Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp Review

Princeton Tec
Product Rating: 
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Packaging Front
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Packaging Back
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Front
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Top
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Batteries
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Front Profile
Princeton Tec Byte Headlamp - Side Profile


The Princeton Tec Byte is a small headlamp powered by two AAA batteries with a Maxbright LED as the main light source. The Byte headlamp also features a red Ultrabright LED for when you don't want to impair your night vision or disrupt others with a bright light. The light can be adjusted from straight out to straight down by rotating within its bracket. The headlamp comes in a single color option, red/black.


Brightness (high): 35 Lumens
Batteries: 2 AAA
Battery Life (high): 80 hours
Battery Life (low): 96 hours
Weight: 2.3 oz. (64 g)
Water Resistance: Waterproof Level-1 (IPX4)
Warranty: 5 years

In The Field:

The Princeton Tec Byte is operated by a single push button on the top of the housing. The first press turns on the red LED. The second press turns on the white LED to low brightness. The third press turns the white LED to high brightness, and the fourth press turns it off. You must always go through the entire sequence. For example if you press it twice to get to the white LED at low brightness, you will need to press it two more times to turn it off. You cannot skip straight to off by pressing once (after it has been on for a little bit) like on a Petzl headlamp.

The red LED on the Princeton Tec Byte headlamp is useful for reading a book or getting up in the middle of the night without disturbing others. The effective distance is only a couple feet.

The white LED at low brightness works fine to illuminate close distances such as reading a book or eating dinner. It is a focused beam, but not nearly as focused as the Petzl Tikka XP2. As far as brightness, the two are comparable. The Byte has softer off-white light compared to the somewhat blueish white light on the Tikka.

The white LED at high brightness on the Byte headlamp is adequate for hiking at night. Once again, the beam is not as focused as the Petzl Tikka XP2. The effective distance at high on the Byte is about 50 feet. At greater distances it does not illuminate enough to be useful except for making oneself visible to another person.

My experience with the Princeton Tec Byte has been frustrating. When the Byte does work it is a great little headlamp. I have had no issues testing it at home. Everything functions correctly. Unfortunately, a fatal problem develops in the field. I have been on two snow camping trips (temperature between 4°F to 30°F) with the Byte and it has failed both trips. After the first trip, I exchanged the headlamp thinking it was defective, but the same failure occurred on the second trip. The issue is the white LED on the headlamp becomes stuck on at very low brightness. It also appears to flicker extremely fast. The only way to turn it off is to remove the batteries. This sometimes happens immediately after turning it on and other times after it has been functioning properly for awhile. Sometimes warming up the batteries and putting them back in the headlamp will cause it to function correctly for a few minutes before it fails again. I suspect it has something to do with the cold, but I cannot recreate the issue at home. I have tried placing the headlamp in my freezer overnight, but it works fine. I believe there is something wrong with the circuitry causing the intermittent failures. Hopefully Princeton Tec is able to work out the glitch in a future model.

See "Snow Camping At Twin Lakes" and "Snow Camping in Upper Clackamas" adventures where this headlamp was used.

Final Thoughts:

I had high hopes for the Princeton Tec Byte headlamp which were unfortunately met with disappointment. The Byte may prove useful as a backup headlamp in warm seasons, but its cold weather performance is too unreliable to be counted on. I do not recommend the Byte except as a summer backup headlamp. Available from amazon.com.

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Disclaimer: You are responsible for informing yourself of the hazards of backcountry travel and taking the necessary precautions. Loomis Adventures may not be held liable.