User Review: Princeton Tec Apex
Price Paid: $60
I did a lot of research on headlamps before deciding on the PT Apex. It seemed to have all of the features that I was looking for in a light such as an extremely bright 3w Luxeon LED w/ high/low settings for the trail and additional 5mm LEDs w/ high/low for area work. The strobe feature for signaling is a nice bonus. I also like the weatherproof design with tiltable head. Even with 4 AA batteries it is comfortable to wear with or without the detachable cross strap.
One of the biggest selling points for me and what sets it apart from other headlamps is the huge heat sink at the back of the light. This assured me that I could run the light on its highest setting for extended periods without risk of heat damaging the light.
The light output is excellent. The spot feature gives you enough fill to allow confident walking on any trail. I generally use the spot on the low setting which is more than enough light for the trail. Still, it is great to have that high setting to blast away the night when necessary. The 4- 5mm LEDs are great for use around camp or reading in the tent and greatly extend the battery life.
Burn time has been good for me but I also practice battery conservation by using the right setting for the right situation. When I did some actually testing, I found I got about 90 minutes on high with alkaline batteries before seeing a noticeable drop in output. Lithium batteries got me over 3 hours on the highest setting. Remember though that even at 50% output, this light is still pretty bright.
I also like that I can use a variety of AA batteries in this light such as alkaline, NiMH, NiCad, or for the longest run time, lithium.
I read just about every review out there on this light and others and I have to admit that I got a number of chuckles when someone would give the light a poor review because they expected to get 72 hours of burn time on the highest setting. Maybe they should carry a car battery around with them if they want that much burn time. I also read about some lights developing cracks. Thankfully I (knocking on wood) have not experienced this in my light even after a lot of hard use and more than a few drops.
In my humble opinion, the PT Apex was everything that I was looking for in a headlamp.
Note: For those looking to save some weight there is the Apex Pro. It runs on 2 CR123 batteries. I have not used it so cannot comment on it but with CR123s coming down in price (esp. in bulk on EBay) I may just pick one up for myself.