Princeton Tec Corona headlamp

Princeton Tec calls its new Corona the brightest and most efficient headlamp on the market. That’s a claim so lofty that after reading it once I felt obligated to give the headlamp a full test.

My laboratory was the scrubby, little-used Kekekabic Trail in northern Minnesota’s remote Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We were trying to complete the wandering, 38-mile route in less than 36 hours, thus some substantial and difficult nighttime travel would be involved.

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The Corona is an L.E.D.-based headlamp with eight tiny bulbs, each of which alone can put out more brightness than your average flashlight. Working together all on at the same time, the bulbs create a huge diffused cloud of light that will brighten a darkened chunk of forest the size of a racquetball court.

When that much light is overkill, and you want to save on the batteries, the Corona’s bulbs can be switched to one of four brightness configurations. At its lowest setting, only one bulb is used, which is more than adequate for camp chores or reading in the tent.

Depending on what mode you use, the Corona’s three AA batteries will last between 30 and 70 hours, according to the company.

On the Kekekabic Trail, I hiked mainly with the headlamp set on its medium-brightness mode. This setting provided enough light for me to see the trail ahead clearly for 15 feet or so. When I needed to look further, the high-brightness mode was only three clicks of a button away.

One disadvantage to L.E.D. headlamps is that they do not shoot a solid beam of light to spot on objects like powerful halogen-based headlamps. Instead, L.E.D. light floods an area, evenly revealing a large field of view.

As for Princeton Tec’s big claim, I’m inclined to give the company half credit. While there are brighter headlamps on the market, not many can touch the Corona’s combination of brightness and efficiency. Even set on its low-brightness mode, the Corona is as bright or brighter than many competing products. And at that level, the headlamp would burn steady for days at a time.

Price: $50.
Contact: Princeton Tec, 1-609-298-9331, http://www.princetontec.com.

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