recharging port. Lastly, the slender strap is comfortable whether on the move or lying on my back reading.
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NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.