Princeton Tec Vizz
$50, 3.2 oz. (including three AAA batteries)
Long a favorite headlamp of mine for backpacking or climbs or dayhikes that somehow stretched into the wee hours, the Vizz received an update in 2018 that made it the brightest three-ounce headlamp I’ve reviewed (three ounces being the standard in ultralight headlamps these days). The new Vizz still stands out for versatility and ease of use: You don’t need a Ph.D. in electronics to operate it. I’ve used it on numerous trips from Sequoia National Park, Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains to, most recently, Glacier National Park with the 2018 version of the Vizz, and still consider it one of the best. Here’s why.
For starters, the Vizz has fast, intuitive, one-button operation: Click the power button in rapid sequence to cycle through the two white modes and one red mode, and hold the button down to control the dimming function in all three modes. Hold the power button depressed for several seconds to engage the lockout mode.
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In high-power mode, the 420-lumen Maxbright LED in the Vizz throws a powerful beam that Princeton Tec claims projects 78 meters (256 feet). When I backpacked to the Big Boulder Lakes in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains after dark, took a 6.4-mile evening hike from our campsite in the Glacier Peak Wilderness to Image Lake, and wore it walking around a meadow campsite in Glacier National Park, the beam projected at least 200 feet (60 meters).
Two white LED bulbs cast a broad flood beam with a range that PTec claims is 24 meters, or almost 80 feet. I found the blood beam illuminated the forest on both sides of the trail for farther than I needed it to, which is very helpful when hiking or especially running or climbing in the dark. The red mode does not have a strobe option.
Like many leading ultralight headlamps, the Vizz is rated waterproof down to a meter for 30 minutes (IPX7). It has impressive max burn times of up to 110 hours for the white spot beam, 104 hours for the white flood beam, and 150 hours in red mode. More importantly, its regulated LEDs mean that the Vizz maintains constant brightness for as long as the batteries hold enough voltage, meaning that its brightness does not slowly fade as the batteries lose juice.
The Vizz uses three AAA batteries and is not rechargeable. Turning a small screw opens the battery chamber, and I could loosen and tighten it with my fingers. Lastly, the head strap is comfortable whether on the move or lying on my back reading.
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Certainly one of the most powerful ultralight headlamps for dayhikers, backpackers, climbers, trail runners, and backcountry skiers, the Princeton Tec Vizz also delivers good versatility that ranks it among the best headlamps for backcountry users, at a competitive price.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.