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Gear Junkie: Byte’s beam lights the way

Sun., Dec. 26, 2010, midnight

Recently, I reviewed the Petzl ULTRA headlamp, a $450 product that rivals the brightness level of an automobile headlight.

This week I scale down to Princeton Tec’s Byte headlamp, which costs only about $20 yet puts out an adequate beam strong enough for most outdoor activities at night.

The Byte works great for camping and it even shines bright enough to run in the woods full speed at night. To test it out, I took the Byte on a trail run on a dark evening and was immediately impressed.

Its beam, quoted at 35 lumens in brightness, is strong enough to cut about 50 feet ahead through a dark scene. For hiking, the Byte is more than enough. From roots and rocks to branches hanging over the trail, the Byte reveals all.

Another advantage is its size. The Byte is tiny, measuring a scant 2 inches wide and a mere 2.25 ounces on a scale. It straps unnoticeably on the head with a thin elasticized band.

On a bike, the Byte’s light bubble is just passable for safe travel.

You can see potholes and cracks on a road. But it’s not bright enough for mountain biking.

The L.E.D. headlamp has three modes, including two levels of brightness with white light and a red-light mode. The red light can be used to read a map or for other quick tasks in the dark when you do not want to compromise your night vision.

The company (www. quotes 80 hours of burn time for the high beam on a pair of AAA batteries. The headlamp’s case is waterproof, though not made for long-term submersion as in nighttime scuba diving.

The price is right for an able-bodied and solid little headlamp ready to light up your next hike in the woods at night.

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